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Traditional baker and Mexican chef opens new restaurant on Lansing's West Side

Ofilia Diaz checked out locations on the south, central and eastern edge of Lansing but decided on a tiny space on the West Side for her new restaurant serving authentic Mexican food and pastries.
 
El Burrito Mexicano opened the week of Thanksgiving for breakfast, lunch, dinner and occasional catering services at 801 W. Thomas L. Parkway. Big enough to seat 18 diners but small enough to feel cozy and warm, the 1,060-square foot space allows her to offer an expansive menu with familiar fares like burritos, tacos and enchiladas, as well as specialty egg and meat dishes. Customers can also satisfy their cravings for sodas and sweets tooth through a variety of Mexican sodas, dessert cookies and traditional pastries.
 
"I do all the cooking," says Diaz. "Lots of people like my enchiladas and wet burritos. I also make specialty beefs here, as well as tamales, barbacoa, menudo and soups. I'm excited."
 
Diaz has been baking and cooking as long as she can remember, and often worked as a part-time baker while holding a full-time job as a hospital tech. Diaz said her hospital co-workers had always encouraged her to open up her own restaurant, but she wanted to wait until she retired and could give the enterprise her full attention.
 
"My mom was an excellent cook, and I think I must have learned from her," says Diaz. "I was always calling her to ask how to make something. She would simply tell me over the phone because she doesn't have any recipes. Neither do I. It's just a little of this and a little of that."
 
In addition to stints baking cakes, cookies and pastries, Diaz also prepped, served and catered food through small locations at the Lansing City Market and the Lansing Mega Mall. None, she says, provided the space or accommodations she was looking for—until now.
 
Diaz has three staff, including her grown children and grandchildren who help around the kitchen.
 
"I used to help my mom bake," says Diaz. "And she would show me how to make sugar and butter cookies. I basically got all my recipes from her."

Source: Ofilia Diaz, Owner, El Burrito Mexicano
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Long-time artist friends open Peculiar Perspectives gallery in Williamston

They've been friends for more than 20 years. But it only took a single day for the two to join forces and open a business built on a shared aesthetic.
 
In early fall, artists Matt Mulford and Tony Steele opened Perculiar Perspectives—an art studio, gallery and gift shop offering works in cartooning, gothic and imaginative drawing. Located in Williamston's Keller Plaza, the new gallery is what the friends say might be the most eclectic 260-square-feet of space in Greater Lansing.
 
"It's quite a mix," says Steele. "We have our artwork plus hundreds of items including books, cards, matted prints for framing, and pins, jewelry and magnets featuring our art."
 
Steele and Mulford came upon the idea to open the gallery last summer during on one of their "art days"—or monthly outings the two take together to draw and create in different locations.
 
"On that particular day, we were in Williamston and someone pointed out that the upstairs of Keller's Plaza was full of spaces for artist types," says Mulford. "We checked it out and immediately knew we wanted to share the space and sell art from our studio."
 
Mulford says the majority of art he and Steele create is two-dimensional and purely imaginative—with no physical references. And while Mulford is primarily self-taught, Steele holds degrees in commercial art, illustration and graphic design from Lansing Community College.
 
"Tony and I complement each other very well," he says. "I lean toward wildlife or landscape themes so we meet in the middle with fantasy art. It's very inspiring."
 
In addition to using the space as a working gallery and gift shop, Mulford and Steele plan to hold drawing and painting classes for adults and children. Customers can also come in and browse, or simply observe the artists at work, creating two-dimensional critters, monsters and other fantasy-based artworks.
 
"Our goal is create a welcoming space, one that you won't come in and flee in terror," laughs Steele. "Everyone here in town has been really friendly, so sticking around is on our menu."
 
Source: Matt Mulford and Tony Steele, Owners, Peculiar Perspectives
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Established Trade Network moves to East Lansing

From skilled trades to professional services, the barter economy is alive and well, drawing on roots that pre-date the monetary system.
 
Greater Lansing's Trade Network, Inc., focuses on barter interactions between small and medium sized businesses throughout mid-Michigan. The office moved in early summer from West Lansing to a new East Lansing location to accommodate growth and put a fresh perspective on the age-old business.
 
Located at 740 W. Lake Lansing Road in Harrison Crossings, Trade Network serves more than 1,200 members across the state, with about 600 in Greater Lansing. Founded by President Gary Kay in 1991, the company is part of a $12 billion a year national industry that involves an estimated 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Lansing area business owners have used Trade Network to exchange products and services ranging from restaurant food and beverage, employee incentive programs, auto repairs, furniture, home improvements, weddings, legal services, housing, automobiles and even a one-person helicopter.
 
"Lots of people already barter," says Kay. "They say, 'I'll do your plumbing if you do my roof.' But the problem with one-on-one is you have to have what each other wants."
 
Kay says that in a trade exchange, members have more options to exchange and barter for services. Staff work with members to facilitate exchanges, and keep track of the transactions for year-end tax and other recordkeeping.
 
"We work with members to trade big things and little things, products and services," says Kay. "Trade exchanges are everywhere. Lots of people don't have the cash, but they do have the service or product that can be turned into a currency."
 
Kay took the opportunity to upgrade software and networking capabilities with the new office. About 7 people work in the 2,200-square foot space.
 
"I actually traded for the space," laughs Kay. "It's all part of the economics of barter."
 
Source: Gary Kay, President, Trade Network, Inc.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Inventive family opens We Love Kids N Dogs in Meridian Mall

Artists, writers and filmmakers have long recognized the nearly symbiotic relationship between kids and dogs. And while Chris Allen's creativity leans toward business, the bond between fidos and children inspired his family's newest venture in the Meridian Mall.
 
Allen and his spouse Melissa opened We Love Kids N Dogs about a month before the start of the holiday season. The unique boutique and gift store features products for kids that encourage creativity and entrepreneurship, and curates a variety of pet products from small businesses not typically found in larger pet stores.
 
Allen says he got the idea for We Love Kids N Dogs after traveling to pet industry product expos. He and Melissa had taken to the road to promote the Poochie Bowl—a uniquely designed water and food bowl made in Lansing and invented by the Allen family.
 
"We met the creators of so many unique products, and realized we were all small business owners that didn't have the cache to get into a big box store yet," says Allen. "At that point, we decided we needed to do something to bring all these products back to Lansing."
 
After his travels, Allen mapped out a concept and took it to the Meridian Mall. A few months later, Allen found himself contacting folks he had met through expos, and bringing in products that include custom doggy coats, organic dog cookies, hand made leashes, ribbons and bows, and other one-of-a-kind pet accessories.
 
The 1,000-square foot space in the Macy's wing also features kids products and toys rooted in STEM curriculum. The goal, Allen says, is to offer products that can support a child's curiosity and natural play, while encouraging them to build, innovate and create.
 
"We want to help cultivate that mindset of building and engineering and being creative," says Allen. "That's where we got our start—by inventing a product—so we want to inspire kids to see where they can take things, too."
 
We Love Kids N Dogs carries about 35 product lines. The Allens staff the store with help from family members. After the holidays, Allen says he plans to create three to five jobs, and assess the possibility of opening a second store in Greater Lansing. 
 
Source: Christopher Allen, Owner, We Love Kids and Dogs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Downtown Barber reopens in Williamston with old-fashioned flair

The red and white striped barber pole on the exterior of Williamston's Downtown Barber provides the first hint of a shop steeped in tradition.
 
Pictures of hometown athletes, antique barber chairs, and a greeting area with drinks and candy for the kids adds to the local color of the 900-square-foot shop newly reopened under the management of Randy Kelly and his spouse, Nickie.
 
"You'll also see customers getting the hot towel and lather face shave," says Kelly. "And we have a lot of regulars who like to come in, hang out and talk. It's a true family barber shop."
 
Kelly jumped at the chance to purchase Downtown Barber when it went up for sale in early summer. After living and working in Southeast Michigan, the couple was eager to relocate to Mid-Michigan and to raise their growing family closer to their hometowns.
 
From August to the November grand opening, Kelly worked to create a business focused on community. As a former high school athlete with sports-minded kids, Kelly offers special cuts to school athletic teams—his most recent being playoff haircuts to the Williamston football and soccer teams.
 
"We did designs in their hair to boost their morale," says Kelly. "It's something that we want to keep going."
 
While Downtown Barber bills itself as a traditional barbershop for men and boys, Kelly says all family members are welcome.
 
"As barbers, we're trained in men's styles, and have dedicated training on how to use clippers and a straight razor," says Kelly. "Our attention is on the finer details of a man's hair cut, and not so much the chemical details like a cosmetologist might be."
 
Downtown Barber recently hired a second barber to serve customers. With 30 years of barbering experience, Jeanette Kruger can execute all the traditional barber cuts and modern styles, as well as provide the old-fashioned straight razor face shave.
 
"Plus, my son Maverick loves to ride his bike up here after school," says Kelly. "He likes to sweep, hand out suckers and candy, and really enjoys being a familiar face in the shop."
 
Source: Randy Kelly, Owner, Downtown Barber
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Vintage Junkies anchors REO Town with passion for repurposing

It all started with an online vintage store, an energetic friend, and a family connection in a reawakening business district.
 
In late October, Amy McMeeken opened her dream business in REO Town, inspired by friend and co-owner Aimee Macklin. Dubbed Vintage Junkies, the 900-square foot retail space brings vintage clothing, home décor, hand-painted furniture and jewelry to the previous Kwast American Bakeries at 1829 S. Washington.
 
"Vintage Junkies is something I've wanted to do for many years," says McMeeken. "When I met Aimee, we realized we loved to do the same kinds of things. Being the little go-getter she is, she managed to get us a store very fast."
 
The two business partners set out to recreate McMeeken's Etsy site from the ground up within the 1,500-square-foot Kwast facility. McMeeken says the space held a special connection for both her and Macklin. Both grew up in Lansing. Both live in REO Town. And Macklin herself had spent time in the Kwast bakery as a child, watching her aunt decorate cakes.
 
"I felt a brick-and-mortar store was more what I was looking for rather than simply an on-line presence," says McMeeken. "It gives you more opportunity to have larger items, and it's a place where we can both be creative."
 
McMeeken and Macklin share a passion for giving new life to old things. As part of prepping the old bakery for retail and work space, the two built merchandising displays from discarded items, including a dress form from a floor lamp and chicken wire, a wall display for scarves made from a box spring, and antique license plates connected together to form a lampshade.
 
"We plan to do a lot of our artwork on site," says McMeeken. "We also want to eventually add classroom space for art and photography, and even a coffee shop."
 
For the time being, McMeeken will continue repurposing items and curating merchandise from estate sales, auctions and donations. She also plans to connect with more local artists and provide opportunities for exhibits, displays and sale of artisan items.
 
"I love this side of town," says McMeeken. "I'm a GM baby, and my dad used to work down here. We love the history. We love that it's still really raw and new. It's fun to be a part of it."
 
Source: Amy McMeeken, Co-owner, Vintage Junkies
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Veteran retailer opens new gift shop in Okemos

Tami Jackard retired from retail after 20 years, moved out-of-state, then moved back home after a year-and-a-half with a fresh perspective. Looking around, she saw potential for her own store—someplace, she felt, where people could dwell on the possibilities and feel good regardless of the day.
 
In early fall, Jackard opened the doors to Dwell—a small gift and accessory shop in Okemos. Located at 5100 Marsh Road in Central Park Place, Dwell carries fashionable, one-of-a-kind items for the home, many handmade by local artists.
 
"It's the stuff I love," says Jackard. "I love being able to change my home around and have beautiful things surrounding me. I thought others would, too."
 
Jackard teamed up with former co-worker Jo Ann Schaefer to fill the store with an eclectic inventory. Schaefer herself provides some of the hand-painted furniture, and connects with other artists for handmade items like jewelry. Customers will also find silk flowers, decorative knick-knacks, pictures and paintings, handmade greeting cards and collectibles.
 
"I just wanted to create a place where someone can come in and get a gift for about $20," says Jackard. "I also wanted to have a store where people could come in and feel good, and to turn their day around if they're feeling down."
 
Jackard says she loves merchandizing and curating just the right mix of items. The 1,200- square-foot space was nearly perfect before she moved in, requiring just a fresh coat of paint and some moderate repurposing of dressing rooms and cubbies for merchandise display. She hired two staff to help with customer service, and may add more as her business grows.
 
"Honestly, the hardest part of all of this was finding a name for the store," she laughs. "And then, once I settled on the name Dwell, I would see a saying or something with the word every day. It haunted me for a while."
 
Source: Tami Jackard, Owner, Dwell
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Z-Solutions expands to historic storefront in Webberville

Although Josh Rockey could have taken his growing IT business just about anywhere, he chose to stay in his hometown.
 
A fixture on Webberville's main street since 2007, Z-Solutions relocated in September to a 1,800-square-foot space just next store at 110 W. Grand River. The move gives his team of five four-times the space, and provides room for the two additional staff he looks to hire next year. What's more, Rockey's move adds vibrancy to the community's downtown district by bringing new life to a shuttered storefront.
 
"The lights are on at night, everyone can see the front of the building now," says the Webberville native. "We had a lot of community members say they're glad to see us in here, helping to brighten up the downtown."
 
Rockey had heard various histories of the store front, the most recent being that the space had been the town grocer 50 years ago. But like many residents, Rockey only knew the shop as a vacant building filled with random stuff. Yellowed newspapers covered the windows, and the interior was falling into disrepair.
 
Rockey cleaned out, painted and redid major systems to bring the 130-year-old building up to date. He retained the original maple floors, remarking that the scratches and scuffs showed workmanship that stood the test of time.
 
"Although we're a modern tech company, we wanted to retain the look of an older building," says Rockey. "Overall, the building was in all-right shape considering it hadn't been a business for nearly 50 years."
 
Z-Solutions provides IT support and technology services to small businesses and individual users. Starting from a home-based operation in 2001, the company has grown to more than 100 clients within a 50-mile radius as well as a few remote customers in northern Michigan. Rockey says his primary clientele ranges from "mom and pop" shops with two users all the way up to companies with 150 users on their networks. Z-Solutions also services individuals, and sells and refurbishes computers.
 
"We pride ourselves on keeping our costs low," says Rockey. "We might not be in Lansing, but we're only 18 minutes away."

Source: Josh Rockey, Owner, Z-Solutions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
 

Good Dog! Training transforms feisty fidos into well-mannered friends

Janet Smith isn't going to the dogs. She's going to the owners.
 
That's her philosophy about dog training and the underpinning of Good Dog! Training—her 16-year-old business that opened its very first brick-and-mortar facility at 1575 Haslett Road in Haslett this fall.
 
"I'm not really working with dogs, I'm working with owners," says Smith. "While training of the dog is involved, it's really about teaching the owners how to train their dogs."
 
Smith started Good Dog! Training in 1998 after a need to train her dog gradually developed into a passion for the profession. Smith left her job in retail to teach classes through Doggy Day Care and Spa, and was subsequently recruited as a trainer for the Capital Area Humane Society. In the last few years, she returned to life as an independent trainer and concentrated on helping dog owners create lasting, trusting bonds with their pets.
 
Good Dog! Training offers basic, intermediate and advanced dog training classes; Canine Good Citizen certification training; and dog-and-people friend classes like agility, fly ball, rally, nose games and more. Specialty classes are available for shy dogs, aggressive dogs, and "bully" breeds, and private lessons can be arranged for dogs with temperament issues. Smith also offers a new "stay and train" service that provides busy clients the option to drop off their pet in the morning for a day of training and pick them up toward close of business.
 
"I think what people need to understand is that every time you interact with a dog, you're training it," says Smith. "Either the dog is training you, or you're training the dog."
 
Smith holds classes and one-on-one training in a repurposed 3,800-square-foot plaza storefront on the corner of Marsh and Haslett Roads. Before opening for business, she installed a rubber floor, painted, created a small waiting area, and decked out the windows with creative graphics. She also sectioned off a small retail area that offers tools and resources like leashes, harnesses, fitness products, and books.
 
Good Dog! Training will be holding a grand opening event in the near future. Old, new and interested customers are invited to attend and see what Smith says is the only facility in Greater Lansing set up exclusively for companion and pet dog training.
 
Source: Janet Smith, Owner, Good Dog! Training
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Triple Goddess Bookstore acquires East Side vibe with shared space

While the original plan for Dawne Botke's business was inspired by a psychic fair, no one could have predicted the longevity of Lansing's oldest new age bookstore.
 
In 1993, Botke opened Triple Goddess Bookstore with her mother and best friend. The bookstore operated from a repurposed farmhouse on Hamilton Road for two decades, fostering a symbiotic relationship with area businesses and restaurants. After her mother and best friend passed away, and when a redevelopment plan prompted her move, Botke relocated to build another trilogy on Lansing's East Side.
 
"We were lucky to be there for 20 years, but we're lucky now, too," says Botke. "I can walk to work now since I live in the neighborhood."
 
In early 2014, Triple Goddess began sharing storefront space with Everybody Reads and Creating Heroes Stephen's Way at 2019 E. Michigan Ave. Her 800-square-foot space is also easily accessible through an interior doorway to The Avenue—a popular music and gathering spot.
 
Triple Goddess carries an array of books and tools for growth and transformation, including music, herbs, candles, incense, statuary, smudge, crystals and jewelry. Customers can also find new and used books, journals and tarot cards; attend classes on new age topics; and have tarot card or astrology readings.
 
"I'm also doing a lot more collectibles now," says Botke. "That's one way that I'm fighting the Kindle revolution. They can't download me or collectibles."
 
New items include unique tarot cards and decks, and handcrafted gifts by local artists. Some of the artists, Botke says, are people she knew from her Okemos days, including an artist from the Nokomis Learning Center who makes 3-D dream catchers.
 
"One of the things I love about being here is that we're all banding together so it's one-stop shopping," says Botke. "And this block has a little bit of everything. You can get a haircut, have lunch or coffee, and come to us for a tarot reading. It's very friendly and awesome."
 
Source: Dawne Botke, Owner, Triple Goddess Bookstore
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News
 

Vine & Brew expands storefront, adds to inventory of specialty food and drink

A specialty food and drink store in Okemos just got bigger thanks to the steady growth of clientele.
 
In early November, store owner and manager Curt Kosal doubled the footprint of Vine & Brew to 2,000 square feet. That extra footage, he says, will allow him to accommodate a wider selection of food, craft beer and wine, as well as to host occasional events.
 
"We saw the demand was there and wanted to offer our customers a bigger selection," says Kosal. "And now that we're in place, we'll be looking at new and collaborative events with area restaurants and other places."
 
Kosal opened Vine & Brew in early 2012 after amassing close to 20 years of experience working in the beverage industry. He and his wife, Leslie, took the leap and open the store, keeping the focus on small, boutique brands and Michigan products.
 
Vine & Brew only carries craft beers and boasts an extensive selection of Belgian brews. Customers can mix and match beers and create their own six-pack, as well as choose and create mixed cases from more than 1,000 wines. Specialty food items include Michigan chocolates, snack foods, and hand-made biscotti.
 
"Our focus is specialty items and smaller, boutique brands," says Kosal. "We work hard to go out and find those thing, often going directly to the distributor or manufacturer."
 
Kosal says he is always on the lookout for new products, and that the new space allows him room to grow and add inventory. Vine & Brew is located at 2311 Jolly Road, and has two staff in addition to the Kosals.
 
Source: Curt Kosal, Store Owner and Manager, Vine & Brew
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lansing residents keep on truckin' with new REO Town diner

In keeping with their play-on-words, long-time friends Nick Sinicropi and Zach Corbin will "keep on truckin'" as they start serving up breakfast and lunch through a brick and mortar version of a popular food truck.
 
Good Truckin' Diner opened in early November, bringing artisan style diner fare to 1107 S. Washington Ave. in REO Town. The diner follows the success of Sinicropi's Good Truckin' Food truck that has wheeled out lunchtime fare since early summer.
 
And another word favored by Sinicropi?
 
"Potential," he says. "That's my one-word answer for why we came to REO Town."
 
Sinicropi says the sit-down diner wasn't in his plans for this year, but after being invited to tour the real estate, he was in.  He noticed right away the positive vibe on S. Washington, and decided that REO Town wasn't the same neighborhood he remembered from coming-of-age on Lansing's Southside.
 
"I was really surprised when I came down here," says Sinicropi. "We want to get in on the ground floor and help build this area back up rather than coming in afterward."
 
Sinicropi knew the timing was right and joined forces with Corbin to get the restaurant moving. Leveraging his inclination for carpentry, Corbin gave the 800-square foot space an old-fashioned, industrial feel by using galvanized steel, a repurposed picket fence, old hubcaps, license plates and an Oldsmobile grill. He also framed two vintage state and city maps to enhance the hometown, automotive flair.
 
"Zach is really the mind behind the inside," says Sinicropi. "We wanted to keep the truck theme and he had some great ideas."
 
With décor in place, the diner began serving made-from-scratch meals for breakfast and lunch. Some creations are original, others are twists on traditional favorites. Plates run an average of $7.99 with popular fare including eggs and omelets, craft burgers, sandwiches, burritos and soups.
 
"Nick came up with a great menu," says Corbin. "He likes to get crazy, so you'll find things like a blacken burger with jalapeno cream cheese and habanero relish. We also have a Bourbon Street French toast with caramelized bananas."
 
Good Truckin' Diner seats 28, created five new restaurant jobs, and is open for breakfast and lunch every day but Monday.
 
Source: Nick Sinicropi and Zach Corbin, Co-owners, Good Truckin' Diner
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
 

Seasoned business owner opens Cork and Bottle in Charlotte, creates 11 jobs

As the owner of three party stores, Sam Shango instantly recognized the need for a specialty adult beverage shop in downtown Charlotte.
 
After a few months of searching, Shango found the right space at the right time. With a little ingenuity, a little marketing, and a lot of applied knowledge, Shango opened the doors to Cork and Bottle in early October and brought an outlet for craft beer, wine and liquor to the town 30 minutes southwest of Lansing.
 
"It's not your average party store," says Shango. "We have 5,200 square feet of micro brews, wines from local regions, and craft liquors. Anything made in Michigan, you'll find here."
 
For Shango, it's all about location, location, location as well as selection, selection, selection. The vacated grocery store a few blocks west of Charlotte's business district provided ample visibility, while the space itself was easily adaptable to products displayed in warehouse style.
 
"When it comes to stores like this it's not so much about the physical store, it's what inside," says Shango. "We're a specialty place, and we're all about the product."
 
Originally from Detroit, Shango settled in Greater Lansing after attending college in the area. He's both a wine sommelier and a beer cicerone, and trains his staff in the finer points of adult beverages.
 
"If you come in here and you're looking for a particular type of wine, we'll find you a bottle that will suit you taste," he says. "We'll do that with beer and liquor, too, and we'll win you in quality and price."
 
Shango loves the regional trends he's seeing in beer, wine and liquors, particularly when it gives him the opportunity to meet the people who make the product.
 
"We actually 'sell' the people along with the beverage," remarks Shango. "It's a good feeling to be able to tell customers about the people who make the beer, wine or liquor, and to help them succeed, too."
 
Cork and Bottle also carries basic pantry staples and convenience foods. The store created 11 jobs and became Shango's fourth operation behind similar stores like the Rainbow Party Store in DeWitt, St. Johns and Detroit. He's currently looking to expand his concept across mid-Michigan.

?Source: Sam Shango, Owner, Cork and Bottle
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mason Computer Repair sets up family business near downtown

You could call it a "son and pop shop." Or a "son and pop and sister" shop.
 
Located in a 900-square-foot free-standing building just outside the city square, Mason Computer Repair offers personalized service on sophisticated electronics while keeping it all in the family.
 
Matt LaClear opened the repair shop in mid-October with his sister Danielle Peffers and his son Jordan Strayer. The three also run a marketing business out of the building, zeroing in on the advertising, marketing and social media needs of small businesses.
 
"Working from home just wasn't conducive anymore," says LaClear who moved his business operations into the previous Tiki Jim's Hawaiian Food Hut at 100 State Street. "I needed the 'lair' to get away from my kids."
 
LaClear says Strayer, his eldest of seven children, has always been into computer repair, and monitored what his dad could "throw away" when computers went awry or upgrades were pending.
 
"He was always piecing them back together," says LaClear who been a business owner for 25 years. "He's been at it a long time."
 
Mason Computer Repair had served more than 75 customers in its first few weeks of business. The business specializes in residential and commercial repair of computers, as well as small electronics like cell phones and video game consoles. Repairs are typically done on-site, with some house calls on request.
 
Many computer problems, LaClear says, relate to software viruses, or to simple, fixable things like a broken hinge or screen on a laptop. He says sometimes all it takes is a simple repair that run no more than $75 to get a computer back up to speed.
 
"I used to be like everyone else and wanted to upgrade," says LaClear. "But with seven kids and needing to be economically-minded, I realized that you can have a five-year-old computer and it can do most everything you need it to if you maintain it properly."
 
Source: Matt LaClear, Owner, Mason Computer Repair
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Medical entrepreneur sets sights on Greater Lansing

In a region that often laments the "brain drain" of local talent, one entrepreneur is bucking the trend by setting her sights on the local eye care industry.
 
In mid-July, Dr. Jamie Norton purchased an existing eye care business and positioned a newly rebranded practice to grow and provide vision care for the local community.

Located at 4660 S. Hagadorn Road in the East Lansing Eyde Building, Norton Eye Care occupies about 3,000 square feet, employs four staff, and serves about 3,000 patients.
 
"This is exactly where I need to be to take care of people and start my practice," says Norton. "I want to be accessible and available to patients with hours that are convenient for them."
 
Norton graduated from the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University and has been a practicing optometrist in Greater Lansing for more than six years. During that time, the Alpena native became increasingly attached to her patients as well where she lived and worked.
 
"My husband and I considered moving to a different area to open up a practice, but I'm very comfortable and happy here," says Norton. "It's hard to think of not being here to take care of my patients."
 
Norton sees patients of all ages beginning with children as young as 6 months old. Her certified optical team has more than 60 years of combined experience, and provides assistance with eye care and eye wear needs.
 
Norton's office suite is on the first floor of a six-story building populated with medical and like-minded service professionals. That, she says, adds to the convenience factor, with many of her patients stopping in after other appointments with questions on eye wear or eye care. The practice boasts one of the largest eye wear dispensaries in the area with more than 500 selections, including brands such as Gucci, Ogi and Vera Wang.
 
"It's a very modern in here," says Norton. "We have lots of windows and open spaces for people to move around." 
 
Source: Dr. Jamie Norton, Owner, Norton Eye Care
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Penn Station East Coast Subs debuts in Delta Township

They tried one store. Then opened a second. Now the Lansing-area family will launch a third venture in Lansing, building on the name recognition and quality reputation of a quick-casual restaurant.
 
In November, a husband, wife and two brothers opened a new Penn Station East Coast Subs at 5417 W. Saginaw, Suite B. The store is among the eight that Mark, Cheryl, Jeff and Chris Kellogg aspire to own in Lansing and Southeast Michigan, and follows Frandor and Okemos locations opened within the last two years.
 
"While there are a lot of sub concepts out there, we hear day after day about the quality of the sandwiches," says Mark Kellogg. "That reinforces our thought that Penn Station is one of the better products out there."
 
Kellogg says he and his spouse, Cheryl, were looking for business opportunities and stumbled upon Penn Station after visiting a friend who owned a franchise in their hometown of Coldwater. They were so impressed with the quality of the hot and cold subs, the made-to-order fries, the hand-squeezed lemonade, and fresh-baked chocolate chunk cookies that they decided to bring the concept to Lansing.
 
"Penn Station knows what they're good at and don't try to deviate from that," says Kellogg. "They've been around for about 25 years and their track record is very strong."
 
Penn Station was originally founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, has more than 235 restaurants in 13 states. Michigan is a targeted expansion state, and the Kelloggs brought the first franchise to Lansing. The 1,800-square foot restaurant near the Lansing Mall seats 45 people and created 20 part- and full-time jobs, similar to the other two Greater Lansing locations.
 
"We were excited about being able to bring Penn Station here," says Kellogg. "Cheryl and I have been in Lansing since 1985 and we're appreciative of the Lansing community and how they contribute to our success."
 
Source: Mark Kellogg, Co-owner, Penn Station East Coast Subs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Executive Influence helps small companies work through big challenges

Jeff Chaffin believes that even the best athlete needs coaching to continue to improve. And he applies that analogy to the world of business.
 
Working from a small office suite in downtown Lansing, Chaffin helps successful business leaders work through big challenges that may be standing in the way of peak performance. It's a calling he's been attracted to throughout his business career. So in early 2014, Chaffin opened the doors to The Executive Influence Coaching and Consulting at 120 N. Washington Square and applied his experience as a certified professional business coach.
 
"There are certain things that can happen as a company grows, including reaching a point where they encounter roadblocks or get stuck," says Chaffin. "We work with owners who tell us the life they are leading today isn't what they envisioned when they were getting off the ground."
 
Chaffin says small businesses face issues similar to those of large firms. Sales growth, marketing, recruitment and retention, and succession planning are just a few. And while large companies have access to more resources to address challenges, smaller companies don't have as many to draw on.
 
That, says Chaffin, is where executive coaches come in.
 
"We can help smaller businesses get to where they want to be," says Chaffin. "We follow their goals and their priorities. I don't come in telling them what they should do. We work with their vision. And we get results."
 
Chaffin enjoys consulting with small businesses, as well as with owners and employees. He welcomes the challenge of helping organizations find solutions, fix situations, and stay on the pathway to growth. He meets regularly with about 10 companies on a wide variety of issues. Those companies range in size from five to 600, with revenues from three-quarter of a million up to $50 million.
 
Chaffin works with two part-time assistants in the 600-square-foot office that includes access to three shared conference rooms. And his goals as a business owner?
 
"We want to make Lansing our center of operations," he says. "We can grow east, west and south, but I want this to be the hub. I love this area. It's ideal."
 
Source: Jeff Chaffin, Principal, The Executive Influence Coaching and Consulting
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Experienced technician opens A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa in Okemos, creates four jobs

While the décor is minimal, the newest nail salon and spa in Okemos has rapidly gained a reputation for services that exceed expectations.
 
Linh Phan opened A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa in mid-summer after months of remodeling the space at 2160 W. Grand River to exacting specifications. With cool white walls, golden accent lights, a line of comfortable chocolate chairs, and a panel of sheer aqua room dividers, A Perfect Ten provides a relaxing setting for top-of-the-line manicures and pedicures.
 
"Everything is personal and nothing is shared with another customer," says Linh Phan, manager/partner-owner. "Everything is personalized and nothing is shared with another customer. It's a very clean and relaxing place."
 
As a professional nail technician, Phan decided to start her own business as her daughter grew up and went on to attend medical school. Originally from Vietnam, Phan came to the United States in 1993, attended beauty college in Georgia, and moved to the Okemos-East Lansing area in 2002.
 
Phan says she loves being close to Michigan State University. That sense of comfort is reflected in the environment she's created for her customers—one that's relaxing, attentive and based on customer service.
 
A Perfect Ten carries up to 400 colors of OPI nail polish. Manicures take 30 to 45 minutes depending on whether customers go for the "no-chip" polish. Pedicures take up to 45 minutes, with customers having the option to add a hot rock massage.
 
"We do our personal best," says Phan. "I've been in the field a long time and love being here."
 
 Phan hired four technicians when she opened the 2,000-square foot space. She hopes to hire more as her customer base grows.
 
Source: Linh Phan, Manager/Partner-Owner, A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Kick It Out Dance Studio relocates to bigger space, continues to add staff

Denise Krumm knew her dance business had kicked into high gear when her customers lined the hallways, waiting for the next class.
 
"I looked at my husband and said, 'we're packed in here like sardines,'" she says. "I knew we needed to expand."
 
In October, Krumm unveiled the new, expanded location for Kick It Out Dance Studio at 1760 E. Grand River Ave., in East Lansing. Just a mile or so from her original studio on Haslett Road, the new space more than doubles the studio's square footage from 1,000 to 2,200, and enables Krumm to continue offering dance and fitness programs to students of all ages and abilities.
 
Krumm launched Kick It Out Dance in July 2012. Starting her own studio was a natural progression in her life-long pursuit of dance and allowed her to coach, teach and educate others in the art of dance.
 
Kick It Out started with 14 students. In the second year Krumm counted  35. In 2014, 63 students came to Krumm's studio for courses in jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical, contemporary and ballet, as well as fitness courses and workouts in Zumba, Zumba Toning, pound fit, and PiYo. Courses are tailored for students ages 2 through adult, and can follow both recreational and competitive pathways.
 
"Everybody has something to offer and to bring to the program," says Krumm. "That's part of our philosophy. I came from a very family-oriented studio and try to carry that through with my own business."
 
Krumm painted her new studio in her signature colors of dark purple and neon green. The bright, airy space includes two studio rooms with custom-built sprung dance sub floors, additional studios with Harlequin Cascade Marley floors, a spacious lobby, and rooms for students to do homework and store their personal items. Visitors and waiting parents can enjoy music, television and WiFi in the lobby.
 
"People just love the new studio," says Krumm. "It's a nice feeling to hear people say 'wow, this is nice.'"
 
The studio has added six employees since opening two years ago. The current staff of 13 includes six dance instructors, two assistant dance instructors and five fitness instructors.
 
Source: Denise Krumm, Owner and Director, Kick It Out Dance Studio
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Party Shoppe helps revelers party-on with boutique supplies and rentals

Although November harkens the start of winter festivities, one new retailer in Williamston believes that parties aren't bound by the season.
 
Melissa Cogswell opened The Party Shoppe in mid-October as a way to expand the 10-year-old home-based business she co-owns with Amy Cogswell. She says the brick-and-mortar store at 151 E. Grand River offers a unique selection of party supplies for themed and all occasions, including plates, cups, napkins, table ware, latex and foil balloons, balloon bouquets, gift bags, tissue paper, bulk and nostalgic candy, a variety of cold drinks and gourmet sodas, and fresh popped popcorn. Party planners can also rent bounce houses and machines that make popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones, and hire face-painters and balloon twisters through the 600-square foot, boutique-style shop.
 
"We're here to help people have fun," says Cogswell. "At the end of the day, that's all that matters."
 
Cogswell says she and Amy got into the party business as an offshoot of their graphic design careers. The two soon built a loyal clientele as face painters and balloon twisters at parties and school events. When clients began clamoring for bounce houses and carnival-style food machines, Cogswell added rentals to the mix and found herself in full-time party mode.
 
The Party Shoppe, Cogswell says, services gatherings that range in size from 10 to the 100s. Equipment rentals come with free delivery and set-up, as well as on-the-spot instruction for how to make the best popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones.
 
"We joke that we're in more birthday and party photographs than anyone else," says Cogswell. "It's a wonderful business to be in."
 
Source: Melissa Cogswell, Co-owner, The Party Shoppe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Father-daughter tattoo artists open Ink & Needle in East Lansing

Chelsea Brown can't remember a time that someone in her family wasn't doing some type of art. So for her, it was a natural progression to follow her dad into the tattoo business by co-owning and managing a new shop in East Lansing.
 
Brown and her father, Bill, opened Ink & Needle in August. The Brown family also owns two other tattoo shops in Greater Lansing, including Southside Tattoo and Noble Ink.
 
"Everyone in my whole family is into art," says Brown. "My dad has always drawn as a hobby, and one day, he just decided to go for it and turn it into a career."
 
Ink & Needle offers residents and visitors to East Lansing a cozy and relaxing environment for getting a tattoo or piercing. The 1,200-square-foot space at the corner of Abbot and Albert has booths and chairs to accommodate up to four tattoo clients, plus a private piercing room.
 
The shop employs four tattoo artists and a full-time piercer. Brown herself is learning the trade by apprenticing with her father. She hopes to be ready to apply her skills by next April.
 
"It's nerve wracking and exciting at the same time," says Brown of learning from her dad. "He does amazing work. It's a nice bonding experience, and it's cool he can pass on his knowledge to me."
 
Brown says that her dad is considered among the best in the area for cover-ups. The other artists at the shop specialize in custom designs. Customers can view employee portfolios and choose the artist they want to do the work. Tattoos can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as eight hours. Some clients, depending on the design, may return for multiple sessions. Free touch-ups are also provided on all Ink & Needle work.
 
"We always like to make sure that the customer leaves with a great experience, not just a great tattoo," says Brown. "We make it about the client and not the shop. I really love art and giving people artwork that they can cherish forever."
 
Source: Chelsea Brown, Co-owner and Manager, Ink & Needle
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Black Iron Training becomes one of two specialized strength gyms in Michigan

Chris Kurisko has strong beliefs about strength.
 
He believes so strongly that he brought a revolutionary fitness program to his Lansing gym and became one of about 90 specialized and credentialed strength trainers in the United States.
 
In mid-October, Kurisko hung a banner on Black Iron Training proclaiming the facility's status as a "Starting Strength Gym." It's a designation, he says, that is claimed by only one other gym in Michigan.
 
"Starting Strength is a very unique and detailed approach to strength training that focuses on proper form and technique and how to effectively do each exercise," says Kurisko. "It's very well regarded and a growing movement in the fitness industry."
 
The Starting Strength training system is designed to safely and efficiently improve strength through barbell exercise. Developed by competitive power lifter and Olympic weight lifting coach Mark Rippetoe, the system leverages basic movements that work the entire body and gradually increases weight loads to make the whole body stronger.
 
Kurisko launched Black Iron Training in 2011 with the number one goal of helping individuals build strength—a focus he says aligns perfectly with the Starting Strength philosophy. After building a base of about 100 clients, he moved from his original 600-square-foot facility in April 2013 to 3233 Saginaw Highway, doubling the gym's size to about to 1,200 square feet.
 
"I think that people genuinely want to feel better, feel healthier, and want to take care of themselves," says Kurisko. "It's an underlying urge that we all have to be able to take care of ourselves the best we can."
 
Kurisko plans to add one or two private classes for beginners, and is also looking to bring on one or two staff as interest grows. Clients train using weights, barbells, platforms and racks, and range in age from 12 to 80. All instruction is private, by appointment, and done under the guidance of a professional coach.
 
"I'm working hard to get the message across the strength is for everyone and the foundation for all fitness," says Kurisko. "We're going to teach people how to do things correctly and how to follow a plan so they can progress toward their goals."
 
Source: Chris Kurisko, Owner, Black Iron Training
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Big Salad brings first mid-Michigan franchise to Alive in Charlotte

Chances are you can have it your way or at least one of 17 million ways at a food franchise new to Mid-Michigan.
 
Nourish by The Big Salad opened in early October, offering made-to-order salads, soups, sandwiches, smoothies and specialty drinks. Located inside Alive, a health park run by Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital, the Charlotte location is the sixth restaurant in the Royal Oak-based chain. It's also the first in The Big Salad franchise that's located in a smaller market outside of Southeast Michigan.
 
The possibility of 17 million choices, CEO and founder John Bornoty says, comes from a make line of fresh ingredients that includes three different types of lettuce, 32 toppings, five meats and 29 dressings.
 
"Our generation not only wants healthy eating, they want food the way they want it," says Bornoty. "We are accustomed to choices and everyone wants things customized."
 
CEO Patrick Sustrich of Alive agreed, and says that Nourish by The Big Salad is a great model that meshes perfectly with the Charlotte health park. Alive had been looking for an outside restaurant to house inside the facility for several years. So when Sustrich heard about The Big Salad and their mission of promoting health and wellness, he invited Bornoty to partner with Alive and its existing cafe.
 
"Food service is a critical piece to helping people be and stay healthy," says Sustrich. "And it's something that can attract people to our building and keep them here for events, conferences and functions. Now with the new restaurant, we have people coming here just for lunch."
 
Although other Big Salads serve areas with populations of 100,000-plus, the small-town location in Charlotte represents an additional growth strategy for the chain.
 
"We love the model of what we're doing with Alive," says Bornoty. "We want to expand on the micro-franchise concept and take it to airports and hospitals. There's lots of opportunity in Michigan, and we're a Michigan-based company."
 
Nourish by The Big Salad employs 10 people and can seat up to 40 diners in the 700-square foot space. Take out is also available, with options to order online or through kiosks throughout Alive.
 
"You're not limited to sitting in Nourish by The Big Salad," says Sustrich. "We have people who find spots to sit and eat along our walking path, in our beautiful gardens, and other areas in our 65,000-square foot facility."
 
Source: John Bornoty, Founder and CEO, The Big Salad; Patrick Sustrich, Executive Director, Alive
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Battery Giant energizes Midtown, sparks creation of four job

Bob Cavin feels empowered.
 
As part of re-energizing his career, he and his spouse Fonda Turner-Cavin opened the doors to Battery Giant in early October—the first franchise outlet in Greater Lansing for the Michigan-based provider of energy products. What's more, the franchise is among the first tenants in MidTown—the Gillespie Group's new mixed-used development at 1306 Michigan Ave. in East Lansing.
 
"We want to become a household name," says Cavin. "And be a place where people and companies can shop for batteries right here in their own community."
 
Battery Giant packs more than 4,000 battery products into a single store, and is stocked through the Madison Heights-based parent company. What Cavin doesn't have on his shelves, he can access from the vast inventory of more than 14,000 types of batteries and battery systems available through Battery Giant fulfillment centers nationwide.
 
The store provides everything from everyday batteries to the most innovative, cost-effective solutions on the market, and serves individuals, companies and businesses.
 
"Our main market are specialized products you can't find at WalMart or other stores," says Cavin. "We tell our customers, save yourself an hour looking around at other stores. Just come to us. We'll have it."
 
Common products include batteries for cars, marine craft, RVs, snowmobiles, lawn equipment and motorcycles, as well as batteries for watches, remotes, electronic gadgets, cell phones, computers, cameras and toys. Customers can also find battery back-up systems for home or commercial use. All told, Battery Giant stocks replacement batteries, OEM battery products and battery systems for more than 100,000 devices and applications, with the majority of products made in the U.S.
 
Corporate downsizing led Cavin to explore owning and operating his own franchise. The consulting group FranNet introduced the experienced corporate executive to leadership at Battery Giant. In less than a year, Cavin was laying out plans to open his first store.
 
Cavin's 1,600-square foot shop includes spaces for retail, battery recycling and a training and tech center. The new store created four jobs, and Cavin hopes to bring more on board in other locations as the franchise expands across Greater Lansing.
 
"We're big on being part of the community," says Cavin. "We plan to sponsor sports teams, support community initiatives and be active members of various Chambers. We care about the community. That's our motto."
 
Source: Bob Cavin, Managing Partner, Battery Giant
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Bella Soaps and Lotions vends handmade products through Lansing City Market

Janet Riffel Ozanich is the 'J' part of L and J Sales. Her husband Larry is the 'L' part. Together, they offer a selection of quality handmade soaps and other good smelling stuff at their small stand in the Lansing City Market.
 
Bella Soaps and Lotions of L and J Sales is owned and operated by a husband-wife team who makes and sells quality health and beauty products in Greater Lansing. The two cut the ribbon on the retail space in late August and have already built a local following for the soaps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and essential oils offered through their 11-foot by 11-foot space.
 
"Even though the space is small, we carry a lot," says Ozanich. "And if I don't have something in stock that you want, chances are I can make it and have it to you by the next day."
 
Ozanich makes the majority of her products at home. Her products, she says, contain natural ingredients that consist of mixtures of glycerin, palm oils and coconut oils. Her soaps include goats milk, coconut milk, honey, olive and aloe, buttermilk, oatmeal, hemp and a special bar beloved by mechanics that "gets the grease off."
 
"Instead of getting a commercial degreaser, they get this," says Ozanich. "They say it gets the job done."
 
Ozanich also blends a line of lotions scented for the season. For the fall, she's offering autumn harvest, apple and acorn, purely perfect pumpkin, hotbaked apple pie and cinnamon. She also carries a year-long line of mint-scented lotions including peppermint, lavender, patchouli, lavender and spearmint.
 
"I have a list of scents that keeps growing and growing," says Ozanich.
 
Customers will also find crystal bracelets, soy candles, essential oils from Young Living, a selection of J.R. Watkins products and SNAFU greeting cards. Gift buyers will enjoy the convenience of her "grab and go" or customized baskets for special occasions.
 
"I'm as good as any commercial soap and lotion store," says Ozanich. "And we try to give people a good price because we're all trying to stretch our dollars right now."
 
Source: Janet Riffel Ozanich, Owner, L&J Sales/Bella Soaps and Lotions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Daily Bagel expands to Boji Tower, adds three jobs

Lansing's full-line deli just expanded.
 
In the late summer, Michael Mahdi opened what he called a "mini Daily Bagel" on the first floor of the Boji Tower in the downtown district. The 600-square foot restaurant will compliment Mahdi's main operation just down the street by offering breakfast and lunch options to occupants and passersby of Lansing's landmark high-rise.
 
"The people are nice and friendly and glad we're there," says Mahdi of his newest customers. "It's a convenience for them, especially in the winter time. It will be good to have food in the building."
 
Building residents encouraged Mahdi to move into Boji's vacant café and set up a smaller version of his New York style deli. Mahdi installed a couple new grills, walk-in coolers, a full line of kitchen equipment and coffee machines, and brought a fresh, upscale look to the space. And while the restaurant can seat up to 10 people, most customers choose to order and go.
 
The small deli will carry up to 15 different sandwiches made with a variety of meats, cheeses, and freshly baked bagels or breads. Breakfast sandwiches come on bagels or croissants and feature combinations of eggs, meats, cheeses or cream cheese. Customers can also opt for breakfast pastries, soups and salads.
 
The Boji version of the Daily Bagel will employ three people for starters, but may add two or three more as winter sets in.
 
"I just want to keep my customers happy and provide good quality food at reasonable prices," says Mahdi. "It's something that keeps me busy, and you always try to invent something and be creative."
 
Mahdi has owned and operated the Daily Bagel at 309 S. Washington Square since 2005. The restaurant, he says, has been a popular eatery in downtown Lansing since 1987.
 
Source: Michael Mahdi, Owner, Daily Bagel
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Tabooli serves up fast and fresh Mediterranean, hires 15 people

Fathy Shetiah wants to take Mediterranean cuisine mainstream.
 
Borrowing from the make-your-own model popularized by sandwich shops, Shetiah and his brother Mohammed launched Tabooli and brought on-the-go Mediterranean to Lansing's East Side.
 
"We know the food is really good, fresh and healthy, but others might not," says Shetiah, "Our goal is to take the intimidation away and encourage people to try something new."
 
Tabooli starts with an intentionally simple menu built around Mediterranean staples like beef or chicken shawarma, falafel, eggplant and kofta. Customers decide whether they want a "bowl" or a "wrap" then select from toppings like hummus, pickled turnips or tabooli. Salads, paninis, desserts and beverages round out the menu, with meals ranging in price from about $6 to $8.
 
Shetiah opened Tabooli with his brother Mohammed. It's the first for Shetiah, while his brother has owned franchises in Greater Lansing for about 15 years. Menu items, he says, draw on the influences of Lebanese, Greek and Italian cuisine, and were carefully developed from recipes created and tested by friends, family and community members.
 
"There's even a touch of Egypt," says Shetiah, alluding to his Egyptian heritage. "We've added or subtracted to our recipes to make them our own."
 
