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Entrepreneurship : Development News

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Science lab incubator coming to 22,000 sq ft East Lansing building

Not unlike food entrepreneurs, early stage biotech and life science entrepreneurs face pretty high startup costs in the equipment and facilities department. In the spirit of niche incubators such as those that serve the food industry, former Arialink CEO Jason Schreiber decided to give area scientists a place where they could affordably get a business off the ground. With the purchase of a 22,000 square foot building on Dawn Ave. in East Lansing, a science laboratory incubator facility is on the way into the market. 
 
"Right now we see companies that are spinning out of MSU and other life science companies going to Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo," says Schreiber. "We're hoping to keep them in Lansing."
 
Schreiber says he's already received several inquiries from potential users of the space, and renovation will depend on the types of users that sign on. He hopes the space will accommodate both single-user labs and larger companies. 
 
"We saw the building, and we recognized the opportunity,'" he said of the two-story building that was once used for research and development. "It's a gem of a building, it just needs some love"
 
Renovations are expected to begin around February of 2014. Schreiber hopes to have the facility up and running by the middle to end of next summer summer. CBRE|Martin facilitated the sale of the property.

Source: Jason Schreiber, Property Owner
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Hollow Mountain Comics and Games to open in downtown East Lansing

Aaron Solon is a games guy. Gabe Cooper is a comics guy. So both were disappointed when East Lansing's 21st Century Comics and Games closed last year - enough so that they considered buying it. Though that plan didn't come together, it got Solon and Cooper hooked on the idea of opening their own comics and games shop, and in January, that plan will come to fruition with Hollow Mountain Comics and Games
 
"I actually think it's lucky it turned out that way, since we've been able to do some cool stuff with our inventory and storefront, starting from scratch," says Solon. "Our atmosphere will be a lot more accessible than other game stores in the area as well, so I think we'll be able to appeal to both hardcore gamers and comic fans, as well as people who are new to the hobby, or are simply more casual about it."
 
The 1,000 square foot Grand River storefront will open in early January. Being close to campus was a must for the partners, who anticipate foot traffic and accessibility to be factors in the success of Hollow Mountain Comics and Games. 
 
Solon says he hopes the store will grow into a community hub for gamers and comic book fans, much like a store he grew up with in Ann Arbor, Get Your Game On. 
 
"The staff there was really great, and it provided a place for me to connect to the gaming community and get exposed to some really cool games that I might never have heard of if it wasn't for that store," he says. "My personal goal for Hollow Mountain is for it to be the kind of place that can give someone that kind of experience."
 
Hollow Mountain will initially be staffed by Solon and Cooper, and they hope to add an employee in a few months. Information about the store's grand opening will be posted to their Facebook page

Source: Aaron Solon, Hollow Mountain Comics and Games
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Massage Bliss opening in 3,000 sq ft Okemos location

Mother and daughter team Shannon Sawnick and Karen Smith were looking for a small business idea that would promote healthy and natural living, and upon finding a lack of massage salons in Okemos, they found their opportunity. The forthcoming business, Massage Bliss will open near the end of January on Grand River next to Dusty's Cellar
 
"We're excited tot be opening in Okemos," says Sawnick. "We don't think there is anything like this there. Our prices are going set us apart. We're hoping to appeal to everybody."
 
In addition to affordability, Sawnick plans to attract customers with stunning ambiance. Massage Bliss will offer an infrared sauna, a sitting room with a water fountain and fireplace, as well as a retail area and coffee bar. In addition to massage, the business will offer waxing and facial services. 
 
"We've already had a lot of positive feedback," says Sawnick. "We're already starting to sell gift cards." 
 
Massage Bliss will employ eight massage therapists and three receptionists. The 3,000 square foot storefront is currently under renovation."

Source: Shannon Sawnick, Massage Bliss
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

The Institution fitness studio to celebrate downtown grand opening

When Paul Nagel retired from military service, he thought he could leave his exercising day behind him. It didn't take long before he found himself unhappy with the results of that idea, and his change in habits changed the rest of his life. Now a certified trainer and new resident of Lansing, Nagel and he his partner Jennifer Battle own The Institution Fitness Studio, which will celebrate the grand opening of its new location on Dec.13.
 
"We like to have fun, but we want results too," says Nagel. "We take a personal interest in our customers. We're not here to make a million dollars overnight; we're here to give people their lives back."
 
The class-based fitness studio offers a variety of classes, and Nagel and Battle have a particular interest in children's fitness. They offer free weekly classes for kids between six and 12 on Saturdays. 
 
