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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

Teenage fashionista opens Faded Raven Boutique in downtown Clawson

A 16-year-old's new clothing boutique is one of several new businesses that have opened in recent weeks in downtown Clawson.

The Faded Raven Boutique, which sells from the store and online, is owned by Ines Soulliere, a 16-year-old enterprising lover of fashion.

"We're very excited for her," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson Downtown Development Authority. "We're really working hard to support our entrepreneurs."

The Faded Raven, which is located at 38 E. 14 Mile Road and sells trendy, unique and affordable clothes and accessories, is one of several businesses that will be celebrated with a group grand opening in the next few weeks, she says.

Others include Spark, which sells decorative glass and gifts; Clawson Antiques; and R.J.'s Diner.

Source: Joan Horton, executive director, Clawson DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

Medical, retail next chapter for former Borders bookstore in Grosse Pointe

Work will start this spring on turning a roughly 20,000-square-foot former Borders bookstore in Grosse Pointe into a medical office and retail spaces.

The St. John Health System medical office will occupy one end of a nearly block-long building that's been vacant for many months since Ace Hardware, next door to the already-closed Borders, relocated to Mack Avenue.

The other end of the building, which fronts Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe's Village business district, is likely to be occupied by a Calico Corners fabric and home store, if city approvals go through.

In the nearly three years since Borders closed and the year since Ace left, the property manager has said other retailers, including another hardware store and a national chain, would move in. That never materialized.

The big empty building became a further headache when city officials and St. John reps couldn't agree on re-development plans. In the end, St. John agreed to build medical offices on the back side of the building, which is connected to a city parking lot, and to rent space to three or four retailers on the front side of the building on Kercheval.

Peter Dame, Grosse Pointe city manager, says no retailers for the St. John's space have been named, but the proposed Calico Corners at the opposite end of the building would fill about 3,000 square feet. The rest of the space between the closed Ace and Borders will be divided into multiple retail outlets. He says that work will begin soon.

The St. John medical and retail project should be completed this summer, Dame says.

Source: Peter Dame, Grosse Pointe city manager
Writer: Kim North Shine

Automation Alley and Oakland U launch training center

A training center designed to improve the talent pool for small- to medium-sized manufacturers in Michigan is opening at Oakland University's business incubator.

The Automation Alley Product Lifecycle Management Center is a partnership between Automation Alley, Michigan's largest technology business association; Siemens;  the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Geometric Solutions; solidThinking Inc.; and Oakland U's School of Engineering and Computer Science.

The Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Center will offer affordable training and PLM certification and training using traditional, mainstream and new technologies in computer aided design, engineering, manufacturing and other PLM skills such as digital factory simulation and 3-D scanning and printing.

Product Lifecycle Management is the process of seeing a product through from concept and design to manufacture, service and disposal. Knowledge and technologies in PLM can bring a company's processes up to date and prepare them for the future as well as increase efficiency, quality and profits by bringing products to market faster.

Besides training and certification, the new management center will help companies move from traditional design and manufacturing methods to the latest digital processes.

The center is located at One Golfview Lane in Rochester.

"In recent years, we've received a lot of feedback from the local manufacturing industry that they are desperately in need of employees trained in PLM. In many cases, they've had to look outside of Michigan to find these employees. Now, with the creation of this center, they will be able to find these employees right here in Southeast Michigan. So what we are creating is a talent pipeline that will ultimately lead to the creation of new jobs, but we can't say exactly how many jobs will be created or at what time," says Erin Sommerville, spokesperson for Automation Alley. "Ultimately, our hope is that Southeast Michigan will become known as a center of excellence for PLM, which would attract both companies and talent."

Source: Erin Sommerville, spokesperson, Automation Alley
Writer: Kim North Shine

Paper Street expands its co-working space in Ferndale

Paper Street, a work and meeting space for Do It Yourselfers, artists and entrepreneurs, is reopened after renovations and expansion.

The office at 840 E. Lewiston originally opened in 2010 and added to its co-working space in late 2013.

Owner Andy Didorosi says Paper Street's mission is to make it easier to grow and start a business.

