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Royal Oak formulates downtown retail development plan

A national retail consultant has looked at the city of Royal Oak and what's wrong and right with its retail situation as the city works to "confirm its position as a retail and entertainment destination."

The city hired The Retail Coach out of Mississippi in September. The company has worked with dozens of local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations in more than 250 cities, guiding them through development and redevelopment of their retail offerings.

The assessment for Royal Oak was expected to be presented to the City Council this week. The assessment will gauge consumer demand and analyze retail trade areas and retail gaps and opportunities. The analysis will target 52 retail categories that are weak or underperforming in Royal Oak.

“Royal Oak has always enjoyed a reputation as one of Michigan’s most exciting cities with several award-winning boutiques and galleries, and a bustling nightlife,” Royal Oak Economic Development Manager Todd  Fenton says in a statement from The Retail Coach.

“By bringing The Retail Coach on board to assist with our retail business attraction efforts, Royal Oak aims to be a showcase of distinct retailers that provide an unparalleled shopping experience...People and businesses are increasingly relocating to walkable urban environments, and Royal Oak boasts one of Michigan’s most dynamic and desirable downtowns," Fenton says. "As foot traffic continues to increase during the day with the addition of new residents and office users, the time is right for a coordinated retail attraction initiative to attract retailers who fit into our unique city.”

Source: The Retail Coach
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dye & Dash express haircolor salon opens in Troy

The owners of two successful metro Detroit hair salons are the creators of a new specialized salon that's dedicated to quick and affordable hair coloring.

Dye & Dash opened Dec. 2 at 3296 Rochester Road in Troy. Industry veterans Tomy Lulgjuraj and George and Johnny Nikollaj, co-owners of 6 Salon in Birmingham and Royal Oak, partnered with longtime employee Constance Abro to oversee a trained, experienced staff that specializes in matching, formulating and applying hair color.

With the tagline, "We Dye, You Dry," the 2,000-square-foot salon includes a blow-dry bar where customers can use blow dryers, flat irons, hairbrushes and hair products at no extra charge after a color. Dye & Dash is likely the first salon of its kind in metro Detroit, and the concept has taken root in other states.

Dye & Dash offers color for men and women with services such as touch-ups (the Take Root service is $30), highlights (the Bombshell's full head of foils is $65, and the Lucky 7 with seven foils is $30), Bump the Base for $30 and low lights for $5. A sweet treat conditioning is $15.  

“Two things inspired us to create the Dye & Dash concept, with the first being the continued demand for salon service segmentation,” says Abro, a co-owner and manager of Dye & Dash.  “Not everyone has the need, time, desire or budget for a full-service salon experience every time, and we understand that."

The color salon is the latest evolution of beauty salons, he says.

"First came blow-out bars, then eyebrow bars, and we see color bars as the next logical step…,"he says.

The owners also see potential to attract the at-home colorers.

It is "our mission to get both men and women to move away from the pitfalls of home hair coloring,” Abro says. “There are endless reasons why hair coloring should be left to professionals. Hopefully by lowering the cost barrier to color treatments, we can convince some DIY hair dye enthusiasts to see what a difference a salon can make.”

Source: Monica Cheick, PublicCityPR
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak food scene adds reopened creperie and celeb chef burgers

A steady flow of restaurant openings is continuing in Royal Oak with the re-opening of a creperie and the arrival of Iron Chef Michael Symon's B Spot Burgers last week.

The Royal B Spot, which advertises Burgers Brats Beer on its black awning at 310 S. Main Street, is the second metro Detroit location in the string of restaurants Symon originally started in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Symon was perhaps the first big name to gamble on a restaurant and Detroit's comeback when he opened his high-end restaurant, Roast, at the Book Cadillac Hotel in 2008.

The Royal Oak B Spot joins a Rochester Hills location that opened in May at the Village of Rochester Hills, and Symon, a Food Network chef, plans another B Spot at Partridge Creek shopping center in Clinton Township.

B Spot Burgers are known for creative and unusual burger toppings and combos or just regular cheeseburgers and milkshakes.

On the less meaty side of the restaurant scene in downtown Royal Oak is the re-opening of a creperie.

