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New diner steps in for closed one in downtown Clawson

RJ's Diner is soon to open in the downtown Clawson spot long occupied by Grumpy's.

RJ's will be a 50's era diner and serve comfort foods like meat loaf and mac & cheese, according to the Clawson Downtown Development Authority.

Opening day at the new restaurant at 230 S. Main Street is expected before winter, after recipes are perfected, renovations are complete and employees are hired.

It's "always sad to see one business leave but so nice when another relocates and finds their new home here," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson DDA.

Source: Joan Horton, Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Treat Dreams ice creamery expands into specially-flavored donuts

Treat Dreams, the Ferndale ice creamery that opened three years ago and expanded its space earlier this year, is diving into another sweet endeavor: donuts.
 
Wicked Donuts will open inside the Treat Dreams store at 22965 Woodward Avenue on Nov. 16. Diners can wash down the creatively flavored dough with Detroit-based Great Lakes Coffee.

Like the ice cream, the donuts will come in unusual flavors -- at least 12 to start with -- and some classics.

Initially customers will have 12 flavors to choose from: Kooky Monster, Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean, Classic Chocolate Frosted, Pumpkin Bourbon Gingersnap, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip. German Chocolate, Chocolate Candy Pieces, Boston Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Cup, Coconut Lemon Curd, Creme Brulee, Maple Bacon and Pumpkin Pie.

Owner Scott Moloney, who calls himself the chief dreamologist, says the donuts have been in the research phase for awhile.

"We have wanted to bring unique donuts to the Detroit market for quite some time, and with our recent expansion and the beginning of fall this seems like the perfect time," Moloney says in announcement of the launch of Wicked Donuts. "Along with the addition of Great Lakes Coffee and espresso drinks, free WiFi and ample guest seating, we hope that Treat Dreams becomes a destination for remote offices and off-site business meetings."

Source: Scott Moloney, owner, Treat Dreams and Wicked Donuts
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale gets new streetscape with extra bells and whistles

A six-month-long rebuild of West 9 Mile Road in downtown Ferndale is complete and showing off what it has to offer to people who drive, walk or bike the stretch of road that was redone in an effort to unify and promote the business district, create public art and gathering spaces, and update and maintain the city infrastructure.

The $1.8-million project paid for the replacement of 2,600 feet of outdated water main and also remade the roadway and sidewalks from Livernois to Pinecrest with a new streetscape.

The project, dubbed How the West was One, was paid for by the city of Ferndale, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, which has long wanted the west part of 9 Mile to be more connected to the east side across Woodward Avenue.

You'll know the new western half by the bright yellow park benches, recycling bins, bike parking loops, new street lighting, plants, trees and shrubbery. In addition, the road was narrowed and designed with on-street parking, better crosswalks and bike lane arrows that give cyclists a designated, ideally safer place to ride.

In addition, the new Kenton Pocket Park was carved out of the project and while the construction was disruptive, a new business opened, as did a new public art gallery.

Source: Chris Hughes, spokesperson, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Throwback barber shop in Wyandotte cuts traditional and urban 'dos

The generous 1950s era barber chairs, antique-styled signs and jars, hot lather shaves, pompadours and other old-school styles speak to Cream Barber and Shop's love for the barber shop of yesterday.

But the hair designs -- shaving and cutting hair close enough to the scalp to leave shapes and pictures -- reveal the modern talents at the new downtown Wyandotte business that opened several weeks ago at 537 Eureka. The opening was celebrated Oct. 10 with a ribbon cutting with dignitaries and a gigantic pair of shears.

Owner Wesley Napier, AKA West, thinks the two worlds can combine for success and he hopes Cream will become a local favorite for regular cuts and a destination for what he calls urban designs.

"Barber shops in the last 20 years have lost their true meaning," he says. "We are setting the standard for metro Detroit of what true barbering should be."

The "shop" in the name refers to merchandise like hair products, clothing and retro Nike Air Jordans.

Source: Wesley Napier, owner Cream Barber & Shop
Writer: Kim North Shine


Former NFL'ers son inspires sporty Kute Kids Boutique



Kute Kids Boutique
, an online store that customizes sports-themed clothes and accessories for kids -- and even dogs -- is carving out an online niche of customers, from Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons players to the everyday sports fan watching teams at home.