Tabooli opened in early September after a summer of rehabbing the vacant Kentucky Fried Chicken building at 1620 E. Michigan Avenue. The 2,400-square foot restaurant seats up to 35 people in a space decked out with a contemporary color scheme of orange, white and green. Customers can opt for pick-up or catering, and a  drive-through is slated to open in November.
 
"It's been an incredible amount of hard work," says Shetiah.  "But when someone likes what you do, there's immediate satisfaction. That's especially true when parents bring their kids in here and say their kids love the food. Kids can be picky, so that says a lot."
 
Tabooli employs 15 people, with plans in the works to open more locations in East Lansing, Greater Lansing and beyond.
 
"Our goal is to grow it," says Shetiah. "We want to make our restaurant stand out and to be able to say that it started right here in Lansing."
 
Source: Fathy Shetiah, Co-owner, Tabooli Mediterranean
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

On the Rocks Wine and Spirits opens in Carriage Hills, creates three jobs

Rocky Singh was at a neighborhood gathering not too long ago in the northeastern edge of East Lansing. When the host asked if he could run out and get a few things, he said yes, not realizing how long it would take.
 
"We couldn't believe we had to drive five miles or more just to get some simple things," says Singh. "That's when I realized the need for a small store on that side of town."
 
Singh looked around at property in the Carriage Hills neighborhood and spotted a vacant storefront facing Lake Lansing Road. Within days, he put in a call to the leasing agent DTN Management and talked about his concept for a high-end party store that also carried basic convenience items.
 
By September 1, Singh was ready to open the doors to On the Rocks Wine and Spirits at  3050 E. Lake Lansing Road. He had worked for several months to redo the space, putting in sleek shelving, dramatic energy efficient lighting, and a walk-in cooler faced with stone. Finishing touches of his unique décor included rusted metal accents from an old barn and a color scheme reminiscent of autumn.
 
While ritzy in style, On the Rocks is equally everyday in appeal. Singh carries up to 400 types of craft beers and more than 500 wines. He places a special emphasis on carrying Michigan products, but says he can order any specialty beer, wine or spirits someone is looking for. Customers can also sample craft beers, wines and spirits through scheduled in-store tastings.
 
"I see this as a great opportunity to bring a decent, high-end selection of wine and craft beer to this side of town," says Singh. "It's a great neighborhood, and there's a growing market for wine and spirits."
 
Customers to On the Rocks can run in for staples like bread, biscuits, cheese, bacon, lunchmeat, hotdogs, milk and cream cheese. Common over-the-counter medicines, dog and cat food, and a small line of fresh produce are also in the mix. Three employees work the floor of the 3,500-square foot store, but Singh may add more as business grows.
 
"The neighborhood has been very welcoming," he says. "It's really heartwarming. One couple even brought us a bouquet of flowers."
 
Source: Rocky Singh, Owner, On the Rocks Wine and Spirits
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Meridian Township goes to the dogs with new day care for canines

The ground is breaking. And soon, cement will be poured, walls will go up, and a new space will be created for the furry, four-legged friend in your life.
 
Beginning in late October, Kincaid Henry Building Group will start construction of a second, brand-new location for Doggy Daycare and Spa on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Cornell Road in Meridian Township. The 7,000-square foot Okemos facility will join the original location on Lansing's West side in offering beloved canines cageless daycare, overnight boarding and grooming services—all while their owners are at work or out-of-town.
 
"We're here to provide an environment where dogs can socialize, play and enjoy spending time with other dogs," says Owner Janice Milligan. "For dogs who like other dogs, they really benefit."
 
Milligan and her father and business partner Dean Milligan are investing more than $1.1 million to build the state-of-the-art facility. The new daycare and spa will closely resemble the current location at 5325 W. Mt. Hope Highway in Delta Township and will feature a 4,000-square foot gym where dogs can romp, play and interact. The new facility will also feature 20 4-foot by 6-foot overnight spaces and a large outdoor fenced area for play and potty.
 
Milligan says that the concept of daycare for dogs works today when it might not have 30 years ago.
 
"When I was growing up in the 80s, if someone said we should take a dog to daycare, my dad would've said they were nuts," she laughs.
 
Doggy Daycare, Milligan says, acknowledges that people are busy, and that dogs are regarded as more than simply dogs.
 
"Dogs are family members," says Milligan. "People aren't satisfied to have their dog sit in a kennel all day. Bringing them to daycare gives the dog a chance to play and makes the dog's world a little bigger."
 
Doggy Day Care and Spa was originally founded in Okemos in 2000 and relocated to Delta 11 years ago. Like the Delta facility, the new Okemos location will accommodate 60 dogs a day and employ 15 people.
 
Source: Janice Milligan, Owner, Doggy Day Care and Spa
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Clients address root causes of health concerns through new Williamston facility

People seeking solutions for a health concern may find relief outside the traditional doctor visit through a newly established business in Williamston.
 
Authentic Alternative Health Choice offers a variety of approaches that can help a person achieve external and internal balance. Located at 1232 E. Grand River just west of downtown Williamston, the small facility provides ample space for the practice of health disciplines that involve massage, hot stones, reiki, lymphatic drainage, hypnotherapy and EFT, naturopathic medicine and natural health services, holistic health, life counseling and more.
 
"Many people are not finding the results they want through some of the more traditional medicines," says Owner Nicole Giguere. "People might be taking things to get rid of pain and having a hard time achieving that. They look to us to find the root cause—be it muscular, skeletal or other."
 
Giguere is among four specialists offering a unique blend of services. Her specialty, she says, is massage therapy. Another specialist focuses on naturopathy. A third specialist practices hypnotherapy. And to round out the mix, a life coach can help clients navigate change or challenging circumstances.
 
"With some clients, we refer each other's services," says Giguere. "There are correlations among all of us."
 
Giguere moved into the 817-square-foot-space in the spring of 2014 and worked with her dad—a custom homebuilder—to do all of the interior renovations. Each practitioner, she says, has a private space to work one-on-one with any of the 35 clients who visit the center each week. A small lobby with a vinyl hardwood floor and light yellow walls provides a welcoming space to enjoy cold water, hot tea and New Age music while browsing a small line of retail health products including natural energy drinks, anti-oxidant juices and essential oils.
 
"We're looking at the body holistically, or the authentic root of a person," says Giguere when how she came up with the name of her business. "And because we offer alternative choices that are health focused, the name just seemed to follow."
 
Source: Nicole Giguere, Owner, Authentic Alternative Health Care
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Long-time dance studio moves to new South Lansing location

Sixty-three years and three generations later, Patsy Watson is still dancing.
 
She just leaves the management of her dance studio to her daughter.
 
"My mom said that God gave her the gift to dance and teach," says Rhonda Mitchell, owner of Patsy Watson School of Dance. "And she's still doing it at the age of 83."
 
After six decades, the south Lansing dance studio still produces some of the area's finest dancers and provides instruction to people of all skills and abilities, ages 3 to 103. In early October, the studio underwent a major change by opening the doors on a new location just a mile or so from its original home. The 3,980-square-foot building at 3808 S. Cedar Street is about 600 square feet bigger than their old location, and features three rooms, waiting areas, and two-way mirrors so parents can watch their kids during class.
 
Mitchell says the new space allows the studio to continue to flourish and to offer classes like ballet, tap, modern, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom, Zumba and turbo kick. The studio also teaches cheer, acrobatics, mini-gymnastics, and provides after school care for neighborhood kids. About 180 students are enrolled.
 
"I'm investing in my children and grandchildren by purchasing a building for our studio," says Mitchell. "It's a family business, through and through."
 
Mitchell says her mother opened the Patsy Watson School of Dance in Lansing in 1951 with $500 and passion for teaching dance. Her mom, she says, was born in Lansing, but her grandfather moved the family to England when Patsy was just 5. Although her family endured the challenges of living in Europe during World War II, Patsy still received a solid dance education that she brought back to the U.S. when she turned 18.
 
"My mom started all this," says Mitchell. "We're just following in her footsteps."
 
Like her mother, Mitchell grew up dancing. Her daughter Vanessa did too. And now, Mitchell's infant grandchild, Lola, will more than likely dance as soon as she learns to walk.
 
"We're using the gift that God gave us," says Mitchell. "We don't charge a lot because we want children to have the chance to dance."
 
Source: Rhonda Mitchell, Owner, Patsy Watson School of Dance
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Aurora's Closet offers name brands at thrifty prices

Thrift stores, says Jennifer Normandin, are all about the hunt.
 
It's about finding that pair of designer jeans you couldn't think you could afford. Or that prom dress that's slightly vintage. Or it's about finding that single plate that completes the set you inherited from a distant relative.
 
As the owner of Aurora's Closet in downtown Williamston, Normandin understands the allure of coming into a store and never knowing what you're going to find. Located at 100 W. Grand River Ave., Aurora's Closet carries affordable clothing in excellent condition, along with a variety of other items. Clothing ranges from size preemie to adults XXL. Shoppers will also find shoes, purses, hats, accessories, toys, furniture, books and assorted household items.
 
"Some people think thrift stores are full of items that no one absolutely wants anymore," says Normandin. "That's not the case with us. Everything here is very clean. You won't find stains or rips or really worn out things. We have lots of name-brand items, and we sell things at decent prices."
 
Normandin and her business partner Janet Stumpf cut the ribbon on Aurora's closet on September 11 after a few months of prep work in the historic building. While she's unsure of the square footage, Normandin says the former video store has more than ample room for nearly 2,000 items on multiple clothing racks, shelves, tables and floor displays.
 
"When we came here, everything had a fresh coat of paint," says Normandin. "We kept the wallpaper with the 1900s country theme. We thought the imagery of general stores, horses and carts, and picket fences matched the tone of the building and the city."
 
Normandin says she carries a lot of modern clothing with well-known brands—many of which would go for $60 or more new. The price tag on most any clothing item in her store is $10 or less, with many styles and items rotating with the season.
 
"We just want people to be able to shop and not break the bank," says Normandin. "Everyone deserves nice clothes and shouldn't have to pick or choose whether they can have a nice pair of jeans or have to trade it for something else they might need."
 
Source: Jennifer Normandin, Owner, Aurora's Closet
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Barbs Designs transforms big events into small business

For Barbara Joseph, the party never ends.
 
As the owner of Barbs Designs, Joseph is in the business of providing the highest quality decorations for special events from weddings to birthday parties to baby showers.
 
"I love working with people and helping them celebrate," says Joseph. "It's rewarding to create something beautiful and exciting and to help people reach something they've been dreaming of."
 
Joseph launched Barbs Designs after her children graduated high school and she found she had extra time on her hands. She had worked for years in local government, and decided to change career paths by taking a part-time job as an events stylist.
 
Joseph combined what she learned on-the-job with her life-long experience organizing parties for families and friends and opened her home-based business in  DeWitt in July 2013. Just recently, she added two part-time employees. She also relies on the continual support of her husband and sewing wiz mother.
 
"I have a huge inventory of products," says Joseph who is also venturing into floral design. "Everything from linens to centerpieces to candelabras, and even a wooden cake stand custom-designed by my husband."
 
Joseph can show clients actual samples of display items and linens, and keeps an extensive sample book of different fabrics. In some cases, she can custom-design linens for clients.
 
"My mom is my seamstress," she says. "She's the one behind me and supporting my creative side."
 
Joseph averages about two events a month for half the year, and about three during the spring and summer wedding and graduation seasons. She says she has planned events for small groups all the way up to those for 350 guests.
 
"Even though I'm a small business, I have big ideas," says Joseph. "I never forget that each and every event is special. I want to always have that one-on-one with each customer and make them happy."
 
Source: Barbara Joseph, Owner, Barbs Designs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

UnoDeuce Multimedia moves to new space, adds staff

Visual storyteller Paul Schmidt just got started on a new chapter of his business.
 
In August, Schmidt moved operations for UnoDeuce Multimedia across the street and upstairs to a new space in REO Town. While not too much bigger than his previous place of business next to Art Alley, his new studio at 1146 S. Washington Ave. offers a configuration that includes access to a lounge area, conference room and opportunity to grow.
 
"We're right upstairs within the New Horizons learning center," says Schmidt. "It makes for good synergy. It's good for my staff. And most of all, there's room for us to grow. That's one of the big things."
 
UnoDeuce recently added a full-time video producer, or as Schmidt calls, a "chief video storyteller." Paul Henderson started in the early summer. Schmidt also works with occasional sub contractors, and is considering bringing on more full- or part-time staff depending on workflow.
 
Schmidt launched UnoDeuce in 2001 with the mission of providing low-cost, high-quality media solutions for non-profit, church-based and small business organizations. Within a decade, the company had earned national recognition for its video production quality, and became the creator of websites and media production tools for clients across the country.
 
Schmidt's local and Michigan-based customers include Lutheran Social Services, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, Annabelle's Pet Station, Evolve Corporate Wellness and Top Duck Products. UnoDeuce also sponsors and provides video support for the Lansing Derby Vixens.
 
"I came across a stat once that said a video is worth 1.8 million words," says Schmidt. "For us, it's all about crafting stories about people's passions using video as a storytelling tool. "
 
Source: Paul Schmidt, Owner, UnoDeuce Multimedia
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Husband-wife team roasts up wood-fired coffee on Lansing's North Side

Paul and Emily Nicholls share a love for each other and for great coffee. So when the residents of Santa Cruz, California, moved to Lansing about three years ago and got a taste of the city's entrepreneurial culture, they knew their destiny was to brew up something big.
 
In June, the Nicholls opened Rust Belt Roastery at 801 E. Grand River after a long search for the best means of production. They had never forgotten the fellow they had met on a trip out West, someone who made the best coffee they ever had using a simple, wood-fired roaster.
 
"We started looking on-line and found a wood-fired roaster up in Wisconsin," says Nicholls. "We knew we had to have it."
 
Paul and Emily purchased the 1930s Victoria Italian roaster and had it delivered via tractor-trailer to Lansing. After some adept maneuvering, they successfully planted the 3,500-pound cast iron roaster inside the 960-square-foot building that would eventually become their place of business.
 
"It's a magical device," says Nicholls. "It's big and red and chrome and was made during that time when orchards were everywhere."
 
The Nicholls live within walking distance of the roastery on the edge of Old Town. They've added to the hometown feel by roasting their first few months of beans with the ample supply of red oak sacrificed by one of their trees during last year's ice storm.
 
"We got about 60 feet of wood from that mighty branch," laughs Nicholls who also sources cherry and apple wood from a Williamston farm. "I can roast 20 pounds of beans with a piece of wood the size of a baseball bat."
 
Nicholls says the wood-fired roaster produces an exceptional smooth cup of coffee with a rich smoky flavor. He roasts about two to three 20-pound batches every Saturday, and sources his beans through single-source or fair trade suppliers.
 
"I like everything about what I do," says Nicholls. "And Lansing is a neat place with old trees, a couple rivers and a lot of nice people all working on the same team. I like that."
 
Rust Belt Roastery coffee is carried through the Old Town General Store, Vet's Too Gift Boutique, Detroit Frankie's Wood-Fired Pizza, and the East Lansing Farmer's Market.
 
Source: Paul Nicholls, Owner, Rust Belt Roastery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New Horizons opens co-working space in REO Town, relocates up to 24 jobs

Back in the "old days," computer training took place in classrooms—complete with desktops, facilitators and giant printed manuals.
 
As a Michigan leader in computer learning and training, New Horizons wanted to find a new facility that reflected their business model and more effectively served their clients.
 
Enter REO Town and a building owned by developer Alan Hooper. It was a space, says New Horizons Chief Administrative Officer Scott McLean, that provided the energetic, urban environment he envisioned. What's more, it was close to highways, downtown, and to many New Horizons clients.
 
So in August, New Horizon moved from East Lansing to 1146 S. Washington and became a "tenant" within their new venture: a collaborative working and learning space for IT and coding professionals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, traveling business people and more.
 
"Our business has changed so much that we wanted to look at our space and see how we can continue to add value," says McLean. "The more we talked and thought about it, the more we got hooked on the idea of creating a co-working and learning center."
 
Co:Space consists of 6,500 square feet of open work area for up to 80 people. Customers have access to WiFi, printers, scanners and storage lockers, and can drop in or purchase monthly memberships. New Horizons set aside an area for computer classes, as well as a conference space for events or meetings.
 
McLean outfitted Co:Space with industrial-style furnishings, exposed brick walls and a polished concrete floor. One wall features a huge chalk drawing by Michigan artist Greg Oberle that pays homage to REO Town.
 
"We want to be an investor in Lansing," says McLean. "A lot of Michigan cities are undergoing urban renewal and recreating areas like this."
 
New Horizons will relocate 12 staff to the new facility, with a dozen more dropping in from other sites once or twice a week.
 
Co:Space and New Horizons invite the community to celebrate the new facility with an open house on Wednesday, October 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. Free parking is available behind the building or on the street.

Source: Scott McLean, Chief Administrative Officer, New Horizons
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

East Lansing Threads brings resort-inspired brands to town, creates 10 jobs

Marsha Chouinard never suspected the email her stepdaughter sent from the East Lansing Art Fair would recommend a storefront as the family's next work of art.
 
But when Chouinard saw the picture of the vacated Kirabo's at 225 E. Grand River, she instantly knew it was the perfect place to open the Midwestern "sister store" of her Destin, Florida, boutique.
 
Chouinard began putting things in motion to open East Lansing Threads—a clothing boutique for men and women featuring trendy brands such as Vineyard Vines, Southern Proper, Southern Tide, Southern Marsh, Ella Moss, 7 for All Mankind and Splendid. The 1,200-square-foot store also carries accessories and apparel from Over Under as well as designer handbags, footwear and artisan jewelry. 
 
"Our brands aren't super expensive, but they're high quality and very well made," says Chouinard. "We try to hit, good, better and best for everything we carry."
 
Chouinard developed her passion for fashion from her career as a purchaser and manager of resort retail. She has opened nearly a dozen stores, including a Threads boutique in Destin.
 
"While our main market is college, we know that lots of moms and community members need casual weekend wear, too," says Chouinard. "In Destin, we see a variety of ages—from middle school all the way to up to men and women in their 50s."
 
After securing the spot in June, Chouinard enlisted a renovation team to build out the space. Changes included pulling out the drop ceiling, repainting walls with charcoal and light gray tones, installing a slate-looking floor, and adding fitting rooms, a new cash desk and alcoves.
 
Chouinard's husband, Marty, grew up in Greater Lansing, and encouraged her to give Michigan a try for her second Threads store.
 
"We're very excited to be part of the community, for sure," says Chouinard. "I'm really happy to have a reason to be up here and be near other members of my family."
 
Threads opened in late September with a staff of three full-time and five part-time employees.
 
Source: Marsha Chouinard, Owner, East Lansing Threads
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Al-Lin Floral and Gifts grows business, moves to new space

Alan Vogl learned all about flowers from his grandma, a master gardener in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
 
Today, Vogl is a master in his own rite as he tends to a flourishing and growing business in Okemos.
 
Vogl owns Al-Lin Floral and Gifts with his wife Linda. The 10-year-old business recently relocated to prime frontage at 1739 W. Grand River after outgrowing their space a mile east down the road.
 
"We attribute out growth to a quality product at a fair price," says Vogl of the move that nearly doubled the space for his business. "Our customer service also makes us stand out."
 
The husband-wife team decided to open the shop in 2005 after their kids packed up and went to college. Al had worked for years in a local floral shop, and with the business skills of his wife and the "home schooling" he had received from his grandmother, he felt confident cultivating a business of his own.
 
Al-Lin Floral's new 5,500-square-foot store captures attention from the busy roadway and positions the shop to nurture the floral and gift needs of new and returning customers.
 
"All our flowers are fresh and come in daily and last five to seven days," says Vogl. "We offer seasonal specials, and we do arrangements for corporate events, weddings, special occasions, every day, and most of all, just because."
 
The new store, Vogl says, will carry more unique gifts including pillows, lotions, napkins, candleholders and other home décor items. The new location will also offer a special line of Michigan products made by local artisans.
 
"We're not your typical everyday florist," says Vogl. "We encourage customers to participate in the design of their arrangement, and we offer floral classes so you can make your own arrangement to take home."
 
Al-Lin Floral and Gifts also offers seasonal decorating services for homes and businesses, tailored to customer preferences. The Vogls employ two part-time staff, and plan to hire up to two more part-time designers and three sales people in the next couple months.
 
Source: Alan Vogl, Owner, Al-Lin Floral and Gifts
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Established baker satisfies East Lansing's sweet tooth with French cookies

The trip to find one of the world's finest cookies just got reduced from a lengthy plane ride to a quick jaunt across town.
 
In late August, Kelly Toland opened the doors to her East Lansing bakery that specializes in French macarons. Located at 1133 E. Grand River Ave. next to Tasty Twist, Le Bon Macaron carries up to a dozen kinds of the European meringue cookie made from sugar, egg whites, almonds, and loads and loads of butter.
 
"They're really light cookies," says bakery owner Kelly Toland. "They're very pretty, too, and aesthetically pleasing for parties or weddings or desserts."
 
Toland says a macaron consists of two crispy shells filled with a flavored butter cream center. Cookies come in a rainbow of colors and many of the flavorings used in the butter cream center come directly from France. Must-tries including salted caramel, chocolate peanut butter, jasmine, violet or poppy seed.
 
"It's always fun to pick out or recommend flavors for customers," says Toland. "We have boxes with a clear front that hold six or 12, so no matter how you arrange them, they always look really nice together."
 
The 250-square-foot Le Bon Macaron is primarily a retail space with a back area for baking. Up to 15 people can sit on an outdoor patio shared with next-door neighbor Bell's Pizza.
 
Toland got the idea to bring a little bit of Paris to East Lansing after a college study abroad program landed her in France. When she came back, she started and ran her first business—A Piece O' Cake—for about seven years. She recently sold the business to open Le Bon Macaron.
 
Toland runs the bakery with her parents, Wendy and John Kobus. Her dad, she says, creates the macarons, starting nearly every morning at 5 a.m. to make shells, blend flavors and assemble the cookies.
 
"We've always baked and cooked together as a family," says Toland. "And since I was interested in food photography, one thing led to another. Cakes are a good creative outlet, and macarons are similar. Plus, they're very photogenic."
 
Source: Kelly Toland, Owner, Le Bon Macaron
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

The Runway debuts talent, fosters fashion growth in Lansing

Even before opening the doors to their highly anticipated retail space, The Runway has been racing to put Lansing on the fast track to becoming a Midwest fashion mecca.
 
With a grand opening slated for Thursday, Oct. 9, The Runway welcomes the fashion-conscious and fashion-curious into a 3,000-square foot storefront filled with quality, Michigan-based apparel. Featured products laid out in flexible 10 x 10 boutique spaces include Trybe, Brightly Twisted, Lionblood and MP Fashion. Others are on the way as the showroom and the related fashion incubator capture attention.
 
"Retail and fashion aren't the first thing many of us think of when we think of downtown Lansing," says Jeff Henry, operator of The Runway. "This is an inspiration for others to follow suit, as well as a motivator for our fashion incubator tenants to reach for."
 
The showroom can accommodate up to 25 brands. In addition to general traffic, the showroom looks to attract buyers from boutiques and other fashion retailers.
 
"It's a great way for buyers to get a visual of what items may look like in a store," he says. "It's also a great way to show the talent that's here in Michigan and why we started The Runway in the first place."
 
Located on the ground floor of the renovated Knapp's Centre, the showroom features all kinds of "wears" from sportswear to swimwear to street wear. A sweeping staircase leads to a 5,500-square-foot incubator on the second floor where up to 12 designers-in-residence and associate designers explore start-up businesses.
 
Anchor tenants enjoy private studio and office space, as well as shared resources to produce products. Associate designers can also access resources that include pressing and cutting tables, dress forms, industrial sewing machines, and the coveted OPTITEX's 2D and 3D software. Business planning and legal services are also available.
 
"We're focused on retaining talent and bringing industry and jobs here," says Henry. "We want to roll off the strength of manufacturing and return the Midwest to its history of making things."
 
Current designers-in-residence include Lawrence Hunt, Freshwater Apparel, LE&O, Allie Su Bridal, Swim Lively, Alex & Jayde Designs, Beauhawk, Lady Aitch, Bad Latitude and North Promontory. Economic development and organization support for The Runway comes through the Lansing Economic Development Corp. and LEAP. Major sponsors include Foster Swift and Peckham.
 
Source: Jeff Henry, Operations Manager, The Runway
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Confectionately Yours sweetens up sidewalk commute for downtown workers

Workers and visitors traversing the busy morning sidewalks of downtown Lansing this fall will find a sweet option for breakfast and snacks on the go.
 
Right after Labor Day, Heather Schmidt rolled out Confectionately Yours on the corner of Capitol and Michigan Avenues and began vending baked goods and coffee to passers-by.
 
Schmidt stocks an assortment of seven different breakfast items including scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls and yogurt parfaits within the 3-foot by 10-foot red canopied push cart. Granolas, cookies and brownies are also part of the inventory for afternoon or late-morning snackers. Hot coffee from Paramount is also on hand for caffeine seekers.
 
"We'll be offering seasonal baked goods and other things here and there," says Schmidt. "We want to keep it interesting so people smile and want to come back."
 
Schmidt worked in bakeries in Michigan and Rhode Island for about 18 years, and launched Confectionately Yours about two years ago from a licensed kitchen within her Dansville home. As demand grew for her cakes and other confections, Schmidt considered opening up a brick and mortar shop, but opted for a mobile option when her carpentry-inclined husband offered to build her a food cart.
 
Downtown Lansing was a logical choice to roll-out her food cart business, Schmidt says, because of the city's ongoing support of small business and street vendors.
 
"There's also nice traffic from downtown workers," says Schmidt. "It's great to be part of helping to liven up the downtown."
 
Schmidt says she bakes everything fresh the night before and then gets help with cleanup and stocking the cart from her three kids, ages 9 through 16. The Confectionately Yours food cart is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
 
Source: Heather Schmidt, Owner, Confectionately Yours
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lou and Harry's responds to customer demand for downtown location

Scott Rolen listened to his mentor in the restaurant business. He also listened to his customers.
 
In late August, Rolen cut the ribbon on Lou and Harry's Downtown and began his long-awaited venture into owning and managing his first restaurant. It's an opportunity, he says, he owes to Harry Saites—a founder of the Lou and Harry's family of restaurants. And it's a chance to answer the call for a Lou and Harry's in Lansing's urban core.
 
"People have been asking us for a while to bring a Lou and Harry's to downtown," says Rolen who has worked for Saites for 10 years and will operate his restaurant under a licensing agreement. "There's a wonderful clientele down here and as long as we continue to be quick and efficient, we're sure they'll love our product."
 
Rolen promises not to disappoint and will offer the original Lou and Harry's menu of freshly made sandwiches, gyros, burgers and salads. To distinguish the downtown location, he is offering his own homemade soups and sandwich specials on a daily basis. Early risers can also stop in for coffee and a simple breakfast, including yogurt parfaits, and pitas with eggs, meat and cheese.
 
The new eatery will seat 48 people in a 1,900-square-foot space that features booths, tables and a blend of old school and modern décor. Colors are deep and earthy, with a mix of blues, oranges and reds to set off the new floors, countertops and lights.
 
"Harry and I are totally like family, and his mom and dad, too," says Rolen. "They've all been hugely supportive. His mama came in and blessed the store. It's great to have them around."
 
Lou and Harry's Downtown employs 16 people, including two cashiers and prep, line and grill cooks. Rolen hopes to branch into catering and delivery once the sit-down restaurant is up and running. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Other Lou and Harry's are located on Chandler Road in Bath Township and on East Saginaw Street in East Lansing.
 
Source: Scott Rolen, General Manager/Owner, Lou and Harry's Downtown
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Beer Grotto on deck in Stadium District with hybrid store and lounge

A combination tasting room and store coming to Lansing's Stadium District complex next spring will help lessen the chance for "buyer's remorse" among lovers of craft beer and wine.
 
With the tagline "Taste It. Love It. Tote It.," the Beer Grotto will offer craft beverage enthusiasts a destination for sampling, experiencing and purchasing up to 48 draft beers and 80 wines—with about 75 percent made in Michigan. The Beer Grotto will also offer a select line of non-alcohol beers, wines and sodas, including the iconic Michigan brand Faygo.
 
"The idea for the Beer Grotto came about when we were thinking of customers who pick up a flavored stout or a wine with a cool label, only to realize they have five left in a six-pack or are stuck with a cooking wine," says Sam Short, one of three owners along with Troy Ontko and Brandon Ansel. "There's no reason for that. We want people to have a chance to taste everything in our store."
 
Beer Grotto patrons will also be able to hang out in full-service lounge, or reserve an event space for parties, meetings or celebrations. Short says the hybridized space will include individual tasting stations where well-trained staff dubbed "beer geeks" or "cork dorks" will assist and educate customers on beer and wine samples.
 
Short plans to hire about 20 part-time and 20 full-time staff for the 4,100-square-foot space. Located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cedar Street, the Beer Grotto will seat 200 people inside and 50 people on an outdoor patio.
 
The Beer Grotto, Short says, addresses the booming interest in craft beers and wines, as well as the ongoing resurgence of living and working in the urban core.
 
"We've watched Lansing grow in a wonderful way," says Short, adding that Pat Gillespie's Stadium District and other downtown developments create a perfect setting. "That mix of residential, tourism and visitors to downtown is something you don't see very often. We're happy to become part of it."
 
The Beer Grotto is on deck for early 2015 and will be open seven days a week. The Lansing location is the third Beer Grotto for Short behind Dexter and Ann Arbor.
 
Source: Sam Short, Owner, Beer Grotto
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Sweet Lorraine's serves up classic comfort food in arty setting

Satisfying the insatiable yen for the queen of comfort foods just got possible as a Detroit-based restaurateur opens the doors in downtown East Lansing this fall.
 
At 547 E. Grand River just across from the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez will offer 14 made-to-order varieties of the famed culinary duo. Hungry or discerning appetites can also dine on salads, grilled sandwiches stuffed with macaroni and cheese, and end with a sweet treat of fresh-baked cookies or a salted caramel rice crispy bar.
 
"We've tried to give people an idea of our brand through our logo," says Lorraine Platman who owns the restaurant with her husband Gary Sussman. "The artwork is like something between The Flintstones and The Jetsons—showing that macaroni and cheese has been around forever, but we can also get it out to you fast and fabulous. In other words, it's not your mama's mac and cheese."
 
Platman and Sussman met at Michigan State University in the mid '70s, and are ecstatic about bringing the concept to East Lansing. The new location becomes the fifth in the Sweet Lorraine family that consists of two full-service deli and café concepts and three mac-and-cheese focused eateries. Other locations are in the works outside Michigan.
 
As an alumna of MSU's fine art program, Platman takes an interest not just in the food, but in the décor of her enterprises. The East Lansing location, she says, will feature industrial-style chairs with flexible backs, eye-popping veneer, and a terrazzo floor. A variety of pop-art posters and sayings will adorn the different colored walls, including a reproduction of a Sweet Lorraine's menu signed by Andy Warhol.
 
"I still get tongue-tied talking about how Andy Warhol came to my restaurant 30 years ago and signed my menu," says Platman of the influential artist who was in Detroit for a book signing. "He loved the different colored walls and had a sandwich."
 
The 2000-square-foot Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez seats 65 people and will be serviced by 32 staff.
 
Source: Lorraine Platman, Owner, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Dublin Jerky offers exotic flavors for the protein-crazed snacker

Once a point-of-sale favorite at party stores, jerky is making inroads as a healthy and satisfying alternative for snackers everywhere.
 
Just ask Bruce Patulski. He's a Michigan pioneer in the jerky renaissance and has been racking up popular and exotic varieties of the carnivorous snack for years. And last summer, Patulski brought a branch of the renowned Dublin Jerky to the Lansing City Market, offering the company's most flavorful varieties plus an eclectic mix of brats, firewood, mopeds and custom-made T-shirts.
 
"The proof's in the product," says Patulski of the booth's staple. "Our jerky is nice and juicy, and it bursts with flavor when you bite into it. It's insanely tender."
 
Patulski learned the jerky business from the Dublin Jerky founder, who is also his brother-in-law. He started as a teen working in the Greenville, Mich., shop, and has continued to smoke, rack and package prime cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, pork, wild boar, rabbit, pheasant, alligator, ostrich and python.
 
"It's definitely not your typical gas station jerky," says Patluski. "We source our meats from all over the country and they all go through FDA inspection."
 
Patulski carries the most popular of Dublin Jerky's 60 varieties in his 100-foot vendor space. The 15 to 20 types of jerky include his go-to items like the "sweet heat beef" and "apple jack beef" and spicy varieties made with hot or ghost peppers.
 
"I'm surprised they don't melt the bag," he laughs.
 
A quarter-pound bag of jerky, Patulski says, provides an option for people looking for a high-protein snack or quick meal. Several popular magazines like Esquire and Muscle & Fitness have mentioned Dublin Jerky by name as a way to curb hunger, help build muscle, and ward off carb cravings.
 
Dublin Jerky also carries a line of loaded brats including garlic and sauerkraut, maple and bacon, and a blue cheese and cherry. Like the jerky, the brats are smoked, fully cooked and made with all natural ingredients.
 
As for the mopeds and screen printing and firewood, Patulski says that's an offshoot of his father's retail business in Manistee.
 
"I'm in the business program at MSU," says Patulski who operates the market with his girlfriend. "I guess you could say that business is in my blood."

Source: Bruce Patulski, Owner, Dublin Jerky Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Stilettos and Steel brings pole fitness to Lansing's West Side

Candice Tess always had a passion for fitness and the idea of a fitness-related business. She just didn't know where she fit.  So when Tess happened upon pole fitness, she worked hard to dispel the eyebrow raisers and bring a pole fitness studio to Lansing.
 
"It's the most amazing form of strength training I have ever done and it's awesome," says Tess. "It's closely related to yoga, gymnastics and acrobatics and the only equipment needed is the pole and your own body weight as resistance."
 
In the next few weeks, Tess will open the doors on Stilettos and Steel Fitness at 6400 W. St. Joseph Highway. Tess will teach and hold classes in various levels of pole fitness, applying her expertise as a certified instructor through the Pole Fitness Alliance.
 
Tess worked with friends, family members and her "crafty husband" to gut, move or install walls, put in new floors and ceilings, and paint the 1,100-square foot studio. With purple as a signature color, the studio is cozy, warm and inviting, with a private pole room outfitted with six poles.
 
"It's pretty," says Tess. "We have a chandelier and we dim the lights when we do the dance part of the workout."
 
Tess says the 90-minute classes involve meditation, a yoga-based warm-up, pole tricks and spins, and a dance routine. People unsure of whether pole fitness is right for them can check out a one-time intro class or sign up for a mini-session. Membership options are also available.
 
Tess says she learned pole fitness through studios in Grand Rapids and Detroit since she couldn't find a studio closer to home.  As her confidence and abilities grew, she became a certified trainer so she could share her love of the discipline.
 
"One of my main goals is to take away the stigma attached to pole fitness," says Tess, citing that the American Council on Exercise accepted Pole Fitness as a form of exercise in 2009. "People don't understand that it's not the same as being a pole dancer. It's a workout that's totally for you that helps you feel strong, confident and sexy."
 
Source: Candice Tess, Owner, Stilettos and Steel Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Front 43 creates friendly gathering place on Lansing-East Lansing border

Frank Cheng noticed something big missing on Lansing's eastern edge and decided to start small. So far, he's begun to fill the need for a gathering place on the busy stretch between East Lansing and Lansing.
 
Since early August, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub has been serving up craft beers and high-end bar food in a cozy, low-key setting. Initially dubbed "The Barrel," the latest in Lansing's growing lineup of gastro pubs rebranded and kicked into gear right around the MSU Spartan's home opener.
 
"Everyone seemed to want a place like this in this area," says Owner and Manager Cheng. "We were always hearing that something like this was missing with all the housing and apartments in the neighborhood. It just seems like a great location."
 
Front 43 is well-poised to draw from the aura left by Jimmy's Pub—a Lansing landmark that relocated to Chandler Road when the site was razed for the Pointe North Retail Center in 2011. Cheng got first-hand insights into customers seeking places to enjoy food, drink and time with friends since he also owns and manages Xiao—Front 43's next-door neighbor.
 
The 1,200-square foot interior seats 45 people, while a small outdoor patio seats 15 more. A long bar and wall-mounted beer taps mingle with pictures of neighborhood and local imagery. Fifteen big-screen TVs (two of which are 80-inchers) provide a panorama of visual entertainment.
 
"It's very cozy and comfortable and warm," says Cheng. "I want it to be a neighborhood place, where everybody will get to know everyone."
 
Front 43 has 20 beers on tap, with 18 brewed in Michigan. Beers include Bell's Oberon and Big Two Hearted Ales, New Holland Dragon's Milk, and Strawberry Brown Ale. Customers can also enjoy wine, with local spirits coming to the mix down the road.
 
In keeping with the gastro-pub concept, Cheng will offer up non-traditional bar foods including mussels, calamari and three-cheese macaroni and cheese. Red meat eaters can satisfy a hearty appetite with a half-pound Angus burger.
 
Cheng spends about 10 to 15 hours a day on-site between Xiao and his newest venture. He hopes to hire up to 15 staff for Front 43, including two full-timers.
 
Source: Frank Cheng, Owner, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Hatch adds square footage to nurture fledging enterprise

Student start-ups at Michigan State University can continue to move from coffee shops into an expanding landscape of co-office and shared spaces as the Hatch nearly doubles its floor space.
 
The popular co-working space and student business incubator at 325 E. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing added 1,135 of floor space and meeting rooms to bring the total square footage to 2,542 square feet over the summer. The expansion was funded by the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State University, and a three-year gift from the MSU Federal Credit Union.
 
"We needed extra space and extra amenities," says Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations and a Hatch "superhero" team member. "Space helps with growth. We were able to throw in some new technologies and rooms where people can break off and have meetings."
 
In 2013-14, 156 teams of start-up candidates came to the Hatch to explore and research business ideas, design and create, and collaborate and mentor. In 2014, students also raised more than $210,000 in start-up support through national and international business plan competitions and growth.
 
The expanded Hatch is outfitted with a pair of HD video conference-ready breakout rooms, a multi-media editing suite, new monitors, 24-hour key fob access and video security, WiFi, and a flexible power-charging system.
 
The new floor plan also builds on the idea of an "entrepreneurial ecosystem" by building out an adjacent co-working space for the community. The 1,900-square foot 300 Room, Hatch leaders say, can be used by community members for meetings or networking during open hours or via scheduled reservation.
 
"It's a community-focused space for the general community," says Marketing Director Amber Shinn. "It's ground zero for folks of all experience levels and provides a comfortable environment that encourages them to start and keep their business here."
 
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Source: Paul Jaques, Director of Student and Community Engagement, Spartan Innovations
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Pilates Silver Sensations brings full-service Pilates to East Lansing

It's been described as intelligent exercise that yields profound results.
 
And for Rosemarie Gregg, Pilates became a force that transformed her life and livelihood.
 
In early September, Gregg "cut the ribbon" on Pilates Silver Sensations—the only full-service Pilates studio in the Lansing area. The 1,700-square foot studio at 4964 Northwind Drive in East Lansing offers Pilates classes in various formats, including mat, reformer equipment and total barre. The studio is also among the few licensed vendors of lucy Activewear in mid-Michigan.
 
"I'm calling it Pilates Silver because I work with people 35 to 70 years old," she says. "As we age, we compensate and our postural alignment goes out. Pilates can help realign the spine to its natural state."
 
Gregg's passion for Pilates harkens back to 2010 when she injured her back cross-country skiing. She says she went to seven doctors, including a neurologist, seeking relief from chronic pain and numbness. She found relief through Pilates.
 
"I started in a Pilates class and within six months, all my pain went away," says the 50-something Gregg. "I also got in the best shape I ever had been in my life."
 
Gregg was so convinced of the healing power of Pilates that she underwent nearly 500 hours of training to become a certified instructor of STOTT Pilates. She began teaching and rapidly outgrew the 300-square foot studio she and her husband set up in her Okemos home.
 
Gregg has about 50 active clients and has taught nearly 250 individuals. Her new studio will have four reformer machines and stands, 29-feet of bars, and two full walls of mirrors. Courses run on four- to six-week schedules, with some private instruction available. Gregg teaches most of the classes herself, but recently hired one Pilates and one yoga instructor to help with her growing clientele.
 
"Pilates will totally change the shape of your body and is the best form of exercise you can do to build your core strength," says Gregg. "It will give you the firmest butt, build your core strength, and tone your abs like crazy."
 
Source: Rosemarie Gregg, Owner, Pilates Silver Sensations
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Flat, Black and Circular adds square footage and inventory

Flat, Black and Circular started out in a space about the size of a small walk-in closet. Today, the 37-year-old East Lansing store at 541 E. Grand River is knocking down walls to make room for its fourth expansion in 20 years.
 
"The way we look at it, the more years that go by the more stuff there is in the world," says Jon Howard, FBC manager and buyer. "It's inevitable that we expanded."
 
The iconic music reseller started as a partnership between Dick Rosemont and Dave Bernath to support their vinyl-buying habit. While audio formats have changed and evolved, the store has remained true to vinyl, making it well-poised for the resurgence of all things 33-and-a-1/3 RPM.
 
"Right now, vinyl is trendy with younger kids who want to build a collection," says Howard. "They've gotten hold of their parent's stereos and see it's good to have something tangible in their hands rather than all digital."
 
Howard estimates that the store currently houses 20,000 pieces of vinyl, a few thousand CDs, hundreds of DVDs, and even a few hundred cassettes. The store acquires most of its inventory through items that people bring in to sell. Other inventory comes through "the hunt" of garage and estate sales, liquidations, and through word-of-mouth.
 
Howard says the current expansion will add 300 square feet to the existing 1,300-square-foot store. Plans are to move in a few rolling shelves, fill them with classical selections, and create a quieter space for the classical aficionado. Part of the new space will also be set aside for displaying miscellaneous musical equipment.
 
"We're browsing friendly, and everything is in alphabetical order," says Howard. "We're also not musical snobs at all. We will all admit that we like some horrible music."
 
FBC staff includes Howard, Bernath and one part-time worker. Rosemont, who moved to Santa Fe New Mexico, serves as a consultant.
 
Source: Jon Howard, Manager and Buyer, Flat, Black and Circular
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

For Crepe Sake opens in Lansing City Market, creates six jobs

A little bit of France just came to Lansing.
 
In early-August, Mark and Deborah Owen cut the ribbon on For Crepe Sake in the Lansing City Market. And while steeped in American tradition, the creperie offers a delectable selection of the French cuisine that is sure to please the palette.
 
Mark says he and Deborah decided to open a creperie to offer downtown diners something aside from subs, pizza and traditional sandwich fare. Mark, too, was determined to offer gluten-free options that taste delicious for people like himself who experience Celiac Disease or are gluten-intolerant.
 
"Crepes are very sophisticated and different," say Mark. "We have dessert crepes that are sweet with things like cream cheese and strawberries. And we have savory crepes, too, with meats and cheeses and eggs."
 
Mark says he gave all his crepes French names like "The Louvre," "The Hunchback of Notre Dam," or "Pomme." Visitors can also select the "Laissez-Faire" and build their own crepe from available items. Beverage-wise, diners can pair crepes with a hot beverage like brewed Zingerman's coffee; a latte, espresso or tea; or go for a cool soft drink, gourmet soda or juice.
 
"You can have your lunch and dessert at the same time, depending on what you get," says Mark. "A crepe is a really thin pancake, with the ingredients folded inside. It's kind-of like pancake meets enchilada."
 
Mark says he and Deborah did a year of R&D before opening their restaurant, including visiting other creperies, checking out recipes and menus, and investing in a professional crepe maker. The 450-square-foot space in the Lansing City Market offers the Owens a chance to "start small" and build a following. For Crepe Sake employs four people, in addition to Mark and Deborah.
 
Source: Mark Owen, Owner, For Crepe Sake
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Marco's Pizza brings 24 jobs and authentic Italian cuisine to Okemos

As a high schooler, Donna Sturgis dreamed of running her own business. But it wasn't until after she had built a career and gone through the economic downturn that she struck out on her own.
 
In September, Sturgis will open her second local franchise for Marco's Pizza at 1871 W. Grand River Ave. in Okemos. Running a restaurant, she admits, is a departure from having worked her entire career as a mechanical engineer. But then she laughs and says she enjoys doing something that's just a "little different."
 
"When the automotive business went south, I knew it was time," says Sturgis. "I decided to open a franchise to fulfill my dream of being an entrepreneur."
 
Sturgis opened her first Marco's Pizza at Abbot and Lake Lansing in East Lansing in 2008. Over time, she grew her clientele and hired a staff of 19 people.
 
Sturgis hopes for the same success with her next Marco's Pizza in the Dusty's Cellar retail plaza. She gutted a space in the strip mall to bring it up to the franchise standards, including interior features like slate, tile floors, faux granite tables, and a counter made of cherry wood.
 
"It has an upscale look but you're only paying $20 or so for your pizza," says Sturgis. "You get an authentic Italian look when you come in."
 
That authenticity extends to the menu. Founder Paul Giamaro, Sturgis says, was born and raised in Italy, and brought his culinary talents and family recipe to the franchise.
 
"It's the same traditional dough and sauce recipe that we follow today," says Sturgis. "We make fresh dough and sauce in the store every day; it doesn't come from a freezer or factory. And we get all our vegetables locally from Michigan farmers."
 
Marco's menu features classic and specialty pizzas, fresh-baked subs, salads, and extras such as chicken wings, cheesy bread and cinnamon pastry.
 
Sturgis' new 2,000-square-foot store will employ 24 and seat 32 people. She is planning a grand opening for September 8 beginning at 9:30 a.m., complete with food sampling and kids' activities.
 
Source: Donna Sturgis, Owner, Marco's Pizza
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Painting entrepreneur automates paperwork for general contracting

Michael Henry learned how to scrape by, cut-in and get maximum coverage while in college. Today he's making a business of it.
 
Last May, Henry launched a full-service interior and exterior painting service with four staff—about a year after earning his degree in psychology from Michigan State University. He projects he will have completed about 50 jobs through MDH Painting by the end of the year, and estimates he will more than double his business in 2015.
 
"For the most part, I never saw myself having a 9 to 5 job," says Henry. "I knew the way I felt and operated before then."
 
Henry also owns and operates a second related business from the Lansing NEO Center. CorkCRM provides software expressly designed for construction contracting. Released by Henry and a team of computer scientists in November 2013, CorkCRM streamlines processes like estimating and preparing proposals, scheduling appointments, prospecting and tracking leads, generating contracts, processing time cards and expenses, and other traditional paperwork.
 
Henry's goal, he says, is to make it easier for contractors to do their work by leveraging technology for administrative functions. His company services about 10 contracting companies across the U.S., including Michigan, Florida, Arizona, California and Oregon. He also uses CorkCRM software when he estimates and coordinates jobs for MDH Painting.
 