The Crepe Bistro Lounge opened last week at 317 South Washington in the spot where What Crepe once operated. The partners in What Crepe stayed on. Customers looking for the crepes that come in sweet and savory varieties and a daily special with fresh ingredient combos are coming back.

Source: The Crepe, Michael Symon Restaurants and Royal Oak DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

Met 13 - Royal Oak apartments rehabbed into "upscale urban flats"

A 1950's-era apartment building near Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak has been rehabbed into what the developer describes as "upscale urban flats."

Metropolitan 13, or Met13, is located at 4000 W. 13 Mile Road. The 40-unit project offers completely renovated two-bedroom units and services and amenities meant for urban professionals who don't spend much time at home but want a living space that feels fashionable and comfortable and is close to the places they work and play.

Met13 offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor living room and round-the-clock services. For developer Jeffrey Kaftan, president of Kaftan Communities, the renovation represents a lifestyle- and design-focused way to see the leasing market.

"We really see the Metropolitan brand as a confluence of design and living," he says. "You can find a number of examples in the marketplace where design has been brought to products like cars and watches, but there are not many examples of that in rental housing. We’re trying to bring that to the forefront in the urban flat rental market in the metro Detroit area. Young professionals are asking for a living environment that gives them the opportunity to express their individual sense of style and the Metropolitan brand’s urban flats do that beautifully."

Kaftan is nephew to Sheldon Kaftan, who in 1960 moved into an apartment at what is now Met13. Kaftan Communities invests in and rehabs residential and commercial properties throughout metro Detroit.

Source: Sue Voyles, Logos Communication
Writer: Kim North Shine

$22 million Neuroscience Center opens at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak

The first freestanding building to go up on the campus of Beaumont Hospital's Royal Oak campus in more than a decade opened this week.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot, $22-million Neuroscience Center will give pediatric and adult patients one point of access for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions.

The center was built in anticipation of a growing population of patients 65 and older. The number is expected to double to 72.1 million by 2030. Pediatric patients will also be a focus of the center.

The Neuroscience Center will offer high-tech conference rooms that allow physicians and clinicians to collaborate on patient care, advanced equipment for diagnosis and treatment, rooms designed for comfort and privacy, and more.

There are 11 clinics within the center, including the Ian Jackson Craniofacial Clinic, a pediatric and adult epilepsy clinic, clinics for stroke, spinal, and brain tumors, neuro-oncology, concussion, aneurysm, Parkinson's Disease and others.

The center was developed by Royal Oak-based T.H. Marsh Construction and designed by HKS Architects of Northville.

Source: Angela Blazevski, spokesperson, Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Meghan Marion clothing boutique to open in downtown Royal Oak

A closed wine shop in downtown Royal Oak is reopening as a women's clothing store in mid-July.

Meghan Marion will open July 16 at 405 South Main Street after renovations are complete and the merchandise, a mix of classic and trends in fashion, move in.

Clothing and accessories will be sold from the space and a grand opening party is planned for July 18.

Source: Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

B Spot Burgers opens in Rochester, plans Royal Oak location by fall

Michael Symon, known nationally as the bald and colorful Iron Chef in Ohio for his eclectic, buzz-worthy burgers and locally for his Roast restaurant at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit, may also become known here for his B Spot Burgers.

The small but growing burger chain known for unusually topped and tasty burgers since opening in Symon's hometown of Cleveland opened its first Michigan location about two weeks ago in Rochester. Long lines and waits are greeting customers wanting a taste of the famous chef's creations.

Symon & co. are working on the next location for  a B. Spot: downtown Royal Oak. It is expected to open by fall.

Source: Roast and B Spot Burgers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak's Citizen Yoga expands to second location in Detroit

Less than a year since opening a yoga practice in a meticulously renovated space in downtown Royal Oak, Citizen Yoga is opening a studio in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit location is part of a Dan Gilbert-backed boost of Detroit. The owner of Bedrock Real Estate, Quicken Loans, the Cleveland Cavs and an all-around doer for Detroit's revitalization is behind the Z, a retail space that opened in January. Citizen Yoga will open in a 2,300-square-foot space at 1234 Library Street, next to NoJo Kicks and 7 Greens. An anchor tenant of the Z, across the street, is 24,000-square-foot Punch Bowl Social.