New co-working and private offices have opened and for are for rent, which includes 24-hour access, wi-fi, coffee, printing and networking to "a community of doers, builders, thinkers and makers," says Didorosi.

Paper Street also has industrial spaces for rent as well as a studio for photo shoots, and offers classes on design, tech entrepreneurship and art.

Source: Andy Didorosi, owner, Paper Street
Writer: Kim North Shine



Metro Restyling adds industrial facility in Sterling Heights

Metro Restyling, a supplier of custom lighting and vinyl, is adding a 13,500-square-foot industrial facility to the online business that caters to custom car enthusiasts.

The new building is located 5400 Eighteen Mile Road in Sterling Heights, and is a mile away from its existing facility.

Besides its online and telephone sales, metrorestyling.com is an online community and idea source for customizers.

Source: Jason Capitani, broker, L. Mason Capitani, Corfac International
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mad Hatter brings tea and more to downtown Birmingham

The Mad Hatter Cafe is bringing high tea and a bistro and bakery to downtown Birmingham.

The husband-and-wife-owned business is scheduled to open this spring at 185 N. Old Woodward, across from the Palladium movie theater.

Besides high tea, a bistro for lunch and dinner and indoor, and outdoor seating, the Mad Hatter expects to fill a need for food takeout and offer event space.

The Mad Hatter is moving into a space previously occupied by a Quizno's sandwich shop.

Source: Edward Nakfoor, public relations, Birmingham Principal Shopping District
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

32 new businesses launched in downtown Ferndale in 2013

Downtown Ferndale grew in new businesses and in many other economic ways in 2013.

Two major investments were made in the downtown infrastructure: the rebuild of West Nine Mile Road, and a new parking meter system meant to make a visit to downtown easier and visitor stays longer.

According to the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, 32 new businesses opened, including Dynasty Media Network, C! Tech Solutions, Schramm's Meadery, the Public House restaurant and Shine On Yoga. Other established businesses such as Treat Dreams , Modern Natural Baby, Painting with A Twist and Boston Tea Room expanded their spaces or products or moved into larger space as the local economy continued looking up in 2013.

In all, 2013 saw some $5 million in private and public investment and 300 new jobs, says Ferndale DDA executive director Cristina Sheppard-Decius.

Ferndale's downtown is made up of about 350 businesses across 3.9 linear miles centered around Woodward and 9 Mile.

“Entrepreneurs are investing in the district in big and small ways,” said Sheppard-Decius. “Whether they grow in place or add a second business, make interior improvements or exterior changes, they are committed to downtown Ferndale.   Their commitment, coupled with that of our public officials who are committed to making significant infrastructure improvements, creates a synergy that attracts new investors, new businesses.  It is a formula for growth – and it is working in downtown Ferndale.”

Source: Chris Hughes and Cristina Sheppard-Decius, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cigar smokers find space at Socialight in W. Bloomfield



In this era of smoking bans cigar lovers are seeing their options for a place to enjoy a stogie be slowly snuffed out.

Socialight, a cigar lounge and restaurant in West Bloomfield, is their respite, a place where others who appreciate cigars can go for a smoke, a drink, a meal and a membership that comes with a humidity-controlled humidor, cigar and wine storage, a monthly gift and access to a VIP room. There's a selection of 240 cigars for personal use or gifts.

However, says Justin Near, a spokesman for Socialight Cigar Lounge & Bistro, is "not your typical cigar bar. First, and foremost, the majority of the space is non-smoking by design as they wish to be a serious local bistro that can be enjoyed by all. The cigar area is a separate room and cigar smoke cannot invade the bar and main dining room - a state-of-the-art filtration system has been installed."

Socialight opened Feb. 7 and is located at Maple and Haggerty roads.

Jeffrey Yatooma, Dani Sitto and Steve Romaya are partners in the business, with Romaya being the managing partner.

They and general manager Tom Meyer want Socialight to be the source for fine cigars and knowledge, great food, gifts and knowledge as well as a comfortable hangout whether for a game on TV or a business meeting or party.