"When I was working as a college painter, what I saw lacking was an all-in-one software system to run the business," says Henry who supervised crews for East Lansing's College Pro Painters. "We were doing a lot of things on paper and written documents, and it didn't enable the use of technology very well."
 
Henry says he hopes to eventually move from the NEO Center and into a larger office that can accommodate his growing staff. In addition to his four painters who work offsite through MDH Painting, Henry plans to hire an assistant for CorkCRM in the coming year.
 
Source: Michael Henry, Owner, MDH Painting and CorkCRM
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Piper & Gold expands and moves to Old Town

Moving to Lansing's Old Town was never out-of-the-question for Kate Snyder and her evolving public relations company, Piper & Gold.
 
"Coming out of a business incubator, you have that sense of community and that sense of support that surrounds you," says Snyder, principal strategist. "To me, that was important to have in a stand-alone office space. I knew I could get that in Old Town."
 
In mid-July, Snyder moved operations from the NEO Center on Clark Street to a space that used to be the city's "comfort station" near the railroad tracks. Historic and newly renovated, the two narrow rooms on the first floor of 313 ½ E. Grand River are just the right size, she says, for her small, outwardly-focused team.
 
"The move was a big step for us," says Snyder. "It gives us the infrastructure to continue to serve our clients and to enhance the way we do that. I'm very much about sustainable and controlled growth."
 
Snyder started the business in 2012 with the goal of providing traditional public relations with a digital twist. With an emphasis on non-partisan government organizations, nonprofits, associations and small business, Piper & Gold assists clients with communication strategy and planning, media relations, social media and serves as an extension of the clients' teams.
 
"I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur," says Snyder who did some consulting while working a traditional full-time gig. "It continued to grow, and I really enjoyed it. I decided to take the plunge, and am trying to create an environment that I've always wanted to work in."
 
Piper & Gold recently added a new team member, bringing the staff of the boutique PR firm to three full-time and two part-time employees.
 
Source: Kate Snyder, Principal Strategist, Piper & Gold
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Bloom Coffee Roasters stokes Lansing's caffeine craving from REO Town warehouse

Jared Field is building a business based on nostalgia as well as the future.
 
In the early summer, Field and his business partner Cameron Russell spilled the beans about Bloom Coffee Roasters and moved into a 2,000-square foot storage space in Lansing's REO Town. Along with an entrepreneurial spirit, they brought a small batch coffee roaster, some basic office equipment, and pounds of beans ready to roast into Lansing's newest line of craft coffees.
 
Field says his desire to introduce residents to the best coffee dates back to the love of the brew he acquired growing up in Michigan.
 
"For me, the coffee nostalgia goes back to when I was a kid and I'd spend time at my grandparents' cottage up north," he says. "It's that waking up to the smell of a freshly cooked breakfast and an overwhelming coffee aroma on a beautiful morning. It got me hooked."
 
Field didn't always set out to roast beans or to start his own business. As a new journalism graduate from Western Michigan University, Field took a job with a Kalamazoo coffee roaster. And while journalism jobs were sparse, the love for specialty coffee wasn't.
 
"I started roasting and fell in love with it," says Field who began roasting three years ago. "I told people I got the coffee buzz."
 
Field brought his knowledge of coffee to mid-Michigan after his father acquainted him with the start-up culture and coffee enthusiasm in Lansing.
 
After devising a strategy with the Michigan Small Business Development Center, Field partnered with Russell to build a small batch coffee retailer and wholesaler. The two roast about 20 pounds of beans a day and get their five varieties of coffee through the Minnesota based Café Imports.
 
Coffees are available online for purchase and delivery, and brewed cups can be found at Spotted Dog Café and the Waterfront Restaurant in the Lansing City Market.  Field says he is working to line up additional venues, and plans to add up to five staff as business grows. He also wants to set up community-based programs to benefit particular non-profits. 
 
"We strongly believe in Lansing and intend to be active in the community," says Field. "If we focus on roasting quality coffee and succeed, our business and the community around us will thrive."
 
Source: Jared Field, Owner, Bloom Coffee Roasters
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Michigan Creative brings designs to The Runway

Ever since he first heard of Lansing becoming the home of a premier fashion incubator, Brian Town has had designs on stitching together a clothing line. And as the founder and CEO of Michigan Creative, Town is well acquainted with start-ups and the entrepreneurial culture of Lansing.
 
"It's been a while in the making," says Town of fashion line he's launching through his marketing company. "We'd been thinking how cool it would be to have a shirt or a piece of clothing that was made right here in Lansing that you could wear anywhere."
 
Beginning in August, Town's Freshwater Apparel will be part of the inaugural class of The Runway—Lansing's fashion incubator, retail and production space in the renovated Knapp's Centre. Town will run business operations and some retail through a 200-or-so square foot office, while design, production and manufacturing of Freshwater Apparel will take place off-site through Lansing's Fashion Proto.
 
Town says Freshwater Apparel will offer high-end T-shirts and other casual clothing items and will float two shirts for starters.  The shirts, Town says, will be comfortable, stylish, and made with cotton and bamboo. The idea, he says, is to create T-shirts that are suitable for wear about town or on a casual workday.
 
"It's a fancy T-shirt, and not your typical 'I love such-and-such' kind of thing," says Town. "We'll work with Fashion Proto to make a couple 100 for starters."
 
Town says he plans to add other clothing items to Freshwater Apparel once they are up and running. Customers will be able to purchase shirts through the Knapp's Centre location or on-line. Town's hopes are that Freshwater Apparel will grow and become a stand-alone company with up to 10 employees.
 
"My first thought always comes to jobs," says Town, an avid supporter of the buy and make local movement. "Lansing has been known for manufacturing for years. So whether it's fashion or something else, the more we can make it here, there's no reason why we shouldn't."
 
Source: Brian Town, Owner, Freshwater Apparel
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

WDA creates modern workspaces with homey flair in new East Lansing facility

Efficiency and comfort are at the top of the list for long-time entrepreneur Konny Zsigo. And you'll see that when Zsigo moves his staff and base of operations this fall to a new headquarters in north East Lasing.
 
In early September, Zsigo will open the doors to the new headquarters of WDA at 4050 Hunsaker Drive. The interior of the nearly 12,400 square foot building owned by CRBE was custom designed for the mobile marketing company and as Zsigo says, will be like a second home to his 53 employees.
 
The company's new headquarters will be roughly 3,000 square feet larger than the current location on Northwind Drive. While the company was well served by the previous space, WDA's steady growth led Zsigo to seek larger, friendly spaces to call home.
 
"A big part of this move is to create a comfortable place for our employees," says the WDA president who hopes to add 15 to 20 more staff in 2015. "We've installed a much larger kitchen where we serve free lunch to all employees. We'll also have a coffee room with coffee and chocolate."
 
The Hunsaker Drive facility makes innovative use of space through custom-made environments that encourage communication among all employees. Zsigo says cubicles are non-existent and adds that no workspace or work surface is commercially made.
 
"Every desk is made to fit," says Zsigo. "A local vendor made the cabinetry, and we had designers create rooms, workspaces and traditional offices. There's a workspace for every personality type."
 
Zsigo founded WDA in 2001 and focuses on products that help brands reach their objectives in mobile media. He says the company has grown over the years by responding to the evolving needs of marketers in a high-tech environment.
 
"When I walk through this building and no one is around, it's overwhelming," says Zsigo. "The place is huge, with giant conference rooms and meeting spaces. It makes me feel proud to say I've been able to do this and to provide for some 50 or more employees. It feels really good as an owner of a small business."
 
Source: Konny Zsigo, President, WDA
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

DeWitt CrossFit gym rebrands, grows in popularity

While they recently rebranded their year-old gym, Brad and Bailey Hillard have remained true to their commitment to build community through functional, athletic training.
 
In mid-July, the Hillards opened the doors to Lake State CrossFit—a new, expanded version of CrossFit Malleus. The new gym, they say, provides space to "stretch out," as well as a memorable, easy-to-remember name for those interested in tackling the CrossFit phenomenon.
 
Located just a few doors down from their original facility in Clark Corners, Lake State CrossFit will continue to offer a certified training curriculum that provides an all-inclusive workout and fitness program for customers of any fitness level.
 
"My wife and I have always been athletes," says Brad who wrestled and played football throughout high school, and went on to coach. "It's in our nature. Once we started training in CrossFit, we believed in the concept and wanted to share it with others."
 
CrossFit, Brad explains, is an all-around, varied strength and conditioning program that pushes participants to perform at their highest possible level. Developed in the late 1990s, CrossFit workouts include interval training, weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, plyometrics, running and other exercises.
 
"You're not a specialist in anything," says Brad. "Your goal is to be an all-around good athlete."
 
The Hillards say they build community at their 6,100-square foot gym through instructor-led training and social events related to gym activities. Since originally opening in June 2013, the gym has grown from just a handful of members to more than 80 strong.
 
"We're excited to see what the future brings," says Brad. "We're going to bring a kids program here eventually, as well as specialty courses. We want to offer a boot camp, too, that provides an on-ramp to people who might be feeling a little intimidated."
 
The Hillards invite anyone to give the intro course a try and to join the no-contract gym at 1161 E. Clark Lake Road, Suite 260. Lake State CrossFit employs two staff in addition to Brad and Bailey, with plans to add more as the gym grows in popularity.
 
Source: Brad Hillard, Owner, Lake State CrossFit
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Jersey Giant expands to downtown Lansing, hires six employees

When he was six or seven, Luke Slocum loved going into his dad's sub shop and watching sandwich makers layer slices of premium meats and cheese on fresh breads and top with crisp vegetables, oil and vinegar and condiments.
 
"I also remember wanting to go in and help wash dishes," says the 24-year-old Slocum of growing up in the family-owned Jersey Giant restaurant business. "I didn't eat as many sandwiches as people always think I might have, though."
 
In mid-July, Slocum took 10 years of experience working in family restaurants and opened one of his own in downtown Lansing. The new Jersey Giant at 220 S. Washington Square is the eighth location in the growing array of family-owned and operated stores in Lansing, Lansing Township, Williamston, Grand Ledge, Portage and the Detroit suburb of Woodhaven.
 
Slocum set up shop in the vacated Cup of Dessert that closed in May. The 1,800-square foot space, Slocum said, was the perfect location and fulfilled his dream for opening his first restaurant in downtown Lansing.
 
"I just love downtown," says Slocum who says Jersey Giant has had their eye on a downtown Lansing location for about four years. "I love that the area is on the way up and doesn't look like it's stopping anytime soon."
 
Slocum repainted, redecorated and brought in a three-door refrigerator. Aside from that, he says he got pretty lucky with a space that provides an ideal ambience and set-up for a sandwich shop.
 
The downtown sub shop will offer the standard 16 selections featured at other locations, including the signature Jersey Giant, Beasty and Jersey Devil. Customers can enjoy a touch of the Jersey shore through the menu and selections his father Britt originally built after moving to the area in 1979.
 
Slocum says he might add one or two warm subs to the menu come winter but hasn't decided yet. He has hired a staff of six and plans to be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. He says he'll also be open extended hours from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday to catch the bar crowd.
 
"Being downtown at night, you tend to get a little hungry after the bar," Slocum says. "I'm young enough to uphold these hours and old enough at heart not to be out."
 
Source: Luke Slocum, Owner, Jersey Giants Sub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Little Green Branches grows eco-conscious product lines for new families

As a mother of four children under 9, Missie Baldwin appreciates the ease and convenience of disposable diapers. At the same time, she hates the idea of trading green space for landfills every time she changes a diaper.
 
Baldwin switched to cloth diapers when her third child was born. Her friend, Stephanie White, owned Z-Bear—a store that specialized in eco-conscious baby products, including 21st century cloth diapers.
 
"Cloth diapers are a lot simpler than they seem," says Baldwin. "They're just as easy to use as disposables, and the only thing that it will add to your routine is one extra load of laundry a day."
 
Baldwin became such an expert that she bought Z-Bear from her friend and launched her career in retail. In June, she re-opened the 900-square foot boutique at 4976 Northwind Drive under the name Little Green Branches. She expanded the scope of the store to carry eco-conscious products for infants through pre-schoolers, and added a special section for moms.
 
"I'm looking to take the store to the next level," says Baldwin who recently hired three part-time people. "We'll even be providing a registry for new and expectant moms."
 
Little Green Braches sells cloth diapers and offers a cloth diaper rental program for newborns. Packages include fitted diapers and covers, a pail liner, and a special deep cleaning detergent. Customers rent and use diapers for a limited time and return them. Diapers are then washed and hygienically cleaned for use by the next family.
 
"Cloth diapers are extremely economical," says Baldwin. "It may seem like an upfront investment, but if you add up the cost of disposables, it will run you almost $3,000. You can get enough cloth diapers for about $200."
 
Aside from diapering systems, Baldwin carries baby wearing and breast feeding products, non-toxic toys, up cycled furniture, and a line of natural teas, herbs and soaps—some even made by Baldwin from products grown on her small organic farm. 
 
"I plan on having a dad department, too," says Baldwin. "I'm working on the products to put in there. It's coming soon."
 
Source: Missie Baldwin, Owner, Little Green Branches
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Sleepwalker one step closer to opening taproom in Allen Market Place

Approvals: Check. Painting: Check. Equipment: Check.
 
And by late summer or early fall, thirsty customers can check out a variety of brews at the Allen Market Place through a temporary "to-go" taproom of Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale.
 
"Our intent is to emulate 'pop-up' bars and restaurants that have appeared in large cities across the U.S.," says CEO Matt Jason of the work-in-progress. "These typically open for several months at a time, often to bring attention to a larger, already established business or to promote a future bar or restaurant."
 
In Sleepwalker's case, the 200-square foot taproom at 1629 E. Kalamazoo St. will preview plans for a full-sized brewery and distillery that Jason and his business partner Jeremy Sprague hope to open in the coming year.
 
Jason believes Sleepwalker's taproom will be the first of its kind in Michigan. He says while not technically part of the Allen Street Farmer's market, the market place location will attract customers for take-out craft beers in growlers, howlers and kegs. Customers will also be able to pair their beer and market finds with savory selections from Red's Smokehouse—a local barbecue establishment that shares kitchen space with Sleepwalker's.
 
"It will be good synergy with beer and barbecue to go," says Jason. "And like things at the market, our brews will include local ingredients and reflect seasonal changes."
 
While the exact timeline is pending federal approval, Jason says once open, the taproom will brew and distribute limited quantities of European and American-inspired craft beers. Plans for open hours include farmer's market Wednesdays, Friday afternoons, and to-be-determined weekend times.
 
"We've gone through all the hoops and are just waiting to hear back," says Jason who has received local and state approvals for the establishment. "The situation at the market is really unique. We're excited."
 
Since December 2013, Jason and Sprague have focused on fundraising and development for the community-owned business. The two have sought out and attracted 30 individual investors, and are more than halfway toward their $150,000 Kickstarter goal. Eventually, Jason and Sprague would like to build out a 3,000-square foot brick-and-mortar space on the East side or within Lansing's urban core.
 
"This is a great opportunity and fit for us," says Jason of the Allen Market Place location. "We'll be needing more time to finish our capitalization, so in the meantime, this spot gives us some more exposure and chance to grow."
 
Source: Matt Jason, CEO, Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Red Fox Comics brings comic books and merchandise to Delta Township

Daniel Rust wants to foster the personal connection people often feel toward comic book characters. And he wants to do so through a retail environment that's bright, casual and fun.
 
In early to mid-August, the lifelong fan of comics will open a 1,600-square foot store in Delta Township that caters to the casual fan as well as the aficionado. And the location at 723 Brookside Mall, Rust says, makes Red Fox Comics an easy stop for people en route to popular restaurants, retailers or home.
 
"A lot of people feel intimidated when they go into comic books stores for fear they might say something wrong or be corrected," says Rust. "My store will be a casual place for people of all ages."
 
Red Fox Comics will carry all new comics from trusted names like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and IDW, as well as graphic novels and trade paper backs from the same or similar publishers. Customers will also find casual apparel like T-shirts, hoodies and caps, and merchandise and memorabilia like key chains, magnets, pins, mugs and other pop novelty items.
 
Rust devised his business plan with the Michigan Small Business Development Center, then worked with his father-in-law to deck-out the store with customized shelves and fixtures. Walls and trim will be decorated with a color scheme of green, black and white, or as Rust calls it "Green Lantern Green." 
 
Rust says he's loved comics since middle school. Like many people, the Haslett native says he was drawn to comics for their storylines, and often sympathized with the strengths or weaknesses of particular characters.
 
"My favorite character is Aquaman," Rust says. "As a kid, I always related to him. I have red hair and was always singled out, and I felt Aquaman was too. I thought, 'Hey, he's a cool guy. So why not?' I was always swimming in the summertime, so that was that."
 
Source: Daniel Rust, Owner, Red Fox Comics
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mert's Meats expands to Eastside with second location

Grocers and markets are making their way back to Michigan Avenue, including a specialty meat store that began serving Eastsiders and the downtown community right before the summer solstice.
 
Mert's Specialty Meats on the Avenue opened in mid-June, offering a full line of fresh cut meat, seafood, dairy and cheeses, and a variety of Michigan-made products. The family-owned market run by Shirley Decker Prescott, her husband Mert Prescott and son Brandon Decker, is within a 10-minute drive of the original Okemos location that also opened in June three years ago.
 
"We know the neighborhood and the community," says Prescott who lives three blocks from the new store at 1629 E. Michigan Ave. "We think there's a need here for the fresh products and service we can give."
 
Mert's Meats on the Avenue will source beef and pork from the Midwest, including top choice products from the Iowa distributor Chairman's Reserve. Selections include grass-fed ground beef and steaks, free-range chicken and duck. The Eastside store will also carry salmon, crab and shrimp. Specialty and Michigan-made products include salsas and tortilla chips; barbecue sauces; spices, rubs and marinades; side dishes like pasta and rice; and some fresh produce.
 
"We also have unique selections like venison and elk and alligator and snake," says Prescott. "And we make our own sausages, including chicken, that are preservative and MSG free."
 
Both stores also offer recipe cards and can advise customers on how to best prepare what they are buying. Prescott says she can carry more frozen and specialty items in her new 1,800-square foot market since the space in the mixed-used development is slightly bigger than her Okemos location.
 
"We listen to our customers," says Prescott. "If they tell us they want something, we do what we can to bring it in."
 
Mert's employs 15 people between the two stores, including manager Jordan Eustace of the Lansing store, and a new-hire from Goodrich's Shop-Rite, Jessica Wilson.
 
"We know that Goodrich closing is a great loss to the community," says Prescott. "I shop there, and we are encouraging customers to bring us ideas from Goodrich's. They carried a lot of unique items that we would like to add to our inventory."
 
Source: Shirley Decker Prescott, Owner, Mert's Meats on the Avenue
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Dewitt newly-weds open JJ Frozen Yogurt, create jobs

Tham Doan and John Nichols devised plans for launching their own business shortly after getting married two years ago.
 
"We thought about it, started planning, and got the location in January," says Doan. "It seemed like a good idea and we decided to do it."
 
In late June, Doan and Nichols opened JJ Frozen Yogurt in DeWitt. The shop brings a fresh and delicious twist to the strip mall at 13070 Old U.S. 27, and offers a rotation of 100 flavors and varieties of the satisfying and healthy snack.
 
As a nurse at Sparrow Hospital, Doan is attuned to making healthy dietary choices that take food allergies into account. Nichols, too, understands the challenges of food sensitivities, having grown up with family members with severe allergies to dairy.
 
JJ Frozen Yogurt, Doan says, will carry traditional frozen yogurts as well non-dairy, sugar-free, fat-free and low-fat varieties. Customers can review posted nutrition and ingredient information for each yogurt and dozens of topping in the self-serve shop. Doan says, too, she is exploring ways to dispense peanuts and chocolates separately for the benefit of allergy-sensitive customers.
 
"We can tell you how the yogurt is made and what the ingredients are," says Doan. "We focus on customer service and have a very nice setting with free Wi-Fi."
 
Doan and Nichols completely rehabbed the small space that seats up to 35 customers. Contractors redid plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heating, and installed equipment for storing and dispensing foods. The husband-wife team also rolled up their sleeves and contributed to the top-to-bottom overhaul that included fresh paint, new floors and a new ceiling. The couple also received help with business planning from the Michigan Small Business Development Center, housed at Lansing Community College.
 
Doan says she plans to offer coffee in the next few months and to expand the hours to accommodate early-risers. More immediately, she will add smoothies and tea to the summer line-up.
 
Doan works occasionally in between her nursing shifts, while Nichols runs the shop. JJ Frozen Yogurt employs three staff with plans to add a couple more once coffee services are up and running in the fall.
 
Source: Tham Doan, Owner, JJ Frozen Yogurt
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New salon brings metropolitan blowouts to MAC location

A salon concept popular in New York, Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas has blown in to East Lansing thanks to a local stylist and his entrepreneurial client.
 
Heat Blowout and Beauty Boutique is the area's first-of-its-kind finishing salon offering blowouts, haircuts, hair styling, makeup application, spray tans and hand treatments. The 600-square foot boutique will be nestled in an intimate space on the first floor the Michigan Athletic Club, and accessible through a separate entrance.
 
"A lot of people in the area aren't super familiar with the concept," says Chief Stylist Dan Buccilli who co-owns the salon with Molly Chan. "Once you come in and try it, you're going to fall in love with it."
 
Buccilli says Heat is the perfect stop for members of the MAC before they exit the club, as well as an accessible beauty indulgence for non-MAC and other community members. The boutique will also offer tailored packages and specials including bridal boot camps, private girls night out parties, and combined service deals.
 
"We picked the MAC because it's the perfect combination," says Buccilli. "You've worked out and maybe have your hair in a ponytail. But we make it possible for you to leave the gym looking perfect for work or whatever else you have to do."
 
Buccilli says the high-end luxury service comes at affordable price and includes a hair shampoo, neck massage, and a hair blowout and style. Blowouts can be classic with volume and tight curls, soft waves or loose curls, chic and sleek, or customized by request. Each blowout typically lasts three days, with tips provided for maintaining the look and style between visits.
 
"We can make anyone's hair look good no matter the texture or the length," says Buccilli. "We can style your hair to suit your personality and lifestyle."
 
The boutique will feature four styling and two nail stations, and carry hair products from Bumble and bumble. Buccilli will employ five staff for starters, with more added as demand grows.
 
Source: Dan Buccilli, Owner, Heat Blowout and Beauty Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Beer garden brands Midtown Brewing as Euro-destination

Although he grew up and lives in the city, Marc Wolbert has always integrated nature into everyday life.
 
Today, the Lansing business owner is bringing more green space to downtown by building a European style beer garden outside the Midtown Brewing Company.
 
"Nature is important to us as people," says Wolbert who manages the nano-brewery along with brewer Brandon Cook. "And while beer gardens are prevalent in Europe, it's not something you usually get in an urban area.
 
The Flint native drew on his collegiate education in landscape architecture to create a 400-square foot space ringed by planters and shaded by umbrellas. Since the early June ribbon cutting, Wolbert has worked with Old Town's Plant Professionals to nurture a colorful blend of pansies, sweet potato vines, herbs, ornamental cabbages and hops for leafy and fragrant patio where up to 40 patrons to enjoy a craft beer or meal.
 
"It's a full-service beer garden," says Wolbert. "You'll have your complimentary peanuts, and in line with my love of nature, we feature a casual and natural-style menu."
 
Wolbert says he sources ingredients from farmer's markets and the restaurant's off-site vegetable garden whenever possible. He says he just added a new kitchen staff member to help carry forward the farm-to-table style food, bringing the total new staff hired for the summer to six.
 
Midtown Brewing employs 25 people and spun off two years ago from the shuttered Michigan Brewing Company. The 4,000-square foot restaurant has been in the space at 402 S. Washington for five years. The new beer garden, Wolbert says, helps brand downtown as a beer destination, and creates a unique urban beer drinking vibe characteristic of European cities.  
 
"One of my next projects is a rooftop garden," says Wolbert. "We have lots of beautiful flat roofs here in Lansing. Covering them in green helps our environment. And it helps make things prettier."
 
Source: Marc Wolbert, General Manager, Midtown Brewing Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Family-owned auto parts company converts to NAPA brand

They say it's all in a name, but for Dick Seehase, it's also all in the family.
 
For 51 years, Seehase has been among the family members owning and operating The Parts Place. And while the Holt-based car parts company has spanned three generations and grown to nine mid-Michigan locations, the company prides itself on providing the highest level of customer service.
 
That quality of service, Seehase says, will be further ensured as the distributor of automotive parts and equipment switches affiliation from CARQUEST to NAPA, and adds an 18,000-square foot warehouse as the hub.
 
"It made perfect sense to go with a more traditional auto parts company," says Seehase of the changeover. "With our 50-year-old history and NAPA's 90, we'll be well-recognized and even more prepared to service our customers."
 
All eight stores will carry NAPA inventory and retain the nearly 60 professional staff who work in locations in East Lansing, West Lansing, Holt, Charlotte, Mason, Eaton Rapids, Williamston and Stockbridge.
 
The newly purchased warehouse on the corner of Waverly and St. Joseph will result in about three new staff joining the company. The space will also allow The Parts Place to carry about $2 million more in additional inventory to service all locations.
 
Seehase says the commercial market makes up about 70 percent of The Parts Place customers, with the remaining 30 percent coming from do-it-yourselfers.
 
"Years ago, lots of people could work on their own vehicles, but as the complexity has increased, we began servicing more commercial clients," says Seehase. "Our employees come from all different facets of the market, too, and know the business."
 
Seehase says The Parts Place changed affiliation in late April. He says he's anticipating the NAPA partnership will spur annual sales growth from about $9 to $15 million in the upcoming year.
 
"The NAPA brand name is one of the most recognized brands in the United States," says Seehase. "We're hoping to add more stores once we get our feet on the ground."
 
 Source: Dick Seehase, Company President, The Parts Place NAPA
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Wild Strawberry and More puts fruit, flowers and chocolate under one roof

Jacob Leyrer recognized the individual appeal of flowers, fruit and chocolate and united the three through Wild Strawberry and More.
 
"We're the only flower shop in the area that can do fresh flowers and fruit arrangements under one roof," says Leyrer who owns several specialty gift shops in Greater Lansing. "The next closest one you'll find is in Detroit."
 
Leyrer will hold a grand opening in late June for the newest branch of Wild Strawberry and More at 2024 E. Michigan Ave. At 1,300-square feet, the East Side shop joins Holt and Dimondale locations in offering fragrant, sweet and arguably nutritious arrangements of fruit and flowers for gifts, special occasions, weddings, signs of appreciation or sympathy, or just everyday personal indulgences.
 
Leyrer opened his corner store on Michigan Avenue in February following the successes of his relatively new Holt and Dimondale shops. The store, he says, is just one block from his childhood home on South Fairview Street, and reflects his passion for flowers that he cultivated growing up in a family floral business.
 
"I worked deliveries for my mom's floral shop when I was going to college," says Leyrer who attended Lansing Community College and played for their golf team. "I loved seeing the smile on people's faces when I brought something to their door."
 
Leyrer played professional golf for a number of years before deciding to open Wild Strawberries and More. And while he grew up around flowers, he says he prefers to apply his marketing and business background to running the shops rather than making the arrangements.
 
Wild Strawberry and More offers a range of cut flowers, fruit arrangements, chocolate dipped fruit, cards, balloons and small gifts like candles, vases and assorted knick-knacks. Leyrer's staff rotates from store to store and includes four designers, two delivery personnel, and two customer service reps.
 
"I just love putting out a great product and seeing people come back," says Leyrer. "It's inspiring to create something that people talk about, and to bring in new customers, too."

Source: Jacob Leyrer, Owner, Wild Strawberry and More
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mark's Gourmet Dogs embarks on new business life after win on reality TV

Mark McGee always knew every dog has its day. He just never guessed his day would air on national television.
 
As the winner of the 2014 Food Network's Food Court Wars, McGee and his wife Krysta were awarded a year of rent-free space to expand their mobile hot dog cart operation to a fully-equipped restaurant in the Lansing Mall.
 
While many people learned of the success of Mark's Gourmet Dogs through the reality TV show, McGee says his path was charted years before when he took his first business class at Lansing Community College.
 
"I started at LCC with the idea of starting a hot dog cart," says McGee who had struggled through layoffs and diminished job prospects during the Great Recession. "LCC gave me the knowledge I needed to start a business. It was awesome. And it worked."
 
In 2009, McGee applied his classroom learning to setting up a food cart and bringing culinary flair to hot dogs and brats in Eaton Rapids. And when his son was born and his business took off, he and his wife started thinking about taking things to the next level.
 
"They'd already been talking about Food Court Wars when they came in," says Laurie Lonsdorf, Senior Business Consultant, Michigan Small Business Development Center at LCC. "But it was really iffy at that point, and they wanted to grow regardless of whether they made it or not. Ultimately, they knew they wanted an indoor location."
 
Lonsdorf began working with the McGees to identify locations and explore financing. She laid out checklists, provided suggestions on his business plan, and offered no-cost, confidential consulting about how the McGees could grow their startup venture.
 
"There's no way I could've done it without them," says McGee. "We needed their help no matter what happened, and when we found out we were on the show, things started rolling really fast. It's been quite a ride, but LCC and SBDC have been a great team."
 
When Mark's Gourmet Dogs took top prize and opened in the mall food court on May 30, Lonsdorf was there. She says LCC's SBDC will be to support and consult with the McGees on small business strategy as they hire four or more staff and enter the next phase of their business.
 
"Here's the funny thing though," says Lonsdorf. "While I couldn't wait to try Mark's food, I'm a vegetarian. I had the mac-and-cheese, coleslaw and Krysta's salted caramel ball. It was all great."
 
Source: Laurie Lonsdorf, Senior Business Consultant, Michigan Small Business Development Center at Lansing Community College
Mark McGee, Owner, Mark's Gourmet Dogs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Sinclair Grill takes ice cream on the road with two wheels and a sidecar

Cruisin' time is here. Greg Krantz knows that.
 
So come June, he takes to the road to cater weddings, open houses and outdoor parties with a favorite summertime dessert: ice cream.
 
As the owner of Sinclair Grill in Webberville, Krantz complements the fixings of his roadside diner with ice cream delivery and cart services. And his vehicles of choice? A Harley Davison equipped with refrigerated sidecars, a mid-century ice cream truck, and bicycle freezer carts—all pack with frozen favorites from the Michigan State University Dairy Store.
 
"This is the time of year when we heavily cater ice cream," says Krantz who recently became the area's only authorized vendor of MSU ice cream, cups and sandwiches. "We also have two malt machines and we do sundae bars for parties. We'll do most anything ice cream for a party or catered event."
 
Krantz says caters about 50 to 75 ice cream events over the summer, with business on the rise. He also caters breakfast, lunch and occasional dinner at nine companies in Greater Lansing, reaching as far down the road as Delta Township.
 
Krantz carries 16 flavors of MSU ice cream in his 800-square foot restaurant that's a reclaimed gas station diner that dates back to the 1930s. Krantz has 102 items on the menu that spans breakfast, lunch and dinner with standard American fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, French and chili fries, steaks, pulled pork, eggs and omelets, and some pasta.
 
Located at 345 W. Grand River in Webberville, the Sinclair Grill was among the hundreds of tiny roadside grills that dotted America's two-lane highways before freeways divided the landscape. Krantz bought the diner about three years ago and undertook a seven-month renovation to return the road-stop glory to the little restaurant.
 
The Sinclair Grill seats 49 inside and 49 outside on the summertime patio, and employs nine people. The interior is decked out with gas station and car memorabilia, with checkered tablecloths, chrome, and red and sea foam green accents for a 50s feel.
 
"We have a lot of motorcyclists and hot rodders who come to our diner," says Krantz, a confessed car and motorcycle enthusiast. "A lot of car clubs cruise here, like the model A or corvette club. They'll show up and fill the lot. It's like going back in time to the 40s or 50s."
 
Source: Greg Krantz, Owner, Sinclair Grill
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Go Greener plows the way toward expanded business

Grass grows. Spaces get dirty. Snow falls. Surfaces need repair. And that's where Go Greener comes in.
 
As long-time friends and experienced property managers, Russ Chambers and Mike Demmer launched the multi-tiered facilities management company in 2009. Starting with just three employees, Go Greener has grown to employ 30 staff, with plans to hire a half dozen more in 2014.
 
"It feels like we started a family here with our business," says Chambers. "We're involved in our community, too, and try to give back by sponsoring events at places like the YMCA and Peckham as much as we can."
 
Chambers and Demmer blended 20 years of combined experience to form a one-stop facilities management company that provides lawn care, janitorial and snow removal services, as well as asphalt repair and maintenance. The company's more than 100 clients includes schools, government offices, public buildings, manufacturing plants, financial institutions and retail centers, as well as a handful of residential customers.  
 
"If you're a business owner and you use several companies for all these services, we can consult and provide you with competitive pricing for all three," says Chambers. "We also have that small business feel, and our customers say our response time is great."
 
Go Greener's base of operations consists of a 5,000 square foot office building and nearly 70,000 square feet of warehouse space on Lansing's north side. The company's fleet is branded with the company's logo and dispatch with professionally clad staff for all services.
 
Chambers says that Go Greener's lawn services grew 45 percent over last year. The company's janitorial services also climbed by 40 percent, while snow removal piled up a whopping 60 percent from the previous season. Chambers admits part of the growth was due to the exceptionally rough winter, and added that the company went through 1,000 tons of bulk road salt that they shared with other businesses.
 
"I truly think our growth is from the service we provide our customers," says Chambers. "Word of mouth has helped, we have good name recognition. But when people say 'these guys do a good job,' that's the best."
 
Source: Russ Chambers, Owner, Go Greener
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New tenant to transform legendary Creole Gallery into dining, drinking and music venue

Although the real estate has changed hands, the new tenant coming into the space of the 15-year-old Creole Gallery plans to carry forward the cultural vibe that made the space a symbol of Old Town's renaissance.
 
Zoobie's Old Town Tavern co-owners Sam Short, Aaron Matthews and Al Hooper signed a lease the first week of June with new building owner Jamie Schriner-Hooper to open The Creole—a combination restaurant, cocktail bar and "listening room" in the 2,250-square foot space at 1218 Turner St. The new establishment, Short says, will pay homage to Creole Gallery founder Robert Busby by retaining the name, artistic sensibilities, and character and aesthetics of the interior.
 
"There's just a fantastic southern feel about the place," says Short. "It has that Louisiana, French-revival feel, and the sound and acoustics are great."
 
The Creole, Short says, will be a place to go to enjoy cocktails, beer and wine, and 50s-style punches, as well as gumbo-style cuisine. Live jazz, blues, funk, and roots rock acts will perform on the original built-in stage from Busby's gallery. Open space will be transformed into a dining area with a 100-person capacity. Other new features will include a full-service bar and a behind-the-scenes kitchenette, overseen by Johnson & Wales trained chef Dan Konopnicki.
 
Short says The Creole is slated to open in mid-August with a staff of 15 people. In addition to live music, he says the venue will also feature rotations of art by local and regional artists.
 
"We want to continue to build this unique dining and drinking culture to compliment the already spectacular art and bohemian vibe," says Short. "We're driven to make Old Town the progressive core of dining and drinking in the Lansing area."
 
Source: Sam Short, Co-Owner, The Creole
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

H2O Hydroponics gets planted in second Okemos location

Stan Havens will assure you it's the way to grow.
 
As the owner and partner of H2O Hydroponics, Havens can supply most everything needed for starting or maintaining an indoor garden. And most recently, he's brought those supplies to Okemos, opening a second location based on the success of his original Delta Township store.
 
"We knew there would be a real big demand for hydroponic gardening out here," says Havens of the new store that opened in March at 4706 Okemos Road. "We’re seeing a lot of people from MSU and horticulture students coming in for equipment and supplies."
 
Havens, his brother Bryan, and business partner Jon Olson launched H2O Hydroponics three years ago in their home turf of Waverly. The store, he says, was so popular that there was little doubt they would experience similar success in Meridian Township.
 
The 2,500-square foot space is stocked full of hydroponic gardening equipment including air pumps, reservoirs, lights, hoods and lamps; nutrients, natural pesticide solutions, and growing mediums; as well as trimmers and accessories such as garden soft ties and trellises. He also sells trays for herb gardens and is planning to bring in a full line of organic seeds.
 
"We cater to every day dirt gardeners, too," says Havens. "But indoor gardening is our main concept."
 
Havens attributes the growth spurt in hydroponic gardening to people's increasing interest in growing their own food and knowing where their food is coming from.
 
"Plus, it's just a really fun hobby," says Havens who grows as assortment of vegetables at home. "And you can grow year-round. That's the best part about it."
 
The Okemos store employs two employees, while the Waverly location employs 10.
 
"We're hoping as business grows that we can hire more local talent," says Havens.  
 
Source: Stan Havens, Owner/Partner, H2O Hydroponics
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Group of friends decant dreams for new Portland microbrewery

What was a downtown theater in one life and a pottery shop in another will become what owners say is the only microbrewery between Lansing and Grand Rapids when The Gallery Brewery opens this June in Portland.
 
The Gallery, says operations manager Hannah Green, will be a warm, comfortable place where friends can gather to enjoy seasonal craft beers, wine, and non-alcoholic brews like cream soda and root beer—all made onsite. Patrons, too, can enjoy a healthy version of bar food including flat bread pizza, baked chicken, hummus, salads, and baked cauliflower with buffalo sauce.
 
"We want everything to be and feel local," says Green. "We're in a farming community and we want to draw from that. It's something we're really working on."
 
Green, her husband Jared, friends Joe, Neil and Al Mathesin, and building owner Rush Clement reflected on their hopes and aspirations one night and came up with the idea for Portland's new brewpub.
 
"We've all been brewing for a couple years now and have a real passion for it," says Green. "We just got to talking and liked the whole concept of The Gallery."
 
The Gallery takes it name from the local artists the brewpub will feature each month. Green says they already have eight months worth of artists lined up, and are working to secure musicians to play once or twice a week on a built-in stage.
 
Green says all club owners have been pitching in to renovate the 2,500-square-foot-space that will retain its high-ceilinged, industrial feel. Seating areas will feature couches, coffee tables and a bar for a total capacity of 80.
 
"I have a big family, so between all of us we are handling the renovations ourselves," says Green. "It's been a lot of fun."
 
The Gallery will employ six people for starters with more added as business grows.
 
"This is right up my alley," says Green who works in the hospitality field. "I like meeting new people. I like serving food and drinks. It's fun to be able to create an experience for a customer coming in. That's what we plan to do."
 
Source: Hannah Green, Operations Manager, The Gallery Brewery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New Vision Natural Health charts road to wellness from Charlotte to Okemos

Nikki Bowles believes that when people know better they feel better.
 
And as a board certified naturopathic doctor, lifestyle coach and licensed esthetician, Bowles helps people make healthier choices, find balance in everyday life, and facilitate the natural healing process.
 
Since early 2009, Bowles has coordinated and provided a combination of holistic health practices through New Vision Natural Health in Charlotte. And as her practice grew, she knew she was ready to expand, and to offer her blend of services through an established facility in Okemos.
 
In May 2014, Bowles opened a second office for her naturopathic health practice inside the Institute for Bioenergy Studies at 4655 Dobie Road. She'll be there two to three days a week, she says, providing services that involve natural health consultations, bodywork therapies, energy healing techniques and Feng Shui adjustments.
 
"We can provide guidance and recommend things that can help you feel better," says Bowles, who also coordinates services with several independent holistic practitioners that includes a sustainability specialist, doula, intuitive Reiki master and holistic music advocate. "We can also address what might be putting you out of balance."
 
Bowles says that a variety of factors can create imbalances in the body and affect the natural ability to heal. Those factors might include poor nutrition, structural problems, negative thought, emotions or environmental toxins. Bowles works to gather information on a person's lifestyle and habits, and suggests combinations of therapies that can help. 
 
Bowles says she is looking to expand her network of practitioners as well as to open a store or co-op that showcases various naturopath practitioners, products and services.
 
"It would be an additional doorway to empowering people to heal themselves," says Bowles. "It would be another way to help you connect with people who can help you on your path to wellness."
 
New Vision Natural Health will be hosting an open house at their new Dobie Road facility on May 31, beginning with a free open group meditation from 11 to noon. The community is invited to come and meet practitioners, see the facility, and learn about products and services from 1 to 4 p.m.

Source: Nikki Bowles, N.D., Owner, New Vision Natural Health
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
 

Kayak shop makes splash on the Grand River

Trey Rouss describes himself as being "pretty miserable" when he first moved to Lansing from Arizona 14 years ago.
 
"I missed the mountains and the ocean," says Rouss. "But once I discovered the Great Lakes, rivers and inland lakes and how water works here, I embraced it."
 
Rouss took to the water as an avid kayaker and became an immediate ambassador for paddle sports. Today, he's making a splash as Lansing's newest purveyor of paddle sports gear and instruction as the owner of the Power of Water Kayak store.
 
Rouss opened in early spring, and invited the public to fours days of paddle sports activities and demonstrations during a grand opening from April 24 to 27. His goal, he says, is broader than simply equipping people with gear and accessories; it's to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to enjoy being on the water.
 
"We're focused on outreach and getting as many people as we can out on the water," says Rouss. "We want people in Lansing to see what the Grand River has to offer and to take an interest in exploring it more."
 
Located in a repurposed strip mall at 420 E. Saginaw, the Power of Water has access to Lansing's riverfront right out the backdoor. Rouss and his three staff decked-out the 1,300-square foot space with reclaimed barn wood for an earthy look that complements displays of nearly 20 stand-up paddle boards, 40 kayaks and gear.
 
Working with his director of programming Scott Fairty, Rouss offers classes for all ages and skill levels, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, advanced whitewater and river self-rescue.
 
"Our classes are focused, experiential and fun," says Rouss. "There's not a lot of talking and lectures. It's very on the water learning."
 
Rouss and his five to 10 instructors are certified through the American Canoe Association or the British Canoe Union. Courses run from May through October, with dry land or pool instruction offered during the off-season.
 
"The Grand River is an amazing resource going right through the middle of our town," says Rouss. "Our goal is to share our passion, to show people how to play on the water, and hope that will inspire people to protect it."
 
Source: Trey Rouss, Owner, Power of Water Kayak Store
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

AA Creative Corridor offers resourceful rental options to artistic community

When Ariniko O'Meara hung her photography exhibit on the walls of a gallery in REO Town, she didn't foresee she would be managing the space two months later.
 
But some things simply fall into place.
 
"Art Alley closed down a month before I was to exhibit," says the Lansing photographer. "I rented the space for a month, and saw no reason why we couldn't reopen."
 
Shortly after her October show, O'Meara refocused her energies toward relaunching the south side gallery. She changed the name from Art Alley to AA Creative Corridor, and then turned her attention toward expanding the use of the 1,100 square foot space at 1133 S. Washington Ave.
 
"We're renting the space as a venue," says O'Meara. "You can also rent space on the walls. It's a lot like what Art Alley was doing."
 
O'Meara envisions renting AA Creative Corridor for yoga classes, theater classes or other creative groups needing a venue for special events or activities. Rentals can be single use or in groupings, with prices scaled accordingly.
 
"We're flexible," says O'Meara. "We're hearing from community members who just need studio space. It's been a perfect fit."
 
O'Meara reports that six creatives are currently renting the space for exhibits, projects or activities. Community members can also rent the gallery for meetings, parties and classes. She is also reaching out to artistic groups and individuals interested in renting wall or floor space for exhibits or projects. She says she doesn't plan to do much physical renovation with the exception of possibly finishing the floors.
 
"People really like the look of the space," she says of the gallery that was converted from an outdoor alley to an indoor space. "There's old-fashioned advertising on the walls and rough floors. It's part of the draw."
 
Source: Ariniko O'Meara, Manager, AA Creative Corridor
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Grace Boutique nears June move to east side of Old Town

Every day, Summer Schriner gets one step closer to moving her boutique across Cedar Street and into the newest part of Lansing's Old Town.
 
"We're really excited to be expanding Old Town retail a little bit to the east," says Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique of Old Town. "It will be great to join Leopold & Bloom and get closer to Zoobies."
 
In January, Schriner announced she was moving Grace Boutique into Young's Landing, a building just across the street from the old Temple Club. Now five months into renovations, she says she's gearing up for a June opening that will also welcome a second tenant into the three-storefront building at 509 E. Grand River.
 
"It's been like herding cats," laughs Schriner of the ongoing renovations that involve pulling out carpet, refinishing floors, restoring original wood trim, painting, and installing new lighting and fans. "But everybody now is moving at the right time in the right place."
 
Schriner opened her women's shop that specializes in classic styles in 2007. Since then, she's built a loyal following of shoppers looking for clothing and accessories with a vintage feel. The move from her current location at 115. E. Grand River, she says, will double her floor space to 2,200 square feet, and allow her to carry more items and to showcase designers. She also plans to host occasional private shopping parties and other events as space and time allow.
 
"We're been very fortunate that word-of-mouth about our service and shop has helped us out," says Schriner. "I want women to know when they come here that I'll get them something they'll look fabulous in."
 
Schriner currently works with one other person to run the boutique. Shortly after her move, Curvaceous Lingerie will move from Okemos into the adjacent storefront to complete the retail duo.
 
"They're a good fit for Old Town," says Shriner of the business owned by Loren Long. "She has a great eye and the spunk and personality that fits down here."
 
Source: Summer Schriner, Owner, Grace Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Curvaceous Lingerie finds perfect fit in Old Town

Things are taking shape for Loren Long.
 
In June, the owner of Curvaceous Lingerie will move from a 250-square foot location inside the Wedding Bell in Okemos to a new 900-square-foot store in Old Town. It's a move, Long says, that allows her to stock and display a larger variety of merchandise. And it's a move that enables her to get a little edgier while retaining her focus on being a lingerie boutique for every woman.
 
"We offer a nice selection of classy lingerie pieces that you can't find anywhere else around here," says Long. "Bras in hard-to-find sizes are our number one."
 
Long grew up in Okemos and learned about selecting and fitting undergarments while working in the bridal industry in Florida and South Carolina. She says it never crossed her mind to go into the lingerie business until she was home shopping for a birthday gift with a friend.
 
"My friend mentioned to me that I knew so much that I could open my own lingerie store," she says. "I knew then she was right and that it would be a perfect fit."
 
Curvaceous Boutique originally opened in November 2012 and currently offers a more extensive range of lingerie sizes than a typical department store, including bra sizes 28-46, A-KK cup, and lingerie from small to plus.
 
"We're also a store for someone who wants a special nightie," says Long. "Lots of customers come in and say they're traveling with girlfriends or a couple and they want cute pajamas that aren't too revealing or sexy."
 
Curvaceous Lingerie will move into the retail space adjacent to the soon-to-relocate Grace Boutique of Old Town at 509 E. Grand River. Once ensconced, Long plans to introduce a lingerie line that mimics retro style with a pin-up flare. She also hopes to add one or two employees and to host events that include private parties, ladies nights out, and mini-boudoir photo sessions.
 
"Old Town has this dynamic energy," says Long. "My family is artsy, so it's a place where I feel really at home."
 