"For the first time in history our children will not outlive us," says Nagel. "We want to be part of the solution. Every single child is invited, and they can come and workout and have fun."
 
The new 1,000 square foot studio is on S. Washington Sq. Nagel says he and Battle hope to continue to grow The Institution to multiple locations and possibly franchise the business in the future. Currently, they're working to grow into their new space, and they plan to work with four to five contract instructors to help teach their courses. 
 

Source: Paul Nagel, The Instution
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

TLC Memory Keepers moves into new Williamston location

When Terie Clover started scrapbooking, it was just a hobby. But when she started to offer to help some of her friends and family who were too busy to finish their own projects, everyone quickly realized she had a knack for the art. After opening TLC Memory Keepers in Williamston two year ago, it became her job. 

"I decided this coul be a way I could share what I do with othe rpoepl. I have why I call a scrapbook club where epeople cn join and come any time during my open hours. 

The business has been growing ever since. Last year, Clover added scrapbooking materials to her shop, and this year, she moved from Keller's Plaza into a new location in the Miller Photography Studio. 

"It was difficult to have craft sessions upstairs and the owner of Miller Studios thought it would be great if we got together, " she says. "It’s a little bit  larger, and I do have more supplies and more space to hold classes."

Clover moved TLC Memory into the new location in Nov. She says she doesn't plan to become a millionaire with her business, but to simply continue to share her skills and supplies with her customers. 

Source: Terie Clover, TLC Memory Keepers
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Hair & Company on Ash supports stylists' education, community art in Mason

Opening her own salon has been on Tricia Singh's to-do list for years. After nearly two decades in the business, she has reached her goal with the opening of  Hair & Company on Ash in Mason in Oct.  
 
"It has always been a dream of mine to open a full service, upscale salon that caters to the creative soul," she says. "It's difficult to work in an environment with rules and stipulations."
 
Rather than setting restrictions on her team of stylists, Singh infuses her staff with education. As the hair business is always changing, she said continual education is the best way to ensure ongoing quality for her customers and enrichment for her stylist. 
 
The 1,600 square foot salon offers massage therapy, nail services and facials along with hair services, but Singh doesn't stop there. With an eye on supporting all kinds of creatives in the Mason community, she carries locally made honey, soaps, lotions, candles, maple syrup, fine art and more. 
 
"It's about supporting all of our local people," she says.
 
Hair & Company on Ash currently employs a staff of seven. So far, Singh says her chairs have been full, and she couldn't be happier with the community's reception of the new salon.

Source: Tricia Singh, Hair & Company on Ash 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

A new Asian cuisine option opens on Michigan Ave.

Restauranteur Frank Lin knows an opportunity when he sees one. When he recognized the lack of a neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Lansing's east side, he decided to become the solution. His new Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant opened about a month ago on Michigan Ave. 
 
"The response has been good, and we haven't even done any advertising yet," says Lin. "Many people are coming right from this neighborhood. It's a very nice neighborhood here."
 
Location was key in Lin's decision to open Asian Gourmet. With large employers in close proximity, such as Michigan State University and Sparrow, he plans to attract a good lunch crowd. While Chinese fare is at the heart of the restaurant's offerings, Lin says Thai and other Asian cuisine is offered as well.
 
"We don't use MSG, and we mostly use fresh vegetables," says Lin. "It's very healthy with no extra fat or oils." 
 
The 1,500 square foot restaurant currently seats about 15 diners and has relied on carry out for much of their business. In the future Lin hopes to expand his in-house dining. Currently, Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant employs a staff of three. 

Source: Frank Lin, Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Flint-based Halo Burger opens first Lansing-area location on road to national growth

A popular Mid-Michigan name in the hamburger business is about to become much more recognizable state- and nationwide, and East Lansing is among the first in it's growth spurt. Halo Burger was born in Flint in the 1920s and was recently sold to Dortch Enterprises. The new owners saw room for significant growth for the brand and opened their first new location on Flint's west side in April. From there, the goal is to spread throughout Michigan and the nation. 
 
On Aug. 12, East Lansing joined the now 15-location Halo Burger business. According to General Manager Alex Watkins, what the new restaurant offers the Frandor area is something different from the existing fast food market. 
 
"Halo Burger isn't fast food, it's good food fast," he says. "Our burgers are never frozen, and they're hand-pressed on the grill." 
 