"Lions' players' wives have ordered things," says co-owner and marketer Sherrie Handrinos, who is also the president of Boost One Marketing. "Pistons staff cleared out our gear in like 10 minutes."

Michigan and Michigan State fans are plentiful, as are orders for teams from out-of-state.

The mother-daughter-run online store went live several weeks ago and quickly got a following of people wanting to dress up their kids on game days -- or any day.

Handrinos, a Royal Oak resident, and her mom, Mary Anne Pacheco, a seamstress from Plymouth, have worked together since Handrinos was 19 and "we work together so well," she says. They also collaborate on Boost One Marketing, a marketing and public relations business.

"When I was little my mom would make my clothes…She's the one who knows how to do that stuff," says Handrinos. "I'm the creative one. I come up with the crazy ideas and make it happen…It's not really our main business, it's just something we love so much."

Kute Kids was inspired by Handrinos's godson, Kingston Williams, son of Derrick Williams, a third-round draft pick from Penn State who played for the Detroit Lions before moving to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Over the past two years I would call my mom and say could you make Kingston this…every time he'd change his jersey number…We'd make bibs, blankets, outfits to match."

Kingston is now two and his dad has left football, but the clothes and other kids' stuff he inspired carry on.

Kute Kids will add detail -- names, numbers, etc. -- to items made by Pacheco and to other products: blankets, diaper covers, onesies, bibs, etc.

Social media, especially Instagram, has been a sales driver. After Handrinos posted a photo of her and Pacheco's Maltese dogs dressed as footballs, inquiries from pet owners wanting outfits for their animals "were coming in within five minutes," says Handrinos.

"I can't say enough about the power of social media," she says. "We may some day want a store or to put our merchandise in a store, but for now with people being so comfortable with online shopping...the online store is working out great."

Source: Sherrie Handrinos, co-owner Kute Kids Boutique and president Boost One Marketing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Build your own pie at Royal Oak's Blaze Pizza

A California pizza chain known for its quick-fired, watch your pizza being made concept opened its first Michigan location in Royal Oak last week.

Blaze Pizza, a fast casual restaurant concept that's in heated expansion mode, franchised a 3,900-square-foot, 80-seat store with an outside patio at 112 Main Street. The eatery introduced locals to its concept of an assembly-line system that lets customers choose from more than 40 toppings -- many gourmet or unusual -- and watch as a ball of dough made from scratch and left to ferment and develop flavor for 24 hours is pressed and topped before going into a high-heat oven that bakes the thin-crust pizzas in 120 seconds.

The franchise is owned by Blaze Midwest out of Houghton Lake, which plans to open 10 Blaze Pizzas in Michigan.

Source: Blaze Pizza
Writer: Kim North Shine

Age-friendly, plug-in ready neighborhood planned for Auburn Hills

A residential development in Auburn Hills is planned to be much more than another new subdivision.

The Parkways, a project of The Moceri Companies, is meant to create public use spaces, become an entry into the city's emerging downtown district, promote alternative electric vehicle usage and offer specially-designed multi-generational housing in one neighborhood.

City officials say the mix of housing styles and design of the neighborhood keep in mind the city's goals of offering more "age-friendly" and senior living options and promoting the inclusion of alternative energy technology in new construction.

The Parkways is also believed to be the largest residential development in Michigan to wire all property with electric vehicle plug-ins.

"This project was intentionally designed to meet Auburn Hills’ formal commitment to become an Age-Friendly Community with a variety of housing opportunities, parks, sidewalks and complete street considerations,” says Steven Cohen, director of community development for the city of Auburn Hills. “This private investment by The Moceri Companies to build a multi-generational development is a huge victory for the city.  It’s a game changer for Downtown Auburn Hills.”

As for electric vehicle wiring, Cohen says, "If considered when a project is first built, preparing for electric vehicles is very easy and inexpensive.  By prepping these garages with proper wiring, new residents within this development will only need to add a charging station on the wall if they buy or lease an electric vehicle.  It’s like adding a garage door opener and the costs are now very similar.  Having proper infrastructure in place will help this technology succeed. It just takes forward thinking.”