Source: Loren Long, Owner, Curvaceous Lingerie
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Strange Matter Coffee to open espresso bar, create gathering space

There's some strange brew coming to the East Side. And according to Lansing's latest artisan barista, she's serving up brew that begins with the essence of the bean.
 
Beginning in July, Cara Nader will open the doors to Strange Matter Coffee at 2001 E. Michigan Ave. The coffee bar, she says, has been in the works for about three years, and is a friendly collision of her two passions: science and java.
 
"Strange matter is a particular form of quark matter," says Nader of her business moniker. "It's a theoretical form of quark, often thought of as a liquid. It's a nerdy kind-of science thing."
 
Nader's confessed geekiness for science shapes her approach to brewing. Each cup served in Strange Matter, she says, will be made to order using one of several brewing devices. One device—the Chemex—extracts a clean cup of coffee through a drip filtering process. The Chemex, Nader says, resembles a science beaker, and is among contemporary devices featured in the Museum of Modern Art. Another system Nader uses—the V-60—involves a cone-shaped pour-over device that produces a quicker cup.
 
"We'll use a particular device to bring out different characteristics of the bean," says Nadar, who compares her coffee to micro-brewed beer. "Each device has its benefits and I'll be using one or another to highlight flavors."
 
Nader sources her beans from distributors like Populace Coffee who specialize in single- origin, seasonal coffee. She'll also feature a rotating menu of roasters from around the country, and a few varieties of chai tea.
 
"I like to focus on in-season coffee that's freshly harvested," she says. "We'll feature coffees from individuals farms and particular regions since not every region harvests at the same time of year."
 
Nader is currently replacing flooring, painting and putting in a espresso bar in the 1,500-square foot place that will seat from 25 to 30 people. And as business gets up and running, she hopes to bring two to three staff on board.
 
"I want people to sit and enjoy their beverage," says Nader. "Every coffee has it's place, and I want people to have that moment when they say 'wow, I didn't know coffee could be this good.'"
 
Source: Cara Nader, Chief Coffee Engineer, Strange Matter Coffee Co.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Detroit Frankie's fires up outdoor kitchen for fresh, made-to-order pizza

Frank Tignanelli has gone from restaurants to backyards to city streets to make and bake the freshest pizza on earth.
 
"From the time you order to the time it's in the box it takes about seven minutes," says Tignanelli, a long-time Michigan restaurateur also known as Detroit Frankie. "And you're there watching me make it, watching it go into the oven. I even have people take pictures while it's baking."
 
In mid-March, Tignanelli started cooking his famous wood-fired pizzas for Greater Lansing in an outdoor kitchen on the corner of Cedar and Oakland, Monday through Friday. Passers-by can pull in, order pizzas to go from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and watch as Tignanelli hand-tosses the dough, sauces with fresh-packed tomatoes, and cheeses with whole milk mozzarella. Customers then choose up to four toppings from a list of 20 fresh ingredients, including meats, vegetables and fruits. Tignanelli completes the "old world charm" by cooking the 16-inch pizza in a deluxe wood-fired brick oven.
 
"I feed wood into the oven to keep it hot all day—about 750 degrees," says Tignanelli. "The crust gets little charred marks on the outside and stays chewy on the inside. You get a nice clean taste with all the fresh ingredients."
 
Tignanelli says he learned all about pizza from his dad "Papa Joe" while growing up in Detroit. In the mid-70s, he started in the pizza biz by working in family restaurants in central and Northern Michigan. In between restaurant gigs, he became an expert food distributor, then came back to his his true calling: creating and serving pizza. He bought the wood-fired brick oven, started catering, and began making and baking pizzas at festivals and events. When a friend suggested he find a weekday location, he staked out his current corner.
 
"I've owned and managed restaurants all over Michigan," says Tignanelli. "But what I always loved best was standing in front of my oven making pizza and talking to customers. And that's what I do now. It's like having a food show every day."
 
Source: Frank Tignanelli, Owner, Detroit Frankie's
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Retired executive revolutionizes wine cellar design with Revel Cellars

While he won't say who they in casual conversation, his customers include CEOs, venture capitalists and entertainers. And Forbes writes that his product is "the world's best," thereby adding to its cache.
 
It's a level of success, Jim Cash says, that's he didn't expect right off for his start-up business. But it's one he's been able to build thanks to the skills, craftsmanship and innovation he finds right here in Michigan, including support from the East Lansing Technology and Innovation Center.
 
In April, Cash moved Revel Custom Wine Cellars from the TIC to 435 E. Grand River Ave., signaling a new home for the company that creates wine cellar cabinetry for the discerning wine collector. It's cabinetry, he says, that provides a revolutionary way to showcase and protect prized wine collections, while bringing ease of access to wine cellar storage.
 
"Traditional wine racks are a matrix with individual cubicles where a single bottle goes," says the retired COO of Lansing's Christman Company. "I had a rack like that and had all kinds of problems from bottles not fitting to not finding the bottles I was looking for."
 
Cash drew on his love of wine and his nearly three decades of professional building experience to create cabinetry that involves sliding drawers, "lazy Susans" and dowels that leverage space and hold both bottles and cases. Customers can enhance the patented design with LED lighting, cellar doors, labels, and additional components for a system that combines form and function.
 
Cash coordinates sales and marketing from his new 700-square foot office, while the cabinets are built and constructed in western Michigan. His sales and management team includes two representatives based in San Francisco and Florida, and an operations manager in New York. His goal for 2014 is to build about 20 cellars at a cost of about $40,000 each. Long-term, he hopes to build and sell at least 50 a year.
 
"We're doing something that hasn't been done before," says Cash, who is a long-time wine collector himself. "There really hasn't been a design evolution in the way cellars are built. Essentially they've been built the same way for hundreds of years."
 
Source: Jim Cash, Owner, Revel Custom Wine Cellars
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Perfect Circle Recycling helps put waste to good use

Todd Wilson has never been shy about cleaning up and doing dirty work. In fact, he's building a business that helps haul away trash for a greener world.
 
Perfect Circle Recycling, Wilson says, gives residents an option for recycling food waste, leaves and grass clippings through a personal hauling service that connects with environmentally conscious reuse facilities.
 
"There is a lot of food byproducts that are being landfilled that could be repurposed," says Wilson. "I see it all as a perfect circle."
 
Wilson started his company in 2011 from his home in southwest Lansing with a little bit of ingenuity, a truck, a trailer and bins. Working with a partner in the composting business, he helped Central Michigan University initiate a system to recycle food waste into compost, renewable energy or animal feed.
 
Today, Wilson is focusing on building services back home in Eaton County and Delhi Charter Township. Beginning July 1, he plans to launch a weekly service that involves hauling food waste, leaves and grass clippings from small businesses, restaurants or residents to facilities that can repurpose the debris. Those facilities, he says, include composters, anaerobic digesters, compressed natural gas providers, or qualifying animal feedlots.
 
Customers signing up for Wilson's hauling service receive a three-gallon bucket for in-house use, as well as a 96-gallon roller cart. His service runs $10 a month. Customers who prepay for six months receive a 15-pound bag of premium compost, while those who pay it forward a year receive a 25-pound bag.
 
Wilson's short-term goal is to grow his customers to 100 or more this year and to divert at least 100,000 pounds of food waste from landfills.
 
"It's a way you can become a steward of your community and be involved," says Wilson. "Basically, it's just about being green."
 
Source: Todd Wilson, Owner, Perfect Circle Recycling
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Homeless Angels sets up home base for coordinating outreach

Jessep Magoon doesn't believe that everyone who holds up a cardboard sign and asks for help is doing so to support a drug or alcohol addiction.
 
That's why Magoon asked a friend to create a sign for his grassroots cause that helps redefine perceptions of the homeless.
 
In mid-April, Magoon's sign for the Homeless Angels found a permanent home in the window of their first brick and mortar office.
 
"It fit perfectly," says Magoon of the portable sign he has used for outreach events. "It was one of those fate things—that this place was meant to be."
 
Magoon co-founded the Homeless Angels with Mike Karl in November 2013. The idea, he says, is to provide a resource that bridges the gap between the homeless and local agencies.
 
Until April, the Homeless Angels was run from the streets. Volunteers met in parks, parking lots, churches or other supportive organizations to coordinate outreach and "street teams" to help Greater Lansing's homeless.
 
"Since the beginning, our big focus has been street outreach and building relationships with people who might otherwise fall through the cracks," says Magoon who is also a student at Lansing Community College. "But since we didn't have a home base it was hard to do client intake. We did everything by laptop and cell phone, and knew as we got more innovative we would need an office."
 
Directly across from the State capitol, the 900-square foot office at 328 W. Ottawa Street is easy-to-access, wired for Internet, has ample storage space for a food pantry and supplies, and is staffed by a core group of about 10 volunteers. There's even a washer and dryer on site to clean cloths or blankets for homeless clients. Rent, Magoon says, is funded by donations made through GoFundMe, with other services supported through community fundraisers and donations.
 
Magoon says his drive to build the volunteer non-profit is fueled by his past struggles with addiction. He finds inspiration, too, in the depth of understanding held by Karl, who previously lived on the streets.
 
"We know there are underlying factors and a story behind why people are homeless," says Magoon. "Our hope is to shed a positive light on a negative situation, and to show the community that the homeless are not just stereotypes, but people needing help to get them back into society."
 
Source: Jessep Magoon, Co-founder, Homeless Angels
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Galaxie Coffee Roasters fuels passion for artisan coffee in Greater Lansing

When Rick Carter takes to the streets in his bright red '63 Ford Galaxie 500, he's out for more than a classic cruise. He's delivering sustenance.
 
As one of Greater Lansing's new breed of micro coffee roasters, Carter ensures customers have the beans they need to fuel their week through local delivery or shipping.
 
"I have a route I run on Sunday mornings," says Carter who custom roasts coffee from his home after winding down from his full-time job. "But if someone needs coffee, I won't make them wait."
 
As the owner of Galaxie Coffee Roasters, Carter understands the love of java. His wife, Rachel, did too and bought him the small roaster for Christmas about seven years ago that started his adventure into roasting single-origin coffee.
 
Carter started out roasting one pound at a time for his daily brew, then began roasting for friends. Soon, his beans were all the buzz around his hometown of Mason. Energized by caffeine, he invested in a three-kilo shop roaster and began sourcing beans from Sweet Maria's and the Coffee Shrub—two coffee distributors that work directly with small farmers worldwide.
 
Carter launched Galaxie in September 2013. He has about 50 to 75 core customers for his seasonal varieties that feature beans from small farms in Guatemala, Sumatra, Yemen, Kenya, Colombia and other coffee growing regions. Coffee drinkers can also find a small selection of Galaxie artisan roasts through Best Sellers Books and Coffee Co. in downtown Mason.
 
In March, Carter worked with Bestseller's owner Jamie Robinson to host Galaxie's first public coffee cupping at the store. The event, Carter says, is akin to a wine tasting for coffee, and allows customers to sample and appreciate the full flavor of a particular brew.
 
"So many people just gulp coffee down on their way to work," says Carter. "My objective is to get people to slow down and smell the coffee."
 
Source: Rick Carter, Owner, Galaxie Coffee Roasters
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Cravings Okemos location brings new jobs, new popcorn mixes to area

Chad Jordan says he literally lived on popcorn when he first started working.
 
"I've always loved popcorn," says Jordan. "My first job was at a movie theater."
 
That kinship for the kernel led the East Lansing native to found Cravings Gourmet Popcorn in 2005. In two years, the specialty popcorn retailer moved from a small vendor space in the Lansing City Market to a storefront in historic Old Town. After seven successful years of creating flavors and blends for snackers with a yen, Jordan decided to expand east and open a second store in Okemos.
 
"We're excited to get going and start building our new location," says Jordan. "It's going to be a fun thing for the community."
 
Jordan announced the expansion in mid-February and has remained on schedule to open the doors at 1871 W. Grand River on June 1. The 4,600-square foot space near Dusty's Cellar will feature a sample bar that evokes instant "yums," as well as a viewing area where customers can marvel at the popcorn popping process. Like Lansing, Cravings Okemos location will carry unique and nostalgic bottled drinks including root beers, flavored sodas, or funky libations like coffee or bacon pop.

Jordan says his second store will create five to 10 new jobs, as well as new popcorn mixes that pay tribute to the community.
 
"We already have our Old Town mix of white cheddar and caramel," says Jordan. "So we'll probably have mixes for Okemos, Williamston and Haslett. And the East Side, too."
 
Source: Chad Jordan, Owner, Cravings Popcorn
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Go Green Trikes rolls out on Earth Day

Yvonne LeFave got rolling on her business while waiting for the bus in East Lansing.
 
"Traffic was backing up because of a delivery truck that had stopped to take in four loads of big boxes," says LeFave. "All of us at the bus stop were saying there had to be a better way."
 
LeFave set out to find it. Beginning Earth Day, LeFave will roll out Go Green Trikes—a local courier service for businesses that involves electric-assisted trikes. The trikes, LeFave says, are more nimble in traffic than many motorized vehicles and carry up to 600 pounds. Plus, they're quirky, eye-catching and fun.
 
"There's nothing else like them on the road," LeFave says.
 
LeFave's fleet of two can go up to 100 miles each at speeds of 15 miles per hour. The ELF—short for Electric, Lightweight and Fun—operates through pedaling and a solar-powered battery, and looks like a cross between a recumbent bike and a Smart car. Go Green's larger vehicle, the Truck Trike, resembles a small pickup truck on a bike frame and can carry up to 12 18-gallon totes.
 
Go Green's initial cargos will be made up of print items, food, and business-to-business supplies or products. And because it's Michigan, trikes will be on the road from April to November.
 
"I like green technology and the idea of living without a motorized vehicle," says LeFave, whose Quaker faith puts simplicity and stewardship top-of-mind. "I've wanted to show people what can be done without a car. And this does that."
 
Go Green Trikes will pedal between businesses in the East Lansing-Lansing downtown districts, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. LeFave hopes to set up an office on Lansing's Eastside in the coming year, and to employ two or more part-time staff as trike couriers. For now, Go Green Trikes is reachable through her web site.
 
Interested in learning more about Go Green Trikes? LeFave invites the public to attend an open house on her first day of business: April 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Michigan Energy Options, 405 Grove Street, East Lansing. Both trikes and city officials from East Lansing and Lansing will be onsite. 
 
Source: Yvonne LeFave, President, Go Green Trikes
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor



Music lover brings vision from the road with amphitheater development

Bob Jordan spent 20 years on the road in the music business getting his start as a mixer for Fleetwood Mac. Now he's home with a vision to bring bands to mid-Michigan's backyard.
 
Along with business partner Cheryl McCullough, Jordan aspires to break ground this summer on a 15,000-seat outdoor music amphitheater in Windsor Township. Located on 100 acres just a quarter mile off I-69, the $20 million dollar project will be a state-of-the-art theater that gives music fans a local option for high-end musical acts from April through October. Slated to open in 2015, the Mid-Michigan Music Theater will create 250 seasonal and 75 annual jobs.
 
"Lansing needs this," says Jordan, a resident of Williamston Township. "It's hard to get to DTE, Van Andel, FireKeepers or Soaring Eagle during the week. People really want this here."
 
The Mid-Michigan Music Theater will feature national headliners as well as local and regional acts. The layout will feature plenty of big screens, a scalable stage for big or small acts, and ample ceiling height for large or elaborate shows. Opening plans for the inaugural season include a two-day festival showcasing mid-Michigan performers.
 
"We're also looking into the engineering of having a roof that can close over the fixed seating area, similar to a football stadium," says Jordan. "That way we can do events in the winter and not have to depend on the weather."
 
Jordan says the theater will give back to the community through fundraisers, food drives, and ticket giveaways to non-profit organizations. He also envisions awarding percentages of parking fees to groups that serve as attendants during events.
 
Jordan has his sights on building a "green" arena using Michigan contractors. He's also seeking LEED certification. A crowd funding campaign on the arena website is open to community members interested in contributing to or investing in the project.
 
"We're going to do as much to support the community as we can," says Jordan. "That's important to us."
 
Source: Bob Jordan, Mid-Michigan Music Theater
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Maybelle's Café and Sweets creates a gathering place, four jobs

When Amy Zander told her friends about her recent venture to open a café in Grand Ledge, they smiled and said it was a perfect fit.
 
"They said my house has always been the place where all of us want to gather because I'm a good host and always had good things to eat," says Zander. "That's my goal now."
 
Beginning May 3, Zander will open the doors to Maybelle's Café and Sweets at 214B S. Bridge Street. It's a dream she's had since high school and later reinforced when she and her husband managed a private hunting lodge and full-service kitchen in Northern Michigan.
 
Zander will move into the previous home of Sweet Linda's Café—a beloved bakery and sandwich shop that recently closed when the owner retired. She won't be straying much from the Sweet Linda's premise, Zander says, and will offer sandwiches, soups and salads, homemade baked goods, gourmet coffee and organic loose-leaf tea.
 
"One thing I am doing differently is I am going to be offering a gluten-free line of sandwiches and baked goods," says Zander. "And then there's my bubble bread."
 
Baked from a family recipe, bubble bread is a variation on the cinnamon roll and comes in several flavors. Any customer who can say 'bubble bread' correctly five times in a row will get a free sample.
 
"I'm planning to have a nice balance between some good sweet treats and healthy foods," says Zander. "That's how I like to eat. I like to eat healthy, but I also like to have a great brownie or cookie to balance it."
 
Zander is taking out a back wall to double her capacity, and configuring arrangements of tables and couches for cozy seating. She's also opening up an outdoor patio and garden area that will feature live music when the weather breaks.
 
"After this crazy winter, I'm really looking forward to sitting out there myself," she says.
 
Zander plans to hire up to four staff, and may also get occasional help from the budding chefs in her family, including her two kids and husband.
 
Source: Amy Zander, owner, Maybelle's Café and Sweets
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Leaf branches out to new Okemos location, creates nine jobs

Although Leaf Salad Bar opened its Frandor location just eight months ago, the need to branch out was apparent within weeks.
 
"It took off so fast that I had to look for a second location almost immediately," says co-owner Mark Sprinkel. "We found an Okemos location that attracts a solid lunch market, and we have more than ample parking."
 
Sprinkel opened the doors on the 1,300-square foot restaurant in mid-March, serving 40 inside and 10 on an outdoor patio when weather permits. The Woodland Square location at 2319 Jolly Road has already attracted a steady following for the gourmet salad bar that offers a healthy alternative for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
 
With a staff of nine and the culinary prowess of chef Phil Bopka, the Okemos venue mirrors the format of Lansing location by allowing patrons to weigh and pay for their own salads created from more than 100 gourmet toppings. Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies, bringing what Sprinkel says, is a new option for a fresh, fast and healthy lunch every day.
 
"You can be creative and have a chopped salad one day, an Italian the next," says Sprinkel. "Or you can make a fruit salad. People are starting to come in for breakfast smoothies, too."
 
Sprinkel and his business partner Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran are looking to expand their catering horizons, including wheel-in salad bars at off-site events.
 
"Right now our catering is all pick-up," says Sprinkel. "We're also looking into opening locations in Detroit and East Grand Rapids, and hope to franchise the business."
 
Source: Mark Sprinkel, Owner, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Soup Spoon Cafe adds space, expands service options

Nick Gavrilides is all about good food. He's also all about ensuring the best experience for his guests.
 
Those two factors,  Gavrilides says, are behind the recent expansion of the Soup Spoon Cafe at 1419 E. Michigan Ave. on Lansing's East Side.
 
"That and we could always use a little more storage space," says the owner and chef of the seven-year-old restaurant. "It can get a little cramped in here sometimes."
 
In late March, Gavrilides started reconstructing an adjoining space that used to house Bancroft Flowers. With expected completion by mid- May, the Soup Spoon addition will accommodate up to 30 guests, bringing the restaurant's total capacity to 100 diners for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gavrilides says that while connected to the original footprint, the new space is ideal for private receptions and parties, as well as for accommodating larger groups.
 
While his primary motive is to offer more seating and cut down on wait times, Gavrilides says the expansion will also foster growth on the catering side—something the Soup Spoon has not done except on a small scale.
 
"I'm just excited to be able to serve more people, and to feel confident that they can get in, have a good lunch, and get back to work on time," says Gavrilides. "I'm also excited about expanding our catering offerings and to get the show on the road."
 
Since opening in the early 2000s, the Soup Spoon has built a healthy following through a menu that features six soups, world cuisine, craft beers, and locally roasted coffee. All items are reasonably priced, with per plate costs ranging from $5 to $29.
 
Gavrilides says he will be adding two new staff immediately and possibly up to five depending on public reception.
 
"If our catering needs go wild, we'll be in a position to offer more opportunity," he says.
 
Source: Nick Gavrilides, Owner and Chef, The Soup Spoon Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Black Cat Bistro brings sophisticated dining, 30 jobs to East Lansing

Two area restaurateurs looking to fill a niche in East Lansing are working together to transform a small retail space into a grand venue for sophisticated dining.
 
Beginning in late April, Los Tres Amigos' Arnulfo Ramirez and Georgio's Pizza's Thomas Alimonos will open the doors on the Black Cat Bistro at 115 Albert Street. The 2,000-square foot restaurant will be a partnership between the two entrepreneurs and will feature upscale, modern American cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere.
 
"Arnulfo and Thomas met as local business owners here," says Lorely Polanco, marketing director for the Black Cat Bistro. "They were interested in each other's approach to business, and they both had the idea of opening a fine dining establishment in East Lansing that could compete with destinations in Eastwood. They just clicked."
 
Polanco says the interior of the restaurant will strike a balance between simplicity and sophistication through dark leather booths, art deco walls, and wrought iron chandeliers. Nearly 80 diners will be able to enjoy indoor table service, while an outdoor patio adjacent to an East Lansing park will seat up to 30 guests.
 
Diners at the Black Cat can enjoy appetizers like bistro fries or peanut crusted goat cheese fritters, or salads like toasted almond and avocado or shaved asparagus and arugula. Main courses start at $11 up to $23 and include char-grilled skirt steak, mango and mustard glazed lake trout, mushroom strudel, and other dishes created by Executive Chef Jose Romero. Desserts favor cheesecakes, torts, ganache-filled oreos and a traditional Valencia rice pudding in a crispy almond cookie.
 
"Our menus is small but unique," says Polanco of the restaurant that will create about 30 jobs. "We'll have some local dishes that will feature local products, too."
 
Source: Lorely Polanco, Marketing Director for the Black Cat Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Zoobie's launches expansion, add foods, space and new jobs to popular tavern

A whimsical mix of the 1960s space race, coal-fired pizza and mid-century décor are fueling the expansion of a popular bar and restaurant in Old Town.
 
But that's not all that's driving the owners of Zoobie's Old Town Tavern at 611 E. Grand River Ave. to more than double its size by repurposing a vacant lot and pizza place next door.
 
"Our customers inspired us," says co-owner Sam Short of launching into the next phase of the business he operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. "We had such a welcoming reception from Lansing, and the only real point we heard was that people wanted us to add food and a kitchen."
 
Short says it made sense to expand to the west and start a new pizza venture called The Cosmos Wood-Fired Pizza on the former site of Poppa Leo's. The half-million dollar plan involves refurbishing the pizzeria, connecting the two buildings via an addition, expanding the outdoor patio, and creating an eye-catching façade that includes a faux spaceship and cosmic mural. Local architect Ken Jones of Studio Intrigue and contractor Mike Reid from Capitol Mechanical are also involved bringing the concept down to earth.
 
"We're going to get started as soon as it thaws," says Short. "Our first order of business is paving the lots that took a winter beating, and then doing the groundwork."
 
Expected to open this June, The Cosmos will feature thin crust, Naples style pizza made in a wood-fire oven. Johnson and Wales trained chef Don Konopnicki will also create a small plate menu for both sides of the business. Short says that The Cosmos will locally source the wood for the pizza stove, and that menu items will feature fresh herbs from Zoobie's patio garden as the seasons allow.
 
The 1,500-square foot expansion will double Zoobie's interior space, while the patio will grow from an existing 55 to about 100 feet. About 10 new staff will be added once the 25-seat Cosmos is up and running.
 
"We're glad to be part of the local, creatively-driven businesses of Old Town," says Short. "Everything here is true Lansing. That's why we want to stay here and grow and create these fun options."
 
Zoobies and The Cosmos are exploring options for an exterior mural on the expanded tavern. Interested artists are welcome to email Sam Short via Zoobie's website for more details.

Source: Sam Short, co-owner, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mid-Michigan native applies brew master credentials to new Williamston microbrewery

Something's brewing in Williamston.
 
Starting in April, a developer with local roots will begin transforming the former home of the Williamston police and public works departments into a microbrewery and brewpub. When opened this fall, the soon-to-be-named venue will brew, sell and bottle more than a dozen types of beer on-site using equipment and ingredients sourced from Michigan.
 
"This will be the largest project we've worked on," says Travis Fritts, developer and partner in the Detroit Beer Company. "I've been trying to get back to Mid-Michigan for years. It feels like a good fit for Williamston and a good fit for me and my family."
 
Fritts grew up in Dimondale and followed his wanderlust to Germany. He knocked around taking food science courses at the Technical University of Berlin, and then began training at the university's institute for brewing: The VLB. Returning home with master brewing credentials, Fritts went to work for Webberville's Michigan Brewing Company before relocating to Detroit.
 
Fritts has longed to bring his stouts, pilsners, lagers and other inspired craft beers to Williamston. When he heard talk of the two-story industrial facility being up for sale, he made plans and presented his vision for an old world style pub and brewery to city leaders.
 
"It's a brewery, but we're concerned about good food, too," says Fritts. "The word 'pub' infers a meeting place for family and friends. We want to go for the café sort-of-feel."
 
The 25,00-square foot facility at 1500 W. Grand River will accommodate a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with 85 indoor seats and up to 15 on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the space will become production facilities and offices.  
 
Fritts will be acquiring brew tanks and related production equipment from Craftwerk Brewing Systems, an equipment manufacturer in Clarkson, Mich. He is also rebuilding a bottling line from a plant in Inkster that will be moved up to the Williamston facility come summer. The facility, he says, will create about 20 jobs between the restaurant, production and administration.
 
Source: Travis Fritts, Developer and Owner, upcoming Williamston microbrewery and pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Red Haven expands kitchen, adds staff to serve growing menu and food truck

Mid-Michigan farm-to-table dining experience is getting bigger.
 
The once fledging Red Haven is adding nearly 1,000 square feet to the existing 2,200-square food restaurant at 4880 S. Hagadorn Road in East Lansing. Co-owner Nina Santucci says Meridian Township approved the expansion the week of March 3. Renovations, she says, will be completed by mid- to late-April and primarily involve adding square footage to the kitchen, and reconfiguring space to create a private dining area.
 
"The additional kitchen space will allow us to prep and store food for our new lunch menu and for our food truck and catering services," says Santucci of the Red Haven and the popular Purple Carrot food truck. "Our goal is to get our food truck up and running five days a week rather than the current two we've been doing since the restaurant opened."
 
Santucci and her business partner and husband Anthony Maiale celebrated the grand opening of Red Haven in October 2012. A sit-down complement to the Purple Carrot, the restaurant serves upscale food made from seasonal, local ingredients in a casual environment.
 
Red Haven's tapas style of dining encourages restaurant guests to experiment and share menu items at their table. An ever-changing seasonal menu includes dinner favorites like white bean and kale soup, patty melt, pork steak, chicken confit panini, and shrimp fettuccini. The new lunch menu, which started in January, features similar items with a focus on sandwiches, soups and lunch-size plates of pasta.
 
"We try to put a creative spin on classic dishes," says Santucci. "We want to have that sense of whimsy and bring you something that you wouldn't expect."
 
Santucci says that the expanded kitchen will include a couple convection ovens plus lots of storage.
 
"It will be helpful to have more space for our dry storage items," she says. "Plus we'll actually have a real office here."
 
The Red Haven employs 25 cooks, wait staff and managers. Santucci says the expansion and new lunch service may enable the restaurant to add up to five staff in the summer season.

Source: Nina Santucci, co-owner, Red Haven
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Crosaires integrates community and elder living

After working 21 years working in the long-term care industry, Todd Walter was ready for a change—not just for himself, but for the elders he cared for.
 
Walter struck upon the business model of providing comprehensive care for a small group of elderly adults within a residential setting. He purchased a four bedroom, 2,800-square foot home on Zimmer Road in Williamston, invested $28,000 in renovations and updates, and created his long-envisioned labor of love.
 
Walter opened Crosaires in October 2012 with the goal of providing what he calls an "aging in community residence" for the elderly. The concept, he says, is to provide an assisted living community where caregivers become care partners who share in the responsibility of providing a balanced, fulfilling life for elders.
 
Elders living at Crosaires receive 24-hour medical care and supervision, and are allowed the freedom to experience life through the community where they live. Residents and staff regularly participate in events and activities in and near Williamston, and community groups are frequent visitors to the home.
 
"Our sole emphasis is on the elder," says Walter. "Everyone else—from the team who works here to families and the medical world—are serving as their supporters."
 
Within a year, Crosaires transformed the home's 800-square foot garage into two additional private residences with a private bathroom. Two more elders moved in in October 2013, and Waters added two staff as well. Crosaires currently employs nine staff and is home to six unrelated individuals age 77 to 94
 
"We're serving people during a particular phase of their life," says Walter. " A high majority of what we do here is based on the interests, desires and hobbies of the people who live and work here. What we're doing is part of a culture-change movement that can change how people view getting older."
 
Source: Todd Walter, Founder and Owner, Crosaires
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Lansing's first one-stop African market opens in Old Town

She came here in 2001. He followed a few years later. Today, the husband-wife team from Liberia set up shop in Lansing's Old Town to serve other immigrants and shoppers by providing African goods and cuisine.
 
"We saw a need for someone to open a store here," says Sam R.E. Dixon, co-owner of Chiere International Market at 304 E. Grand River. "We decided to be that one."
 
Sam and his wife, Sue-bunch Cecilia, opened what they describe as Lansing's only one-stop African market in November, and cut the ribbon in late February. The 1,100-square foot store carries food, decorative arts, and clothing from African countries including Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, La Cote d'ivoire and Nigeria.
 
The Dixons were inspired to open the store after observing the large population of Lansing immigrants and refugees carpooling once a month to Ann Arbor, Detroit and Chicago for African goods and products.
 
"Everyone we met said they were willing to go as far as they could to have the kinds of foods they had back home," says Sue-bunch. "We decided to bring the food here."
 
The Dixons work with suppliers in Chicago, Maryland, New Jersey and New York to stock staples like Nido Powder Milk, Plantain Fufu Flour, Liberian Fresh Palm Cream Butter and Pure Red Palm Oil. Fresh foods and produce include sweet potato leaves, okra, cassava, fresh meats and fish, as well as high-quality organic and locally sourced groceries. Other specialty items include rice, seafood, spices, canned goods and juices. All products, the Dixons say, are USDA and FDA inspected and approved.
 
In addition to food products, the Dixon also carry African arts and crafts and a line of beauty supplies, skin creams and African soaps. The goal, they say, is to make the shop appealing to anyone interested in African culture and products.
 
"People hear about us and call to see what we have," Sue-bunch says. "Once, when I told an MSU student that we had African pop, he said 'don't say anything else, I'm there.' People here really appreciate what we carry, and everyone is so supportive."
 
Source: Sam R.E. and Sue-bunch Cecilia Dixon, Owners/operators, Chiere International Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Edito

Williamston embroidery and gift store expands, locates on main street

Crystal Amon opened her first embroidery and design shop two years ago in Williamston. Within days she was stitching together plans for a bigger store.
 
"My husband calls it 'hobbies gone wild,'" says Amon of CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gifts. "I just started getting more calls and I wanted to take the chance."
 
In late fall 2013, Amon moved her shop from the outer edge of town to 138 E. Grand River on Williamston's main thoroughfare. At 2,000 square feet, her newest base of operation gives her the space and visibility she needs for her growing business.
 
"A lot of my friends and the Williamston Eagles donated their time to help," says Amon. "I literally had people coming in to place orders right as we were moving in."
 
Amon cut the ribbon on her new store in mid-February. Despite the cold and snowy season, she says she has been as busy as ever offering machine embroidery and screen printing services, and creating custom vinyl banners and other products.
 
CC Embroidery also carries a line of pre-made or made-to-order apparel, accessories, window decals, soy wax candles, and handmade baby clothes by local women. Amon's crafty talents extend to handmade jewelry, including Native American beadwork.
 
"I'm here for whatever people need," says Amon. "My service is all personal. Sometimes my customers will even sit with me and we'll design together. I'll take their design or logo and they can see and make changes. It's very one-on-one."
 
Source: Crystal Amon, Owner, CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gift Shop
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Restaurateur buys landmark Terranova's Market, hires four local staff

Faez Toma woke up one morning and knew he needed a change. He was ready, he said, to get out of the "rat race" and to pursue a different path in the restaurant biz. Something, he said, was right around the corner.
 
Toma found that change in Terranova's Market. And while nearly two hours up the freeway from Toma's home in Farmington Hills, the small grocery store in DeWitt was Toma's dream come true.
 
"I knew when I walked in that bingo—this was it," says Toma, who jokingly credits his childhood nickname "Fonz" for fueling his quest for a simpler life. "It was the little market in the little town I was looking for."
 
Toma purchased the 2,500 square foot store at 129 S. Bridge St. in December. He kept the moniker of the landmark store, and went about making incremental changes while retaining Terranova's small-town flair.
 
"I knew that something could be realized here with just a little bit of effort," says Toma. "The store was already a success but I knew it had even more potential."
 
Toma drew on his experience and family background in the liquor and restaurant business and expanded Terranova's spirits section to include craft beers, specialized bourbons and scotches. He also began changing up the grocery aisles to accommodate specialty items from small distributors.
 
"You can go anywhere and get a can of chicken noodle soup," says Toma. "Sure, I'll carry that, but I want my shop to be known for finding those specialized items you can't find anywhere else."
 
In January, Toma installed new double-decker ovens for making hot subs and stone-fired pizzas. He also stocks a cooler with homemade salads and sandwiches, and plans to offer more to-go foods as the store's kitchen remodel gets underway.
 
In keeping with the community, Toma hired four staff from DeWitt to help him run the market. He hopes, too, to localize his own life and cut down on his daily commute by moving his family closer sometime soon.
 
"DeWitt is a great and fantastic community," says Toma. "With me coming from a bigger city, it's refreshing to have that small-town experience."
 
Source: Faez Toma, Owner, Terranova's Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Four Blank & Ten creates space for talking interior design in Lansing's Old Town

As the owner of Four Blank & Ten, Jeremy Mick has been designing interior spaces from the comfort of his own home since about 2005. But recently, Mick decided to open his very first brick and mortar store, and provide a space where he could sit down, relax and talk ideas with prospective clients.
 
In late February, Mick officially cut the ribbon on his 150-square foot studio located inside of Leopold Bloom & Co., 523 E. Grand River, in Lansing's Old Town. The cozy space allows prospective clients to view lighting, flooring and paint samples, and to reimagine their own living quarters while viewing Mick's extensive portfolio for interior design.
 
"I like to create stylish and contemporary spaces by mixing traditional and modern styles," says Mick. "I don't like things to look like they popped out of a catalog."
 
Mick says he works with clients to help build spaces around existing pieces, and to expand upon ideas his clients may have.
 
"I want it to seem like an extension of what they may have done," he says. "My goal is to take their ideas and make the space something they are going to enjoy, rather than just making it look pretty."
 
Mick says he enjoys looking for unique pieces and finding things that can be repurposed or juxtaposed with different styles. A television armoire, for example, might find a new life as an office supply cabinet, while a 100-year-old antique might get a new look when positioned in a room with modern wallpaper.
 
"My goal is to make your home look like the design took years to come up with," he says. "That goes with the fact that more people are trying to invest in their homes and make them comfortable, rather than simply moving on."
 
Eventually, Mick says, he would like to expand to a larger space where he can display samples of cabinets, flooring and other decor, and even bring on a full- or part-time employee.
 
"Right now it's just me," he says.
 
Source: Jeremy Mick, Owner, Four Blank & Ten
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

HiTea bring traditional Asian tea, eight jobs to East Lansing

Yao Xiao believes in the art of tea preparation. And as the co-owner and partner of a new teahouse in East Lansing, he wants to show his customers how to get the most from a cup of tea.
 
"A lot of people don't know how to prepare tea and boil the tea leaves," says Xiao, also known as "Angus." "We'll show you the instruments to use and how to make tea the right way."
 
Angus is steeped in preparations to open HiTea, a 1,064 square foot teashop in the East Lansing Marriott at University Place. The shop, Angus says, will bring a contemporary edge to a traditional teashop, and feature 26 bubble tea flavors, Asian drinks, and a selection of breads, croissants, European style sandwiches, brownies, muffins, cheesecake and salads.
 
"The raw materials for our teas is directly imported from China," Angus says. "Our taste is much more traditional, and we will have toppings like bubbles and jellies to add into the cup."
 
Since January, Angus has been building a relaxing teashop by installing comfortable seating, decorative wood structures, and storage and preparation areas. He's also brought in more than 13 different pieces of equipment deemed essential for preparing high-end teas, including a water heater, boiler, icemaker, water filtration system, and a filling and shaking machine. When completed, the shop will seat 34 customers inside and six to eight outside.
 
The East Lansing HiTea, Angus says, is part of a growing chain of teashops that originated in China, and is the fourth U.S. location behind Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
 
Angus plans to open HiTea March 10 and to have a grand opening toward the end of the month. HiTea will employ eight people, with more staff added in the coming year.
 
Source: Yao Xiao ("Angus"), co-owner and partner, HiTea
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Kellie's Consignments takes customers on the road, looks to expansion

Kellie Johnson is inviting people to get on the bus.
 
On March 15, the owner of Kellie's Consignments will host her first-ever Spring Shopping Bus Tour that treats shoppers to a daylong excursion to consignment stores in Southeast Michigan.
 
"This winter sparked me to do it," says Johnson who has owned the popular Okemos store since 2006. "People are stir-crazy. This is a way for 55 people to get on a bus and go crazy."
 
Johnson says the 12-hour day starts at 8 a.m. with a lightly catered breakfast at the shop. Customers then board a charter bus and enjoy snacks, drinks and prizes en route to three destinations: Trading Closets in Brighton, Smart Chics in Novi, and Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi.
 
"It's just perfect for spring break shopping," says Johnson of the all-inclusive $45 round-trip ticket. "We hope to do it again in the fall."
 
Johnson describes her consignment outlet as upscale recycling. Seventy percent of her inventory consists of items that people ask her to sell, while the remaining 30 percent are things she orders new or lightly used.
 
"We look for anything you have that is fashionable or decorative for the person or the home," she says. "Then we recycle items to other people who put them to good use."
 
Johnson works with nearly 8,000 consignees nationwide and greets about 300 shoppers a day in her 14,000-square foot shop. She added six new staff in 2013 for a total of 13 employees, and looks to add more in 2014 as she starts online sales. Her five-year plan includes opening additional brick-and-mortar stores across the state.
 
"I can remember once upon a day imagining if I would ever be in this building," says Johnson. "And now here I sit and say, 'well here I am. If you build it, they will come.'"
 
To reserve your seat on the Spring Shopping Tour contact Kellie's Consignments at 517-574-4523.
 
Source: Kellie Johnson, owner, Kellie's Consignments
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Aggie Mae's brings artisan baked goods, new jobs to Grand Ledge

Since changing careers in 2009, Neva Austin starts her day in the kitchen at 3 a.m.
 
"I was in sales and wanted to do something I had a passion for," says Austin, the owner of the growing line of Aggie Mae's bakeries in Greater Lansing. "I decided I would make breads and pastries for the farmer's market, and it just exploded from there."
 
Austin opened her newest bakery in Grand Ledge in mid-January after closing her shop at the Lansing City Market. The 2,100-square foot store at 914 Charlevoix Street is her second brick-and-mortar store in addition to her bakery in Lansing's Old Town.
 
Austin uses fresh ingredients for her breads, pastries, cakes and pies. She sources organic flour from Ferris Organic Farms in her hometown of Eaton Rapids, and Lansing's LorAnn Oils for flavorings. Downtown's Paramount Coffee supplies the beans for her frequently requested cups of brew.
 
Austin seems destined to knead the dough. Her grandmother, Elaine Maynard, was a restaurateur in Higgins Lake, and her great grandmother, Bertie Mae, had a bakery in Breckenridge. 
 
"My mother taught me how to bake from a very young age," says Austin of the store's namesake, Aggie Mae. "Some of my fondest memories are baking bread with my mom."
 
Austin makes her baked goods from scratch, including her 12 artisan breads, pastries, specialty cupcakes, pies and cheesecake. She also claims 15 made-to-order sandwiches, a signature granola, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast items.
 
Austin's Grand Ledge bakery employs seven staff. She adapted the space in the newer strip mall by painting, knocking out a wall, and replacing floor tile. She also brought in her own display cabinets, coolers and bakery equipment, and put in seating for up to 15 dine-in customers. She's held off doing a grand opening, but is planning one for late March or April, once the weather turns.
 
"My mother absolutely loves to come in," says Austin. "Her favorite thing, of course, is the 'Aggie Mae,' our signature chicken salad sandwich that is made in-house."
 
Source: Neva Austin, owner, Aggie Mae's Bakery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

St. Johns mom opens gym to get kids out of house and moving

Like a lot of moms with kids, Casie Grams was bouncing off the walls when snow, ice and freezing temperatures kept her family confined to the great indoors.
 
In January, Grams decided to take that pent-up energy elsewhere and opened PowerPlay Kids Fun & Fitness in St. Johns for kids ages 10 months through fifth grade.
 
"I see it giving children an outlet aside from being stuck at home inside," says Grams who has three children under 12. "Everything here is designed to build confidence. It's a non-competitive environment and meant to be fun."
 
The 1,600-square foot gym at 701 W. State Street is set up to accommodate a variety of activities, including gymnastics, indoor soccer, hockey, basketball, tennis, relays, playground games and more. Grams herself oversaw the light remodeling of the previous sports retail store, including laying new carpet, painting and making it "kid friendly" by bringing in equipment that includes a 25-foot Air Trak, balance beam, tumbling mats, gymnastics bars and stationary bikes.
 
"I also have a variety of other things like hula-hoops," say Grams whose background and certification is in gymnastics. "Every week we'll have a different theme."
 
PowerPlay offers several five-week classes that are set up according to ages, grades and siblings. She also offers a boys-only class and open gym twice a week. Parent participation is required for children 3 ½ or under.
 
"Eventually, I hope to expand and offer more classes," says Grams who runs the classes with the help of her mother and her nephew. "I just wanted to start somewhere."
 
In addition to 20 different classes and open gym, PowerPlay offers parent's night out, birthday parties and camps.
 
"It's an outlet," says Grams. "It's something fun to do and can help combat obesity. My goal is to just encourage a healthy lifestyle for kids."
 
Source: Casie Grams, Owner, PowerPlay Kids Fun & Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Craig Mitchell Smith Glass shines in new Old Town gallery

Craig Mitchell Smith has built his career on what some might say is fragile ground.
 
As a nationally sought after glass artist, Mitchell Smith has perfected his own technique for cutting and kiln-firing glass to emulate a painter's brush strokes. His sculptures, he says, are designed to enhance nature, and have found their way into private and public gardens both in the U.S. and abroad.
 
"It's a different way of thinking about glass," says Mitchell Smith, a self-taught artist who has worked as a designer and painter. "I think like a painter, and I treat my kiln like I would a canvas. It's just something I stumbled upon and it works for me."
 
Mitchell Smith's success with glass artistry has taken him across the country and to studios throughout Greater Lansing. In January 2014, the Lansing native brought the Craig Mitchell Smith Glass studio home to Old Town and opened to the public on Feb. 13 after seven years at the Meridian Mall.
 
The 4,000-square feet of the once Estes Furniture Warehouse will provide Mitchell Smith and his staff of four with triple the amount of production space as his former studio, as well as 1,000 square feet for display or retail. He says he invested about $25,000 to overhaul the building's electrical, and to install new flooring and lighting in the gallery area.
 
"We greatly needed the expanded workspace," says Mitchell Smith. "I plan on offering more classes, too."
 
Mitchell Smith's work has been shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts, on HGTV and through numerous gallery and museum exhibits nationwide. He says he works primarily by commission, and is doing one-man shows that take him to places like the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
 
"We're taking the show on the road," says Mitchell Smith of his work with large public American gardens. "But this new space suits my needs beautifully. My home is on the Grand River as is this gallery, so in good weather, I plan on kayaking home."
 
Craig Mitchell Smith Glass will hold a grand opening on Sunday, Feb. 23, from noon to 5 p.m. The public is invited.
 
Source: Craig Mitchell Smith, Owner, Craig Mitchell Smith Glass
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor


Spartan Coney brings gourmet dogs, hearty chili to East Lansing

East Lansing is going to the dogs.
 
Twelve, to be exact. But maybe more.
 
"I have 12 kinds of gourmet hot dogs on my menu," says Derrick Austin, co-owner of the recently opened Spartan Coney in East Lansing. "One of my favorites is the Jamaican. I also make a slaw dog, a BLT dog, one with bacon strips and spicy mustard, and a mac-n-cheese dog. And, of course, I can't leave out Chicago, New York and Coney Dogs."
 
Austin boasts at least four more dog delicacies, with several featuring his very own Coney sauce. He also gets creative with fries, topping taters with garlic parmesan, steak seasoning, Cajun spice, BBQ sauce, and, of course, chili.
 
"I have several types of chili," says Austin. "I make it hearty. I use ground turkey and ground pork in a lot of my chili, and I make a meatball and club chili. I could go on and on."
 
Austin's dogged delights are prepped in what he describes as a "small cubby hole" adjacent to Moe's Southwest Grill, which he also manages. He says his boss asked him what he wanted to do with the space, and gave him the option of pizza or hotdogs. Of course, Austin says, he went for the dogs, and opened Spartan Coney in September 2013.
 
Austin plans to build the menu of his grab-and-go venue, with one idea being convenient lighter fare like fruit cups and salads. He's also playing with the idea of offering a twist on funnel cakes—a county fair staple also known as elephant ears.
 
Austin grew up in Lansing and went to culinary school in Atlanta, Georgia. And while he's been in the food industry for nearly 30 years, he says he learned a lot about cooking from his mom and grandma.
 
"I'm from a family of nine boys and one girl," he says. "I was in the kitchen all the time, and it just caught on from there."
 
Source: Derrick Austin, Co-owner, Spartan Coney
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor


AKA Social Media moves to TIC, reaches out to small businesses

Christopher Allen talked to his wife, Melissa, and decided to start a business. They had both worked for non-profits. And they both knew the challenge of promoting a good cause with limited resources.
 
That's where they knew they could step in.
 
In August 2013, the husband-wife duo put their like-minds together and launched AKA Social Media—an online marketing firm specializing in social media and email marketing. Their goal, Allen says, is to empower small businesses and nonprofits to reach their full marketing potential through a mix of social media and other communication tools.
 
"Our target market is businesses with fewer than five employees," says Allen. "And there are a lot of those in Greater Lansing. We're reaching out to insurance agencies, retail locations, coffee shops, that kind-of thing. So I guess you could say we're starting small."
 