Watkins calls the Halo Burger experience something between a Culver's and a Five Guys. The East Lansing location has been in the works for about a year, and the location was carefully chosen. 
 
"Frandor's great because it's the intersection of three different markets," says Watkins. "It has the Lansing market, the East Lansing market and the MSU community - not to mention it's the main hub for everyone going into and out of the city." 
 
In addition to expanding nationwide, Halo Burger intends to open more stores in the Lansing market. Watkins says an Okemos location is expected in the the next six months, and a west side location will follow in another year. The East Lansing location employs a staff of 25.

Source: Alex Watkins, Halo Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Downtown Lansing to be among the first homes of "Shark Tank"-backed Tom+Chee restaurant

Next month Downtown Lansing will be among the first places to open a restaurant that is set to start spreading across the country. After appearing on ABC’s "Shark Tank" in May, the small, Cincinnati-based restaurant Tom+Chee earned $600,000 in investment funds, followed by more than 9,000 franchise requests from around the world. 
 
Fortunately for Lansing, franchisee Mark Wibel was in on the grilled cheese and tomato soup-themed restaurant concept early. Prior to appearing on the show, owners Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush met with Wibel, and the result will be Tom+Chee's seventh location opening in Lansing on Dec. 10. 
 
"He has a pretty extensive franchising history," Corey Ward says of Wibel. "We were identifying the best candidates to open our first stores, and he just has tons of experience with multiple brands."
 
The 1,700 square foot restaurant will feature unique, affordable twists on grilled cheese, such as "Hippy+Chee" with hummus and vegetables, "Pep+Chee" featuring pepperoni and "Flying Pig" with turkey, bacon and pickles. Ward hopes the Lansing lunch crowd will receive the grilled cheese concept just as well as the crowds at their original restaurant.
 
"The buildign actually reminded us a lot of our first location in Cincinnati," he says. "The architecture looks familiar, and it's a nice location - an awesome lunch location." 
 
Tom+Chee will open with 10 to 15 employees. The restaurant will soon be joined by three additional franchise locations outside of Michigan, and a boom of 30 to 40 Tom+Chee restaurants is expected in 2014. Wibel plans to open at least two more locations in Michigan. Ward and Quackenbush will be featured this Friday in an update episode of "Shark Tank."

Source: 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Zaytoon Grill to bring well-known family recipes with an American fusion twist to the Westside

With the long-running Sultan's Restaurant and new Saffron Grill in East Lansing, the local market's love of the Samy Aburashed's family businesses has been tried and tested. This week, fans of Mediterranean cuisine will have another option with Aburashed's Zaytoon Grill opening on Elmwood Rd. near the Lansing Mall. 
 
"I've been looking for the last two years on the west side," says owner Samy Aburashed, who is nephew to the owner of Sultan's Restaurant. "There really isn't anything authentic out there."
 
Zaytoon Grill will begin with a soft opening this Saturday and will be fully open by Monday. Aburashed says the menu will have similar recipes to his family's well- known cuisine, but with a twist. 
 
"There will be a little modern touch to mine," he says. "I'm not scared to use a little more spice. It'll be a little different, with an American fusion to it." 
 
The 2,800 square foot restaurant will open with seating for 50 and about 10 employees. Aburashed says he hopes to expand in the future, looking to increase the size of the restaurant, and perhaps add a banquet facility and bakery to the business. 

 
Source: Samy Aburashed, Zaytoon Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Player's Choice celebrates grand opening of FunTyme Dome in Okemos

It was just a year ago that Player's Choice golf shops opened in Okemos and Grand Ledge. Now, the business is growing with the opening of the FunTyme Golf Dome on James Phillips Dr. in Okemos.
 
"The company as a whole is doing pretty well," says owner Josh Herrera. "It's an opportunity for us to grow."
 
The approximately 54,000 square foot FunTyme Golf Dome offers indoor driving range services, as well as a pro shop. Herrera says the business may also host softball tournaments and other events in the dome. Golf lessons will be offered at the dome through a partnership with Gregg Webber Golf Academy.
 
The new FunTyme celebrated a grand opening on Nov. 1. Company-wide, Player's Choice has added nine jobs since last year, bringing their staff to 13.

Source: Josh Herrera, Player's Choice
Writer: Natalie Burg

Bordeaux serves up fine wines, local foods at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West

The dining room transformation inside the Crowne Plaza Lansing West was something more than a renovation; it's a whole new restaurant. Serving fine wines and made-from-scratch dishes, Bordeaux is the result of the hotel's desire to give their guests the Michigan experience they were looking for. 
 