The Parkways will be made up of 76 townhouse, 72 stacked, flat units and a three-story 160-unit senior care complex.

The market value of The Parkways, which will be built on 21.5 acres of property west of Adams road and north of the Clinton River Trail, is expected to be $75 million. Previous plans for a major housing development by another company foundered during the recession, and the property went into foreclosure and then back into the city's hands.

A partnership with the city and Moceri means part of the land will become a two-acre public park and the major road through the property will be designed as a boulevard an eastern gateway into downtown Auburn Hills, where major projects such as student housing, will be completed soon.

Construction on the first of five phases is scheduled to being in the spring of 2014 and be completed by the end of 2017.

Source: City of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Veterans' housing foundation opens HQ in downtown Mount Clemens

An organization formed to prevent homelessness among veterans has opened an office in downtown Mount Clemens as it makes plans to become a Midwest advocate for military men, women and families

VCCF, Veterans Construction Communities Foundation,
offers housing assistance, whether it's building, remodeling or financial assistance, job training and lacemtn and other services that help veterans of all wars and their families not only assimilate post war but thrive and have a high quality of life, says Mark Diaz, VCCF founder and president. Diaz is also a  Marine and veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, a former Detroit Police Department detective and founder and executive vice president of Liberty Home Loans.

Diaz founded VCCF with Mary Beth Ryan, who has a background as a sales and marketing executive in radio and TV and is a fundraiser for some of metro Detroit's well-known events. Their connections and experience put them in a place to network with people and companies who can help veterans.

The foundation's new office opens Oct. 24 at 15 North Walnut, not far from the Macomb County Courthouse. The founders say they want to share with the Veterans Administration the overwhelming burden of needs of veterans trying to return to normalcy. Some 1.5 million veterans are at imminent risk of homelessness, says VCCF's founders.

Besides offering general assistance to veterans and their families, VCCF is project-based. Money will be raised, volunteers gathered and expertise and connections tapped for specific veterans.

The current project is the rehabilitation of the Mount Clemens home of an U.S. Army sergeant whose bank account was emptied and who had the ownership of his homes illegally transferred while he was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The goal of VCCF with its motto, One Soldier, One Home, One At A Time, is to "be a significant force in eradicating and prevention of veteran homelessness. The funds we raise through the foundation will supply housing options for veterans and their families," Diaz says. “Our vision is to also become the Midwest resource and advocacy center for the veteran population.”

Source: Mark Diaz and Mary Beth Ryan, founders, Veterans Constructing Communities Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine



Lark & Co. revives the old general store in new Birmingham spot

The vision for Michael Collins and David Zawicki's new Lark & Co. in downtown Birmingham is modern day general store.

The pair who previously ran Oliver's Trendz, a women's accessories store, in the same storefront at 138 N. Maple.  After shutting down for renovations, they reopened nearly two weeks ago and have stocked the 1,100-square-foot space with products inspired by a 1940s general store.

Variety is the name of the game: handmade candy, furniture, foodstuffs, lighting, purses, speciality soaps, rugs, books.

Collins and Zawicki have lived in Birmingham 17 years and see a general store as a way to round out downtown Birmingham's retail offerings, a way to keep locals from leaving town to shop.

Next door to Lark & Co. is Suhm-thing, a gift store that is also owned and operated by Collins and Zawicki and has a a selection of Michigan goods and unusual items from artists and designers around the world.

Part of the their business plan is also to convey how much good supporting a local merchant can do for the economy and to set them themselves apart by providing a level of service that's harder to find at chains, malls and big box stores, Collins says.

Source: Ed Nakfoor, Birmingham PSD, and Michael Collins, owner, Lark&Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale-based Schramm's meets the need for mead

A decade since Ken Schramm started on the path to becoming one of Michigan's -- if not the country's -- mead authorities, he has opened his own meadery and bar.

Schramm's Mead served its first customers Sept. 26 and celebrated with a grand opening party last Friday. After some unexpected hurdles, there was all the more reason to whoop it up.

Schramm, whose day job is as manager of video services and manager of instructional technologies for Wayne County Schools, withstood delays brought on by the government sequester in April -- delays that caused crucial approvals from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to take several weeks or months longer than usual. Schramm says he's thrilled to see that his financial projections are being met. That's even after paying rent, building costs, salaries and going through refinancing to survive the delays.