Working from a home office, the two began offering services in training, social media management, email marketing and website design. Within months, the Allens had built a steady clientele that prompted them to seek out the start-up expertise of East Lansing's Technology and Innovation Center. They also brought on an additional family member, Joe Rabideau, to assist with new business development.
 
"We were drawn to the TIC because of their support system and connections that can help us move forward," says Allen of their January 2014 move to the TIC. "It's a great group of people building that base for entrepreneurship and start-ups."
 
Allen says his immediate goal is to continue to build his company's services and profile, and to become a go-to resource for social media marketing.
 
"In the type of economy we're in, social media offers a lot of advantages to small and local businesses," says Allen. "When you're working with a small budget, you might not be able to afford billboards and radio, but you can reach your target market with social media without as much of an investment."
 
Source: Christopher Allen, President, AKA Social Media
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Michigan Creative moves to new co-working space, adds first full-time staff

This February, Michigan Creative will celebrate three years of business, job creation, and new digs at the Center for New Enterprise Opportunity, 934 Clark Street in Lansing. It's a move, CEO Town says, that reflects his philosophy of always being there to provide expert creative services to Michigan businesses.
 
"It would be silly for us to get a space and be a company all by ourselves," says Town as he reflects on the value of occupying the third floor of co-working space at the NEO Center. "We're around so many people here who have a passion for the local area. It's a perfect fit, and it feels like we've been here forever."
 
Town, his staff of eight part-timers, and his first-ever full-time employee, Melissa Meschke, relocated from East Lansing's Technology and Innovation Center to Clark Street on Dec. 1. A grand opening is in the works for Feb. 20, with a program chock-full of speakers and presentations that celebrate good things happening in Michigan.
 
As a full-service marketing company specializing in web design and video production, Michigan Creative also offers branding, social marketing, and creative strategies for leveraging the often slim- to none-marketing budgets of any Michigan business.  
 
"We want to be unique and not just be 'that marketing company,'" says Town. "Our goal is to be long-time partners with companies we work with. We'd even like to place employees within companies once a week as a resource to help with marketing and business decisions."
 
Town says he envisions Michigan Creative as a 100-person company in as little as five years, with employees who live and raise families in mid-Michigan.
 
"Right now, we're a marketing company, but we hope to become a business development company too," says Town. "We just want to employ a lot of people and help them to stick around."
 
Source: Brian Town, CEO and Owner, Michigan Creative
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Salon Savvy brings relaxing style and new jobs to East Lansing

Keeping her customers relaxed and comfortable is at the top of the list for Shirley Warren.
 
"We're positive. We're caring. And there's absolutely no drama," says Warren of Salon Savvy, one of East Lansing's newest salons. "We've worked hard to create the best possible atmosphere for our clients."
 
Despite being located at a busy intersection on East Lansing's western edge, Salon Savvy evokes a sense of calm through a soothing interior palette of blues, greens and neutrals.
 
A reception area with a beverage bar sets the tone, as do discreetly spaced hair, nail and pedicure stations within the 2,800 square-foot facility. The circular floor plan enables separate climate-controlled areas for most services, including shampooing, waxing and massage.
 
"Wendy and I always wanted to open up a modern and relaxed place where we could build clientele," says Shirley, mentioning that she and her business partner, Wendy Schram, have worked together for more than a dozen years. "This place used to be a salon, so when it became available, it all fell into place."
 
Warren says she, Schram and their husbands invested seven weeks of muscle and sweat to ready the salon at 1429 W. Saginaw St. for a mid-December opening. Renovations included painting, waxing floors and installing equipment for 10 hair styling and two nail stations.
 
"We're looking to expand fast," says Warren. "We're hopeful that we will be able to build loyal clientele."
 
Salon Savvy currently contracts with two stylists and a nail technician. Plans are to add up to six more stylists, a nail technician and a massage therapist in 2014.
 
Source: Shirley Warren, Co-Owner, Salon Savvy
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development Editor


Prime Shine Professionals puts the polish on any ride

James Phifer knows all about bringing a show room shine to every make and model of car.
 
Since high school, Phifer has cleaned, polished, painted and revitalized the exteriors and interiors of thousands of automobiles as a professional car detailer. He's worked at General Motors, car dealerships and detailer shops across Mid-Michigan. Now, after 35 years of professional experience, he's hanging a shingle on his own two-bay garage.
 
"It's been my dream to run my own business someday," says Phifer who officially "cut the ribbon" on Prime Shine Professionals in early January 2014. "I'm very thorough, and I've studied new and old techniques. I've been doing this so long I know the tricks of the trade and know what people are looking for."
 
Phifer's two-bay garage is located directly behind Williamston Car Wash at 1125 W. Grand River Ave. in Williamston. In August of 2013, Phifer signed a lease, moved his equipment into the 700-square foot space, added seating and modern touches in customer waiting areas, and began offering professional auto detailing and reconditioning services to the community.
 
Phifer's services involve full bumper-to-bumper revitalization, with the results being a superior finish and a glossy new car finish inside and out. Services may be purchased as a package or a la carte and include a full carpet extraction, paint and stain removal, headliner cleaning, scratch and scuff removal, headlight restoration and interior leather reconditioning.
 
Phifer welcomed two contractors to his shop and hopes to eventually serve as a training facility for high school students who want to learn the trade.
 
"I've detailed just about every kind of car you can imagine," says Phifer, who is fully licensed and insured. "But I'm still waiting for that Bentley to come through my doors."
 
Source: James Phifer, Owner, Prime Shine Professionals
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor


Farm Fresh Seafood makes a splash with new Okemos market

Greater Lansing might be landlocked, but that doesn't keep Russ Allen from bringing farm fresh seafood to Mid-Michigan.
 
As the owner of the 7-year-old Shrimp Farm Market in Meridian Township, Allen has tested the waters for raising shrimp in Michigan's climate. His innovative indoor farm system produces about 400 pounds of shrimp each month, and holds promise for making Michigan the shrimping capital of the Midwest.
 
Now this veteran of the shrimp farming industry is taking his vision to the street with Farm Fresh Seafood—a soon-to-be-open storefront in Okemos for farm fresh seafood.
 
"The customers who came to the Shrimp Farm Market seem to be excited about what we're doing," says Allen. "I'm seeing an opportunity to do the right kind of seafood market by promoting all farmer seafood."
 
Allen will close his previous shrimp market that he ran adjacent to his growing facility and open the 1,200-square foot storefront at 1731 W. Grand River Ave.
 
In addition to Allen's shrimp, Farm Fresh Seafood will sell fresh, farm-raised seafood shipped direct from farms in from Maine, Washington, Texas, Alaska, Hawaii and other parts of the U.S. Some fresh frozen seafood will also be available.
 
"I want to change the dialog and say that U.S. farmer seafood is still the best available," says Allen. "Our goal is to feature different farms and different species from around the country."
 
Allen plans to open as early as February, complete with a commercial kitchen that prepares delicacies such as shrimp cervich, shrimp salad and shrimp burgers.
 
"Right now, this is just a family-run operation," says Allen as he mentions the jobs created for his wife, son and his son's girlfriend. "We hope to expand in the next year and maybe add some staff. Hopefully, this store is just the first of many in Michigan and elsewhere."
 
Source: Russ Allen, Owner, Farm Fresh Seafood
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor


Cuttin Up Barber Shop to add staff, activities in 2014

Paul Trowbridge's path to business began in his hometown of Battle Creek, wound its way to Lansing, took a detour down south, and cut back to Lansing again.
 
"When I first got back, I noticed this area needed a barber shop," says Trowbridge, owner of Cuttin Up Barber Shop in REO Town. "There was one here years ago and I wanted to bring it back."
 
Since opening in November 2012, Trowbridge's business at 1135 S. Washington has steadily grown from a clientele he nurtured through a decade of Lansing barbering experiences, including his previous shop, Barber Love. And with REO Town's rebirth, Cuttin Up has experienced a mild uptick, allowing Trowbridge to lay plans for new staff and increased civic-engagement.
 
Beginning in 2014, Trowbridge will add at least one licensed barber to his staff of three. He's also looking to sponsor a day-of-service for military veterans, and to continue programs that benefit the Lansing Area AIDS Network.
 
With a modest budget and lots of muscle, Trowbridge transformed the 1,000-square foot space previously occupied by Betty's Buttons by putting in a new floor, liberating brick walls from plaster, updating lighting, and furnishing with refurbished fixtures and chairs.
 
"There's nothing cosmetologist about it," says Trowbridge. "It's truly a man's shop, and a place where guys can come and let their hair down."
 
But then he pauses.
 
"Of course, if a woman comes in with her son for his haircut, we're friendly," he says, adding that he might cut the mom's hair, too, if she asked. "We're building lots of ties with families and businesses in the area. We want to be here for the long haul."
  
Source: Paul Trowbridge, Owner, Cuttin Up Barber Shop
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development Editor


Conrad's owner opens new East Lansing catering company

As the owner of both Conrad's College Town Grill locations in East Lansing, Joe Conrad has a pretty good idea of what's going on in the city's food industry. With all of the university departments and businesses in the area, he saw room in the market for a new caterer. That led to the opening of Grand River Catering Company

"We're not a fine dining, by any means, but it's a better option than some of the corporate places where you have very limited options," says Conrad. "Everything is cooked fresh to order for each catering job, and we can be more flexible with our clientele. Whatever they want, if we can do it, we will."

After opening the second location of Conrad's on E. Grand River in 2012, Conrad realized he had 1,500 extra square feet in the rear of the business. That's where he launched the catering company. While Grand River Catering Company officially opened in Sept., a busy fall at Conrad's has allowed for a gradual ramp up of the new business. Conrad says he's looking forward to having more time to focus on catering during MSU's semester break. 

"We offer more of a personal touch," Conrad says. "Typically, I will be the one delivering the food and making sure that everything goes well."

Grand River Catering Company is currently staffed by Conrad and one other employee. He hopes his focus on servicing the university and local business community will help him grow into  the go-to catering option for East Lansing.


Source: Joe Conrad, Grand River Catering Company
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale aims to open Eastside distillery

Lansing area craft beer and whiskey fans: 2014 could be a very good year. With small breweries trickling into the region and small-scale distilling just getting its start in Michigan, brewing and distilling afficianados Matt Jason and Jeremy Sprague decided it was the perfect time to establish such a business right at the center of it all. 

"Lansing is the capital of a great beer state, and other than some small breweries, we don't have a lot of beer here yet, not like Grand Rapids," says Jason. "We want to make Lansing a destination for beer." 

Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale is their means to reaching that goal, a brewery and distillery they plan to open on Lansing's Eastside. The production facilty and pub is currently in a fundraising phase. Between seeking out individual investors and a forthcoming Kickstarter campaign, Jason and Sprague plan to raise $150,000 by spring of 2014 to begin buildout on a 3,000 to 4,000 square foot space by summer. 

"There are few places we're looking on the Eastside," says Jason. "The Eastside has the youngest demographic, highest population density, and highest percentate of expenditures on alcohol. With the Red Cedar development hopefully coming on board, the avenue has a lot of promise." 

The distillery and brewery would feature brown and white whiskey, as well as a selection of European and American-inspired beers. Plans for the pub also include a bakery, from which Sleepwalker would serve pizzas, pretzel rolls and other food items. Distribution is also a major part of the plan for Sleepwalker spirits, which Jason plans to expand internationally. 

Though funding and licensing will determine their final timeline, Jason hopes to be opening Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale by late summer or fall of 2014 with six to 10 employees. Within a few years, they hope to triple the size of their staff and become known as a destination for live musch, craft beer and local whiskey.


Source: Matt Jason, Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

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

American Home Fitness celebrates 12th anniversary with new Okemos location

Some people will do anything to put off the start of a new home workout routine, but now accessibility to home workout equipment is no excuse. The American Home Fitness store is celebrating their twelfth year in the Lansing area with the opening of their new store in Meridian Crossing in Okemos. 
 
"We were pretty much just a destination," says Mark Renfer, general manager of the local American Home Fitness store. "It's nice to have neighbors and more traffic moving in and out here. We also get a lot of customers from outside the Lansing area as well, and this location is very easy to find." 
 
The new 3,000 square foot store is a bit smaller than the former location, but is closer in size to American Home Fitness' six other stores throughout Michigan and Ohio. The new store opened in July, and Renfer says he's looking forward to the beginning of their busy season in the new location. 
 
"We're going to keep doing our best to help the Lansing area and surrounding community get better fit and better educated," he says. "All of our staff are well-trained trained, and many are personal trainers."
 
Renfer is already looking to add a new part-time position at American Home Fitness and will add to the staff as needed as business continues to grow in their new location.

Source: Mark Renfer, American Home Fitness 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New westside Soldan's opens with new name, logo

A local familiar name in local pet supplies is unveiling some big changes. Soldan's Feeds and Pet Supplies is now open in its new W. Saginaw location under the shorter name Soldan's Pet Supplies, which will soon make its way onto all eight Soldan's stores. 
 
"We're changing our logo too," says Nikki Soldan, floor supervisor for the westside Soldan's. "We've done less and less with horse feed, so we're dropping the horse and adding a rabbit."
 
Perhaps the most dramatic change is Soldan's new westside home. Though not far from their former location near Best Buy, the new, larger space at 6201 W. Saginaw gives the pet supply store more visibility and more room for some new features, including a self-serve dog wash and shorter, more customer-friendly shelving. 
 
"With the shelves just five feet high, you can see across the whole store," says Soldan. "It opens everything up more so it's more inviting. Eventually, I think they're going to start doing this in all eight stores. We're sort of a guinea pig." 
 
The new Soldan's Pet Supplies location opened today after several months of preparation at the new site. The new store will offer expanded food and toy lines, and Soldan hopes the increased traffic will lead to an increase in their staff. Now employing eight to ten employees, if the westside location can meets their expectations, Soldan expects two to four more jobs could be created in the new store. 
 

Source: Nikki Soldan, Soldan's Pet Supply
Writer: Natalie Burg

LLB Asian Grocery brings specialty foods to Delta Twp.

Joseph and Vina Nguyen have been small business owners in the Lansing area for more than a decade, and they always knew something was missing from Lansing's west side. 

"We looked around and we saw on this side of town we didn't have any Asian specialty stores," says Joseph Nguyen. "My wife thought it would be conventient for all of the people around here." 

After four to five months of renovations, the Nguyens solves that problem by opening LLB Asian Grocery at 4221 W. Saginaw. Nguyen says the location was perfect for the new market because of its size and the amount of traffic that passes by every day. The store opened on Aug. 25.

"We doing okay," says Nguyen. "We are still getting people who are noticing us for the first time."

LLB Asian Grocery carries a variety of specialty Asian foods not found in other area stores, such as noodles, mainades, sauces, fish and spices. The 3,200 square foot store is staffed by five members of the Nguyen family. In the next five years, they hope to expand the store into a larger space. 

Source: Joseph Nguyen, LLB Asian Grocery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Grand River Barber Company brings urban cuts, retail to East Lansing

From yoga studios to nightlife, many of the businesses in East Lansing exist to serve the needs of students and other young adults. Until recently, however, there was one market that was being underserved. 
 
"My partner has friends in East Lansing they were all complaining that there were no barbershops here that could do an urban cut," says barber Doug Mrdeza, who began his career in Metro Detroit. "They would have to travel home to get a cut." 
 
Mrdeza and his partner have responded to that demand with the Grand River Barber Company in downtown East Lansing. The business, which opened Aug. 26, offers urban hairstyles for men, as well as a whole new take on the barbershop concept. 
 
"We have four 50-inch LCD screens and an X-Box, so when people are waiting they can play," says Mrdeza. "The whole atmosphere is very different."
 
In addition to the entertaining atmosphere, Grand River Barber Company is the the process of establishing a retail area, where they will carry attire and accessories. 
 
The 1,100 square foot barbershop currently employs Mrdeza, his business partner and one additional barber. Final renovations to the space are still underway, but Mrdeza says the community's response to the new business is already in full swing. He and his partner hope to grow into the business community as the shop grows, sponsoring local organizations such as youth sports leagues. 
 

Source: Doug Mrdeza, Grand River Barber Company
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor


Longtime S. Washington business opens REO Town Gardener retail space

With all that's shiny and new in REO Town these days, it's easy to look at even pre-existing businesses on S. Washington with new eyes. In the case of the more than 20-year-old business, Foliage Design Systems of Mid-Michigan, the double take is warranted. Previously a mostly business-to-business operation, the interior landscaping company has recently unveiled the REO Town Gardener, a new retail department offering patio and container gardening supplies to the public. 
 
"I've always wanted to have a retail outlet," says owner Jean Husby. "The right thing to do seemed to be to use it promote of healthy living in small spaces. Why not promote small gardening for as a hobby or for health purpose? You can use a windowsill to grow herbs or a salad garden." 
 
Husby says she is already experiencing an increase in foot traffic and general activity in REO Town since the completion of the streetscape project, Lansing Board of Water and Light development and entrance of new businesses into the neighborhood. It seemed like the perfect time to broaden her business' focus from just the back door to the storefront. 
 
"It's nice to see new foot traffic. There are ton of people passing by," Husby says. "Why not give them a reason to stop in?"
 
REO Town Gardener is located in a renovated 400 square foot space within the existing 7,000 square foot Foliage Design Systems building. The shop offers supplies for gardening in small containers, including a mix of Dr. Earth-brand products. Over the past year, Husby has increased her existing staff by one part- and one full-time position, and she has also hired a new employee for the new retail operations. 
 

Source: Jean Husby, REO Town Gardener/Foliage Design Systems of Mid-Michigan 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Indoor Grow Store opens first of two stores, creates 13 jobs

Some people put up with the things that aggravate them; others just change them. Alex Manuel is among the latter, and the result has been a new invention, one new retail store, another in the works and plans to grow his business all over the state. 
 
The Indoor Grow Store opened two months ago on S. Cedar, and it all began with Manuel's desire to make the process of indoor growing better. When growing the indoor plants, he was dissatisfied with the local prices of supplies, as well as the devices available to trim the plants. 
 
"I bought a machine and it was nothing. It was bad," says Manuel. "I invented my own trimmer. It’s the best in the country." 
 
To solve the problem of the steep prices on local growing supplies, he then opened his own store. Manuel says his prices at the 2,000 square foot South Lansing store are lower, not only than other stores, but also most online stores. 
 
Manuel will open second, larger Indoor Grow Store near the Lansing Mall in six to eight weeks. After that, he says, the sky is the limit for expansion.
 
"We are planning to have a store in every city in Michigan," says Manuel. "If I stay healthy, we are going to expand as much as we can."
 
The current Indoor Grow Store employs a staff of five. The forthcoming store will employ seven to eight workers and will be in a 5,800 square foot location.
 

Source: Alex Manuel
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Lothamer Tax Resolution expands into new, 7,000 sq ft headquarters

Lothamer Tax Resolution has been in business for 30 years, but ever since the company began specializing in IRS and Michigan tax problems, their growth has been notable. Now with nine satellite offices and a staff of 18, the business has expanded into a new headquarters on Dunkel in Lansing. 
 
"We choose this location because it was central to the Lansing area and great access the highway," says Lothamer Tax Resolution Vice President Marketing Amy Lothamer of the 7,000 square foot space. "We needed more space to accommodate our growing company."
 
When an individual or business finds itself in an issue with a tax agency, it can be a scary time. Lothamer specializes in resolving these issues, a niche which Lothamer says was much needed. 
 
The firm moved into their new location in early September after completely renovating the interior of the facility and celebrated their grand opening last week. The company has been hiring one to two new professionals a year for the past several years, and anticipates hiring another one to two staff members in the upcoming year. 
 

Source: Amy Lothamer, Lothamer Tax Resolution
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Leopold Bloom and Co. to bring the curated past to Old Town

Tony Sump is more than just a seller of antiques and home décor. 
 
"I'm kind of a curator of the past," Sump says, "finding really great pieces that are solid and long forgotten and up-cycling them into something that is usable." 
 
Sump and business partner Doug Meeks will bring that passion for antiquities to their new Old Town shop, Leopold Bloom & Co. The store will carry antiques, new home décor, as well as a collection of local artisanal goods.
 
Sump and Meeks aren't new to the antiques game. They've had a small presence in Howell for two years, and recently expanded into the Grand Rapids market. It was while looking for a location for a warehouse between the two that the Old Town space presented itself, and their plans quickly changed.
 
"It was reasonable and fit the needs for a store," Sump says. "We thought, maybe we could drop one of the other locations move it here."
 
That's exactly what happened. After about six weeks of renovations, the 1,200 square foot Grand River location is set to open for the first time this Friday during an open house from 5:30 to 9:00pm. The grand opening will take place Oct. 7. Leopold Bloom & Co. will open with two employees in addition to Meeks and Sump. 
 

Source: Tony Sump, Leopold Bloom & Co. 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Four Blank and Ten Design Group grows from home biz to Old Town storefront

Jeremy Mick's Four Blank & Ten Design Group may not be a brand new interior design firm, but its forthcoming move to an Old Town storefront is a big step from its home business roots. 
 
Four Blank & Ten Design Group is opening inside the new Leopold Bloom & Co. when it opens this month. The business, which specializes in a blend of traditional and modern design, has been in operation in one form or another since 2005. Its growth has been based on word-of-mouth referrals, but Mick expects that to change when he's in a highly visible Old Town location.
 
"My main motivation was to get more business," Mick says. "This is easier to find for clients, and if you have a street presence, people wander in."
 
The business will open along with Leopold Bloom & Co. this Friday during an open house from 5:30 to 9pm in the new Grand River location. Mick, who currently also works for the State of Michigan, hopes to see his business continue to grow into a fulltime venture. 
 

Source: Jeremy Mick, Four Blank & Ten
Writer: Natalie Burg, Develoment News Editor

New Leaf Salad Bar offers fast and fresh food to Frandor area diners

Leaf Salad Bar may be the newest addition to the Frandor shopping area, but the restaurant has been a long time coming. In fact, local entrepreneur and owner of East Lansing's Showroom Shine, Mark Sprinkel first came up with the concept in 1991. 
 
"I wanted to do it then," he says. "I never got around to it because the other business kept me pretty busy. When this location presented itself, I knew if I didn't do it now, I'd never do it." 
 
And did he ever. Within a month and a half, Sprinkel grabbed the 1,000 square foot location, partnered with local restaurateur Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran and opened the doors of his new food concept: a gourmet salad bar for fast and healthy meals. 
 
In addition to offering 100 gourmet salad toppings for patrons to help themselves, weigh and pay by the pound, Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies. The response, says Sprinkel, has been nearly overwhelming. 
 
"The concept got around fast. We're crazy busy. We've only be open three weeks and we have regular clientele," he says. "We're profitable in our first month."
 
Leaf now has a staff of ten. The restaurant seats 15 inside, six outside, offering take out service. Sprinkel is already thinking of adding an Okemos location next year and hopes to franchise the business. 

Source: Mark Sprinkel, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Spherion brings unique staffing services to Old Town

Few things could be more optimistic signs for Lansing's job market than the opening of a new staffing agency. Spherion Staffing opened its doors in Old Town in July, and according to managing partner Brad Back, Lansing was just what the franchise's parent company, Randstad was looking for. 
 
"Lansing's market size is better serviced by an owner-operated store and we really liked what was happening with the Camero line being moved here," says Back. "We thought it was a great place to be in Michigan because of the diversity of industries here." 
 
After he and his wife both worked in corporate environments for some time. Back says he was attracted to Old Town because of the area's small town feel within the larger city. Similarly, the opportunity to own his own franchise allows him to exercise his entrepreneurial inclinations after working for Randstad for two years in Detroit. That small business feel, he says, will also be a benefit to clients. 
 
"We definitely have the service of an owner-occupied business, but the backing of a large corporation," Back syas. "A lot of these companies like the smaller service models, but sometimes you have to have the finances of a large company to staff these large customers." 
 
The 1,500 square foot Ranstad Staffing office is located at 106 E Grand River Ave in Lansing. The office has a staff of three, and Back says business in the first two months has exceeded expectations. 
 

Source: Brad Back, Spherion Staffing
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Velocipede Peddler peddles down Grand River to new East Lansing location

Mark Sanderson is good at keeping a secret. Long before the public learned a Whole Foods store would be coming to the Lansing area, he was in talks to sell his Grand River Ave. property to make way for the popular grocer. Now that the word is out, he has his own big news to share: his 38-year-old business, Velocipede Peddler is moving westward. 
 
"When I was right downtown [in East Lansing], I got lot of students, but I didn't have as many families," says Sanderson. "When I moved here, I lost some students, but gained a lot of families as clients. We felt this was an alternative where we can serve everyone."
 
The new home of the longtime bicycle business will be in a 4,800 square foot Brookfield Plaza space. Though the size will be similar to his current location, the layout will allow for an expansion of inventory and services. The new spot, between Bagger Dave's and Bikram Yoga Capital Area.
 
Though in a new location, Sanderson says customer can expect the same business ethic that has kept Velocipede Peddler in business for nearly four decades.
 
"I just try to give people want they want," he says. "I feel we have a really good service department. We have a friendly staff that is really knowledgeable."
 
Velocipede Peddler will open in its new location in early October. It currently employs a staff of eight to nine workers. Sanderson plans to hire a new mechanic and up to one additional staff member in the new location.
 

Source: Mark Sanderson, Velocipede Peddler
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Limner Press now front and center in Downtown Williamston

Limner Press is no stranger to Williamston, having made the town an artsier place for more than 25 years. The design, letterpress and art studio is now celebrating its new, more prominent location in the community – right in the center of downtown. 
 
"We moved because we had an opportunity to go onto Grand River," says Wendy Shaft, who owns Limner Press with her husband, Don Bixler. "Moving here has already increased our business."
 
Though slightly smaller than their longtime location, the downtown storefront has bolstered business in ways both expected and surprising. For instance, though the shop has always offered copier services, simply adding that to their sign on Grand River has attracted a steady stream of new customers. 
 
"Then they come in and see my art," says Shaft "and they see that I do wedding invitations. It's wonderful." 
 
Offering stellar customer service has always been, and continues to be at the center of Limner Press. – is currently working with her new lobby space to make it a cozy and inviting place for customers to meet and chat about their invitation and stationary needs. 
 
Limner Press moved to their new location in June. Shaft is looking forward to being a part of a growing community of wedding-related businesses in downtown Williamston. A collaboration of these store owners hope to offer a wedding-themed event this fall. 
 

Source: Wendy Shaft, Limner Press
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Capital Prime aims to be to-go steak restaurant in Lansing

With 31 years of restaurant experience that includes Beggar’s Banquet, Rick’s Café’, Harrison Roadhouse and The Nuthouse, Joseph Goodsir knew a gap in the local restaurant market when he saw it. 
 
"If you ask someone what's their favorite sushi place, they'd have an answer," says Goodsir. "If you ask people where their favorite place to get a steak is, it doesn't roll of the tongue."
 
Goodsir plans to change that with Capital Prime Steaks and Seafood in Eastwood Towne Center. The 250-seat restaurant will feature premium Certified Angus beef, free-range chicken, wild-caught fresh fish and seafood, and will have a focus on locally grown produce.
 
Though opening in the former Bar 30 location, Goodsir says Capital Prime will look and feel entirely different.
 
"It has a great feel," he says. "It's warm and inviting. If you were ever in Bar 30, when you walk into the place now, you won't recognize it."
 
Capital Prime is scheduled to have a soft opening at the end of August and a grand opening in September. Goodsir says one of the best features of the restaurant will be a talented and well-trained staff, which will number about 60. 


Source: Joseph Goodsir, Capital Prime
Writer: Natalie Burg

FLEX City Fitness doubles space with new Downtown Lansing location

It didn't take very long for FLEX City Fitness to hit its stride. Just a year and a half after opening, the small group fitness business is moving from its original, 1,000 square foot location to a new, 2,200 square foot space on Washington Square.
 
"We grew about 50 percent in our first year, and we just wanted to be able to accommodate the growth," says FLEX City Co-founder Jenny Quinn. "We also wanted to stay committed to Downtown Lansing. We really believe in what's going on here."
 
FLEX City Fitness combines the community support of class exercise with the attention of a personal trainer with small classes. The classes alternate cardio and strength training, and the workouts change so clients are always surprised with a new challenge. 
 
"We have indoor cycling, treadmills, barre and more," Quinn says. "The intervals change every day, the different pieces of equipment change, so it keeps people's bodies changing and guessing."
 
Along with the new space, FLEX is developing online classes for clients who may not be able to attend as often or students who may leave town during the summer. The new studio will also have new equipment to improve clients' experience.
 
FLEX City Fitness will open for its first class in the new location on Aug. 19. The business is operated by Quinn and her partner, Trista Parisian with the help of two interns. They hope to continue their growth to add new instructors in the future. 

Source: Jenny Quinn, FLEX Citiy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Downtown Barber brings artistic cuts to Williamston

Terianne Parks is a barber, but contrary to what some people think, that doesn't mean she only cuts men's hair; it means she's an expert in cuts in general.
 
"I think of myself as a sculptor," says Parks. "The reason I went to barber school instead of beauty school, is that it's more about the cut."
 
Parks is bringing that specialty to Williamston with her new shop, Downtown Barber, which opened on Grand River last week. The business offers cuts for men, women and children, as well as coloring, highlights, dreadlocks, extensions and straightening.
 
"We have the best prices from here to Downtown Lansing. We have the same price for men and women," Parks says. "I love cutting hair. It' how I serve the community."
 
Parks opened Downtown Barber in partnership with her sister and brother-in-law. She plans to hire two additional barbers to join her in the 850 square foot shop soon. 

Source: Terianne Parks, Downtown Barber
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Experience and style come to Old Town with Matthew Ryan Salon

Matthew Ryan Salon just opened in Old Town, but the owner, after whom the business is named, has been on a path to owning his own salon his entire life. 
 
"It's something I've always been drawn to," says owner Matthew Ryan. "It's just very natural for me to be drawn to hair." 
 
After managing a 60-stylist salon in Columbus, Ohio, Ryan moved to the Lansing area to be certified as a stylist himself at Douglas J. Upon finishing his courses, he knew we wanted to open his own place, an the 1,500 square foot Old Town location was the perfect fit. 
 
"It's a beautiful space, with exposed brick and hardwood floors," Ryan says. "Were right in the middle of Old Town, which is such an up-and-coming area. It's going in a really good direction." 
 
Matthew Ryan Salon opened about a month ago and employs five experienced stylists. Ryan hopes the salon will continue to grow and he may add additional services the business' offerings as it does. 
 

Source: Matthew Ryan, Matthew Ryan Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Mad Eagle grows jewelry line into new store with Clever Clover

Clever Clover began as a line of jewelry at East Lansing's Mad Eagle boutique. The collection of original jewelry designs gained such popularity that when a Grand River storefront recently opened up, it became its own shop. 
 
"We thought it was a good opportunity to focus on that jewelry line," says Tara Green, manager of Mad Eagle and Clever Clover. "It's less expensive than sterling silver, but it's really fun. 
 
Clever Clover opened up at 207 E. Grand River last month after renovations brought such artistic touches to the space as flooring made from up-cycled bleacher boards, jewelry cases from the former downtown Jacobson's and shelving made from reclaimed lumber.
 
"It's really important for us to emphasize recycling too," Green says. "We did it all ourselves, from finishing the floor to doing the walls, and everything else. It was a labor of love." 
 
In addition to the Clever Clover jewelry line, the new store features clothing, home goods, lotions and candles. Two new jobs have been created with the opening of the new shop. 

Source: Tara Green, Clever Clover
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Loudpixel moves into new East Lansing office space

Loudpixel has been a company that could be located anywhere since its beginning in 2009. Though family was a driving force in the Chicago-born company's move to East Lansing in 2011, it's been the city itself that has kept the growing company in town, a location has been further cemented by their recent move to a permanent location in The State News building. 
 
"Spending a few months working in Washington DC really gave us an appreciation for East Lansing. It's a nice place to run a business," says owner Allie Osmar. "We bought a house in East Lansing, and we like the idea that we can walk to work. We wanted to that urban lifestyle we'd come from."
 
Loudpixel has grown about 30 percent per year, a purposely moderate pace that Osmar says is intended to produce sustainability over growth at any cost. Even with intentionally slow growth, the social media monitoring, analysis and reporting company has added two part-time positions in the last two years and is currently in the process of hiring one more. 
 
Along with a new location, Loudpixel is also beginning to offer new services to their clients, such as industry reports and consumer discovery reports.  
 
"We're also really enjoying consumer discovery reports," Osmar says. "We can go in and really help companies understand who their customers are, what they care about, and what are their interests are."
 

Source: Allie Osmar, Loudpixel
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Second Tamaki restaurant rolls into East Lansing

Tamaki is on a roll. After opening the quick, custom-made sushi spot at Frandor Shopping Center last year, restaurateur Frank Cheng  is now opening two more. One will bring his unique twist on sushi to Ann Arbor, and another will open in East Lansing's Brookfield Plaza.
 
"We've been looking for a place in East Lansing for some time," says Cheng. "Our customers who frequent Tamaki love it, and they want it closer to their place." 
 
The 2,000 square foot E. Grand River location will feature the same mix of rice bowls, noodles and custom-made sushi as the original, and will look similar in terms of decor. According to Cheng, the convenience of affordable, quick sushi made to order is perfect for East Lansing, with its large number of international students.
 
Cheng hopes to start renovations on the space soon and open the new Tamaki in August. The restaurant will employ about ten workers and seat 40 to 50 diners. 
 

Source: Frank Cheng, Tamaki
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Fastlane Powersports celebrates ribbon cutting in Mason

With a new name and owner, the business formerly known as Grove's Motorsports in Mason has all sorts of change underway. Though owner Jeff Giles managed it, as well as other power sports retailers for years, fans of the store will find new products, service professionals and more at the newly unveiled Fastlane Powersports.
 
"The former owner of this location owned multiple stores, and I was the operation manager for all of them," says new owner Jeff Giles. "He was wanting to retire, so we came to an agreement."
 
Giles says the timing was right for him to take on ownership of his own store. Though he says the recession hit the "toy market" particularly hard, things are beginning to look up. 
 
"We had to survive some very tough times, and I truly believe the last couple of years have shown that we're moving in the right direction," says Giles. "Not everyone survived, so there's a lot less competition nowadays." 
 
Fastlane Powersports features all new parts and accessories, as well as new faces in the services and sales departments. With a staff of 10, Giles has added three new employees, and hopes to add another two to three in the upcoming months. He has already completed some interior renovations of the new store, and plans to start on exterior renovations soon.
 

Source: Jeff Giles
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ brings home cooking to W. Saginaw

There's good news for fan's of Uncle Larry's BBQ, formerly of Downtown Lansing. Owner Larry Piggee has taken his talents to W. Saginaw, opening  Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ last week in the former Turkeyman location. 
 
The 1,500 square foot restaurant serves the kind of homemade cooking Piggee learned from his parents and grandmother growing up. The barbeque recipes come from him father, and he credits his mother for teaching him about his delicious sides. 
 
"I've been cooking. I've been in kitchens since I was child," says Piggee. "My mother and grandmother always had me help the out."
 
In addition to his barbequed meets. Piggee offers mac and cheese, bacon cheddar salads, red beans and rice, and blueberry applesauce, with new rotating sides every week.
 
Piggee has been working to develop Piggee's Smokehouse and BBQ since April. He currently offers dine-in service and catering, and hopes to soon offer delivery as well. The new restaurant employs a staff of four. 
 

Source: Larry Piggee, Piggee's Smokehouse & BBQ
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

The Runway to return fashion to the Knapp's Building in 2014

For decades, when young fashion designers wanted to make it in the industry, the obvious decision was to pack up and move to New York, Paris, London or precious few other fashion-centric cities. Could Lansing be the next hot spot for aspiring designers?
 
If it sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that The Runway, Lansing's forthcoming fashion business incubator isn't being created in the hopes that fashion talent will find their way to the city; it's to begin harnessing all of the fashion-based entrepreneurship that is already here. 
 
"When Jeff Smith and I were came on, we were evaluating and were looking for a unique thing we don't have an incubator for yet," says Co-Director the New Economy Division for Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). We kept running into people who were starting their own fashion lines. There are a number of people who are getting formally trained in this area, and there are lot more people who are dabbling in it on the side."
 
On track to open in January of 2014, The Runway will soon be under construction in an 8,200 square foot space in the Knapp's Building, including a floor level and mezzanine level. The first floor will offer a flexible space for the designers in residence to sell their work, as well as events. The mezzanine level will include 13 offices.
 
Not only is The Runway a great fit for a community with so much fashion talent, says Szymusiak, but also because of the very building it will be a part of. 
 
"This is bringing fashion back to the most iconic department store in the area," he says. "The retail space for tenants will really bring that back to the Knapp's Building."
 
LEAP is the service provider for The Runway, which is funded by the Lansing Economic Development Corp. 


Source: Ken Szymusiak, LEAP
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Suburban Antiquarian celebrates ribbon cutting in Williamston

Marc Leigh has long been a collector, having worked refurbishing antique furniture for some time. When a move from Massachusetts to Michigan took him from one such job and being laid off ended his time with another, he decided it was time to go into the antique business for himself, opening the Suburban Antiquarian in Williamston
 
"A few years ago a local artist contacted Dr. Keller about turning his space into artist studios, and my wife was one of the first artists to rent a space up there," says Leigh. "Because of that I got to know Dr. Keller and everything just kind of fell into place."
 
In his 250 square foot space, Leigh sells some art, collectables, toys, vintage vinyl and furniture from his own collection, as well as from the inventory he collects at auctions and estate sales. 
 
"It's really just about anything I come across. I do have quite a bit of vintage vinyl," Leigh says. "There will always be something different when you go up there. I try to keep the store as fresh as possible."
 
The Suburban Antiquarian celebrated its ribbon cutting in June. Leigh recently launched a website for the store. 
 

Source: Marc Leigh, Suburban Antiquarian
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Longtime Lansing restaurant becomes Fireside Grill, expands footprint and staff

Fireside Grill is set to open in Dimondale in a couple of weeks, and area diners can expect to the restaurant to offer something new, as well as something familiar. After 17 years in business, Lansing's Barley's American Grill closed a few months ago, only to reopen under the new name in a new location and with a different style of food. 
 
"We're adding pasta dishes, fresh seafood and prime rib," says owner Ed Hall. "If you want fries, we'll have an Idaho potato right in front of us, we'll cut it up and fry it on the spot. Things will be more fresh." 
 
Hall intends for the emphasis to be on the food itself. While Barley's American Grill operated on about 50 percent alcohol sales, he hopes to see the food at Fireside Grill become front and center. The restaurant will have both a dining area as well as a pub area with different menus.
 
Fireside Grill will open in a 12,000 square foot location that is more than twice the size of Hall's former bar and restaurant. Hall hopes to capitalize on his new, Dimondale location as well. 
 
"There's nothing in this area," Hall says. "People are always driving through here to get to a restaurant somewhere else. I want to offer those people something on this side of town."
 
Hall will retain his Barley's American Grill staff, but will add about 25 new jobs to staff the new restaurant. Fireside Grill will open in two phases, first with a smaller dining area and abbreviated menu before the entire restaurant is open for business.


Source: Ed Hall, Fireside Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Michigan-based Franklin Vine to bring accessories and fun to Meridian Mall

If you think you think national chains are the only kind of retailer found in malls, a new store coming to Meridian Mall in August will surprise you. Franklin Vine, a women's accessory store in Ann Arbor's Briarwood Mall is opening a second location in Okemos. 
 
"We were contacted by Meridian Mall telling us about a great location and opportunity that was available," says owner Nicole Pierce. "After months of thought and consideration we came to a conclusion that Meridian Mall would be a great location for Franklin Vine." 
 
Pierce's story is nearly as unexpected than finding a small business in the mall. A graduate from Wayne State University in Life Science, Pierce couldn't find the job she wanted in her field, so she went from life science to retail science in 2011 with the opening of her first Franklin Vine. 
 
Pierce says the 900 square foot store in Meridian Mall will offer shoppers shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves, hats, and leggings that are fresh from big name designers. 
 
"We hand-pick our pieces, traveling to New York and LA often looking for pieces that big box stores and other boutiques do not offer," Pierce says. "We try and avoid ordering online; we like to see it and touch it before we buy it. Often we will have trends before they are even a trend in chains stores."
 
Franklin Vine will open in the first week of August and will employ a staff of five. In addition to retail inventory, the shop offers in-store parties and styling services for events. 

Source: Nicole Pierce, Franklin Vine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

REO Town to get old-timey with new Vintage Cafe

Lansing doesn't get more vintage than REO Town, making it the perfect place for Kait Medrano to open her forthcoming Vintage Café and Catering. That face that she's lived there her entire life didn't hurt either. 
 
"I'm a Southside Lansing-type person. I've owned a house about a quarter of a mile away from here since I was 19 years old," says Medrano. "I liked the fact that they're redoing the street down here, but keeping that old time, vintage, REO Town feel."
 
Medrano plans to open her 900 square foot S. Washington St. restaurant by August 1, though visitors will be invited in for a sneak peek on July 1 during the Board of Water and Light's Going Commercial Grand Opening. Patrons will get a chance to try her made-from-scratch cooking, such as monkey bread, roasted potatoes, quiche and coffee custom roasted for the restaurant. 
 
"We bake all our own baked goods. You can cut time, but you also cut flavor and quality," says Medrano, who worked as the catering supervisor for McLaren Greater Lansing until her position was eliminated. "Ever since I was eliminated, everyone asked, 'will you just cater somewhere else now?'"
 
Vintage Café will also feature catering and will host events. Medrano employs a staff of five and someday hopes to grow into a franchise. 

Source: Kait Medrano, Vintage Cafe and Catering
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

ASK expands with 1,700 sq ft addition, new staff

Lansing IT company ASK recently celebrated two milestones: the company's 20-year anniversary, and the 1,700 square foot expansion of their office on Sovereign Dr.
 
The expansion was a necessary one, as the company's growth trend has continued. Adding four new positions over the last year, ASK is now up to 21 employees. A great number of those are senior level technical consultants, which, says Maddox, allows the company to better serve customers. 
 
"We've added more staff again this year, so our growth has continued," says ASK President Mike Maddox. "What's really been nice about the expansion is having our two teams in the same network operation center, because there's a lot of natural collaboration between them."
 
The new space was made possible when a suite next to ASK vacated, and the company was able to work with landlord Dart Development to renovate the space to the IT firm's needs. Working with Lansing's DBI, ASK outfitted the expanded office with more collaborative and enjoyable workspaces. 
 
"It's a lot bigger and there's nice, floor-to-ceiling light," Maddox says. "The mood is elevated by virtue of the natural light, and then we put in a TV and game room for when they're here over weekends or waiting for things."
 
Maddox says he expects ASK to continue to grow over the next several years. The company will also be working to develop new ways to take advantage of newer technologies for their clients.

Source: Mike Maddox, ASK
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Head Room Salon doubles space, grows staff in new Old Town location

After 12 years of helping to grow and shape Old Town into the vibrant district it is today, one of its longtime tenants is doing some growing of her own. Kendra Cosme's Head Room Salon recently opened in a brand new space, doubling the popular salon's footprint. Though the jump in size was dramatic, Cosme's love of Old Town ensured that it wasn't a big move in terms of distance. 
 
"We were in Old Town back when it was a ghost down. There were no businesses around us. Everybody thought we were crazy for being there, but being in Old Town was the best decision I ever made." 
 
Despite pressure to look elsewhere, Cosme spent years looking for the right building to come available in Old Town. Finally, she purchased a 2,200 square foot space on N. Washington in August and her family set to work renovating it. 
 
"The building is beautiful," says Cosme. "It was really a family project. I had some ideas, but other people made them come to life." 
 
The $220,000 investment has doubled Head Room Salon in more ways than just space. Cosme's staff jumped from six to 10 employees, and she says there's room to add more in the future.
 

Source: Kendra Cosme, Head Room Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg

Williamston Sport & Spine brings family chiropractic business to Grand River

Chiropractic is in the blood of Krystal Siminski's family, having grown up with her father in the business. After becoming a chiropractor herself and working for her father in Owosso for some time, Siminski and her husband, fellow chiropractor Kyle Zimmerman, decided to open their own clinic. They're now celebrating the opening of Williamston Sport and Spine on W. Grand River. 
 
"My husband learned about Chiropractic through my family," says Siminski. "We just decided we wanted to branch out and start like my father did from the ground up." 
 
It was family that brought the new chiropractors to Williamston, as Simiski's sister also has a local business, the children's store Buttons and Beanstalks. The 700 square foot clinic opened three weeks ago. Williamston Sport and Spine offers several different chiropractic techniques, as well as massage therapy.
 
"We're very sports-minded, but we don't limit ourselves to that," Siminski says. 
 
Williamston Sport and Spine currently employs Siminski, Zimmerman and a receptionist, and they are looking to hire a fulltime massage therapist as well. 
 

Source: Krystal Siminski, Williamston Sport and Spine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

What Up Dawg? looks to expand into Downtown Lansing

The East Lansing restaurant known as the hot spot for hot dogs is continuing to grow with an eye on Downtown Lansing. What Up Dawg? recently expanded their sales with a new downtown hot dog cart, and is hoping to be the newest business in the bustling block of Michigan Ave. that includes The Loft and The Tin Can. 
 
"One of the owners of this building saw us and they really weren't interested in doing their own food, they just wanted to book musical acts," co-owner of What Up Dawg Seth Tompkins says. "They are trying to provide an atmosphere on that block where you can go to multiple venues all at the same stop." 
 
The new space would operate as a "What Up Dawg Express" says Tompkins, offering an abbreviated menu from a 400 square foot location. The format would be similar to other food businesses on the block, and be believes the location would be a great fit for What Up Dawg. 
 
"With the convention center there and all those bars, its great, and it's about two blocks from the Capitol," Tompkins says. "And what I really like about this location is that it's a good location in July, and good location in September."
 
While plans for the new location are still pending, Tompkins says he hopes to open by August if possible. In addition to the new staff member hired to operate the hot dog cart that is open daily on the corner of Washington and Ottawa downtown, the express restaurant would create two new positions. 
 

Source: Seth Tompkins, What Up Dawg?
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Black Box Tattoos brings creative energy, three jobs to Delta Twp.

When the only tattoo shop on Lansing's west side closed several months ago, local tattoo artist Troy Albert saw an opportunity to fill the void. He opened Black Box Tattoo Studio in a 1,600 square foot W. Saginaw space in April. 
 
"On this side of town there was only studio for a long time," says Albert. "After they closed up it was an opportunity to step into a place and raise the standard of the tattoos around here."
 
Albert's interest in his current career grew from his love of art, and he found his way to tattooing as a way to create a sustainable job in the arts. 
 
"There aren't too many job opportunities out there for artists," Albert says. "A lot of people do street art and murals and just have to be the starving artist. With tattooing, it's a good job where you can show your creativity and be who you are while doing it." 
 
Black Box Tattoo Studio employs three tattoo artists, and Albert says the staff's attention to detail and care paid to each customer sets the business apart. 
 