The restaurant was a designed by local artist, John Janvirya, who has designed, amongst many other things, the former Chen Chow in Birmingham. By spring a patio will be completed and connected to the restaurant by a rolling garage door.

The menu is not a typical cigar bar menu, says Near, "although the daily specials are."
"It is a light, locally-sourced menu that is reasonably priced and the brainchild of Ryan Porter. Ryan, an up and coming chef and his assistant chef Carole Wendling. Ryan was learned from Chef Benjamin Myer from the Motor City Casino, and Wendling, was mentored by restaurateur Matt Prentice.

Source: Tom Meyer, general manager, Socialight Cigar Louge and Bistro
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mixed-use project to add to Auburn Hills downtown development plan

Auburn Hills' emerging downtown area will add a $10 million residential and commercial development to just over one acre at the southwest corner of Auburn and Squirrel roads.

Construction on Rivers Edge of Auburn Hills, a planned unit development, is to begin this summer and be completed by the summer of 2015.

Developer Burton-Katzman LLC won approval for  the project from the city council in early February, adding to a list of developments mostly related to the growing population of college students that has changed Auburn Hills in the last year. The developments include DEN, Downtown Education Nook; the University Center; the Auburn Square apartments and its retailers; and a 233-space parking structure.

Rivers Edge is expected to be a four-story building with 9,300 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 31 one- and two-bedroom apartments and lofts on the top three floors. About 50 parking spaces will be for residents, and another 11 will serve the commercial tenants and other downtown Auburn Hills visitors.

"We are pleased that Burton-Katzman is bringing this type of popular mixed-use, urban loft project to downtown Auburn Hills,” says Steve Cohen, director of community development for Auburn Hills. “Continued investment in the city is sparking strong interest from developers, prospective tenants and retailers."

Source: Barbara Fornasiero, EA Focus, Inc.
Writer: Kim North Shine

As campus life builds, new $11.6M dorm goes up at LTU

Construction on a third dorm at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield begins this spring, making room for the growing number of students coming for the education and the campus life.

The 47,545-square-foot, two-story building will house 160 students and face Lawrence Tech's largest parking lot. The building will also house university mechanical systems and storage in a 4,000-square-foot basement .

The $11.6-million project is an investment in students and in a changing university that is less of a commuter school as more fraternity life, varsity sports, student activities and other aspects of campus life are making on-campus living more attractive.

The new residence hall will be ready for move-in for the fall 2015 semester, and it will be arranged in five pods of 16 double-occupancy units. Each pod will have its own lounge, fireplace and kitchenette. There will be  dorm cafe and retail spaces as well as game rooms and meeting rooms and laundry facilities.

“The building is designed to encourage students to be out of their rooms with plenty of space for interaction and collaboration. One of the goals is to get new students involved in campus life by fostering collegiality on a regular basis,” LTU President Virinder Moudgil says.

Two residence halls, North, which opened in 1977, and South, which opened in 2002, have room for 600 students.

LTU was largely a commuter school until 1977, says spokesman Eric Pope, and it's slowly turned less so since. Students from 32 states and 46 countries attend LTU, and Michigan residents make up 66 percent of all students.

Source: Eric Pope, managing editor, University New Bureau, Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Buy Michigan Now readies for annual market in Northville

A festival that comes to Northville each August may look like any summertime fair, but behind the temporary town of tents, banners, bands and children's play areas is a successful effort to build up fledgling Michigan-made businesses.

For five years the Buy Michigan Now festival has shut down Main & Center streets and opened 2 1/2 blocks of downtown to small- and medium-sized Michigan businesses looking for exposure for their goods and services. Dozens and dozens of times over the years, says Buy Michigan Now founder Lisa Diggs, the vendor-customer connection made at the fair propels entrepreneurial ideas into commercial reality.

"We've had businesses that grew out of the event in a great way, where they've gone on to get on store shelves. Others have opened their own shops or offices. We're sort of a little breeding ground for that kind of success," says Diggs.