The 535,000-square-foot Z building covers an area from the corner of Broadway and East Grand River to the corner of Gratiot and Library.

Citizen Yoga Detroit is scheduled to open in the fall.

The Detroit location fits with Citizen Yoga owner Kacee Must's desire to do good for the community. Being a part of a retail return to downtown Detroit fits with her philanthropic side. It was always a part of her plan since opening Citizen Yoga on Washington Ave. in downtown Royal Oak last August.

While the Detroit opening is exciting, Citizen Yoga has also aligned itself with Brian Lively, a local master of "customer cultivation," whose success at Moosejaw, J. Crew, Gap, and other big names has won him many admirers.

Citizen Yoga was opened in honor of Must's late sister, Miya, with the plan to  share with her clients the knowledge she gained while traveling to India.

Her grand opening was a fundraiser for the charity, Born and Raised in Detroit, an organization committed to creating enriching and entertaining events for Detroiters.

She also hopes to use Citizen Yoga to spread the word of suicide prevention in honor of her sister.

Source: Kacee Must, Citizen Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine

Detroit Dogs serves specialty hot dogs in Royal Oak

Detroit Dogs, a new hot dog restaurant in downtown Royal Oak, pays homage to the Motor City while tipping a hat to other locales with its Virginia Dog, Chicago Dog, American Dog, Russian Dog and several other specially topped and sauced dogs.

Detroit Dogs opened in March at 200 W. Fifth Avenue and is hiring to keep up with the demand for its specialties and more straightforward classics.

The Detroit emphasis is tied to the owners' decision to sell Detroit-made products from the dogs down to chips and drinks, all from a simple menu that's drawing families for lunch and dinner and late-night post-bar and restaurant crowds.

Source: Detroit Dogs
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Bird & The Bread offers Euro-style, family-friendly eats in Birmingham



It was always a part of the plan for The Bird & The Bread to be a welcoming restaurant for families.

What was not as planned was the extent to which family would play into the charmingly-named, stunningly designed and decorated space where food described as modern Euro casual with an American twist is being brought to Birmingham by the owners and creators of Vinology in Ann Arbor and and Vinotecca in Royal Oak. The Bird & The Bread at 210 South Old Woodward opened for dinner Feb. 22 and will open for lunch March 25. It is connected to The ELM, a banquet room for about 150 guests that is under construction and will open March 18. Brunch will be served at The Bird & The Bread before Easter.

But back to the family ties. First, the restaurant name. It comes from the nicknames given to the twin 3-1/2-year-old children of the owners by their grandfather. One, the smaller girl with a cry more like a squawk, was dubbed The Bird. The heftier son was more like a dense loaf of bread and took his nickname from that.

Later, as the family thought up the name of their future restaurant that would serve more as a comfort food place than their wine-focused previous endeavors, the inclusion of bread, as in fresh-baked loaves, and bird, as in chicken, made sense. The whimsical nature of the name fit the family attitude and restaurant design, which includes an emphasis on environmentally sustainable construction and has a stave -- a room that feels like being inside a wine barrel.

"We agonized and agonized about the name of this restaurant because it's the first time for us not to do a vino concept," says co-owner Kristin Jonna, who grew up around good food and wine as the daughter of John Jonna, one of the founders of Merchant of Vino and former owner of Merchant's Fine Wine. She has traveled the world honing her craft -- wine and food -- and is known as one of Michigan's wine experts. The Jonnas also created Vinotecca inside the Bastone complex in downtown Royal Oak, and own and operate the successful Vinology in downtown Ann Arbor.

The departure from a fine-wine restaurant -- though the Bird & Bread will have a good selection -- was a response to something missing in Birmingham.

"Birmingham has done high end well. It didn't necessarily need more of that," Kristin Jonna says. "We felt what was untapped was a more a casual concept, more of an everyday family restaurant."

That should not imply that hot dogs and chicken fingers are on the menu, though executive chef Jim Leonardo, who is splitting his time between the new restaurant and Vinology, "is loving getting the chance to cook food he serves to his family," she says.