"We try to raise the bar," says Albert. "We really want to work with the customers, so they're very happy. We don’t like to rush tattoos."
 
Albert encourages people to visit the shop even if they're unsure about getting a tattoo, as he and his staff are happy to answer questions and talk about ideas. Examples of their work can be seen on the Black Box Tattoo Facebook page
 

Source: Troy Albert, Black Box Tattoo
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New resale shop opens on Southside, offers space to sellers

After reselling items of their own for some time, Al Labrecque and Karen Greer decided to make a business out of the practice, opening Alveda's Resale Shop on S. Waverly in March. 
 
"We wanted to open something on the south side of town, because there's nothing like this on this side of Lansing," says Labrecque. "We talked about it and decided to do it."
 
The new 1,200 square foot store sells a variety of new and resale items, including toys, collectables, electronics and more. In addition to selling their own items, Labrecque and Greer have 12 small rental booths for other resellers. Two booths are currently occupied, and the remainder are available for rental. 
 
"Our goal was to be different," Labrecque says. "I've been told we look at lot nicer and we have some better stuff than the other shops."
 
Alveda's Resale Shop will celebrate its grand opening this Friday. The store currently employs both owners, as well as receiving staffing help from a family member. 
 

Source: Al Labrecque, Alveda's Resale Shop
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Capitol City Scoop to open this week with MSU Dairy Store treats

Downtown Lansing's newest business brings something new as well as something familiar to the neighborhood. Capitol City Scoop will be downtown's only dedicated ice cream parlor, serving MSU Dairy Store ice cream and opened by the owner of Downtown Lansing's The Barberrettes and Coterie Purlieu, Felix Compos.
 
"I'm hungry," says Compos. "I think Downtown Lansing needs these businesses that I've chosen. The Lugnuts and other businesses sell ice cream, but no one specializes in it."
 
A longtime MSU fan with family connections to the university, when Compos started thinking about an ice cream store, he immediately thought of the MSU Dairy Store. It only took a phone call to get the partnership moving, and with the local creamery's involvement, Capitol City Scoop will serve more than just ice cream. 
 
"We're going to have a chef and he'll be doing some foods," Compos says. "Quick stuff you can eat for lunch. Some of it will be a little Southwestern. We're bringing in real tortilla from San Antonio."
 
Capitol City Scoop will have 12 to 16 flavors of ice cream, as well as cheeses and lunches made by the in-house chef. Similar to Compos other businesses, the shop has undergone significant renovation to fit his classy, signature style, including an upper level seating area.
 
The shop is set to open on Thursday with a grand opening planned for next Monday. Capitol City Scoop will employ a staff of up to six.  
 

Source: Felix Compos, Capitol City Scoop
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Between the Buns & More brings Michigan made treats to Holt

For three years, Ruben Garcia has been delivering Michigan made snacks and condiments to food retailers all over the state. His company, RG Distribution, began with his desire share the chips, salsas and cheese dips of his employer, El Azteco, with the world at farmers markets, events and in retailers. The company has grown, now carrying an assortment of tasty treats made here in the Mitten, and now he's going to be able to count his own store, Between the Buns and More
 
"Before we even started the distribution company, I wanted a storefront," says Garcia. "I kept running these things to people and seeing how good they're doing, so I went and got my LLC."
 
Between the Buns and More is soon opening in a 350 square foot space inside Holt's Incu-BaKe. The location will give Garcia a place to sell the products he distributes, as well as continue to connect with the producers at the incubator kitchen. 
 
"We kind of help them out," Garcia says. "That's our goal, to help people gain confidence to go push the stuff. That's the big exciting thing for them to see their product in a store." 
 
Garcia hopes to open Between the Buns and More this week. As the store becomes established he hopes to hire up to two employees to manage the operations. In addition to growing as a business, Garcia's goal is to use the store to raise funds for community groups and non-profits, including food banks and arts programs for kids. 
 

Source: Ruben Garcia, Between the Buns & More
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Plush Consignment quadruples space with new Williamston location

A year after opening her Williamston resale shop, Plush Consignments, Jamie Cripe is quadrupling the store's footprint in a new location just two buildings east of the original W. Grand River shop. 
 
"I love being in Williamston," says Cripe. "I just fell in love with the little downtown area and the people around here."
 
The new 1,400 square foot space will be quite a jump from the 350 square feet in which Plush Consignments got started, but the extra room is much needed, Cripe says. In the expanded location, shoppers will more easily be able to browse, look through clothes and move around. 
 
"It's a gorgeous space," Cripe says. "There's exposed brick on one side and lots of natural light coming in from the back and the front."
 
In addition to having more space to display her plus-sized consignment clothing and accessories, Cripe will be expanding her offerings, include some home décor, events and space for local artists to display their work. 
 
Plush Consignments will open this week in the new location. Cripe hopes the new location will help the store expand its audience, hours and eventually hire additional staff. 
 

Source: Jamie Cripe, Plush Consignments
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New downtown law firm focuses on the arts and non-profits

A background in theater arts, non-profit administration and law may not be a conventional career path, but it's what has made Katharine Hude's new law practice, Hude Legal Services, so special. 
 
"I love working with non-profits and artists because of my background," Hude says. "It's part of what makes me a little unique in terms of what legal service I offer."
 
A Lansing native, Hude opened her Seymour Ave. business in February in a building shared by other legal practices and non-profits. Her specialty extends beyond offering legal advice to those in arts and non-profit community, but also consultant services such as strategic planning and communications planning. 
 
"I think there are a lot opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs in the Lansing area," says Hude. "The arts community is being looked at more and more in terms of economic development and attracting talent. It's important." 
 
Hude hopes to continue to grow her new practice in Downtown Lansing. She hopes Hude Legal Services might in the future have a staff that may provide non-profits with administrative services the organizations may not be able to afford to maintain in-house. 
 

Source: Katharine Hude, Hude Legal Services
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Embassy Grill to triple size and staff with new W. Saginaw location

After four years in their current W. Saginaw location, the Embassy Grill is on the move. Though the new home won't be far – just three blocks down W. Saginaw to the Lansing Towne Center – the 4,000 square foot location will triple their dining capacity, as well as their staff. 
 
"We're hoping for more traffic," says General Manager Rick Badawi. "We're tucked into a corner here, but we'll be able to seat more than 140 there."
 
Work on the new Embassy Grill location has been underway since late 2012. The conversion will fairly dramatic to the former retail space that is now on it's way ot becoming a restaurant. Badawi says the atmosphere will echo the business' current look, but with the addition of patio seating and a separation between the dining and bar areas. 
 
The Embassy Grill specializes in Lebanese, Italian and American dining, though Badawi says their Lebanese food has become a particular favorite to their clientele. They hope the larger, more visible new location will bring even more new diners to the restaurant. 
 
The new Embassy Grill location is slated to open in June. With the expansion into the new space, Badawi expect to grow his staff from six to up to 20. 


Source: Rick Badawi, The Embassy Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
 

The Polish Deli brings fast, authentic cuisine to Okemos

The newest addition to the Meridian Mall food court is surprising in more than one way. First of all, it's no chain. The family-owned Polish Deli has been a successful independent business in Dearborn for more than a year. Owner Barbara Skonieczka had so much success, in fact, that Okemos is now home to the family's second location.
 
"We have new customers everyday," says Carol Piechowski of the Polish Deli. "People are just finding out about us. Everybody who stops by is glad to see us."
 
And though food at the Polish Deli can be ordered and served up in a hurry, the authentic Polish cuisine is anything but the typical fast food experience. Featuring homemade potato salads, perogie and more, the restaurant offers diners a unique dining experience. 
 
"We're more of a healthier fast food," Piechowski says. "Everything is homemade to order nothing is processed."
 
The Polish Deli opened in January and employs a staff of three. In addition to Polis fare, the restaurant carries such American dishes as chicken sandwiches, French fries and salads. 


Source: Carol Piechowski, The Polish Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids pizzeria to open downtown East Lansing location

Another popular Grand Rapids destination is coming soon to East Lansing. Just as construction on the new HopCat is getting underway, Peppino's Pizzeria and Sports Grill has announced it will occupy an approximately 11,500 square foot space in St. Anne's Lofts. The restaurant will include a first-floor dining area, as well as a second floor with a patio and three-season bar area and retractable garage doors.
 
"The upstairs will be the smaller portion, but it'll be a really happening spot," says Eric Tuinstra, Peppino's chief marketing officer. "Overall, it should look and feel a lot like our downtown location, with the brick, the televisions and the wood panel ceilings."
 
The pizzeria specializes in fresh, handmade foods. Tuinstra says opening an East Lansing location made sense, considering how many of their Grand Rapids-area patrons are MSU fans, and have suggested a Peppino's near campus would do well. 
 
"We just kept hearing that people [in downtown East Lansing] were starving for a good place to eat, with good, real food that is reasonably priced," says Tuinstra.
 
The East Lansing location will be the fourth full-service Peppino's Pizzeria, joining restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids, south Grand Rapids and Allendale. The franchise also includes six carryout restaurants. 
 
The Peppino's franchise is owned by founder Joe DiLeonardo, and the East Lansing location will be operated by franchisee Kris Elliot. Tuinstra expects the new restaurant will employ between 65 and 75 workers and will open in August. 


Source: Eric Tuinstra, Peppino's Pizzeria
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Hannah's Koney Island owner to open Athena's Diner on S. Cedar

Fans of Greek cuisine will have a new place to get their fix when the new Athena's Diner opens on S. Cedar St. in the former Jon's Country Burger building. The new restaurant, which will serve both Greek and American fare, will be owned by local restaurateur, Anton Prenaj. 
 
Area diners may be familiar with Prenaj's restaurant of eight years, Hannah’s Koney Island in East Lansing's Hannah Plaza. The new Athena's Diner, says Prenaj, will be both similar to and different from his existing restaurant.
 
"We will have great food, and our service will be very nice," he says. "It's not going to be a Coney Island, but it will be a family diner."
 
Prenaj hopes to open Athena's Diner in about one month, and expects to employ a staff of about 15 employees.  
 

Source: Anton Prenaj, Athena's Diner
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Bikram Yoga Capital Area to be region's first, opening in East Lansing

Ann Chrapkiewicz still remembers how she felts after her first Bikram Yoga class in 2003. 
 
"My whole body seemed to be functioning in a different way," she says. "I felt so good so quickly that I couldn't stay away."  
 
Chrapkiewicz immediately began practicing six days a week, and a year later attended Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles. After teaching at Bikram Yoga studios throughout the state, she's now opening her own business, Bikram Yoga Capital Area (BYCA) right in East Lansing's Brookfield Plaza. 
 
The 3,600 square foot studio is now under construction, transforming from a former grocery store space to a studio for yoga practiced at 105-degree heat and 40 percent humidity. The renovations include flooring, lighting, a new sound system, mirrors, new showers and changing rooms. 
 
Chrapkiewicz, who moved to the area five years ago to begin work on a doctoral degree in anthropology at MSU, says the nearest Bikram Yoga studio is 60 miles away. 
 
Bikram Yoga students all around the state of Michigan have been asking for a studio here for nearly as many years," says Chrapkiewicz. "So, after a long wait, the capital region and MSU will have access to this yoga."
 
BYCA will open in mid-June offering more than Bikram's Beginning Yoga class 30 classes each week. The studio will begin with a staff of five teachers with the support of four out-of-town instructors teaching occasional classes. 
 

Source: Ann Chrapkiewicz, Bikram Yoga Capital Area
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Park Dental Okemos opens in Doctor's Approach building

The healthcare services at the new Doctor's Approach building in Okemos have expanded with the opening of Park Dental Okemos inside the facility. The practice is owned by Dr. Wallace Walker, who has practiced dentistry in the Metro Detroit area for more than 30 years. 
 
Park Dental Okemos offers traditional family dentistry, as well as additional services some dentists refer out to other practices, including wisdom teeth removal. 
 
"Dr. Walker has taken courses to expand his knowledge," says Veronica Isham, office manager for Park Dental Okemos. "He does that continuously."
 
In addition to extra services, Isham says what makes Dr. Walker's practice unique is his laid-back, friendly personality. 
 
Park Dental Okemos opened on March 1 and is currently open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of each month and employs a staff of four. Isham says Dr. Walker hopes to expand to fulltime hours as the new practice grows. 
 

Source: Veronica Isham, Park Dental Okemos
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Family ice cream business connects with community in Dewitt

The Dalman family has long had a dream of running an ice cream shop, and now that plan has come to fruition in their hometown of Dewitt with iScream. The new 1,000 square foot shop serves ice cream, soft serve and low-calorie, high-vitamin smoothies. 
 
"We are in the center of Dewitt," says Max Dalman, who manages the store owned by his parents. "We're right by the schools, and are tons of neighborhoods over here." 
 
The Dalmans have been working on iScream since last fall, and the ice scream shop opened about a month ago. The shop currently employs a staff of eight. Despite the snowy weather during their opening, the community has come out to support the business, and they've found themselves even busier than expected. 
 
The concept of iScream includes reciprocating that community support. The Dalmans also have a smoothie booth that they bring to local events to offer smoothies to attendees. The organization running the event receives a portion of the proceeds of every smoothie sold. 
 
"We're in it for the fun," says Dalman. "We're trying to keep prices as low as we can and offer the best we can to the community."

Source: Max Dalman, iScream
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

87-year-old Apothecary Shop opens new Grand Ledge location

For 87 years, the Apothecary Shop has been serving the Lansing community. When an independent pharmacist in Grand Ledge retired and sold his business to a big box pharmacy, it became an opportunity for the long established business to expand it reach. 
 
"We have seen [Grand Ledge] customers driving all the way up to Lansing to see us because they like the service of the independent pharmacy," says Nag Yeasu, pharmacist with the new Apothecary Shop at Grand Ledge. "We decided we had the opportunity to open our second location." 
 
The new Apothecary Shop opened in April in a 1,400 square foot location on Charlevoix Dr. in Grand Ledge. It's proximity to other, big name pharmacies, says Nag Yeasu will work as a benefit to the new store. 
 
"People have to come to this corner to get their medicine already," says Yeasu. "If they know that this is the best service in the town, they will go to the independent pharmacy."
 
Those exclusive services include home delivery of medications, quick turnaround on prescriptions and personal customer service from a consistent staff. The Apothecary Shop also offers a service that many pharmacies long ago abandoned: mixing custom compounds for patients with special prescription needs. Yeasu adds that clients can always expect a human to answer the phone. 
 
The Apothecary Shop will celebrate its grand opening today. The pharmacy currently employs a staff of four, and Yeasu hopes to grow that number as the business continues to develop. 
 

Source: Nag Yeasu, Apothecary Shop of Grand Ledge
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New contemporary Italian restaurant seeks to bring new dining experience to Okemos

A different kind of restaurateur is planning to bring a different kind of dining experience to the Lansing area with Tannin, a new restaurant coming to Marsh Rd. in Okemos this spring. 
 
"We love interesting, novel food for their own sake," says Tannin owner Chris Roelofs. "We hope to make money, but our goal, first and foremost, is to make great food." 
 
Roelofs was a Ph.D. candidate in political theory while working at a restaurant in Williamston before taking the leap to going into business for himself. He and partner James Sumpter hope to add something new to the Lansing dining scene. 
 
"We really want to raise the level of food discourse in the area," says Roelofs. " One of the many aspirations I have is to produce a level of food that would be considered excellent in any location."
 
Tannin will open in a 2,500 square foot space on Marsh Rd. in late May. The restaurant will feature a unique menu of contemporary Italian dishes as well as influences by other cultures. Roelofs says in-house ingredients will be key to their identity, and even on-site cured meats and cheeses will be integrated into the menu over the next six months to two years. 
 
Tannin will employ 15 to 20 workers upon opening. 
 

Source: Chris Roelofs, Tannin
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

NBO Medical expands into new 6,000 sq ft office

NBO Medical launched in Lansing two years ago with the idea that people needed better access to a new treatment option for neuropathy. Now, with offices in Brighton, Flint, Grand Rapids and Naples, Florida, NBO Medical has serviced 5,000 patients suffering from numbness, pain, tingling and discomfort. That number is set to rise with NBO Medical's expansion into a larger facility on Belle Chase Way.
 
The quick expansion of NBO Medical is undoubtedly connected to its innovative treatment of neuropathy, which treats nerve damage, rather than attempting to mask symptoms through medication. Though medication is still considered the conventional treatment for neuropathy, says NBO Medical founder Dr. Paul DeWeiss, it comes with side effects, and it is only beneficial in about half of patients. 
 
"Because of the way neuropathy is currently treated, people have this chronic, degenerative condition, so their life shrivels up," says DeWeiss. "They stop playing tennis, they stop walking the dog, they aren't as socially active, so there is a lot of insolation and depression. It's been very gratifying to see people get their life back." 
 
NBO Medical opened the doors to their new 6,000 square foot facility in December. That's quite a jump from the company's original, 400 square foot office in East Lansing. After outgrowing their first office, NBO moved to Jolly Road, but now plans to continue to grow in their new location. 
 
Now with a staff of 15, DeWeiss says his staff has grown about 25 percent over the past year, and he expects continued growth in the future. The Lansing facility is home to both his local practice, as well as the administrative staff servicing all of his offices. DeWeiss plans to grow his number of offices, including a future Florida office, as well as a possible forthcoming partnership with a Metro Detroit area hospital. 

Source: Dr. Paul DeWeiss, NBO Medical
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Buttons and Beanstalks brings kiddie chic to Williamston

As a stay-at-home mom, Danielle Mackay loved to shop for her kids at children's boutiques, but kept running into the same problem: there just weren't enough options for boys. As both of Mackay's children are boys, this posed a problem for a boutique shopper like herself that she was determined to solve. Her answer was opening Buttons and Beanstalks.
 
"I do everything one-for-one between girls and boys," says Mackay. "I carry a lot of accessories that are really hard to find. I hand-make a lot of the hair ties and ties for little boys."
 
The children's boutique began online about a year ago, and has now expanded into a physical shop in Williamston's Keller Plaza. The new Buttons and Beanstalks opened on April 13 in a 220 square foot shop.
 
"I like that it is all indoors," Mackay says. "The size of the space is perfect."
 
Mackay now operates the shop on limited hours, but hopes to soon expand into full retail hours. She anticipates hiring up to three employees once Button and Beanstalks has expanded its hours. 

Source: Danielle Mackay, Buttons and Beanstalks
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Southside Tattoos opens westside location as Noble Ink

According to manager Roxy Hayes, the newly opened Noble Ink on W. Saginaw isn't your ordinary tattoo shop. 
 
"We're all very family oriented," she says. "We're not that stereotypical idea of tattoo shop."
 
Noble Ink is owned by Southside Tattoos owner Bill Brown who had a vision top open a new location on Lansing's Westside. Hayes says fans of the original shop will recognize the same level of cleanliness, skill and personable service at Noble Ink with a new aesthetic. 
 
"We have a lot of cool, aged décor," says Hayes. "A lot of local shops are darker with dark imagery on the walls. We have decorative mirrors and very old, cool tchotchkes everywhere."
 
Work on Noble Ink has been underway for a couple of months, and the new shop opened in March. The business currently employs three tattoo artists and one piercer. Hayes says the staff is looking forward to building a new clientele base on the west side of town. 
 

Source: Roxy Hayes, Noble Ink
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Michael's opens in former Brannigan Brothers space

Now on its third identity in the last year, the former Brannigan Brothers location in Downtown Lansing recently opened as a new restaurant and bar called Michael's. According to bartender Benjamin May, the new name comes with a classier atmosphere.
 
"We have a lot more top shelf alcohol," he says. " We're trying to attract a different crowd, a little bit older, such as the grad students at Cooley."
 
The restaurant's interior has been completely renovated since its time as Brannigan Brothers. Michael's now features live blues music on Wednesday nights and is also focusing on catering to sports fans with several TVs, as well as the local lunch crowd. 
 
Michaels currently employs a staff of approximately 14, and May says the new business has been busy since their opening in mid-March. 
 
"It's been a lot busier since the new owner has come in," he says. "We've got a pretty awesome staff."
 
May says Michael's hopes to soon add live music on the weekends in addition to Wednesdays. 
 

Source: Benjamin May, Michael's
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Beyond the Fleece expands in Williamston

Less than a year after moving into Williamston's Keller's Plaza, the family-owned specialty yarn shop Beyond the Fleece has already expanded into a new location. 
 
"We had great interest in store in Keller's Plaza, but we had many customers that were not able to climb the stairs," says owner Jill Blain. "I had also run out of room."
 
The shop's new, 2,000 square foot home on Grand River more than quadruples Blain's former location. The additional space allows Blain to do all of her fiber dying in the store, as well as provides a larger classroom area. 
 
Beyond the Fleece is an outgrowth from the Blain family farm, Frosty Acres where Blain and her husband Brandon raise fiber animals, including lamas, alpaca, angora goats, Shetland sheep and angora rabbits to make handspun and dyed yarns. 
 
"We support local artists and are a natural fiber store," says Blain. "We love to encourage the use of natural fiber and support local farmers."
 
The new Beyond the Fleece location opened on March 5. The store has grown in several ways over the past year, including carrying spinning wheels, looms, drum carders, and other yarn crafting accessories. The store also offers a variety of classes, workshops and lessons, and sells products from local artists in their in-store Michigan Fiber Artist Shoppe within the store.
 
 

Source: Jill Blain, Beyond the Fleece
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Howell's Jonna's 2 Go to expand to East Lansing

Jonna's 2 Go is a familiar brand a short drive east down I-96, with two locations in Howell. The popular party store is expanding westward with its first East Lansing store on Michigan Ave. in the former 24/7 convenience store. 
 
"We've always loved this area," says Anthony Jonna, manager partner of Jonna's 2 Go. "We're the biggest Spartan fans in the world." 
 
The East Lansing Jonna's 2 Go will be the fifth outlet of the Jonna family business, with two Jonna's Market stores in West Bloomfield and Taylor. The party store specializes in homemade pizza, sandwiches, salads and other deli items, along with craft beer and wine. 
 
"We're going to pay special attention to this one," says Jonna. "It'll really pop. I don't think anybody in the area will have seen anything like it." 
 
Work on the renovations is currently underway, and Jonna expects the store to open in the next few weeks. Jonna's 2 Go will employ about a dozen workers. 
 

Source: Anthony Jonna, Jonna's 2 Go
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Frozen yogurt and sweet bun shops come to Downtown East Lansing

East Lansing just got sweeter in two new ways with the opening of Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns on E. Grand River downtown. Kayla Nguyen brought the frozen yogurt and sweet bun stores together under one roof on March 7. 
 
"I went to visit my friend in California and I fell in love with frozen yogurt," says franchisee of both businesses, Nguyen. "It's non- or low-fat and it's good for digestion."
 
Located in a 1,800 square foot, second floor location next to Yoga State, Nguyen built out Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns to be a place where students can comfortably relax, study or hangout between or after classes. 
 
"I designed it to be more like a lounge," she says. "I personally prefer places like that, where students can move the tables together and come and do their homework."
 
Tutti Frutti offers frozen yogurt with a topping bar containing 50 choices of toppings. O' My Buns offers plain or cream cheese-filled buns with either coffee or vanilla topping. 
 
Nguyen currently employs a staff of three across the two stores, but plans to soon grow to 12 to 15 employees. 
 

Source: Kayla Nguyen, Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

MODI Gallery offers new option for local artists

It began with Brendan Martin's desire to find the right place to show his own work, but now into its second show on Michigan Ave., the new MODI Art Gallery has the potential to become much more. 
 
After moving back to the Lansing area where he grew up after living in Philadelphia and studying art in New York, Martin noticed a gap in the local arts scene.
 
"There are [local galleries] with older, more accomplished artists, and others that sell postcards and jewelry," says Martin. "There isn't a professional environment for young, emerging artists. We wanted to be a tradition style gallery with one show per month." 
 
Together with partner Pat Abood, Martin set about changing that with the 600 square foot space at 605 E. Michigan Ave. A former medical marijuana dispensary, the pair invested some serious time and elbow grease into the storefront to transform it into a gallery, aided by funds raised on Kickstarter. 
 
MODI Gallery opened with a showing of Martin's work on Feb. 1. A second month-long showing is now underway, and artists have expressed interest in showing in April as well. That all depends, says Martin, on how MODI continues to take shape as an organization, as he hopes it will become more of a community project than a proprietorship.
 
"We want to stay open and be able to let people show there," he says. "We're looking at how we can do that." 
 
Martin is optimistic about MODI's future. He and Abood have already partnered with such organizations as the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and Lansing Art Works. 


Source: Brendan Martin, MODI Art Gallery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Williamston bridal offerings complete with Wedding Gallery

Dawn-Marie Joseph knows a thing or two about Williamston, having opened the popular Gracie's Place and Vivee’s Floral Garden and Café. One thing she's known for some time is that the town is becoming a destination for wedding businesses, with florists, caterers, invitation printers and a new cake shop. There's just one thing missing: a bridal shop. 
 
Joseph and partner Tina Benington will change that in April with the opening of The Wedding Gallery at the corner of Grand River and Putnam in Downtown Williamston. 
 
"What we really found in our research is basically customer service is key," says Joseph. "That business is 100 percent about the customers. We're not going to have every dress in the bridal magazines, but we'll work our hardest to find it for them, for what they can afford." 
 
To really complete the town's collection of wedding vendors, the building will also include Gallery Travel, a travel agency.
 
"The building offered me the opportunity, so right across from the bridal shop, we'll have the travel agency," says Joseph. "So, we'll be able to book honeymoons for our brides."
 
The Wedding Gallery and Gallery Travel will both open in April, sharing about 3,000 square feet of space and employing staffs of about three and two, respectively, in addition to Joseph and Benington. 
 

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, The Wedding Gallery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Blowout bar trend hits East Lansing with Salon Karma

The new Salon Karma brings hairstyling secrets from all over the U.S. to East Lansing. First, there's owner Dawnn Gibson, who brought her talents to the Lansing area from Toledo about six years ago. Then, the salon is also a blowout bar offering a shampoo, blow-dry and one of six chic styles. 
 
"The blowout bar came after us opening," says Gibson of the 2,200 square foot Salon Karma, which opened in December. "The idea came from an outside source form Arizona. I got online, and I saw that this is really big all over."
 
The idea, Gibson says, is to offer regular salon services to women that mimics the atmosphere of salons of years gone by, with ladies coming in weekly or monthly for a style and to socialize with friends. 
 
"We're working on getting a liquor license so people can have a beer or wine and relax while they're here," says Gibson. 
 
Salon Karma is located in the former location of Panopoulos Salon on Lake Lansing Rd. The business also offers regular salon services, including men's styles, nails, tanning, and aesthetician services. Gibson currently employs a staff of eight. 
 

Source: Dawnn Gibson, Salon Karma
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Williamston Barbell Club brings powerlifting to 2,800 sq ft Grand River space

Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club is a new kind of gym for the area, offering a focus on powerlifting, as well as other workout options such as classes and cardio. The venture is another project from Grace's Place owner Dawn-Marie Joseph and her partners. 
 
The 2,800 square foot facility at 350 W. Grand River Ave. has been under renovation for about three months and is now open for new members. While the gym is a new business for the family, Joseph says they also see the Williamston Barbell Club as a benefit for the community. 
 
"The gym will partly be used for goodwill," she says. "We'll have powerlifting, classes and kids' yoga here. People from LCC and different organizations have gotten in touch with us. We'll do boxing and different competitions."
 
With vacant land adjacent to the property, the partners have plans to add outdoor activities to their services, such as volleyball and outdoor powerlifting. 
 
The partners have invested about $200,000 into the renovation project, and hope to continue improving the facility, perhaps adding a screened-in workout area facing the Red Cedar River in the future. Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club currently employs a staff of three, in addition to contracted trainers and the four partners.
 
"It's a nice thing that my family is really involved," says Joseph. "It's nice that we're in a potion that we can work with our family the way we do." 
 

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Old Town General Store to bring specialty groceries to former Redhead space

With all of the growth Old Town has experienced over the past decade, one type of business has been missing from the mix of retail, dining and service that has been drawing people to the neighborhood: a grocery store.
 
Maria Van Atta is looking to soon change that void, giving Old Town residents and workers a place to pick up specialty foods, fresh produce and more with the forthcoming Old Town General Store.
 
"We have somewhat of a food desert here in Old Town," Van Atta says, "and I think if I can create a little oasis of reasonably-priced healthy, and tasty, specialty foods, the Old Town General Store will do quite well." 
 
The idea for the General Store began several years ago when Van Atta made a career change and searching for a new venture that would appeal to her sense of community and appreciation of nature.
 
"I enjoy and appreciate the goodness of nature, a sense of community and giving back, and supporting the local economy as much as possible," says Van Atta. "A general store has traditionally been a gathering place, where you would find interesting and unexpected things as well as convenience items." 
 
The 1,500 square foot E. Grand River location will do just with specialty foods, fresh produce, beer, and wine, with an emphasis on Michigan companies and sustainable and organic items. The Old Town General Store is expected to open May 3, and celebrate a grand opening on June 15. Van Atta plans to employ a staff of approximately four part-time workers at the store. 

Source: Maria Van Atta, Old Town General Store
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Renowned interior designer opens Downtown Lansing studio

Just when it seemed Downtown Lansing's 113 S. Washington Sq. couldn't get any more chic, the second floor of My Sista's Boutique is now the home of Kendra Dennis Designs, an interior design and event planning firm with a notable history in the industry.
 
Before arriving in Lansing, Kendra Dennis made a name for herself as "Designer of the Year" in 2003 by the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as the Certified Interior Designers in 2005. Dennis has appeared on HGTV’s Home and Garden Show and has been the featured designer on TV One’s hot renovation show, Divine Restoration.
 
"I think I always was kind of a designer, from a child," says Dennis. "I was always creating. It was a gift I already I had, and I turned it into a business."
 
The renowned designer grew up in Texas, but now joins her sister – My Sista's Boutique owner, Tina Robinson – in Downtown Lansing. Kendra Dennis Designs offers residential and commercial design, as well as special event planning
 
"Commercial is less stressful but my heart lies in residential," Dennis says. "It's an emotional renovation. I also do custom furniture design."
 
Kendra Dennis Designs opened in the 2,500 S. Washington Sq. space in December and celebrated their grand opening March 1. Dennis employs a staff of three, and also provides space for a boutique of her daughter's work, fashion designer Tanesa Peterson.

Source: Kendra Dennis, Kendra Dennis Design
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Family owned Save-a-Lot to become Monticello's Market

While big changes are in the works at the Bath Twp. Save-a-Lot location, one thing about the forthcoming grocery store, Monticello's Market, will remain the same: it'll still be local, family-owned business. 
 
"Our customers love coming to us because they know us. They know our kids," says Margie Potter. "We're here all the time during construction, and they'll see our car here, and stop by to how it's going. So that's really been fun." 
 
The building on Marsh Road in fact was even a grocery store owned by the Potter family before it became a Save-a-Lot 18 years ago. While keeping that tradition alive, the Potters will be brining a whole new look, feel and grocery offering to their customers. 
 
"I really want a whole different feel than a discount store," says Potter. "It's not that our prices are going to be high, but I want it to be beautiful. I want it to be warm and inviting, and a fun destination for people to come and have a great time."
 
The 10,000 square foot store is now under construction, which will include a deli counter and a small addition to expand the grocery store's footprint. In developing their vision for Monticello's Market, the Potters visited such popular grocery stores as Trader Joe's
 
The new market will feature Michigan products, as well as the wide selection of plants the Potters' customers have come to expect from the family business. Though the interior of the store is not expected to be ready to open before June or July, Monticello's will begin selling plants in April. Potter plans to employ a staff of about 12 in the new market. 
 

Source: Margie Potter, Monitcello's Market
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Okemos to be home to third Sugar Berry location

There's no denying it. Lansing loves Sugar Berry. Affection for the frozen yogurt shop is only growing, as is the business itself. Less than three years after opening the first Sugar Berry in Frandor, a third location is set to open soon in Okemos. 
 
After opening her second Sugar Berry on West Saginaw last year, owner Ann Nguyen could tell that demand for yet another location was still high. 
 
"A lot of people are coming from all sorts of directions for Sugar Berry," she says, "so I thought another one would make it easier for people. Okemos seems to be a really fun place for one." 
 
Work on the 1,500 square foot location near the corner of Okemos Road and Grand River is now underway. Nguyen says everything will be built new, including bathrooms, countertops and topping stations.
 
"I love the four-way traffic that is right there," she says. "The location is pretty good, and it's nice and bright." 
 
Nguyen hopes to open the store with April with about eight employees. The Okemos store will feature Sugar Berry's newest offering, bubble tea, which will soon be available across all three locations. 
 
Nguyen intends to open more Lansing-area businesses, but plans to expand beyond frozen yogurt in her next venture. Though not ready to release specific plans yet, she promises the new business will, just as Sugar Berry did, bring a new business concept to the area.
 

Source: Ann Nguyen, Sugar Berry
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Blue Button Bakery to bring breads, jobs to Williamston

A new bakery is in the works in Downtown Williamston, and the name behind it is one that is sure to get few people excited. Gracie's Place, the popular Putnam St. eatery will be opening the Blue Button Bakery by the end of this month, which will supply the restaurant's breads as well as other offerings to shoppers. 
 
"It'll have your regular things like bagels, different types of breads, and it'll also have pasties and sweets as well," says Gracie’s General Manager Ben Donnelly. "We're kicking around the idea of gelato."
 
The 1,600 square foot bakery will also house Gracie's catering business, as well as supply breads to other local restaurants. Donnelly hopes the Blue Button Bakery will eventually sell their breads in local grocery stores. 
 
"We're really just looking to offer the local area finer quality products," Donnelly says, "and make it available more locally so you don't have to drive so far to get that kind of quality."
 
Work on the Blue Button Bakery is now underway, and Donnelly hopes it will be ready to open by the end of March. He expect about ten employees to staff the bakery. 


Source: Ben Donnelly, Gracie's Place/Blue Button Bakery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Chic homegoods store expands into its own Old Town space

When Bradly Rakowski first launched his shop, Bradly's Home and Garden, it was in one corner of Old Town's Absolute Gallery. Now, just 14 months later, he's expanding into his very own location right in the same neighborhood. 
 
"It's still a small space, but it's manageable," says Rakowski. "It was kind of the next step in the progression of my business. I've been able to expand my lines."
 
The new Bradly's Home and Garden opened last week in a 500 square foot space in the Thelma Joyce Osteen Comfort Station recently purchased and renovated by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. The MHPN now occupies the remaining portion of the building. 
 
"Old Town is great," Rakowski says. "There is a lot of food traffic in here, and people are looking for something unique. With the Mole Hole closing, I sort of fit that niche."
 
Rakowski's shop offers a variety of artistic home and garden goods, including wreaths, furniture, jewelry, pet accessories, artisan soaps and more. 
 
"It's kind of a mix of a rustic and glamour types," he says. "We'll have something made of high-end polished nickel and pair with something rustic."
 
Bradly's Home and Garden will celebrate its grand opening along with MHPN later this month. 


Source: Bradly Rakowski, Bradly's Home and Garden
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Wandering Waffles brings all-day breakfast to City Market

If you think waffles are sit-down-breakfast food only, the forthcoming Wandering Waffles at the Lansing City Market would ask you to think again. 
 
Samantha Wilbur says she always comes up with big ideas while her military husband was deployed, and every time he'd come home, he would talk her back down to earth. But when she came up with an idea for a food truck, he totally agreed. 
 
"I said, 'You're supposed to tell me no!'" says Wilbur. "But he said he thought it was a great idea, so I started looking into the process."
 
As the idea for Wandering Waffles developed, it morphed from a food truck concept to a Lansing City Market business. Wanting to serve the after-bar crowd, Wilbur decided a permanent location without restrictions on nighttime hours was the way to go.
 
What kind of waffles does one eat at 1 a.m.?
 
"We do bacon, deli meat and cheese," Wilbur says. "We also have a pizza waffle with homemade tomato sauce."
 
The homemade waffle toppings will also include more traditional flavors of caramel and marshmallow fluff, all made with as many local ingredients as Wilbur can get her hands on. Wandering Waffles will also offer gluten free waffles and toppings.
 
The 430 square foot City Market restaurant is expected to open soon, with Wilbur and two other workers behind the counter. The entrepreneur hopes to see the concept grow into multiple locations in the future. 
 

Source: Samantha Wilbur, Wandering Waffles
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Asian Express to join Okemos Dairy for carryout and dine-in

Okemos Dairy has been a longtime neighborhood favorite on Okemos Road. Starting next week, in addition to delicious ice creams, visitors to the location will be able to enjoy a meal along with their dessert at Asian Express. 
 
Ginny Cheung isn't new to the restaurant business. She and her husband owned Golden Wok restaurants, first in Adrian and then in East Lansing. But when the couple's children graduated from college and moved away, they were looking for a smaller operation to simplify their lives. 
 
"I want to have a small family restaurant with my husband," Cheung says. "I want to have a day or off or vacation when we want to" 
 
The 1,200 square foot location adjacent to the Okemos Dairy will feature carryout and a small amount of seating for dine-in customers, with seats for about 16 inside, and, when the weather improves, additional patio seating. The menu will be similar to Cheung's Golden Wok entrees. 
 
"Everything is fresh," says Cheung. "All of the vegetables are chopped here, and nothing cooked ahead."
 
Cheung chose the Okemos location because of her fondness for the neighborhood where here kids attended high school. Cheung and her husband will open Asian Express with a staff of four. 
 

Source: Ginny Cheung, Asian Express
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Business resource center, incubator hybrid opens in Downtown Okemos

The Meridian Asset Resource Center may have only recently made its debut in Downtown Okemos, but the concept has been around for some time. Originally a part of the Meridian Township Economic Development Corporation, the MARC has been offering business counseling at the Okemos Capital Area District Library for some time. 
 
Now under the Meridian Area Business Association, MARC has opened a 5,500 square foot office on Okemos Rd. The hybrid resource center and incubator offers temporary office space, meeting areas and other facilities for local entrepreneurs. 
 
"From the very beginning, we talked with [other area incubators and economic development organizations," says MARC Program Director Marsha Madle. "We've asked, 'Where is there a gap?' We want to have something that isn't duplicative, but will fit into that existing network." 
 
The MARC opened on Feb. 11 with a staff of three. In addition to Madle, Craig Allen serves as director of operations, and Malinda Barr is MARC's director of sales and promotions. Through April, MARC will offer free drop-in space.
 
"We want people to stop in and tell us how they can use it," says Madle.
 
The future goals of MARC include establishing ongoing programs, classes and events, providing dedicated, shared and open workspace for users, partnering with other organizations and becoming financially sustainable. 

Source: Marsha Madle, MARC
Writer: Natalie Burg, Develoment News Editor

Iron Quest to expand facility, services with 700 sq ft addition

Jason McCammon is on a quest to spread health and wellness throughout the Lansing area, and he's making more and more progress each year. The owner of Iron Quest Fitness is now planning a 1,250 square foot expansion of his facility this year. 
 
Iron Quest opened their current 4,500 square foot location at 2510 E Michigan Ave in July of 2010, offering a new kind of fitness option for the area. The business exclusively features one-on-one training in weight management, muscular development, sports performance and holistic wellness. According to McCammon, the need to expand says a great deal about the success of the approach.
 
"The concept we have there is so unique and the outcomes people get are so much above average," McCammon says. "It keeps on snowballing. You actually get them feeling better. They can't help but tell other people."
 
McCammon expects to begin construction in March or April, and has a goal of opening this summer. The new space won't simply be additional room for their existing activities, but will act as a multi-use area for classes, seminars and athletic training. 
 
"We'll expand our brand with classes," he says. "We may even do workshops, where I bring in people to do a talk." 
 
Along with the expansion, McCammon expectsto grow his staff as well, with plans to bring on up to five new instructors. His own skill set is expanding as well. McCammon is a currently working towards a degree in holistic health. 
 

Source: Jason McCammon, Iron Quest Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Arty Party brings local arts, events to Downtown Okemos

If you like art and having a good time, it's hard to think of anything that would sound more fun than an Arty Party. Artist Vivian Dwyer and her partners Susie Brewster and Leslie Raven are hoping Lansing area residents and visitors will agree when visiting their new Arty Party Studio in Downtown Okemos. 
 
"It's very homey here," says Dwyer. "It doesn’t look like a store. It's very bright and cheery."
 
Arty Party will feature both handmade art for sale, and art events including classes and art parties, during which guests will enjoy catered foods and learn how to make their own piece of art.
 
"A lot of things can be ordered," says Dwyer. "Everything in here is handmade."
 
The idea for Arty Party began when Dwyer, a painter, outgrew her home studio, from which she worked since 1980. Her search for outside space led to a partnership with Brewster, a multi-media artist, and Raven, who draws, paints, and teaches art. 
 
The 928 square foot studio opened in early February. Classes will begin soon, and those interested in attending can see upcoming offerings on the Arty Party website. 

Source: Vivian Dwyer, Arty Party Studio
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Bulgogi Korean Cuisine opens in East Lansing with 20 jobs

When Kevin Choi owned and operated Korean restaurants in both Novi and Ann Arbor, he noticed a similar thing happening in both locations. 
 
"There are many MSU students and that, during the weekend are going an hour away to go to the restaurant," says Choi. "There are many Asian students here, but they go to Ann Arbor and Novi because they couldn't find the right Korean food in East Lansing." 
 
Choi decided it was time to open an authentic Korean restaurant right where he knew there was demand: in East Lansing He opened the doors of his Bulgogi Korean Cuisine on Albert Avenue last week with 20 employees and room for 80 diners. 
 
Though other small Korean restaurants to exist in the area, Choi's offers something new to the scene. Not only is the 3,400 square foot Bulgogi Korean Cuisine larger than the others, it also features Korean barbeque grills at each table. 
 
" We bring out the customer scan too,' says Seoyoung Choi of Bulgogi Korean Cuisine. "A lot of customers don't know about Korean barbeque grills, so we want to make it a fun and enjoyable way to get the word out about Korean food."
 
In addition to Korean barbeque, Bulgogi offers other traditional Korean dishes, hot pots and noodle dishes. The restaurant is currently working to secure a liquor license, and Choi plans to add delivery as an option in the future. 


Source: Kevin Choi, Bulgogi Korean Cuisine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Portable Feast re-opens in Old Town

The Portable Feast fed Old Towners from 2002 through 2009, and after a few years of trying something new, owner Sharon Hind decided it was time to revive her old business, in the exact same space. 
 
"I wanted to get back to doing my own thing and my creativeness instead of working for somebody else," says Hind. "And this area is a cool area. I have a lot of friends here who have been really supportive." 
 
Just like the former Portable Feast, the new business, serves light breakfast and lunch fare for dine-in or take away. Hind's reopening took place last week with salads, soups, wraps and more. 
 
"The menu is similar," Hind says. "There are some old favorites and new items. I'm still doing breakfast, lunch and casual catering. I'm thinking of opening into evening as well." 

Source: Sharon Hind, Portable Feast
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Have a development news story? Send Natalie an email here.

Jefferson Street Salon opens, creates three Grand Ledge jobs

When her employer closed its doors in September, hairstylist DeAnn DeChelbor wasn't about to walk away from the clients she'd been taking care of for 11 years. 
 
"We have the best the clientele," says DeChelbor. "We're like a family because we've know them for so long. They're like our family, and we didn't want to lose them."
 
The day after leaving Fantastic Sam's, she started looking for a location to start her own shop, and in December, she and partners Jennifer Temple and Andrea Graeber opened the doors of Jefferson Street Salon in Grand Ledge
 
The 1,200 square foot salon supports the three stylists with room to add up to three more in the future. Eventually, DeChelbor says, she would like to hire a massage therapist as well. 
 
According to DeChelbor, the goal of the Jefferson Street Salon is to offer high quality hair services at a lower cost than other area salons. 


Source: DeAnn DeChelbor, Jefferson Street Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Have a development news story? Send Natalie an email here.

Zoobie's Old Town Tavern to be revived, create 15 jobs

Sam Short and partners Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper first purchased the long-vacant Zoobie's building in Old Town, it was with an eye on another development project. 
 
"Originally, it was a means to an end," Short says. "We were looking to redevelop the Temple, and Zoobie's had a liquor license that was mobile. We had purchased it with the intention of moving it over."
 
Instead, that liquor license is staying put and will be a part of the re-opening of the bar under its former name: Zoobie's Old Town Tavern. The 1,500 square foot space is now under renovation, including plans for a new roof.
 
"We're looking to work with some of the great historic elements of the building," says Short. "It has a great 50s-era feel. We don't want to do anything kitschy, but we want to work some neat 50s design elements into it."
 
No opening date has yet been set, but Short expects the new Zoobie's to open in late spring or early summer of this year. The bar will feature craft beer and boutiq wine and well made, craft cocktails and will employ approximately 15 workers. No plans are yet made for the second floor, but Short says eventually expanding the bar into a restaurant or developing residential units in the space are possibilities. 

Source: Sam Short, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern
Writer Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Have a development news story? Send Natalie an email here.

New family bakery brings Italian pastries, five jobs to Mason

Mornings are coming pretty early these days for Roseanne and Tom Sherwood. The Mason couple has been arriving at their new bakery, Nana's Sweet Treats between three and four in the morning. But they're not complaining. 
 
"It's been very good," says Roseanne Sherwood. "We've been quite busy. We've been getting a lot of orders for cakes and cupcakes."
 
Sherwood began her baking career in her own kitchen, utilizing the state’s cottage food laws to produce goodies for customers on order. On Dec. 8, however, the husband and wife team moved their operations into a 2,500 square foot location on Cedar Street. 
 
"It's a great location because most people have to go right by here to get up town," Sherwood says. 
 
Nana's Sweet Treats was named for Sherwood's mother, and specializes in both American and Italian pastries, such as cinnamon rolls and cannoli. Everything, says Sherwood, is made completely from scratch. 
 
The new bakery celebrated its grand opening earlier this month. In addition to Roseanne and Tom Sherwood, Nana's Sweet Treats also employs three part time employees. 
 

The Sweet Cake quadruples space in new Williamston location

A little Portland bakery is getting a big boost in visibility next month as it moves to a storefront on Grand River in Williamston, more than quadrupling its space.
 
“I don’t have a storefront now,” says owner of The Sweet Cake, Shayna Bennett. “This was a great opportunity.”
 
Bennett began her cake business out of her Portland home in 2008 and quickly moved into a small commercial location in 2009. Since that time, demand for her unique, made-from-scratch cakes has been on the rise, outgrowing her 300 square foot spot. 
 
“I offer a lot of very unusually decorated, very personal cakes,” Bennett says. “I do a lot of the carved cakes like you see on TV. I plan to offer, in the very near future, gourmet cupcakes.”
 
Opening in early February in Downtown Williamston, The Sweet Cake will enjoy 1,400 square feet of space. Bennett plans to have a display up in the front of the store by the first of the month, in time for the local Ice Sculpture event. 
 
Bennett hopes The Sweet Cake will continue to grow in its new location, and would like to add a staff in the future. 
 

J.S. Peck Real Estate opens in Okemos, creates two jobs

According to Jeffery Peck, his new Okemos agency, J.S. Peck Real Estate is more than just an ordinary real estate business. 
 