Schramm is the author of the Compete Mead Maker, which was published in 2003 and has sold about 60,000 copies. He started making mead a decade ago, knows its history, the many forms it takes, and realizes that turning craft mead into the next craft beer is "somewhat of an uphill battle" even when at least four metro Detroit craft brewers are succeeding at making mead. B. Nektar Meadery, also in Ferndale, is a supporter of Schramm's. The two make different styles of mead and B. Nektar is making mead as fast it can to keep up with demand.

For Schramm the opening of his own establishment and the growing taste for mead is a dream come true.

"I've worked hard to build this industry...I'm working hard to promote this hobby and this industry," he says. "This is such an exciting time for me."

His daughter Allison is managing Schramm's Mead and "doing everything except making the mead," which is Ken Schramm's job. She has the help of several employees. Schramm's Mead will serve its fermented honey-based beverage with cheese plates and charcuterie. Schramm smokes meats too. It's located at 327 W. 9 Mile Road.

So far the customers coming for a glass are about half mead drinkers, half not.

"Some are familiar with it or know it well. They come from craft beer and wine circles," he says. "Some know who I am and were looking forward to the place opening. Others have never tried it, are interested in seeing what mead is."

Source: Ken Schramm, founder and mead-maker, Schramm's Mead
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lawrence Tech shows small biz the ways of digital manufacturing

A new partnership is forming at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield with the goal of making access to digital manufacturing more accessible to small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

The university has paired up with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences to open a 1,200-square-foot facility where manufacturers will have access to software, hardware and training that teaches them how to incorporate typically cost-prohibitive digital manufacturing, modeling, simulation and visualization technology.

NCMS is described as the largest cross-industry collaborative research-and-development consortium in North America. It is dedicated to driving innovation in commercial, defense, robotics and environmentally sustainable manufacturing industries.

The new training facility is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014 in LTU's General Services Building at 21301 Civic Center Drive.

"This collaboration will truly help Michigan SMMs become more competitive on a national and global scale,” says NCMS President Rick Jarman.

Organizations such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Aerospace Association of Michigan will identify manufacturers and publicize the program.

“As a nation, we suffered a great deal when we shifted away from manufacturing," LTU president Virinder Moudgil says in a statement. "Now we have an opportunity to make manufacturing strong once more by helping the small and mid-sized companies that are the backbone of the U.S. economy.”

Source: Eric Pope, spokesperson, Lawrence Technogical University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barre workout & yoga unite in new Grosse Pointe Park studio

In just a few months' time a new yoga and barre studio in Grosse Pointe Park has built a strong following of fitness-focused customers looking for a new place and way to work out.

Above the Barre X at 15229 Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park looks like a dance studio with a ballet barre, mirrors and wood floors in a big open space. Lightburst chandeliers, sliding, floor-to-ceiling doors and glistening floors give the studio a contemporary, upscale feel.

It's where co-owners Suzette Wilson and Christy Wood and a staff of nine instructors teach yoga, Pilates and Barre X, a workout that challenges the muscles, especially the smaller ones, through movements of constant contraction and tension. Movements are made in shorts bursts and holds. Shaking, quivering muscles are the norm. Barre has become go-to workout in larger cities and is gaining popularity locally.

Wood, who for years taught Pilates and yoga, was a partner in a studio in Grosse Pointe Woods and also taught in St. Clair Shores at Wilson's Real Results Training. About two years ago they learned about barre and introduced it to a handful of clients.

"We actually started doing the classes in another location during construction in January or February," Wood says. "We just wanted to get interest up. We started with one barre. We kept adding. I got trained. It took me a year to train the others. We knew people were ready for it."

Wood says barre originated in London and was a workout for the rich and famous. It migrated to the U.S. and by the '70s was an exclusive workout for women living on the Upper East Side of New York. Working on a barre in a nondescript gym, they saw amazing, quick results. Barre began to spread, and now barre studios are opening regularly, especially on the East Coast.

Wood has traveled to many cities learning about barre and was amazed by how it strengthened her body and her mindset, even as a longtime Pilates and yoga instructor.