Further tying in the family connection, the grandfather's 30-year-old collection of cookbooks decorates The Bird & The Bread's walls and light fixtures in the space that's broken into comfy, homey rooms such as the nook and the stave and a restaurant entrance that welcomes diners with the warmth of a pizza oven and rotisserie.

The ELM banquet space, which has a simpler, elegant decor and a completely different food selection, is named after nephews Enzo and Luke and niece Maya, the children of Vincent Jonna, who's also in the family restaurant and wine business.

"We are just so excited and ready to go," says Jonna. "We want people to know, the families to know, we're here and want to share The Bird & The Bread with them."

Source: Kristin Jonna, co-owner, The Bird & The Bread
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ale Mary's to serve up craft suds in Royal Oak this spring

Tom's Oyster Bar in downtown Royal Oak is spinning off a new concept in Ale Mary's, which will give props to craft beer through a wide selection of brews and beer-influenced food.

Ale Mary's Craft Beer Hall will open in a renovated space formerly used as an extra dining area and party room by Tom's. Ale Mary's will take up about half the restaurant space, which covers two storefronts and will seat about 50-60 indoors and out, says general manager Justin Pries.

Remodeling is expected to be completed within a few weeks, in time for a spring opening, he says. Tom's and Ale Mary's will operate separately, including staffs and kitchens. Ale Mary's is in the heart of downtown Royal Oak, at 316 South Main St.

This Thursday, a master brewer from Grand Rapids' Perrin Brewing will host a beer-themed meal at Ale Mary's communal table, the first of several special craft beer knowledge dinners that will be a feature at Ale Mary's. The intimate dinner is for Ale Mary's founding members, investors who will be entitled to special privileges such as first dibs on limited-seating special events. A handful of founding memberships are still available, Pries says.

In addition, Ale Mary's has 20-30 craft beers on tap and about 100 bottled beers from around the world, Pries says.

Owners Nick and Heather Ritts are fans of craft beer -- the drink and the industry -- and want to be a part of it, says Pries. They, Pries and staff have been educating themselves through tastings, brewery visits and certification training. Heather is working on one of the highest certifications in craft beer service, and the Ale Mary's staff must be certified as at least Level 1 certified beer servers, he says.

"People know so much about the craft beers now or they're learning," says Pries. "It's now very similar to wine, the different styles and different flavors. My background is mostly in wine. It's fascinating learning about craft beer. I have a whole new level of respect."

Besides serving beer to drink, Ale Mary's will serve food cooked with beer or influenced by beer, Pries says. Executive Chef Geoff Woodman is creating the menu.

"We'll be doing things with food and beer that you can't really find; not on the scale we'll be doing it," says Pries.

Source: Justin Pries, general manager, Tom's Oyster Bar and Ale Mary's
Writer: Kim North Shine

Big space, big chefs, big design behind Bistro 82 and Sabrage lounge



One of metro Detroit's most anticipated restaurants, Bistro 82, opened this week in downtown Royal Oak, and besides serving unforgettable food the plan is to "change the dining scene in this area."

Scott Sadoff, director of operations for the AFB Hospitality Group, is overseeing Bistro 82, which opened Feb. 11 at 4th Street and South Lafayette in the former Sangria tapas bar and salsa dance club.

The renovation transformed the two-story, 10,000-square-foot building into a contemporary and luxurious space with clean lines and an open floor plan that has Bistro 82 on the main floor. Upstairs is Sabrage, a high-end lounge and night club where a DJ will play above a fish tank while champagne is served from a tap behind an onyx bar. Sabrage's first day of business is Valentine's Day. It will be open on Friday and Saturday nights. The overall vision for the new business belongs to Aaron Fenkell Belen, the developer of the property and president of AFB Hospitality Group.

"What we're doing is trying to make our place a one-stop shop and capture our guests for their nights out," says Sadoff, who says guests may want a pre-dinner cocktail or a reserved table upstairs at Sabrage for post-dinner time.

The bigger picture of Bistro 82 and Sabrage is "to change the dining scene in this area. Dining should be for the guests, not just to go out to eat, but to have an experience," he says.