"The more we listened, the more we heard the desire for an elevated dining experience on the west side of Lansing," says April Fitzsimmons, marketing coordinator for the Crowne Plaza. "It was also important for us to feature elements unique to our home state, such as Michigan wines and microbrews and the Timeless Timber used in the construction of our bar." 
 
The renovation touched nearly every surface of the hotel's restaurant space, including features by those more than 100-year-old Timeless Timber logs, which were recovered from the Great Lakes. The restaurant includes private dining rooms, named for various wine regions, as well as the Cork Room with more than 70 wine options, including, of course, Bordeaux.
 
While already receiving positive feedback from guests, Fitzsimmons says the menu will continue to evolve with the seasons and tastes of the guests. 
 
"Chef [Bradley] Lineweaver plans to transform the menu from time to time throughout the year, with the goal of keeping it fresh and creative," she says. "As he continues building relationships with in-state vendors, more and more locally sourced ingredients will make their way into his dishes."
 
Bordeaux plans to soon offer pre-order options for guests on the go. The restaurant employs a staff of 30. 
 
Source: April Fitzsimmons, Crowne Plaza Lansing West
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Continental Home Center opens 5,000 sq ft Mason location

It's hard to believe there wasn't a furniture store within 15 minutes of S. Cedar and N. Cedar St. in Mason, but that's exactly why Michigan-based Continental Home Center opened their newest location there. 
 
"We like family places," says Bethany Peterson, store manager of the Mason Continental Home Center. "We do lots of demographic research. Caro was our number one store, and Mason had the same environment."
 
The family-owned Continental Home Centers was once primarily known for furniture rental, but have now expanded their offers to include cash sales. In fact, the new Mason location, which opened in July, has already found significant interest in their cash sales. 
 
"We guarantee to be the lowest price," Peterson says. "We're super friendly, and we always work with your budget. If you're looking for a particular price, don't look at our tags and walk away."
 
The 5,000 square foot Continental Home Center employs a staff of four. Peterson says her goal is to become the business' best performing location.
 

Source: Bethany Peterson, Continental Home Centers
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New ODP Fitness offers variety of workout options on N. Larch

These days, it seems every new workout facility has a single specialty. Whether it's CrossFit, yoga, Zumba or personal training, it seems all the newest exercise businesses focus on one. When opening his own business, Kory Wertz, who got his start as a mixed martial arts enthusiast, decided he could offer something more by, well, offering more. 
 
"Michigan is the fifth most obese state in the country," says Wertz, owner of the new ODP Fitness on N. Larch. "To change that, you can't just target one specific thing. With the diversity of the classes, I can address a diversity of fitness levels."
 
The "ODP" of the business' name stands for "open door policy," which Wertz hopes will encourage anyone interested in improving or maintaining his or her health to give it a chance. ODP Fitness offers boot camp classes, personal training, functional training and Zumba. Wertz also provides strength and conditioning training for area high school sports teams. 
 
Between his sports training and the multi-faceted business opening in early Aug., Wertz says the business has been busy from the get-go.
 
"It's crazy. It's been nonstop," he says. "I hit my three-month goal in nine days. I was blown away from the amount of support I've received."
 
The 3,800 square foot ODP Fitness employs a staff of nine. Wertz hopes to continue to grow the business and eventually expand into multiple Lansing-area locations. 
 

Source: Kory Wertz, ODP Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids phone repair business expands into East Lansing

Just two years after the opening of their first retail location in Grand Rapids, Genius Phone Repair is going gangbusters. With five stores now on the west side of the state, the owners decided to expand further out, and East Lansing was the company's first stop. 
 
"We knew that the students were going to be a very good market," says store manager Jayson Vanderstel. "That demographic was one we never really explored before." 
 
Genius Phone Repair opened in a 1,500 sq ft E. Grand River location about six weeks ago. The downtown storefront with plenty of visibility to students was just what the company was looking for. 
 
"We knew it was a good place to look for a high volume of traffic," Vanderstel says. "It's also pretty close to Okemos and some of the carrier stores. It's a plus to have Verizon, Sprint and AT&T fairly close."
 
The store offers iPhone, iPod, iPad and smartphone repair services. According to Vanderstel, Genius Phone Repair prices can often beat the prices offered by phone manufacturers, even for phones with insurance coverage. The East Lansing location is the business' sixth retail store. It employs a staff of five. 
 

Source: Jayson Vanderstel, Genius Phone Repair
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
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