“I was a private mortgage banker for 20 years,” says Peck. “I also do seminars for people with houses going into foreclosure and short sale. I let them know they don’t have to give up hope for the American dream.”
 
The 1,200 square foot office opening in October, offering credit counseling and help for those who may not believe they are candidates for homeownership.
 
“I think the biggest misconception people have is they think they can’t afford a home,” Peck says. “I’ll work with them for as long as need be to get approved. Then we’ll go shopping for houses.”
 
J.S. Peck Real Estate celebrated their grand opening in December. Peck currently employs a staff of two and plans to expand his location in the future. He would also like to open between three and four more offices over the next few years, including an additional Lansing-area location.  
 

New Okemos bike to aims for community envolvement, to create up to 12 jobs

American Cycle and Fitness may be new the Lansing area when it opens on Grand River in Okemos next month, but the brand is anything but new to Michigan. The store first opened in 1938 in Grosse Pointe and has grown into a six-locations throughout Southeast Michigan. Very soon, they’ll expand into the Lansing area. 
 
“We have six locations [in Metro Detroit],” says Michael Reuter, CEO of American Cycle & Fitness. “There isn’t a growth potential for us without taking market share from our other stores. Outside of Detroit, the Lansing are has been a possibility for us for years.”
 
That possibility will become a reality in February when American Cycle and Fitness opens near Playmakers. The proximity is no coincidence. Reuter and his partners have worked with Playmakers frequently in the past, and liken their commitment to community health and participation to Lansing’s legendary running store. 
 
“Those guys do business like we do business,” he says. “We’re excited to be close to them here. We really want to earn that reputation as well.” 
 
According to Reuter, American Cycle and Fitness will carry cycling equipment for biker enthusiasts of all ages and experience. 
 
“We make cycling fun for everyone,” Reuter says. “We have a bike for you if you’re eight or 80, or any age.”
 
The 7,200 square foot store will employ between eight and 12 employees upon opening, joining the company wide staff total that grows to around 100 during their peak season. A grand opening is planned for April 5. 
 

Grand Ledge Nana-n-Paws expands to 10 acrea property with eight employees

Patty Lance knows dogs. She’s been training them for 33 years, and after a few negative experiences with boarding facilities, began taking care of other people’s dogs in her home the way she felt they should be cared for. 
 
“I don’t like outdoor runs because dogs can escape. I don’t like leaving them unsupervised, because anything could happen,” says Lance. “I don’t like dogs in cages. I wanted it to be more like a home environment, instead of an institution of steel and cement.” 
 
Her client list outgrew her home, leading Lance to open Nana-n-Paws Doggie Daycare in Grand Ledge in September. The facility includes a 9,300 square foot main building and 5,000 square foot training and rental facility on 10 acres. 
 
“We also have an 11,000 square foot outdoor play area where and they are never unsupervised,” Lance says. “We have a bedroom and a kitchen here for staff to spend the night. Nine times out of ten we fall asleep with dogs in our beds.” 
 
Nana-n-Paws Doggie Daycare offers boarding facilities with separate rooms for older dogs, small dogs, large dogs who love to roughhouse and those with more timid personalities. The facility also has a retail store, grooming services, dog training and some veterinary services. 
 
“I just really love dogs,” says Lance, “and I don’t want them to be scared, I don’t want their feelings hurt. I want them to feel like they’re at home.” 
 
Lance hopes to continue to grow in her new location, with such plans as adding a dog park to her property, coordinating adoption days with area rescue organizations. Eight employees currently work at Nana-n-Paws. 
 

Local owners open area's third Culver's in Eastwood Towne Center

Lansing just can’t seem to get enough of Culver’s, the fast food franchise famous for its frozen custard. Holt residents Jay Laing and Scott Berman have now opened their first, but the area’s third Culver’s restaurant in Eastwood Towne Center.
 
“We looked at a variety of concepts, and Culver’s was the best fit for us,” says Laing. “It’s really proven to be successful over the past several years.”
 
The 4,300 square foot restaurant is one of the first few Culver’s in the nation with an updated floor plan that gives customers and employees more room. The restaurant holds 108 diners, and currently employs about 60 workers. Even more diners will be welcome when the weather allows them to open their patio. 
 
“We went to great lengths to make the patio an appealing place,” Laing says.
 
The new Culver’s opened last week after breaking ground in July. Laing says the business plans to be active in the community, including events and partnerships within Eastwood Towne Center. 
 

Opie's Pizza to open, create 11 jobs on Chandler Road

Paul De Leon could be opening an authentic Mexican restaurant in Wisconsin right now, but thanks to a chance meeting while shopping for a truck to take him there, his plans changed. 
 
“The sales guy had a long experience with pizza,” says De Leon. “He had a really good pizza recipe, and he asked me if I was interested in opening a restaurant with him.”
 
That’s how De Leon and Bill Grantham began their working relationship, which will result in the opening of Opie’s Pizza on Chandler Road in Bath Township later this month. 
 
“We’re about 96 percent ready,” De Leon says. “We had to make a pizza place out of a room with just four walls. We had to make the kitchen and dining room and bathrooms. It was a lot of work.”
 
De Leon and Grantham hope all that work will be worthwhile when they open their doors on January 23. The 1,800 square foot restaurant will include a full bar and will employ 11 workers upon opening.  
 
The business partners hope to expand Opie’s Pizza into a franchise, beginning with future locations in Old Town and Grand Ledge. 
 

Twisted Fiber Art expands into Mason space, doubles staff

Until recently, Twisted Fiber Art, was a bit of a secret in Mason. Operating for seven years in founder Meg Campbell-Crawley’s home. Though Campbell-Crawley’s unique, hand-dyed yarns have gained a worldwide following, the growing operation was hardly visible at all locally. 
 
All of that changed when she and partner Anne Bohl officially outgrew their space and opened in a 2,000 square foot studio and retail space in Downtown Mason in 2012.
 
“We weren’t looking for a retail spot,” says Bohl, “but we came in and talked to the woman who owns the space, and it was great for us. We have triple the space we had before, and people have really enjoyed it. The yarn is a real tactile thing, and they’ve wanted to touch it.”
 
As it turns out, the retail space was a great boon to the business. Since their move, Twisted Fiber Art has nearly doubled their staff, now employing nine workers, and fans of their yarn have traveled from miles around to see the unusual product. 
 
“We start with really nice yarn,” Bohl says of Twisted Fiber Art’s unique appeal. “Meg’s eye for color is just really, really special. Each skein is dyed by hand and with care. 
 
Bohl explains that the yarn differs from other products because their colors are not variegated, but striped, creating a different color-changing effect. 
 
“You can’t even tell the color is changing.,” she says. “It creates something that is just a show stopper.”
 
According to Bohl, she and Campbell-Crawley will continue to focus on slow, steady growth in their new location. The shop will soon add knitting lessons to their business, giving novice knitters the chance to learn how to do more and better knitting with their popular product. 
 

The independent bookstore returns to Holt with The Bookshelf

Some may believe the era of the independent bookstore is ending, but Laura Murphy isn’t buying it. When Bargain Books in Holt closed after Murphy managed the store for seven year, she wasn’t ready to give up on the concept – or the customers. 
 
“I enjoy the people who shopped there,” Murphy says. “The customers are just great. I've done a lot of retail in my day, and they're the best customers.”
 
That’s why Murphy opened The Bookshelf on Cedar in Holt in 2012. The approximately 2,300 square foot store offers fiction, children’s literature, textbooks, special orders and more. Murphy says that so far, her hunch that an independent bookstore could still survive seems to be true.
 
“Every day I get new customer in, and it gets better every day,” she says. “I didn't expect to make any money in the first year…but we did.”
 
Murphy hopes The Bookshelf will continue to grow so she can hire employees, and potentially open another store in the Lansing area. 
 

Grand Ledge's Design Rides triples size with new shop, expands staff

It was only by chance that John Williams moved his business Design Rides from Ionia to Grand Ledge in 2008 after his former landlord sold the building that house it. It turned out to be a great move for the auto detailing and customization business, which has doubled in volume since arriving in Grand Ledge. 
 
Design Rides grew so much, in fact, that they recently celebrated the opening of their new, larger location on East Saginaw. 
 
“We have a big clientele now,” says Williams. “I think it’s our dedication to making it right. We always make sure that everything is correct.” 
 
They’ll have a lot more room to exercise their attention to detail. The new, 2,800-square foot location is more than three times the size of the former Design Rides shop. 
 
“We’re going to start offering more services,” says Williams. “We’ll be able to start offering spray-on bed lining, custom fiberglass work, fiberglass tops, and offering lift kits.” 
 
Additionally, he says, Design Rides will be able to start working their way through a waiting list of customers that extends out of state. The growing business now has a staff for four full- and two part-time employees, two of which have been added over that last year. Williams expects to add two more full time staffers in the near future. 
 

Facials & More to open in Downtown Williamston

After seven years of working as an aesthetician for a variety of spas and medical offices, Williamston native Cheryl Selph will be bringing her talents home with the new Facials & More, slated to open in February. 
 
“Most of my background is in medical skin care with medical-grade chemical peels and skin care products,” says Selph. “I decided if I'm going to open something, it's got to be medical grade. It has to be something people can't go out and buy over the counter.”
 
Facials & More will open in a 450 square foot office on Grand River in Williamston. Selph will offer chemical peels, laser hair removal, detox body wraps and skin rejuvenations. Selph will be working in association with a Novi-based doctor for all medical procedures. 
 
“It's a pretty busy little plaza,” Selph says of her location. “It's not huge, but I wanted to start out where it's affordable.”
 
Selph hopes to open Facials & More in early February with the help of her daughter, who will work in the office as well. Eventually, Selph hopes to grow her business into a franchise. 
 

Grand Ledge Auto to celebrate ribbon cutting

Grand Ledge drivers have a new option for serving their vehicles. Everett High School grade Hugh McNichol began his career in automotive repair as a mechanic in the army reserves. After attending LCC for automotive technology and serving in Iraq, the local man returned to the Lansing area to continue his career. 
 
McNichol’s Grand Ledge Auto will celebrate their opening earlier this year with a ribbon cutting on December 17. The four-bay auto shop is located at at 854 West Jefferson. 
 
“I do diagnostics, engine repair, brakes, suspension, air conditioning and hybrids,” says McNichol. 
 
The only things McNichol doesn’t do, he says, are tires and bodywork. The ASE certified automotive technician says he plans to continue to develop his skills in his new business. 
 
“I’d like to one day to do electric conversions on gas vehicles,” McNichols says. 
 

Healthy Horizons nutrition club opens in Okemos

Getting healthy in Okemos just got a little easier – and more fun, according to Cindy Smith, partner in the new Healthy Horizons nutrition club. 
 
“It is a place for people to gather, and to bring people together with a focus on nutrition," says Smith
 
Healthy Horizons opened this month on Jolly Road in Okemos. The 1,400-square foot club is owned and operated by five partners, or “coaches.” Members of the club receive a daily meal-replacement smoothie, energizing tea and a shot of aloe. 
 
Additionally, Healthy Horizons hosts fit camps and weight loss challenges. While all of the coaches are passionate about nutrition for their own reasons, they are particularly proud of the new facility for a more personal one. 
 
“This club is near and dear to us because one of our team members was in the process opening this club up, and they became very ill and passed,” says Smith. “So now there is a group of us who came together rand make his dream a reality and open it.”
 
According to Smith, the nutrition club concept began in Mexico, and has now expanded to more than 1,200 clubs across the US. 
 

Brickhouse Grille to open in Portland, create 35 jobs

A new fine dining experience is coming to Downtown Portland with the Brickhouse Grille. The new restaurant is expected to open December 29 with a focus on steak and fresh seafood. 
 
“Everything is going to be fresh,” says owner Mike Hoorman. “This fish will literally be swimming 24 hours before I get it. We’ll also have pasta, chicken, and will be smoking our own meats in-house.” 
 
The 2,200 square foot restaurant is now taking shape in a former furniture store in Downtown Portland. Hoorman and his team has been hard at work since November, stripping the floors, replacing windows and installing the kitchen. 
 
“It was a perfect opportunity here in Portland,” Hoorman says. “There’s great parking, 125-year-old brick, 100-year-old wood flooring. It was just perfect.” 
 
The Brickhouse Grille will seat about 70 diners and will employ a staff of 35. Hoorman says the restaurant will place an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. 
 

Coco's Off the Rack opens on Lake Lansing, creates four jobs

Coco’s Off the Rack may have just opened in September, but Colleen Adams has been in the wedding gown business for decades. 
 
“It started with me just really just loving fashion,” Adams says. “I started out working retail in different places, and before Lett’s went out of business I worked there. I decided it was time to branch out and do something on my own.”
 
That “something” became Coco’s Off the Rack on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing. The 2,000 square foot store not only sells bridal dresses, but also prom, ready-to-wear, and offers alterations. 
 
Though only open for a couple of months, Adams has already been busy with brides and other shoppers. The bustle has validated her decision to open in Lansing, even though she considered other options.
 
“Originally, I looed around at Novi because that’s were I live,” says Adams. “The more I thought about it, it seemed more reasonable to come to Lansing, because I’ve been working here since 1993.”
 
In addition to Adams the store currently employs one part-time employee, and Adams plans to soon hire two additional staffers. Coco’s will be hosting an open house this Saturday, along with her neighbors, Ann’s Dance Studio, Cutters’ Point and Magic BJJ Martial Arts Center.
 

New sushi restaurant brings healthy lunch options, four jobs to Frandor

Fans of Frandor’s Xiao, rejoice. There’s now a new Asian food restaurant by the same owner in the same neighborhood, but with a new twist. 
 
“Basically,” says Frank Cheng, owner of both Xiao and the new Tamaki Custom Sushi and Wraps, “I knew there was a need for more sushi in the area, especially in Frandor.”
 
According to Cheng, the format of the sushi spot will offer something brand new to the market. Tamaki uses a variety of Asian ingredients, such as Korean kimchi, to make a variety of fast, healthy and affordable dishes. 
 
“And it is build your own sushi,” says Chengs. “That’s what’s so fun about it.”
 
Tamaki opened in November in a 1,500 square foot Frandor location near Panera Bread. The restaurant offers sit-down and carryout dining, and currently employs a staff of four. 
 

Williamston seamstress opens CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs & Gift Shop

Several years ago, Crystal Amon came across an opportunity to work in a sewing shop, doing embroidery. 
 
“I’ve always been artistic and creative, and always enjoyed sewing and making stuff,” she says. “So I said, ‘what the heck, let’s try it.’”
 
Though a knee replacement took her away from that position five years later, by that time, Amon thought it might be time to make a go of it on her own. On November 1, she brought that plan to fruition with the opening of CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gift Shop in Williamston
 
“I made the investment,” says Amon. “I knew what to do and my husband supported me and said, ‘this is your dream, let’s go for it.’”
 
The 1,000 square foot CC Embroidery, Vinyl Designs and Gift Shop offers pre-made and made-to-order apparel, accessories, window decals, soy wax candles, baby apparel and more.
 
“I would say 95 percent of everything that is in the store is made here, Amon says. “I do beaded jewelry, I make little baby clothes, and the handbags are all handmade.”
 

Family Restaurant opens on Southside, creates 11 jobs

The Family Restaurant on South Cedar lives up to its name in two ways. Not only is the new business owned by three siblings, but it offers a menu comparable to any traditional American family dinner table. 
 
“We’re probably the only ones doing this style of home-style cooking,” says part-owner Dennis Jasman. “We have meatloaf, liver and onions, and we usually have four or five types of meat on the buffet.”
 
For Jasman and his sisters Linda Huett and Sandra Pitchford, the restaurant business has been the family business since their mother owned restaurants in Cheboygan and Flint. 
 
“My two sisters and me have always wanted to run a restaurant together,” says Jasman.
 
The 135-seat restaurant opened in August after some significant clean up and renovation of the existing building, which had been vacant for some time prior. The siblings chose the location because of its high traffic and proximity to their home on Lansing's Southside. The business, Jasman says, is about serving the public as much as it’s about business.
 
“We don’t’ want to get rich,” he says. “I guess basically we like meeting people. If you’re not satisfied with your meal, we’ll do what we can to make you satisfied. If you want something we don’t have and you’ve got an extra ten minutes, I’ll run down the store and get it for you.” 
 
The Family Restaurant currently employs a staff of eleven. Jasman says the large selection of hot buffet items is the eatery’s specialty.
 

Seven Islands Mercantile brings antiques, three new jobs to Grand Ledge

Talk about quick business development. Kathy Fitzpatrick, Peg Cook, and Roxann Mills of Grand Ledge were exchanging ideas on an antiques and vintage items business, and three weeks later, they had one. 
 
“We moved very quickly from conception to birth,” says Fitzpatrick. “We found a retail space that the right price and was right downtown.”
 
The North Bridge Street storefront offers a wide variety of items, including antiques, vintage items, home goods, cat toys, dog biscuits and caramel corn. 
 
“We all like antique and vintage items, and we like repurposing stuff into better stuff,” says Fitzpatrick. “We’re not just looking at antiques, not just vintage treasures, we’re looking at all of it.”
 
Seven Islands Mercantile opened in November. It now has limited hours on Thursday and Friday evenings, and is open during the day on weekends. In addition to selling their own items, they carry consigned inventory as well. The store currently employs the three co-owners. 
 

All Star Barbershop opens on Michigan Ave, adds two jobs

When Anthony McLiechey came across the opportunity to open his own barbershop on Lansing’s Eastside, it was the neighborhood itself that really sold him.
 
“It’s such a diverse neighborhood, there’s a little bit of everything,” says McLiechey. “I’ve lived on this side of town before, and I always liked it. There are a lot of independent businesses over here.” 
 
McLiechey opened his All Star Barbershop on Michigan Avenue on September 1 and specializes in extending discounts to seniors, students and children under 12. 
 
“Hopefuly it’ll be something that adds to the community,” says McLeichey of his shop. “You have a lot of businesses that just take from the community, and they don’t realy take pride in the people. I want to be someone who helps people.” 
 
The All Star Barbershop currently employs a staff of two, with two additional stations to accommodate future growth.
 

Okemos and Grand Ledge home to new Player's Choice Golf shops, four new jobs

Looking for a new place to shop for golf equipment? How about two? Player’s Choice Golf opened its first location in Grand Ledge in April, and has now opened a second location in Okemos. 
 
“I had been in the business for 30 years with another golf shop in town that closed in December,” says Player’s Choice Golf’s Chris Mann. “I ran into Josh Herrera at Meijer in early February, and we talked about the golf market.” 
 
A week later, Herrera called Mann to ask him to help operate a 700 square foot golf shop and outdoor driving range on East Saginaw Hwy in Grand Ledge. 
 
“We had a kick-off day, on April 13, and we had so many people there, there was no parking left,” says Mann. “I’ve never seen so many sales on one day.”
 
The successful opening certainly proved to Herrera there was local demand for their services. In addition to carrying a wide array of golfing equipment, Player’s Choice Golf specializes in club fitting and hosting demo days with manufacturers. The summer was so busy for the new shop, Herrera opened his second location at the Okemos Golf Center in late September. 
 
The second location is larger, about 1,400 square feet in size, and also includes a driving range. Mann says the business hopes to eventually expand both locations. The new business currently employs a staff of four across the two shops. 
 

Hibachi House offers fresh fast food, creates four jobs

Qiuyan Chen and her husband Mou Li aren’t new to the Asian food business, but their latest restaurant, Hibachi House, is something new for the Lansing area. 
 
“We decided to add a totally new thing to the Lansing area,” says Chen. “We cook the food right on the hibachi grill. It’s hot and fresh.”
 
It’s also fast. The 3,000 square foot, Delta Township restaurant seats sit-down diners inside, but also includes a drive-thru window for diners on the go. 
 
“A lot people who work don’t have a lot of time,” Chen says. “We can provide fast food that is a real meal during their lunch time.” 
 
Chen adds that the Hibachi House food is also healthy, using no MSG, little oil and low-sugar fried rice.
 
Hibachi House opened at 4021 W. Saginaw on October 15. The restaurant currently employs four workers. Chen hopes to expand the concept into additional Lansing-area locations in the future. 
 

Black Dog Antiques opens in Downtown Grand Ledge, creates two jobs

Shonda Bain began collecting antiques years ago. The hobby grew into hosting an antiques booth in Mason, and more recently grew into something even more. 
 
“I moved to Eagle and I saw that this spot was open,” Bain says of the Grand Ledge storefront that is now the home of her new Black Dog Antiques store, “and it just seemed like the right fit.” 
 
Bain and her partner Shannon Forbush opened the 1,600 square foot store on August 1, and have found their location to be an ideal spot during Grand Ledge events. 
 
“It’s next door to the parks, with the bands and festivals and the farmers market,” says Bain. “Grand Ledge has a lot of stuff going on all the time. It’s nice to always have something going on downtown.”
 
Black Dog Antiques offers a wide variety of antiques, from furniture to tools to kitchen items. The store employs Bain and Forbush, and also provides rental space for other antiques vendors. 
 

Holt-based Tacos E Mas opens Delta Twp location, adds six jobs

The Delacruzes opened Tacos E Mas in Holt four years ago with authentic family recipes. Lansing area diners approved, and demand for their specialty Mexican food has led to a second location in Delta Township.
 
The second Tacos E Mas opened in early October on W. Thomas L Parkway, just off of West Saginaw. The 1,000 square foot location offers carry out, delivery, as well as dine-in accommodations for up to 30 diners. 
 
The food at Tacos E Mas comes directly from General Manager David Delacruz Jr.’s grandmother’s recipes. The menu includes some unique items diners may not find at other Mexican restaurants, such as hot burros, a meat-filled tortilla covered in a spicy cheese sauce and beans.
 
“It’s all her recipes,” says Delacruz. “She passed away and left them to us. There are some ingredients that are a little more expensive in some things, but we stand by them, because it makes the food taste that much better.”
 
The new location currently employs six workers. Delacruz expects the business to eventually grow to a staff of ten. His family hopes to open a third Lansing location in the next one to three years. 
 

Eco-friendly The Root Celler opens, to create five jobs

For Kristine Gilbert-Gigante, owning her own salon has been a lifetime pursuit. 
 
“I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser,” she says. “We have pictures of me when I was little with curlers and doing hair.”
 
Now, after 14 years of working as a professional stylist, Gilbert-Gigante has opened The Root Cellar, an eco-friendly salon on West Saginaw in Lansing.
 
“Our goal is to be as eco-friendly as possible,” she says. “We recycle everything we use. If I’m not going to do it, nobody is going to do it for me.”
 
The Root Cellar specializes in “eco aware” products, such as ammonia free hair color and gluten free hair products. The 1,000 square foot salon opened in early October and employs Gilbert-Gigante, an additional stylist and a reflexologist. Gilbert-Gigante will add two additional staff members to her team in the near future, and will also soon being offering raindrop therapy services. 
 

Williamston home brew store opens, adds two jobs

One day, explains Mary Reed of Williamston, her husband came home with an idea. 
 
“Since Michigan Brewing Company went out, and we knew they did a good business with home brew supplies, and they were in Webberville and we’re right here in Williamston,” she says, it only made sense that a market still existed for a home brew supply store in their area. 
 
“We started checking things out and we had great support from the local community here about dong it,” Reed says. “That really cinched it for us that we were going to do it.”
 
The result is the now open Home Brew Depot on Grand River in Downtown Williamston. The 400 square foot business sells equipment and ingredients kits for home brewing beer, as well as ingredients for making wine, liquor and soda. 
 
The Home Brew Depot opened near the end of September and celebrated their grand opening last weekend. The store currently employs both Reed and her husband Bill Reed. The pair hopes to grow their staff over the next year. 
 

Sign-A-Rama opens in 1,700 sq ft Okemos location

The economic downturn was tough on sign and graphic companies, leaving a hole in the Lansing market for a locally owned but nationally franchised sign company. After 20 years in the education and training industry Dale Kohlsmith paired that local need with his own dream to operate his own business, opening Sign-A-Rama on West Grand River in Okemos.
 
“All of the other stores had gone down in the area,” Kohlsmith says. “There are a lot of independent sign companies here, but not many formal franchise models. What differentiates us is that we are locally owned and operated, so we can provide the customer service of a local shop, but have the global resources of a corporation.”
 
The 1,700 square foot business opened in July and currently employs a staff of four. Kohlsmith plans to place a focus on utilizing vendors of American-made products, which a particular focus on Michigan-made goods. 
 
“At least 90 percent of our products are made in the US,” says Kohlsmith. “We’re also very focused on being eco-friendly.”
 
As the new Sign-A-Rama continues to grow in Okemos, Kohlsmith plans to branch out into specialty markets, such as vehicle wraps.
 

Aerospace manufacturer opens in 19,000 sq ft Mason space, adds nine jobs

New aerospace manufacturer, APEX Precision Solutions, Inc., announced the opening of a 19,000 square foot facility near Mason last week. The company, which launched in the spring of this year, was started by a team of manufacturing executives from the medical device industry. 
 
“We’ve been in operation, really since July of the facility,” says Matthew Rudd, President and CEO of APEX. “We’re operational now and taking orders.” 
 
APEX specializes in machined parts and fixtures for the aerospace industry and related fields. The company plans to create 25 to 35 new jobs over the next two years. 
 
“Our initial goal here is get the certifications that will allow us to enter into more component manufacturing,” says Rudd. “We plan on growing in the markets that we’re currently service, but we’ll be able to go a little deeper.” 
 
APEX currently employs a staff of nine. Investment in their new facility was made assisted by Lansing Economic Area Partnership, the Small Business Technology Development Center, the Lansing Regional SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 
 

Barfly Ventures to revive Lansing Brewing Company, add 50 jobs

Lansing Brewing Company closed its doors in 1914 when local prohibition laws were passed. It took 99 years, but Barfly Ventures of Grand Rapids will revive the historic downtown business, opening their own Lansing Brewing Company in the summer of 2013. 
 
“We have really strong ties as a company and as a family to East Lansing,” says Barfly Ventures owner Mark Sellers. “I got a call from Pat Gillespie about doing something in his building, and that got me thinking about doing one thing in Lansing and one in East Lansing.”
 
Lansing Brewing Company is now taking shape in an approximately 6,000 square foot space in The Gillespie Group’s Stadium District development on Michigan Avenue. The bar and restaurant will brew their own beer and have a full food menu. 
 
Barfly Ventures is also developing a bar in East Lansing called HopCat. Sellers says the Lansing area was an ideal location to expand his Grand Rapids-based operation because his project manager lives in East Lansing, and the distance is short enough for him to remain active in the businesses. 
 
“I feel I need to be present at my bars,” says Sellers. “I don’t like to be an absentee bar owner.”
 
Lansing Brewing Company will employ approximately 50 workers and is scheduled to open in the late summer of 2013. 
 

New Mason facility spurs growth, 12 new jobs for Capital Steel

A new facility and growing staff has Lansing-based Capital Steel receiving recognition at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Growth Awards. The steel bars and wire company recently expanded with a $2 million redevelopment project in Mason, creating a space large enough to process steel on site. 
 
“The market share we’ve gotten has allowed us to broaden our infrastructure to process the steel here in our facility instead of sending out it,” says Capital Steel President Dustin Preston, who owns the company with his wife. “We’re really keeping our ear to what the market is asking for. We’re so flexible with what we can do and add now.”
 
The new 120,000 square foot facility has allowed the Capital Steel staff to grow by approximately 12 employees over the last year, bringing the total staff to 55 workers. That’s a significant number, compared to the three to four employees Preston began with when he started the company in 2001. 
 
“We’ve really put together a great team,” says Preston. “We’ve been able to pull from a very talented group of people in the Lansing area.”
 

Grand Rapids' HopCat to open East Lansing location, create 50 jobs

A popular Grand Rapids nightlife spot will open in the upcoming multi-use development that will, upon completion, be Downtown East Lansing’s tallest building
 
HopCat, will be a bar and restaurant specializing in carrying a wide variety of microbrews, with a focus on Michigan craft beer, just like the original location in Grand Rapids. The forthcoming local version of the venue, explains owner Mark Sellers, will have even more beer options. 
 
“We’ll have 100 beers on tap,” he says, “which is twice as many as we have in Grand Rapids.”
 
That won’t be the only difference between the two HopCat locations. The 6,000 square foot East Lansing bar will have a different layout, décor and menu. 
 
“I never wanted to be someone who owns a chain,” Sellers says. “I purposely want this to look and feel a little different.”
 
Sellers hopes to open the East Lansing HopCat, which will be located on the ground floor of The Residences on Ann St., in the late summer of 2013. The business will employ approximately 50 workers. 
 

New same-day therapy practice opens in East Lansing, adds six jobs

Though she had been in private practice for 14 years, Leslie Auld, LMSW, ACSW felt there was something missing from her psychotherapy services.
 
“I wanted to be able to offer same-day appointments to people,” says Auld. “I feel like that need is largely unmet. There is a lot of research to support that if you get help right away, the outcome is better.” 
 
Her new office in East Lansing, Therapy Today, offers just that. Auld’s staff are able to see both regular psychotherapy clients and appointments made that day. Auld is currently operating with one office employee and one other therapist but will soon add an additional four therapists to her staff.   
 
“It’s a really beautiful location,” Auld says. “It’s perfect for a therapy practice because it was built for that. We’re right near Creative Wellness, and there is a yoga studio right next door. It feels like a healing community area.”
 
Therapy Today opened its Abbott Road location on September 5. Auld hope to one day open additional Therapy Today offices in other cities. 
 

New fish fry market offers fresh food to Eastside, creates three jobs

If the new East Side Fish Fry market could have two words to describe itself, they would be “fresh and clean.”
 
“We’re the cleanest fish fry in town,” says co-owner Eddie Zeineh. “I wanted to produce a fresh fish market where people can come and get healthy foods.”
 
The Kalamazoo Street market opened on the Eastside in July and also offers catering, grocery items and has a grill for grilling chicken, steak and fish. East Side Fishy Fry is particularly proud of its ability to accept EBT cards. 
 
“With EBT you can sometimes only get packaged foods,” say Zeineh. “You’ll get processed foods like potato chips and pop. We’re able to supply them with good, wholesome, healthy food at a good price.” 
 
The 2,500 square foot market hopes to add delivery services in the future. The business currently employs three workers. 
 

Vortex Midwest opens Williamston office, adding up to three jobs

If you’re a frequent visitor to playgrounds in Michigan, you’ve probably noticed a trend spreading throughout the state: splashpads. 
 
“Splashpads have been a hot item,” says Cory Anderson, owner and general manager of Williamston’s new Vortex Midwest office. “We have over 115 splashpads in Michigan and over 350 in the Midwest.”
 
Though affiliated with Montreal-based Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the new local business is owned and operated by Anderson and provides service and customer support to those many splashpads. 
 
Andreson opened the business out of his home in January of 2012, and it quickly grew to the point of needing staff and office space. Four months ago, Vortex Midwest officially opened it’s Grand River location in Williamston. Anderson currently has one staff member is looking to quickly add two more. 
 
“I moved in, and the landowner was very nice and gave me the possibility of expanding into more space,” says Anderson of the 600 square foot office and 1,500 square feet of storage space he currently occupies, “and it looks like I’m going to be needing it sooner than later. Things are just kind of booming.”
 

New Grand Ledge studio adds "Sugar and Spice" to fitness, creates eight jobs

According to Amber Carter, some women want a traditional workout, and others want something a little spicier. At Carter’s new Downtown Grand Ledge studio, Sugar & Spice Fitness Boutique, there’s something for women of either taste. 
 
“It really focuses on woman empowerment,” Carter says. “It doesn’t matter about your body size, you will be celebrated at our studio. We want people to feel sexy.” 
 
Sugar and Spice Fitness Boutique offers the typical workout classes, such as yoga and pilates, as well as alternative programs, including burlesque, pole fitness, belly dancing, among others.  
 
“We’d like it to just be a positive place for women in the community,” says Carter. “We teach confidence as a means for fitness.” 
 
The new studio opened about three months ago in a 2,000 square foot location on North Bridge Street in Grand Ledge. Sugar and Spice employs eight instructors. Carter plans to open a second studio in Lansing in about a year. 
 

ACC Natural Healing brings seven wellness practioners to downtown

Talk about finding a silver lining: Though Karen Kraft was already somewhat nutrition-minded and a certified massage therapist in addition to her work in the non-profit sector, it wasn’t until multiple diagnoses of Hodgkin’s lymphoma that she really began to focus more on both.
 
“It was a catalyst for me to get into that even more,” Kraft says. “While I was in the hospital at U of M, I wrote a business plan.”
A few years and a career change later, Kraft brought her business plan to life with the opening of ACC Natural Healing and Wellness Solutions on Ionia Street in Downtown Lansing in August. 

“It’s a beautiful old Victorian house,” says Kraft. “It has such a warm, welcoming energy to it.”

ACC services include massage, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki and more by Kraft’s seven practitioners, and offers discounts for area firefighters and Cooley Law School students. ACC also recently began hosting free lunchtime mediation sessions in their downtown location.

The 2,800 square foot business opened August. The space includes a large, open space on the third floor utilized for group meetings, tai chi, guest speakers and more. As ACC continues to grow, Kraft hopes to widen her product inventory, as well as begin a fundraising system to help clients with multiple therapy needs to receive the most comprehensive care.
 

The Swap Meet opens in 2,000 sq ft Michigan Ave space, creates three jobs

Jeff Smith spent a long time checking out all of the pawnshops in the Lansing area, and thought he could create something a little different for local buyers and sellers. So far, he’s feeling pretty good about the hypothesis. He first opened The Swap Meet eight months ago on South MLK, and he has already expanded into a new location on Michigan Avenue. 
 
“I don’t like dealing with things that sit around and don’t sell,” he says. “The fast flip is the best thing you can do in this business.”
 
The new 2,000 square foot location more than doubles the space of the original Swap Meet spot. In addition to focusing on a quick turnaround of his inventory, Smith only buys and sells electronics, with a special focus on video games. 
 
“I try to offer people a little better price for things,” Smith says. “I don’t say, ‘I’ll give you five bucks for that,’ and then sell if for a hundred. I try to do right by people.”
 
The Swap Meet opened on Michigan Avenue last week. The business currently employs Smith, along with two partners. Eventually, Smith says, he would like to expand upon The Swap Meet’s partnership with Cellular and Gaming Repair by growing into a joint location. 
 

Michigan Avenue home brew shop opens on Eastside, creates two jobs

After working as a builder and auto mechanic, Todd Branstner found a love for retail about a decade ago. When the closing of Webberville’s Michigan Brewing Company left a void in the local market in one of his other areas of interest – home brewing supplies – he decided it was time to go out on his own as a retailer. 
 
“The world of beer is huge,” Branstner says. “You can find pretty much anything on the market these days. Anything you want to do with beer, you can do. It’s a very exciting hobby to have.” 
 
Capital City Homebrew Supply opened on Michigan Avenue in mid-September. Branster and one employee operate the 650 square foot business that is conveniently located right in Branster’s neighborhood. 
 
“I’ve been on the Eastside for at least 20 years now,” he says. “I think the neighborhood has a lot of entrepreneurial spirit.”
 
As Capital City Homebrew Supply continues to grow, Branster hopes to expand the business into additional locations. 
 

Four partners open indoor gardening supplier on Northside

Indoor gardeners have a new source for their gardening supplies on North East Street in Lansing. 
 
“There are no garden supply stores in North Lansing,” says Patrick Mosholder of the new Greener Planet Gardening, “ and there are a lot of gardeners out here.”
 
Greener Planet Gardening opened its doors on October 1. The 2,500 square foot store offers supplies and nutrients and will eventually grow vegetables right in the store. According to Mosholder, the group of four partners looks forward to getting into the perennial supply market as well. 
 
“Our goal is to keep our overhead extremely low and pass the savings on to our customers,” Mosholder says. “This is a business where you have a lot of repeat customers and we’ll work  to help them succeed."
 
Once Greener Planet Gardening’s first location is established in Lansing. The partners plan to open additional stores, possibly in Illinois or Ohio.
 

Sin 2 Skin Tattoos to open third location, create six jobs

Just a year and a half after opening their first location on Cedar Street, Sin 2 Skin Tattoos has added a location in Brighton, and is now planning the opening of their second Lansing shop on West Saginaw. 
 
“The opportunity just came about,” says Sam Perez, brother of the growing business’ owner, Diane Raeder. “A friend owned the barber shop next door, and he knew the spot was opening up, and it seemed like a good idea.” 
 
The new, 1,100 square foot location will employ two receptionists, three tattoo artists and a piercer, according to Perez. He hopes the new location will open in January of next year. The key to the company’s growth, he says, is the way they treat their customers. 
 
“We have great practices and great customer service,” says Perez. “We stand behind all of our work.”
 
Perez says their plan is to continue growing Sin 2 Skin Tattoos into a franchise and to open up to seven locations. 
 

Salon 1131 opens in 1,800 sq ft Old Town spot, adds four jobs

After 10 years working as stylist, Lindsay Jones decided it was time to break out on her own, and there was no better partner for her on the venture than her boyfriend and stylist of 12 years, Roberto Cantu. The pair recently opened Salon 1131 in Old Town
 
“I worked at the same salon for those 10 years,” says Jones. “But I always wanted to be somewhere more trendy.”
 
The 1,800 square foot salon is located next door to Redhead Design Studio's new location on North Washington. According to Jones, the location was right because of its size, and ample parking.
 
“Old Town was very appealing to us,” says Jones. “We really liked the exposed brick, and the structure really suited what we needed.” 
 
Salon 1131 opened in early September and will celebrate its grand opening on October 6 during the Old Town Commercial Association’s Oktoberfest event. The salon currently employs four stylists. Jones expects to have a total of six stylists when the salon is at full capacity. 
 

Sunrise Market brings international groceries, two jobs to Michigan Ave

Ali Ali’s was in the wholesale grocery business, but he had never been in the industry himself until recently, when he saw a need for a centrally located international food grocer with low prices in the Lansing area. 
 
“I looked at this as something I could do, because the community needed it,” says Ali. 
 
Ali and his partner Mohammed Abdi opened the 2,500 square foot Sunrise Market on Michigan Avenue in July. The market features a variety of international foods, such as Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and African. 
 
“We are the lowest price in the town,” says Ali, “We are trying to help the community. Whether it’s grocery or the meat, we are the lowest of all of them.”
 
As the business continues to grow, Ali hopes to add a food preparation area to provide fresh prepared food for customers, as well as fresh vegetables. 
 

Backbone Chiropractic expands into 1,200 sq ft East Lansing location

Backbone Chiropractic and Massage Therapy is growing in in East Lansing. After seven years next door to the Center for Yoga on Grand River, owner Dr. Kristin Batdorf expanded into her own building on Lake Lansing Road.
 
“I’ve always wanted to own my own building and I needed to be in a bigger space,” Batdorf says. “We were bursting from the seams in our previous location.”
 
Batdorf attributes her growth to her unique approach to chiropractic. 
 
“I think that we operate a little slower,” she says. “We take our time. I’m trying to solve the problems people come in with. The massage helps, especially with people who are really tight, and it is an alternative to people who don’t’ like to be manipulated. “
 
The new location opened in September. In the new space, Batdorf has hired an additional massage therapist, expanded the hours of her receptionist, and hopes to eventually bring on an additional chiropractor. 
 
The 2,000 square foot building houses Backbone Chiropractic in one half of the space, and Batdorf is seeking to lease the other half.
 

New, 11,500 sq ft development underway for Doctor's Approach

Dr. Marcy L. Street is one busy lady. The dermatologist and owner of Doctor’s Approach in East Lansing is Mid-Michigan’s only fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon, and her business’ three divisions – dermatology and surgery, a medical spa and a product line – have grown out of her solo practice that began in 1992. No wonder she earned the Lansing Regional Chamber’s Outstanding Small Business Award this year.
 
It may also be no surprise that her achievements have made the Doctor’s Approach grow right out of its current location at the Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club‎. A new, 11,500 square foot facility is currently under construction on Jolly Road that will soon be the business’ new home.
 
“There are three divisions of the business,” says Street. “So it’s a way to help bring everything under one roof. All three divisions, as well as a dental practice, Park Dental, will be in the facility.” 
 
Street expects the move to take place in early October, and plans to grow her staff with the expansion. Twenty employees currently work for Doctor’s Approach, and four additional workers will be added to the staff. 
 
If there is a secret to Street’s success, she says it’s been the support she’s received along the way. 
 
“We just appreciate the support of the community,” she says. “That’s been huge. We are just so appreciative. It’s been a long and fun and exciting journey.”
 

SWAT Environmental expands into 9,000 sq ft facility, to hire nine new staff members

When SWAT Environmental began as a small radon mitigation company in 1988, it’s safe to say theat the Lansing based startup wasn’t expecting to grow to international notoriety. When the firm was recognized in Inc. Magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing companies, however, it’s place as the world’s largest radon mitigation company was confirmed.
 
SWAT now operates roughly 45 locations nationwide with a total of about 100 employees. Around 40 of those are right here in Lansing at the company's headquarters. Noss expects about nine new employees to be added locally by the end of the year. 
 
“Our main focus right now is franchising,” says SWAT’s Director of Marketiing, Matthew Noss. “We actually have been posting new positions for technicians across the country on a daily basis.” 
 
While Noss describes radon mitigation as the company’s bread and butter, he attributes their growth in part to expansion into other services, such as soil, water and air technologies – hence the SWAT acronym.
 
“It’s not just the expansion, but also the demand,” Noss says. “Our goal used to be to get 150 installations per week, but we’re doing around 300 installations per week right now.  We’re coming up on 100,000 installations across the county.”
 
With the increased staff and demand, SWAT has expanded physically as well. The company purchased an approximately 9,000 square foot facility in January and has been renovating it ever since. Staff have already moved into half of the former Moose Lodge office, located off of MLK. Renovations are currently underway on the other half, which will become a training facility.  
 

Williams Subaru building new $3M facility, expanding staff by up to eight

There’s something big going up on Howard Street in Lansing, and it represents some big growth for the Williams AutoWorld family. The new, 16,833 facility will become the new home for Williams Subaru
 
“We started our plans to build last fall,” says Jeff Williams. “It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of work. Everything will be under one roof."
 
The new building will include a variety of environmentally friendly features, such as LED lighting, hoists powered by compressed water, in-floor heating and greenspace.
 
The new building will also be home to new faces at Williams Subaru. Four new employees have been added to the staff already this year, and Williams expects another three or four employees to be added by the time the facility opens in early 2013. 
 
The nearly $3 million project is utilizing all local contractors, including D.L. Kesler & Sons.
 
“They’re doing a fabulous job,” says Williams. 
 

Painting With a Twist to hire up to five artists, bring painting parties to Frandor

A new business in Frandor will allow Lansing area art enthusiasts to try their hands at painting while enjoying time out with friends. Owner Diane Wey says all it took was one visit to Painting with a Twist in Ferndale to decide she wanted to bring the concept to Lansing. 
 
“We went in February to paint for my sister’s birthday,” says Wey. “The bug bit me. I contacted them the next day and said, ‘I want to do this.’”
 
Painting with a Twist hosts classes and parties for people of all ages to enjoy painting in a group with an artist instructing. 
 
“Everybody paints the same painting,” says Wey. “You’re busy for the whole class, but there’s time to chat and sip wine here and there. It’s not serious art; it’s fun art. It’s a wonderful evening out with girlfriends or sororities or baby showers. The greater Lansing area is so ready for this.”
 
Painting with a Twist will open in a 4,344 square foot location in Frandor at the end of October. Wey says the location is perfect because of its central location and proximity to the expressway.
 
“I worked with Amy at CBRE, who just absolutely became a friend,” Wey says. “We had a lot of fun, and she was very enthusiastic about the concept.”
 
Wey is now seeking artists to work as part-time instructors. She plans to hire up to five instructors. The Painting with a Twist business model also includes community outreach. Wey looks forward to finding ways to benefit the Lansing community through her new business.
 

New resale shop, Just My Style, opens in 2,000 sq ft Delta Twp location

There’s a new place for fashion resale in Lansing. Just My Style opened in August on West Saginaw in Delta Township. The 2,000 square foot facility offers children’s and adults' clothing, accessories and home goods. 
 
“This is what we’ve always dreamed of doing, starting our own business,” says Camie O’Dell, who owns Just My Style with her husband, Clarence O’Dell.
 
The O’Dells worked at a children’s home for more than 20 years. After taking some time off while dealing with health issues, the couple decided the time was right to fulfill their dream by opening a resale shop.
 
“We try to do name brand clothes at great prices,” O’Dell says. “Everything is in really good condition and really clean.” 
 
The O’Dells are still awaiting their sign, but are looking forward to attracting customers in their high traffic area.
 
“We love where we’re located,” says O’Dell. “Our goal is just to keep the good sales going and maybe offer people something different.” 
 

East Lansing's new China Tong introduces Cantonese cuisine, adds four jobs

After taking a break from more than 20 years in the restaurant business, Jim Guo recently decided it was time to jump back into the industry with the new China Tong in East Lansing. 
 
Located at 1105 East Grand River, the new 1,500 square foot restaurant features original Cantonese cuisine. 
 
“We are the only place doing that in town right now,” says Guo. “If people want to try original Cantonese cuisine, they can find it here.”
 
The restaurant has six tables for in-house dining and currently employs four workers. Guo hopes the restaurant will continue to grow and he can hire up to three more. China Tong opened last week.
 

Retail Therapy brings women's fashion and two jobs to Okemos

The new Okemos store, Retail Therapy, got its start four years ago in Saginaw when Celeste Saltzman’s job as a stay-at-home mom ended with her children grown out of the house, and she was looking for something else to do. 
 
“We have a little tagline: ‘just what the doctor ordered,’” says Saltzman. “My husband is a physician, and it’s meant to be a great place for women to come and get a little perk up.”
 
The fun store for ladies’ fashion relocated to Okemos along with Saltzman and her husband’s move the Lansing area. After her husband accepted a job with Sparrow Hospital, Saltzman found the perfect spot to re-open Retail Therapy on Marsh Road.
 
“I found a little store in the Central Park Place that was perfect,” Saltzman says. “It was previously store, and the colors were already just my colors, so it was meant to be.” 
 
Retail Therapy opened in early August and will likely celebrate a grand opening in September. The store offers premium denim, casual clothes and handmade jewelry and accessories for women. Saltzman currently employs two workers in the 950-square foot location. 
 
“It’s not anything you could find in a department store,” Saltzman says of her inventory. “I buy small lines that are boutique-driven, and I buy in small quantities, because when you live in smaller community you don’t want to see yourself coming and going all the time. There is always something new coming in.”
 

Holt hair studio receives makeover with new owner, services and stylists

Talk about a career change. After working with pension systems for years, Angi Hamilton decided to go back to school to pursue the job she had always wanted: hair stylist. Her dream was further fulfilled when she recently purchased The Hair Studio in Holt.
 
“I always wanted to have my own shop in my own community,” Hamilton says. “The previous owner had a fabulous clientele with great relationships she’d built over the years.”
 