"After traveling and seeing how happy people were with barre I'm not at all surprised to see the response we've had here," she says. "It's amazing. It's almost like people are on a high after a barre class.

"For me the best part is seeing the results, and people do see the results," she says. "What's beautiful about it is it allows them to look outside themselves and think about others, to think less about how they look or how their body feels."

More classes are being added, including a teen barre class on Thursdays, and special events such as Bring Your Man to the Barre are being planned.

"The more people see what a hard workout this is and how much they get out of it," Wood says, "they are hooked."

Source: Christy Wood, co-owner, Above the Barre X
Writer: Kim North Shine

Wanderlust Boutique brings affordable Euro fashion to Rochester

The women behind the new Wanderlust Boutique in downtown Rochester are bringing their love for European fashion to locals.

Ally and Denise Martin say they've figured out a way to make Euro style affordable by scouring hundreds of vendors, looking not only for good prices but original styles. Besides casual clothing, the store sells accessories such as jewelry, watches, belts and shoes.

Wanderlust opened Oct. 11 in a redone store painted in aqua blue mixed with exposed brick walls.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce is planned for Nov. 1.

Source: Ally Martin, co-owner, Wanderlust Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Four new developments coming online in Auburn Hills

Auburn Hills -- and its developing downtown area -- is in a mini-construction boom with four new projects partially or mostly complete.

The developments are an outgrowth of increased enrollment and demands for housing and other services for students and staff at Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Baker College and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

* The University Center will open in January and replace a restaurant and bar with a two-story building dedicated to educating local high school and college students. The first floor will have two classrooms in 4,800 square feet and host classes for colleges and universities located in Auburn Hills. The second floor will be home to the Avondale Academy run by Avondale Schools.

The University Center is a partnership between the city's TIFA, Avondale Schools, Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Baker College and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

* The DEN, Downtown Education Nook, will be a relaxing hang-out for students to study individually or in groups and like the University Center open in January. The 1,564-square-foot facility is connected to a historic log cabin and will have two fireplaces and five study rooms.

* Auburn Square Apartments: 97 apartments consisting of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The $9 million project will include 6,100 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, helping to increase foot traffic in the downtown area. Apartments are already leasing and move-in should begin in January.

* A public parking structure will be owned and operated by the city and its Tax Increment Financing Authority. It will have space for 233 vehicles, with spaces connected to common hallways that lead to each floor of apartments. It should be open for business in November.

All four projects are the result of work by the city's Tax Increment Financing Authority, which captures increases in the tax base in a designated zone and dedicates them to public improvement projects in partnership with private and other public investors.

Source: Barbara Fornasiero, spokesperson, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill opens in Wolverine Lake

There is a lot to go on about with the C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake, and customers are coming, from the nearby lake crowd to destination diners, to see what's it's all about.

There is the food -- a specially smoked and creative menu made up of locally sourced ingredients from farms within 100 miles and never treated with chemicals or artificial ingredients. For example, the pork is pink because it comes from farms that don't pump it up with solutions.

There is the building itself, a mix of rustic and industrial with copper, barn wood, iron, exposed cement-brick walls, exposed ceilings and an eye-catching, sleek black onyx bar. The bar serves specialty drinks and has six Michigan craft beers on tap.

Jeff Rose, co-owner and chef, comes from two of metro Detroit's top restaurants: Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit and Toast in Birmingham. Rose co-owns C.A.Y.A with Rachel Mandell. They have 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Rose has also manned kitchens at Tribute, Big Rock Chophouse and Iridescence.

Rose broke away to introduce his own restaurant concept -- a smokehouse bistro -- a casual restaurant that shows off what can be done with a smoker. Many of C.A.Y.A's meats are smoked for 10-14 hours over hickory, maple, oak, apple and cherry woods until they are tender. They emerge with a caramelized outside and are served by chefs specializing in sides and desserts.

"It's important for us to be able to provide our guests with not only a great dining experience," Rose says,"but also offer the highest quality and freshest food available."

There's room at the grill for 100 to eat inside and 60 on the covered patio. The restaurant is located at 1403 Commerce Road at Pontiac Trail.


Source: Jeff Rose, co-owner, C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill and Jaclyn Robinson, spokesperson
Writer: Kim North Shine
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