This year, as in past years, about 100 vendors will bring all sorts of products, such as foods, patio furniture, smartphone repair services, to the festival. Small businesses in downtown Northville are also part of the event, which draws large crowds with its carefully-screened vendors, a beer and wine garden where Michigan crafters sell their liquid handiwork, live entertainment and a kids' play area spread across the festival area.

The 2014 festival is Aug. 1, 2 and 3, and applications for vendors are now being taken online here.

"It's a campaign and a festival with a cause," says Diggs, an entrepreneur herself. Through Buy Michigan Now and her consulting work as owner of The Catalyst Co., she promotes businesses in a number of ways throughout the year, including providing publicity and media exposure that is normally too costly for a start-up.

The first year of the Buy Michigan Now campaign was in 2007 and came with heavy involvement from the state of Michigan and Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It was a weeklong event with numerous celebrations and promotion. It formed at a time when Michigan's economy was tanking and when the mindset of buying local was taking shape.

"We're literally about getting more people to sit up and take notice of where their product or service comes from. The idea when we started was to have a day for people to think about how to buy only Michigan products, make a meal only from Michigan. Then we realized we needed much more than a day."

Source: Lisa Diggs, founder Buy Michigan Now
Writer: Kim North Shine

Love of Mediterranean eats stokes expansion of Park Grill

Adi Kokoshi and his family have cooked their way out of the original spot where they started the Park Grill Mediterranean in Grosse Pointe Park in 2009 and into a restaurant that's nearly twice the size, has an expanded menu and for the first time a liquor license and large outdoor seating area. It could all bring more success to the Albanian immigrants who have found so many takers of their favorite dishes.

Renovations started in July on an expansion into a neighboring storefront, taking it from 1,000 to 1,800 square feet with seating for 62 instead of 40. A 17-foot L-shaped bar will seat 17 and an outdoor seating area will have room for 20-25.

Opening day could come in late February or early March, says Park Grill general manager Brian Czerny. The Grill takes up a corner location in the buzzing business district called The Park. It's where 1920s- and 1930s-era facades house long-established businesses such as the Rustic Cabins bar, Antonio's Restaurant, a dry cleaner, a pet store, a hardware store, a party store and offices that are now part of a mini development boom that's added  The Red Crown restaurant, Atwater Brewery, which will open in April, the Cabbage Patch Cafe and a soon-to-be announced taco bar, to the mix of businesses.

The menu that locals love, one influenced by cooking from Albania, Greece and the Balkans, will remain but with additions, says Czerny. New entrees and steak and fish dishes will be served, and a "unique appetizer menu" will be available during meal service and also late into the night, he says.  There will be four draft beers on tap, 22 bottled beers and a specialty cocktail menu. In the spring, "an endless mimosa and bloody Mary bar" will go with brunch and lunch, Czerny says.

"We hope to create a warm, relaxed, neighborhood-type atmosphere that works for just about everybody, whether it be lunch during the week, dinner with the family, date night with a spouse, or just hanging out with friends," Czerny says.

Source: Brian Czerny, general manager, Park Grill LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine

$250,000 prize lets Robot Garage expand its kid engineer biz

The Robot Garage in Birmingham is the winner of a $250,000 prize that will give the company owners the financial boost needed to expand staff and programming and put finishing touches on a renovated classroom space as they try to reach more kids -- and adults -- looking to use their brains, hands and free time building Legos, robots and engineering minds.

The prize comes from Chase Bank's Mission Main Streets Grants program. The Robot Garage, which opened in 2012 in Birmingham's burgeoning Rail District, was one of two metro Detroit businesses in the group of 12 winners from across the country.

The other metro Detroit winning company was Edibles Rex, which provides healthy, fresh foods to schools, day care businesses, and other places that feed children.

It's an amount of money that can transform a small business forever. It's the intent of the contest to provide small businesses with cash infusions to help them do things that might not be affordable for years to come, if ever.

"This will do so much to turn still-unrealized dreams into a reality," says Robot Garage co-founder and co-owner Sarah Jacobs.

Source: Chase Mission Main Streets and Robot Garage
Writer: Kim North Shine
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