"Every establishment around us is here for a reason, and many of them are very good at what they do," he says. "What we never want to become or never will become is stagnant. We don't want to get complacent. We want to try and up our game every single day."

Bistro 82 is French-inspired except for the intentionally roomy interior design.

"It's not a bistro setting that normally has tables closer together. We wanted our bistro to be easily maneuverable, with generous walkways and to be luxurious," he says. "We want our guests to be comfortable and well taken care of."

An important part of the customer care-taking, he says, is hiring a large staff -- sauciers, dishwashers, security staff, drink runners, managers, bartenders, etc.  who are known for their high performance and experience at top restaurants. Sadoff most recently worked for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants as manager of Ocean Prime and before that as manager of  P.F. Chang's.

Derik Watson is the leader of Bistro 82's kitchen and the designer of the menu, which includes a West and East Coast selection of oysters, pork belly and ratatouille and several other appetizers, Waygu hanger steak, beef short rib, sea scallops, Scottish Salmon, chicken Paillard and other entrees, and dessert choices such as yogurt panna cotta, dark chocolate tart and cinnamon sugar beignets. Watson brings with him experience from restaurants around the country, many in metro Detroit such as Rugby Grill in Birmingham and Tribute in Farmington Hills, where he worked under the tutelage of iconic chef Takashi Yagihashi at Tribute and in Chicago.

Running Bistro 82 and Sabrage will require more than 100 employees, nearly half full-time. The restaurant can seat 162 guests. Sabrage has room for about 225 guests.

Source: Scott Sadoff, director of operations, AFB Hospitality Group, and Justin Near, president, Near Perfect Media
Writer: Kim North Shine

Momentum builds for $50M multi-use development in downtown Royal Oak

A project dubbed Gateway for its location at the most prominent entry into Royal Oak is gathering steam since a group of real estate developers, architects and consultants presented a proposal for a residential-retail-medical-office development on Main Street near I-696.

The proposal, which still requires approvals of the Downtown Development Authority and other city commissions, calls for a massive project that would transform a section of Main Street at I-696 into a multistory building that will house nearly 10,000 square feet each of retail space, medical space, office space with a parking deck and a 160 apartments as the centerpiece.

The Gateway project would take up a city block and be bordered by I-696, Main Street and Woodward Avenue and also fill a void in apartment living options in the area, the developers say in their proposal.

The project could come in with a price tag of $50 million, according to the Royal Oak DDA. Assuming approvals are given to the project without extensive delays, ground could be broken in summer 2014. The same developers are proposing an eight-story, 114-room hotel project that will be part of a complex of apartment, retail and offices at the former Fresard car dealership at 400 N.Main Street.

Source: City of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Woodward Ave. transformation revealed

Plans to redesign Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac into a thoroughfare that will be prepared for mass transit as well as welcoming to bikers and walkers are being aired on public access cable channels in Oakland County.

Some of the organizations behind the plan, the Woodward Avenue Action Association, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the municipalities that line the avenue, are looking for public feedback as local, county and state officials get behind the Complete Streets plan.

Steven Huber, a spokesperson for Oakland County, says the plan could transform Woodward into a scenic thoroughfare in ways to promote business and usability.

Engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff came up with a redesign of the 27-mile stretch of road in a master plan that's believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

The planning and public feedback are moving at a faster pace as Oakland County and several municipalities work to prepare for the arrival of light rail on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

The idea is to unite metro Detroit through a major corridor that's easy to travel, to stimulate transit-oriented development, and to create jobs.

Source: Steve Huber, marketing and communications officer, Oakland County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Royal Oak going to the gourmet dogs

The new year will welcome at least one new restaurant to downtown Royal Oak.

Detroit Dogs will serve gourmet hot dogs made with Dearborn franks and buns made in a Hamtramck bakery alongside other Detroit-bred products: Better Made chips and Faygo drinks among them.

Hiring and renovations on the space at 200 W. Fifth Avenue are underway and expected to be completed in early January.

The owners bring with them extensive restaurant experience in Monroe County and were asked by local investors to roll out the gourmet dog concept in metro Detroit.

Source: City of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine
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