Hamilton opened The Hair Studio as owner and stylist on Aug. 1.  Along with two new stylists, the 1,000 square foot shop now offers manicure and pedicure services, which were not available before. Hamilton hopes to grow her business to employ additional stylists, and to be known as a shop with top quality colorists. 
 
“All the stylists who are in here now are big on keeping up their education,” she says. “We’ve travelled to New York as a group to learn about the latest and greatest in color. Color and chemical services are really our strong suit.”
 

Local family opens 1,600 sq ft International Minute Press, adds three jobs

Lyle and Cary Ritter wanted to start a family business to pass on to their kids. With Cary Ritter’s 20 years in the printing industry, starting a family print shop seemed like the obvious choice.
 
“We print everything from brochures to booklets, letterhead, envelopes, promotional bags and other items,” says Cary Ritter. “We’re a one stop shop.”
 
The 1,600 square foot International Minute Press on West Saginaw offers all digital printing.
 
“That’s a niche we bought into because it goes right from the computer to the press,” Ritter say. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to service the community.” 
 
The Ritter’s new business employs Lyle, Cary and one fulltime employee. The couple hopes to eventually pass the business on to their children, and have enjoyed sharing free ice cream with their new customers.
 
“It’s been great,” Ritter says. “It’s been fun learning the community here. It’s been one excitement after another.” 
 

Tripp Auto to open 1,600 sq ft downtown location, add three jobs

The Jackson-based Tripp Auto Shop has only had a Lansing presence since 2010, but is already finding a place in the community. The family-owned business that participates in a variety of Lansing-area cultural events is now expanding its footprint locally with a new office in Downtown Lansing
 
“The new location will be like a concierge,” says owner Phil Tripp. “We’ll do estimates and detailing there, and then bring vehicles out to our Main Street location for repairs.”
 
The 1,600 square foot location will open next week with three employees and will work in conjunction with the 18,000 square foot Tripp Auto Repair location on West Main. Tripp says the new office will help further the company’s goals of giving exemplary service to their customers. 
 
“Lansing has half a dozen really good body shops,” says Tripp. “It’s about building relationships, and that’s something you have to prove to people. That’s how we built our Jackson store, one customer at a time.” 
 
Tripp says his family’s business specializes in guiding people through the process of paperwork and policies following an accident. 
 
Tripp’s Auto Shop first opened in Jackson in 1988 and now employs about 40 workers between their Jackson and Lansing locations. 
 

Los Tres Amigos to open in 3,800 sq ft downtown location, add up to 12 jobs

Ten years ago, Arnulfo Ramirez worked in the kitchen of a Los Tres Amigos restaurant. Today, he owns 12 restaurants, including the newest Los Tres Amigos location set to open soon in Downtown Lansing
 
“People know Los Tres Amigos, and really appreciate us in Lansing,” says Ramirez. “I decided to come downtown, and I’ve been working for a couple of years to find the right spot.” 
 
The new, 3,800 square foot downtown eatery will employ 10 to 12 workers. Ramirez says he plans to create an authentic Mexican atmosphere in the restaurant to give downtown workers and students a fun escape during the lunch breaks or after work. 
 
“I want people to feel like they are in a spot in Mexico,” Ramirez says. “All the furniture is coming from Mexico, and we’ll try to make it feel tropical.”
 
Ramirez hopes to open the doors to the new Los Tres Amigos in late August. 
 

Purple Carrot owners to open Red Haven restaurant, add up to 20 jobs

Nina Santucci and Anthony Maiale have always intended to open a restaurant; they just weren’t sure how their particular style of food would be received by the community. One year, a food truck and two national recognitions later, the owners of The Purple Carrot can rest assured that their food is indeed loved by the community. The pair is therefore opening up their first non-mobile restaurant called Red Haven this fall.
 
“I think of a peach as a little more sophisticated,” says Santucci of naming the new restaurant. “And the Red Haven peach was developed at MSU and is known as the most delicious, and now most popular in the world.” 
 
The 2,284 square foot restaurant will be located near the corner of Hagadorn and Mt. Hope in Okemos. The location is perfect, explains Santucci, for the atmosphere they’re trying to create.
 
“We really wanted to have the farm-to-table feel in the décor,” she says. “The windows look out at a bunch of MSU farm land, so that is kind of a nice little bonus.” 
 
Though the Purple Carrot and Red Haven will both serve food made from seasonal, local ingredients, the menu at the new restaurant will be entirely different from that of the food truck. Red Haven will serve tapas-style food items, as well as locally made alcoholic beverages. 
 
Red Haven is expected to open in mid-September and will employ 15 to 20 workers.
 
 
 

Haven Sports to open in 2,000 sq ft East Lansing space, create two jobs

The Haven stores in and around Lansing have had a singular focus as a smoke shop business since their opening in 2009. With their fifth location in Downtown East Lansing, however, the company is taking on a new theme: sports. 
 
“We weren’t necessarily in search of a place to open a new store,” says The Haven owner, Patrick Turner, “but we saw a window there, so we decided to seize the opportunity. There is a lot of traffic through there, with the students.”
 
The Haven in East Lansing will be a 2,000 square foot sports shop lounge featuring disc golf and yoga accessories. The business will also feature a study bar with charging stations and a grab-and-go food counter with sandwiches, drinks, gluten free items and healthy snacks. 
 
“We won’t really be competing with any other businesses on the strip for anything,” Turner says, “so hopefully, we’ll draw quite a bit off of the surrounding business.”
 
Turner expects to eventually hire two employees for the store, which he plans to open later this summer. 
 

Plush Consignments brings plus-sized fashion to Williamston

Having a tough time finding fashionable, affordable clothes in your size, ladies? Luckily for you, Jamie Cripe has been working on a solution for that problem for some time and the result is the new Plush Consignments store in Williamston. 
 
It all began with an idea and the Capital Area District Library.
 
“I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have always wanted to own my own business,” Cripe says. “My dad owned a local screenprinting business for over 30 years in Lansing, and I grew up in a business-owner environment, so I think it rubbed off a bit.”
 
In 2008, Cripe joined the Capital Area District Library’s “Spark! Your Future” business plan contest and attended business seminars provided by the program. Her business plan for an online plus-size consignment clothing store called Thick Girl Threads won. 
 
“That made me realize I was onto something good,” Cripe says. “I wanted to focus on sizes 12 and up because it is so difficult to find trendy, fashionable clothes for plus sizes at reasonable prices.” 
 
Now that plan has developed into a 400 square foot storefront in Williamston. Cripe chose to locate in Williamston because of the small-town feel and artsy vibe. 
 
“Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful and that makes it feel like a true community,” says Cripe. “Also, I believe that Williamston is one of the 'it' places to be starting a small business right now and I hope it continues to grow.”
 
A grand opening ceremony will take place at Plush on July 26. 
 

New Grand Ledge nutrition club offers challenges, shakes and classes

When Haley and Adam Auvenshine introduced healthy shakes into their diets, they loved the way it made them feel. So much so, in fact, that they decided to start introducing the shakes to as many people as they could. With their new Grand Ledge nutrition club, Shake It Up, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
 
“We do meal replacement shakes,” says Haley Auvenshine. “We do daily, weekly and monthly memberships, as well as free wellness profiles.”
 
The 1,600 square foot location on Bridge Street features a bar area and space for their weight loss challenges and classes. While some customers use the shakes to lose weight, others drink them for general health and wellness, and even to put on healthy weight. 
 
“A new thing that we offer is an athletic line,” Auvenshine says, “that appeals to athletes who want to build muscle.” 
 
Auvenshine hopes to do more classes in the shop in the future, such as yoga.
 

$2.1M Live, Learn, Lead Academy development to teach entrepreneurship, add 15 jobs

A lot of people don’t start receiving bank statements until after they’ve stopped receiving report cards. At the new Learn, Live, Lead Entrepreneurial Academy on West Miller Road in Lansing, students will receive both. 
 
“Every child inside of our school will have jobs,” says founder, Paula Diane Cunningham “They will apply for it, and they will interview. In addition to a report card, they will get bank statements. They have to understand that time is money. There are no excuses in this school.”
 
Cunningham is a former president of Lansing Community College and CEO of Capital National Bank. Cunningham says the school, which meets all Michigan certifications for K-6 schools, will be a free public institution  for students and parents who want a rigorous learning environment. 
 
“It is for students who want to be in an environment with high expectations and students who are creative,” says Cunningham. “Students will each have their own learning plans.”
 
The innovative academy will be held inside a former church. The 134,000 square foot building was purchased for $1.35 million and is currently undergoing $750,000 million in renovations. Enrollment is underway now, and Cunningham plans to admit 140 K-6 students the first year. Twelve to 15 staff will be employed for the new school. An affiliated high school is planned for the future.
 
“It’s been a labor and a journey of love,” Cunningham of the academy’s development. “We believe students needs more entrepreneurial skills and the tenants of entrepreneurialism should be beginning early on.”
 

Goldfish Swim School to open in Okemos, add 25 jobs

Future swimmers and their parents will soon have a new option for getting their bearings in the deep end. The Birmingham, Michigan-based Goldfish Swim School will be opening a location in Okemos soon.
 
“We are really excited to be moving into the Lansing area,” says Rebecca Burlingame, general manager of Goldfish. “We have a very specialized curriculum that has been proven. The instructors are very well trained, and are passionate about swimming and getting children the swim skills necessary for confidence.”
 
Goldfish accepts children from four months through 12 years of age and teaches them to swim in a 90 degree pool set in a 92 degree environment. Goldfish currently operates five locations and will soon expand to ten, including the Okemos facility.
 
The Okemos Goldfish will be located in an 8,000 square foot facility near Meridian Mall and will employ 25 workers upon opening, with a goal of reaching 45 after a year and a half of operations. Burlingame expects renovations to be complete in time for a late winter opening.
 
“We’re going to have to dig a pool,” she says. “And we have really unique, tropical décor for our facilities, so we’ll be making it look like our other locations.” 

Maru Sushi to open second, 2,800 sq ft location, adding 35 jobs

When Robert M. Song first opened Maru Sushi & Grill in 2009, he did so with the intention of eventually opening a second location in the Lansing area. He’s now doing that and more as Song has announced his second local spot is in the works just as the new Grand Rapids location is set to open. 
 
“My restaurant here is small, and I like small restaurants,” says Song. “I’ve had my eyes on that location for a number of years. Eastwood has grown and is still growing as we speak. It’s an even bigger market now than it has ever been.” 
 
The third Maru Sushi location is now under development on Lake Lansing Road in the former Ali Baba Mediterranean Cuisine location near Coolidge Road. The 2,800 square foot location will undergo a total redesign and will seat about 90 diners. 
 
“We have the initial drawings now,” says Song. “It will look clean, contemporary, progressive and will have the Japanese food that area lacks. I’m excited to be a part of East Lansing.” 
 
Song hopes the new Maru Sushi & Grill will be open early in 2013. He expects the restaurant to employ up to 35 full- and part-time workers. 
 
“Customers who live farther away in the northwest part of Lansing will be happy to hear the news that they won’t have to drive as far to get to Maru,” Song says. 
 

Next Level Transmission opens in Holt, creates four jobs

It’s not every day that one finds an auto repair business with a Tumblr account, but Holt’s new Next Level Transmission and Auto Repair isn’t a typical small automotive business. 
 
“We’re trying to reach the market that everyone else isn’t,” says Mariam Henfling, who owns the business along with her husband Roger Henfling. “We specialize in transmissions, but we are certified in basically all automotive repairs except alignment and welding.”
 
The Henflings originally purchased J & D Transmission earlier this year. They moved the Downtown Lansing location into Holt and reopened as Next Level in April. 
 
“My husband grew up in Holt. We purchased a home here and we like the whole area and community,” says Henfling. “It’s actually going really well. Sales are up probably 75 percent from what they were last year.”
 
The 3,700 square foot location employs both of the Henfligns, two full and one part-time employee. Next Level offers 24-hour customer service.
 
“We hope to grow as a business, become better entwined with the community and find a home here,” says Henfling.
 
Next Level will start that trend of community involvement by hosting the first ever Holt Hometown Car Show on August 25 in conjunction with the Holt Hometown Festival.
 

Michigan Ave salon doubles size, to add three jobs and local art

The new and expanded location of Rubie’s Paradise Salon is about more than just hair. 
 
“We just really like to support our community,” says owner Beth Sanford. “It’s fun to mix it up a little bit.”
 
The new, 900 square foot location of Rubie’s Paradise Salon will display and sell local art, which will rotate monthly. It will also feature an additional room that will be utilized for additional services. 
 
“We were looking around for a bigger space and with all the dispensaries that have closed, there were a million places on Michigan Avenue,” says Sanford. “It took quite awhile to find the proper place, but we found the place that we’re in and it’s perfect.”
 
Rubie’s made the move in mid-May, and is going strong enough already that Sanford is looking to hire two to three more stylists. Currently, three full and one part-time stylist are employed there. 
 
“We have more clients than our stylists have time right now,” Sanford says. “Things are going quite well.” 
 
The new Rubie’s location is just two blocks away for Sanford’s original space on Michigan Avenue, but is more than twice the size. 
 

The Purse Rack moves into 1,200 sq ft Delta Township space

It wasn’t Lana Face’s idea to open a designer purse store; it was her husband’s.
 
“We were in Grand Ledge, and he said, “What doesn’t Grand Ledge have?” says Face. “He said a purse store. A woman’s vanity is recession free. You come in get a purse and you feel good.” 
 
The Purse Rack opened in Grand Ledge in November and is already moving into a new, more centralized location in Delta Township. 
 
“Most people in the Grand Ledge area still come to the Lansing area frequently,” says Face. “We were hoping to centralize more, and pull some people from other areas.” 
 
The Purse Rack has been open in their new, 1,200 square foot location next to US Nails on West Saginaw for about four weeks now. The business currently employs both Face and her husband.
 
“We get a lot of walk-in business from US Nails,” Face says. “When you’re stopped at the light and look around you can see our sign, that is bright and colorful and lights up.”
 
The Purse Rack sells both consignment and new designer purses and also hosts purse parties with a lower hosting rate than many other purse party venues. 
 

$9M East Lansing development to be city's tallest building

Downtown East Lansing’s skyline is about to get taller. This month, work began on an eight-story, 60,000 square foot development named The Residences. It will include 42 apartments and 5,600 square feet of commercial space. 
 
“It’ll be the tallest building in Downtown East Lansing,” says Douglas Cron of Cron Management, who is developing the property. “As you drive down Albert going east, you’ll be looking right at it. It will be extremely striking.”
 
The approximately $9 million project will features 28 two bedroom units, seven of each three and one bedroom units. 
 
“The apartments are called adaptive residential,” says Cron. “They’re bigger units than what a lot of people are used to seeing. The bedrooms are bigger, they have walk-in closets, and the living rooms are larger.”
 
Cron adds that the inside of The Residences will have a contemporary, warehouse feel with exposed concrete and ten-foot ceilings. He expects the construction to continue for the next year, with the exterior framework completed by this winter. 
 

CitySpa opens in 600 sq ft East Lansing location

After years in the medical malpractice underwriting industry, Diane Lynch decided she needed a change. 
 
“I found that a professional massage was a great way for me to decompress from everyday stressors,” Lynch says. “So much so that I made a major career change and went back to school at Lansing Community College in pursuit of my therapeutic massage certification.”
 
After working with various local massage and wellness companies for a few years, Lynch decided it was time to open her own business. Her new company, CitySpa, recently opened on Grand River near Downtown East Lansing. 
 
“When I started looking for a place of my own, it was a stroke of good luck to find a beautiful office suite directly across from my alma mater, Michigan State University,” Lynch says. “I love the hustle and bustle of Grand River Avenue in East Lansing where city life is always new and exciting.” 
 
Lynch also chose the 600 square foot location for its relaxing environment, including skylights, vaulted ceiling, a spacious waiting room and two treatment rooms. Lynch offers therapeutic massage, couples massage, reflexology, facials, body wraps, raindrop therapy and more.  
 
“I care deeply about my work and that my clients not only find it relaxing but effective in addressing their soft tissue musculoskeletal issues,” says Lynch. “I continually strive to offer the latest and most effective techniques in my work.”
 

Local family to open 1,800 sq ft sub shop near Frandor, add 20 jobs

A Lansing-area family will soon launch a delicious new venture. Penn Station East Coast Subs is a well-known name south of the Michigan border. And beginning this month, Lansing will get the chance to become familiar with it as well.

“It’s a quick-casual restaurant with 14 different kinds of subs,” says Cheryl Kellogg, who is partnering with family members Mark, Jeff and Chris Kellogg on the business. “It’s an open kitchen concept, so you order the sub and you can watch it being cooked. We do fresh cut fries that we cut in the morning form potatoes, and will have fresh-squeezed lemonade.”

A focus on fresh ingredients, Kellogg says, is the hallmark of Penn Station East Coast Subs' success. The new Lansing shop will open in a 1,800-square foot storefront at 3020 East Saginaw this month. The Frandor-area location is the first of four Greater Lansing shops the Kelloggs intend to open in the near future.
 
“We were looking for certain demographics,” says Kellogg. “This place happened to come up and was right near Frandor. I feel very fortunate we got that spot.”
 
Kellogg says the first Penn Station East Coast Subs will employ 20 workers. The family is looking to open future locations near Meridian Mall, in East Lansing and near the Lansing Mall. They also plan to open locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. 

Eric's Specialty Foods opens in Lansing City Market

Lansing City Market visitors with a hankering for snack foods now have a new source in Eric’s Specialty Foods. The new market business sells baked goods, gluten free items and gift baskets, but their specialty is their special brand of popcorn. 
 
“It’s not patented yet, but we’re going to patent it,” says David Schaberg, father of Eric’s Specialty Foods founder Eric Schaberg. “We’ve been doing fundraisers with our flavored popcorn. It’s a specialty you won’t find elsewhere.”
 
Schaberg explains that the secret to their popcorn is that rather than being flavored with salt that comes off on your fingers, their flavors are glazed onto the popcorn. 
 
“Because we cook with a glaze, the cheese never comes off,” he says.
 
The Schabergs have been operating Eric’s Specialty Foods for nearly two years, and are looking forward to their new, 150-square foot home in the Lansing City Market. It all started, Schaberg says, because of their family’s fondness for popcorn.
 
“It’s been for the love of the corn more than anything,” he says. “We couldn’t find what we wanted locally, and we thought we had a good idea of how to make it. As it’s developed, we were right on that.” 
 
Eric’s Specialty Foods places a special focus on Michigan-made products and uses all of the in-state ingredients possible in their foods. The new location celebrated its grand opening at the market last week. 
 

ListTrue,a new real estate concept will bring 15 jobs to Lansing

A new option for homeowners in the real estate market is on its way to Lansing. ListTrue launched in Grand Rapids in January and will soon begin a statewide expansion with a Lansing office. The premise of the unique real estate service is that it allows homeowners to hand pick how much assistance they’d like in selling their home, potentially saving sellers lots of money in fees. 
 
“If you’re a homeowner and you feel comfortable with paperwork, then you don’t have to pay us to do that for you,” says Brian Knight, president of ListTrue. “If you’re a newbie or want more hands-one help, we can do that too.  People can either save money or use the savings to lower the price of their home.”
 
Knight uses the example of a recent Grand Rapids sale in which a couple chose a low-level of support from ListTrue, paying about $399 to list their home. 
 
“We saved them about $5,000,” says Knight. “They sold their house in two days. So they were able to lower the price and get a buyer right away.”
 
The Lansing location of ListTrue is expected to open later this summer in a 3,000 square foot office on Pine Tree Road in Lansing. Knight expects to hire between 10 and 15 agents at the location. After Lansing, ListServe plans to expand throughout Michigan, and eventually nationwide. 
 
 

Kick It Out Competitive Dance to open in 1,000 square foot East Lansing studio, adding four jobs

Denise Krumm wants Lansing area dancers to unlearn some of the lessons they may have retained about competitive dance on shows like Dance Moms. 
 
“I‘ve seen way too many children and adults turned away because someone says, ‘You’re not good enough,’” Krumm says. “I think if you have your heart and soul in it, there is a spot for everybody.”
 
Krumm’s new Kick it Out Competitive Dance will give all dancers the chance to compete. The new dance studio will place all students into appropriate levels so everyone from children to adults can learn dance, as well as enjoy the fun of competing. 
 
“I had been coaching dance for over 15 years. I’ve been coaching the ages form kindergarten through high school. I decided it was time for me to branch out and get into business for myself. I’ve got a really good staff behind me of teachers and instructors."
 
Krumm’s new studio will employ two instructors and two assistant instructors specializing in lyrical, jazz, hip-hop and pom dancing. 
 
“Our instructors are fantastic,” Krumm says. “They’re young, fresh and they know what they’re doing. They’ve done a lot of training, and I’ll also be sending them to additional trainings. I feel that they are going to pull in a lot of people because of their expertise and their enthusiasm.”
 
Kick it Out Competitive Dance will open on July 1 in a 1,000 square foot studio renovated by Krumm’s friends and family on Haslett Road in East Lansing
 

Soulful Earth Herbals expands into REO Town location

Kathleen Parker’s Soulful Earth Herbals personal care products began when she made an herbal salve for her son when he was born. When other moms liked it, she turned her hobby of working with herbs into a business. 
 
“I formulate and craft products, doing infusions with herbs,” Parker says. “I don’t use the harmful ingredient you’ll find in many products on the shelves in stores.”
 
After seven years of operating Soulful Earth Herbals at the Lansing City Market, Parker is expanding into her own REO Town shop. She will be located in the Art Alley building where she’ll enjoy nearly quadruple the space of her original location. 
 
“It’s going to offer me an opportunity to completely move the business out of my home,” says Parker. “People will be able to see how the products are made, and I can better host classes and workshops.”
 
For Parker, choosing to open in REO Town makes sense for her as a nearby resident, and also allows her to be a part of a neighborhood she’s eager to grow with. 
 
“REO is a growing community,” she says. “They are really mindful about how they are growing. I  just feel that this is the kind of community I want to be a part of.”
 
Parker is currently in the process of moving out of her City Market space and will open in the Art Alley building in August. Soulful Earth Herbals will continue to be sold at the City Market though Sweet Seasons Orchards.
 

Sweet Seasons Orchard doubles space in Lansing City Market

One of Lansing City Market’s vendors is expanding, allowing the unique seller of grains, beans, soup mixes and more to offer a growing variety of goods. 
 
“It will double my space,” says Nan Jasinowski of Sweet Seasons Orchards. “I’ve got lots of products, so we need to grow.”
 
According to Jasinowski, the additional room will give the businesses a chance to expand their varieties of flours, grains and beans. She also hopes to grow her gluten free offerings. New to the Sweet Seasons Orchard will be the Soulful Earth Herbals line of personal care products. 
 
“I hope to get into some other things,” says Jasinowski, “but we’re ramping up for a big season now. We do the orchard thing, so we’re about to be very busy.”
 
In addition to a permanent location at the Lansing City Market, Jasinowski and her family operate Sweet Seasons Orchard near Concord and participate in weekly farmer’s markets around the region. 
 
Jasinowski will begin to expand her Lansing location on July 1. 
 

FC Mason company to expand into 265,000 sq ft St Johns facility, add 40 jobs

A vacant St. John’s plant will see new life as a local company expands, thanks to a partnership between The Clinton County Economic Alliance, Clinton County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, City of St. Johns and the F.C. Mason company.
 
F.C. Mason will soon move its parts and supplies distribution company into the 265,000 square foot plant once occupied by Federal-Mogul in St. Johns. An increase of staff from 62 to 102 will accompany the move. 
 
“We were able to secure a $1 million Clean Michigan Incentive grant from the MDEQ,” says Clinton County Economic Alliance President and CEO, Brian Coughlin. “That enables them to remediate some of the soil problems at that site.”
 
Coughlin says officials expect site improvements and renovations to begin on the site this summer. For those involved in the project and the residents of St. Johns, the work couldn’t begin soon enough.
 
“That plant has been empty for four years,” says Coughlin. “It was a constant reminder of how manufacturing in Michigan took such a hit. Now that we have the plant back on line with a new company and new [jobs], it’s a good thing to see for the community.”
 

A new look comes to downtown with 3,800 square foot Eden Rock

A highly visible change came to the 200-block of Washington Square in Downtown Lansing earlier this spring when the Wild Beaver Saloon transformed into a whole new kind of bar. 
 
“It was operated and very successful for two years, almost to the date,” says Jerome Abood of Wild Beaver Saloon. “We closed it and remodeled the interior and exterior, and created an entirely new concept called Eden Rock. Our decision to close the Wild Beaver and convert to Eden Rock was all positive.”
 
The physical renovations include a cool white and blue exterior, classy outdoor seating and retractable glass doors.
 
“Like most of these buildings, being over 100 years old, they all offer so much charisma and charm,” says Abood. “From the beginning, our designs always wanted these bold architectural traits to be included as much as possible into the design to enhance the effect and feel of the casual diner or late night entertainment energy.  
 
Eden Rock first opened over Memorial Day with weekend hours, and the 3,800 square foot bar and restaurant is now open six days a week. The new menu features organic, homemade recipes such as pizza, pasta dishes, nachos, tacos, fresh-made salsa, bean and cheese dips.
 
“The menu is to complement the interior,” says Abood, “fresh and eclectic, yet comfortable and familiar.”
 
Eden Rock currently employs 20 workers. Abood plans to allow Eden Rock to continue to grow and evolve while serving the Downtown Lansing market. 
 

Nicholas Creative posts record growth, expands footprint and staff

It’s turning out to be a strong year for Nicholas Creative, the boutique website creative agency located in East Lansing’s State News Tech Center. The firm, which got its start as one of the Technology Innovation Center’s first tenants, reported a record high first quarter profit in 2012 and expects that growth to continue
 
“The growth we have experienced in 2012 is attributed to a growing base of loyal clients,” says Nicholas Creative owner Nicholas Chilenko, “and our ability to deliver robust content-managed websites and custom web-based applications.”
 
Nicholas Creative’s growth is beginning to show. The company expanded its office space from 200- to 600-square feet within the State News Tech Center, in which they share more than 5,000-square feet of common space with four other businesses. That space is necessary to hold a growing staff. Now at three employees and two interns, Chilenko recently hired one full-time employee and plans to add two more new full-time employees by the end of the year. 
 
“This year we are on pace to double last year's sales,” says Chilenko. “We will be releasing an updated version of our website in the third quarter and rolling out a nationwide sales campaign for our email marketing products.”
 

Historic DeWitt school to receive 9,700 sq ft addition to become senior living center, up to 15 jobs

When Dr. Tim Brannan and his partner at Brandino Properties came across the vacant Gunnisonville Elementary Building in DeWitt, they saw the potential for the site to not only return to its roots as a place of learning for children, but so much more. The developers plan to renovate the 26,000-square foot school, as well as build a 9,700-square foot assisted living facility called Gunnisonville Meadows on the same site. 
 
“For assisted living, we thought it would be an ideal setting,” says Brannan. “You’ll come right off the highway and you’re about five minutes away, and then you’re just five minutes away from Eastwood [Towne Center]. Families can come and visit and then take their senior out for dinner.”
 
Brannan was inspired to open an assisted living facility after his father was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s and he and his mother had a difficult time finding the right local facility for his care. 
 
“There really wasn’t anyone who was well versed in the issues he was having,” Brannan says. “We wanted to provide some memory care options.”
 
Gunnisonville Meadows will share a site with the Blending Learning Academies charter school and Little Scholars Preschool and Childcare Center that will soon open in the renovated school. Interaction between students and seniors is expected to add to the learning experiences for kids and life enrichment for residents. 
 
Work on the 20-bed facility will begin soon and Brannan hopes it will be open for residents by late 2012 or early 2013. He plans to employ 12 to 15 workers there. 
 

New Mason gift store to feature vintage treasures

Downtown Mason’s new Ballyhoo Vintage Shoppe is a unique little store with roots planted firmly in fun. 
 
“We've been in Mason for about 27 years, and we just thought it would be fun to have a little shop,” says owner Amy Bowden. 
 
The approximately 350-square foot store opened on May 14 on South Jefferson in Mason and features both antique and new items with a vintage feel. Products include cupboards, furniture and style items.
 
According to Bowden, choosing the right location for Ballyhoo was fairly easy, as Downtown Mason hardly had any vacancies left.
 
“It was one of the only places available,” Bowden says, “and we loved it. We get a lots of traffic down here from Los Tres, and I'm sure we'll get even more when the Brewery opens.”
 
Ballyhoo is currently operated by Bowden herself and family members. Already, she reports a good response from shoppers, and attributes some that early success to her downtown neighbors. 
 
“The other businesses in the community have been great,” she says. “I wasn't sure what to expect when I came in, but it's a super community atmosphere. The other stores send people down my way. It’s been fun.”
 

Little Scholars Preschool to add Mason location, up to 10 staff

Little Scholars Preparatory School just opened in Downtown Lansing in 2010, and already, the childcare center and preschool are full to capacity with a waiting list. Owner Audrey Pallone says that the focus on education and low ratios of children to staff have made the center a success. 
 
Pallone hopes to experience the same kind of success in DeWitt with Little Scholars North Campus, which recently opened in two classrooms of the former Gunnisonville Elementary School. The school was recently purchased by Brandino Properties, who will soon open a charter school to share the 26,000-square foot space. 
 
“We’re proving that continuum of care,” says Brandino Properties’ Tim Brannan of the site that will, in total, house the childcare center, charter school and an assisted living facility. “[Pallone’s] focus is getting these kids ready for kindergarten. Her area of expertise is development and early child development.”
 
Little Scholars North Campus is licensed for 38 students and maintains a one to four teacher-to-student ratio, which exceeds state requirement. At full capacity the center could employ up to 10 workers. The center serves children ages six weeks through six years of age.
 

Michigan's top firefighter gear supplier expands to Mason space, adds four jobs

Walt Holden and Dan Hamel know a thing or two about firefighter protective equipment. The retired firefighters both sat on safety committees and instructed their peers on safety equipment during their firefighting careers. And, since 2007 they have been selling a variety of municipal protective equipment through their business First Due
 
In just five years, First Due has become the largest supplier of firefighter protective equipment in the state. They currently service 300 municipalities across the state and have a goal of reaching 500 - half of Michigan’s departments - in the next two years. 
 
“We have been doubling in size every year,” says Holden. “We needed to move to have more space. We needed some warehouse space, but mainly office space.”
 
In order to accommodate those needs, Holden and Hamel have moved from their Leslie location into a 1,400 square foot facility in Mason on Kipp Road.
 
“We could have put it anywhere in Michigan, but we liked the Mason area,” says Holden. “Because we have so many fire departments in this area, it made it very central for them.”
 
With all of their growth, First Due has added four new sales positions over the last year. That number should continue to climb as Holden expects the company’s growth to continue for some time. 
 
“We’re picking up three to four new departments per week,” says Holden. “We couldn’t be happier.”
 

New downtown gallery to showcase original art, custom furniture

With all the new housing options in and on the way to downtown, it’s only appropriate that residents will soon be able to outfit their homes with custom-designed furniture and art from a business right in their neighborhood. La Fille is the new gallery and design studio of artist Tiffany Klein opening in the former Mills Supply Building at 336 E. Michigan Ave. 
 
The gallery will feature Klein’s own artwork, wall finishes, designer fabrics and American-made Vanguard Furniture. 
 
“She had been in Old Town for the last three years in the old furniture warehouse, but she outgrew the space,” says Jill Rademacher of Klein Cabinets who is working with Klein on the new gallery. “She started doing bigger pieces of art, and needed more space. That’s when she had the bug to start the furniture line. She started doing finishes on the furniture itself.”
 
Klein’s carved concrete artwork has been featured in Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize.
 
La Fille will open to the public on June 22 after a June 21 ribbon cutting. The high-end art and furnishings will be paired with an “urban line” of furniture that is more affordable. Klein will also lease space in the building to two other artists. In addition to Klein and Rademacher, La Fille will eventually employ a gallery manager. 
 

Organic Eats & Treats opens in Downtown Williamston

Cindy Kroll didn’t set out to open an organic food business. The Chief Meeting Planner for the Michigan State Medical Society had plenty to keep her busy, but when she started making organic products for friends and family as gifts, an inadvertent demand for her talents began to build. 
 
“Word got out about how delicious they were,” says Kroll. “Dr. Keller told me there was a space upstairs that was available, and I thought I’d give it a try.”
 
Kroll is working with Incu-BaKe in Holt to prepare her selection of granola, organic hand sanitizer, baby wipes and insect repellent to sell in her new 300 square foot store called Organic Eats and Treats in Keller’s Plaza in Williamston
 
“I also order organic coffees and teas and sell them by the jar,” says Kroll.
 
Organic Eats and Treats opened on May 19 and is currently open on evenings and on Saturdays. Krolls hopes to expand her online sales and eventually get her organic products out into larger markets, such as schools. 
 

New 2,000 sq ft Mason party store features Broasted Chicken, deli

Susan Barkley used to visit a certain party store when her daughter raced at Spartan Speedway in Mason years ago, and it always struck her fancy. 
 
“We used to come in here and I thought it would be a fun place to own one day,” says Barkley. 
 
Now she has the chance to find out just how much fun it is, as Barkely recently celebrated the grand opening of Git Some Party Store on North Cedar, that very same store she used to dream of owning. Barkley now offers Broasted Chicken and a deli at the new 2,000 square foot store. 
 
“I have always loved Broasted Chicken,” Barkley says. “There hasn’t been a chicken place in this area since for awhile, so I thought people would like that.”
 
Barkley hopes to add ice cream and liquor sales to her inventory. Currently, the store is operated by Barkley, her family and one employee. The store has only been open for a few weeks, but it’s already living up to Barkley’s expectations. 
 
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she says. “We’re just going to continue to move forward and provide good food for everybody.”
 

Infinity Fitness to open in 8,000 sq ft location, add 16 jobs

When is a gym more than a gym? According to Mitch Gast, it has to do with specialization and class. 
 
“We’re kind of an upscale club,” says Gast. “It will have more of a spa look to it. The goal is to be the most beautiful gym in town. We want people to look in and say, ‘wow!’” 
 
When Infinity Fitness opens on South Waverly Rd. in June, the 8,000 square foot facility will feature group classes, high school athlete training, massage and a limited number of cardio machines and free weights.
 
Focusing on classes and classy facilities such as tiled locker rooms and showers will distinguish Infinity Fitness in one way, and Gast’s commitment to non-profits will do so in another. Five percent of all membership fees will go to the American Cancer Society to support breast cancer research. During Infinity Fitness’ grand opening celebration near the end of June, that rate will increase to 10 percent. 
 
“We want to get involved in the community,” Gast says. Gast also hopes to host programs for area school kids on nutrition and childhood obesity. 
 
Eight employees and another eight contracted instructors have been employed to staff Infinity Fitness. In the near future, Gast will offer his members 24-hour key access including on-demand video classes for groups, and a salt water float tank.
 

Bug Busters opens in Williamston with plans to add 10 jobs

For Jeff Kodet, busting bugs is the family business. His grandfather owns an extermination company, and now his parents and brothers are a part of his new business, Bug Busters of Michigan, which recently celebrated its grand opening in Williamston.
 
“We are a basic preventative termination company,” says Kodet. “We do the outside of the house with a preventative spray for mice, hornets and more.” 
 
Kodet explains that Bug Busters operates a little bit differently than the big extermination companies who arrive to their clients' homes with backpacks. Instead, his company operates with heavy-duty equipment. Kodet is looking toward a summer of growth, with a goal of hiring ten employees by the end of the season. His staff will include both office help and trained and certified sprayers. 
 
“We guarantee everything,” says Kodet. “At the end of the week, if the chemicals are wearing off, we’ll come back and spray again.”
 

Liberty Coin expands into 3,500 sq ft Frandor space

Liberty Coin in Frandor is growing. The store for coin collectors and precious metals investors had already been operating out of two Frandor locations – an office and a showroom – when the opportunity to move into a larger showroom came along. 
 
“We keep getting more customers over time, so we need to make sure we have enough space to serve them,” says Liberty Coins owner Patrick A. Heller.
 
Liberty Coin still has their office location, but has grown its showcase from a 3,100-square foot space to a 3,500-square foot space with higher visibility and a more open floor plan. 
 
“The new location only has one hallway and multiple large rooms,” says Heller. “We can use a lot more space. It is also more in the center of the Frandor Shopping center, so people notice it now where they might not have before.”
 
Liberty Coin opened the new showroom on February 27 and celebrated their grand opening in April. 
 
The growing isn’t over for Liberty Coin. Heller is still looking for an even larger location in which he can combine both of his Liberty Coin locations. Additionally, he hopes to hire two to four additional employees later this year. 
 

New, 7,000 sq ft location brings cBlue closer to customers

Commercial Blueprint, or cBlue, has been helping Lansing-area client with their printing needs since 1951. The family-owned business is now moving to a new, 7,000 square foot location on Pine Tree Road in Lansing Township.
 
“It’s a Dart Development Group building, and it’s a beautiful building, and rather new,” says Doug Schmidt, who owns eBlue/Commerical Blueprint in partnership with Pete DuMond. “A majority of our larger customers on the south side of 496, so that’s a benefit for us.”
 
The change in location coincides with a change in focus for the printing company. As technology has change the industry, cBlue/Commercial Blueprint has changed as well. They are now focused on color work, including advertising. 
 
“Our bread and butter used to be construction,” says Schmidt, “One of our major focuses now is color work, especially large format. We do large signs, banners, and vehicle graphics.”
 
CBlue/Commercial Blueprint opened in its new location earlier in May. Schmidt says he hopes to continue to grow in their new focus area and to make area customers aware they are open to the public for a variety of projects.
 

Williamson family fiber farm opens handspun yarn shop downtown

Jill and Brandon Blain have been operating their family farm, Frosty Acres for four years in Williamson. There the family has been busy raising dozen of fiber animals, including lamas, alpaca, angora goats, Shetland sheep and angora rabbits to make handspun and dyed yarns since that time. Now, Jill Blain has opened Beyond the Fleece in Williamston’s Keller Plaza. 
 
The 430-square foot location sells the Frost Acres yarn as well as knitting supplies and holding classes.  
 
“We’d like to have a bigger space eventually,” says Blain. “We’re just getting established, and we keep bringing more animals into the family. Right now we’re good with what we have here.”
 
Beyond the Fleece joins a number of crafty and artistic new shops in the upper level of Keller’s Plaza. The store celebrated its grand opening on April 12. 
 
“It’s a very nice space up there,” Blain says of Keller’s Plaza. “It’s all geared toward artists. They re really bringing more art into Williamston.”
 

Lansing Fit Body Boot Camp to open second location, add jobs

Emeka Umeh has only been in the United States for nine years, but he’s already committed himself to spreading health and fitness throughout the Lansing area with his Fit Body Boot Camp located in Frandor and a second location soon to open in Haslett. 
 
“I from Nigeria to American nine years ago,” says Umeh. “When I went to the gym to workout I saw people struggling. I decided to become a personal trainer, but my one-on-one training wasn’t enough to help out the community.”
 
Umeh decided he could help more people by opening his own fitness center. His 3,200 square foot Frandor location opened last year and employs one additional trainer as well as Umeh. He’ll hire two more trainers when he opens his new, 2,700 square foot location in Haslett’s Village Square shopping center in July.
 
According to Umeh, the success of his Fit Body Boot Camp has been the for the same reason he was attracted to the fitness model in the first place: because it fits so many people’s lives.
 
“The boot camp style allows me to reach more people,” he says. “It’s a 30 minute workout. People don’t have time to work out for one or two hours.”
 
Fit Body Boot Camp also helps keep clients on track with body assessment tests and progress check-ins ever few weeks. 
 
“You don’t just walk out and go home,” says Umeh. “We know your personality and we call you by your name.”
 

New Delta Twp brewery to bring craft beer, eight jobs to Westside

Lansing’s Westside will soon have a new place to relax and enjoy locally-brewed beer and wine. Former state employee Daniel Buonodono and his wife Sonia will open Eagle Monk Pub and Brewery on West Mount Hope in Delta Township in late June or early July. 
 
“Delta Township is very business friendly,” Buonodono says. “We bought it in August and I’ve been there almost every day working on the facility.”
 
Buonodono has been brewing his own beers for nearly 30 years while working for the state in IT. Though brewing beer and maintaining technology might not seem to have a lot in common, Bounodono says both utilize a similar set of skills.
 
“In the IT world you have to be really good with process control, doing the same things over and over correctly and beer is the same way,” says Buonodono. “To make consistent, good tasting beer you have to do the same thing.”
 
Buonodono’s consistent, good-tasting beer will be front and center at the new 2,600-square foot brewery and restaurant. In addition to his craft beers, including his signature beer called Red Eye Rye, Eagle Monk Pub and Brewery will serve gourmet pizzas, salads, sandwiches and homemade sodas.
 
“It’s going to be a family–friendly, mellow environment,” says Buonodono. “It’s not going to be like a bar in atmosphere.”
 
Buonodono estimates he is investing $250,000 into the new business and expects to hire eight part-time employees upon opening. 
 

Union National Mortgage opens in 4,000 sq ft location, adds 10 jobs

Cyndi Garza has worked in the mortgage business since 1989. After working at a couple of different banks, she decided it was time to strike out on her own. She opened Union National Mortgage in East Lansing, a company that focuses exclusively on mortgages, including underwriting, closing, processing and loan officers. 
 
“We have some of the best talent in the mortgage industry and we have grown quickly and hit the ground running with our new office,” says Garza. “With interest rates low and the several programs we are able to offer we have had some record months recently that has been very exciting.”
 
Union National Mortgage opened in a 4,000 square foot location on West Lake Lansing Road in late December with 10 employees. Garza says she will soon hire three additional staff members, and also recently opened another Union National Branch in Battle Creek.
 
“We are looking to grow Michigan with several branches in other areas,” says Garza. “It is an excellent place to work, in which people enjoy what they do and are committed to customer service.”
 

Your Creative Escape triples space with new downtown Eaton Rapids location

After being a stay-at-home mom for some time, Traci Lawson was itching to get back into the working world. One day, while driving through downtown Eaton Rapids, she saw a sign on a vacant storefront that said “For Lease, $700 per month.” 
 
“I said to my husband, ‘I think I can sell $700 of something in a month,’” Lawson says.
 
She was right. Lawson and her husband Jaime opened Your Creative Escape, a paint-your-own-pottery studio in March of 2011 and received such a positive response, they were running out of room. 
 
“We could seat 49 people in that store and we were very often full to the gills,” Lawson says. “I hated turning people away.”
 
Exactly one year after opening, Your Creative Escape has moved to a 3,000 square foot studio on Hall Street in downtown Eaton Rapids, tripling the business’ original footprint. Lawson attributes their extraordinary growth to the community atmosphere that has grown in the studio. 
 
“It’s like a big conversation,” says Lawson, “and there’s lots of laugher. It’s a fun environment. There are many people who didn’t know each other before and now it’s like a big family.”
 
Your Creative Escape is also a fun alternative to going to the bar for many local adults. The pottery studio is open until midnight on Fridays and features such fun events as Diva Night. The studio is currently working with the Island City Dog Park Club on a community fundraiser.
 

New Williamston Bead Works opens in Keller's Plaza

Keller’s Plaza in Williamston is quickly becoming a crafter’s paradise. Most recently, Williamston Bead Works, a new beading store, has opened in one of the upstairs suites, joining a handful of other craft businesses. 
 
“The ten different suites are all rented now,” says Carol Lacca, owner of Williamston Bead Works of Keller’s Plaza. “It surprised me when I got here it had so much. There is a lot of traffic up here now.”
 
Beginning in April, all of those visitors have the chance to buy beads, beaded crafts, jewelry supplies and  would also be able to take beading classes in Lacca’s new business. After teaching art and science for 30 years, Lacca put her energy into a new art form: beading. She sold her beadwork at a number of places and finally decided it was time to open a store of her own. 
 
“I couldn’t believe it, but I realized I had enough bead in my house to make a store out of,” she says. “I have all kinds of beads from the seed bead to the big beads and semi-precious stones.” 
 
In her 223 square foot store, Lacca offers classes, lectures, workshops and individual tutoring on beading. The former teacher especially loves working with kids and hopes her shop inspires more young people to enjoy beading.
 

Crosaires offers aging adults a new lifestyle in Williamston, creates four jobs

By the time Todd Walter opened his first aging community residence in Williamston last month, he already had 18 years of experience serving older adults under his belt. Inspired by his own grandmother’s aging process, Walter has become a leader in progressive eldercare advocacy projects in the state of Michigan and around the country.
 
“I’ve been involved in a culture change movement,” Walter says. “We’ve been trying to get people to look at this stage of life differently.”
 
Walter recently celebrated the culmination of those years of advocacy with the opening of Crosaires, a 2,800 square foot home for aging adults on North Zimmer Road in Williamston.
 
“This has always been a dream of mine to come back full circle to honor my grandmother in this way,” Walter says. “I’ve always had a desire to own my own place.” 
 
Crosaires will not only be the home to six elderly adults, but will also serve as an opportunity for the community members to interact with his residents and vice versa. In addition to regular visits to events and businesses in Downtown Williamston, Walter will invite community groups to garden, enjoy firepits, stargaze and more with his residents.
 
“It’s an environment where they’re involved with the community,” says Walter. “They’re not just tucked away getting medical treatment.” 
 
Crosaires’ first resident moved in on April 4. Walter currently employs four staff members at the new home. 
 

The Dowry bridal shop moves into 2,700 sq ft Grand Ledge space

Couples often have serendipitous stories about how their romantic relationship came together. The same is appropriately true for business partners Michelle Lantz and Emily Archer, whose new business, The Dowry, is all about romance.
 
“I had been talking about and planning to opening a bridal shop for about 18 months,” says Lantz, “and she has been on the sort of same timeline.”
 
Though they only met a couple of months ago, the Grand Ledge women found their entrepreneurial aspirations to be a perfect match. Lantz had recently purchased 750 wedding gowns, and Archer was looking for inventory to stock her future bridal consignment shop.”
 
“She found out I had all that merchandise, and she realized she didn’t have to stock more inventory,” says Lantz.
 
The Dowry will be opening on May 1 in Downtown Grand Ledge and will celebrate a grand opening during the city’s Victorian Festival. The 2,700 square foot location will feature new, consignment and rental attire for brides, grooms and their wedding parties. 
 
“Women are realizing that their daughters aren’t going to want to wear their wedding dresses, so they’re getting rid of them,” says Lantz. “We’re also doing gown rental for brides and bridesmaids, which is something that used to be common back in my mom’s mom’s generation.”
 
Lantz says that Grand Ledge is the perfect location for a bridal store, as the town has become a wedding destination for hundreds of couples every year.
 

East Lansing Chopstix offers authentic Asian cuisine, creates seven jobs

East Lansing’s Chopstix restaurant may be new, but owner Dave Chou brings a lifetime of experience creating high-quality, unique Asian food for American diners to the business.

Though he arrived in the U.S. from Taiwan with a degree in Marine Engineering, Dave Chou quickly immersed himself in the family business – high-end Asian food – and hasn’t looked back since. After working in his father’s business for years, Chou brought his expertise into his own restaurant in Northville – with a few changes. 
 
“I tweaked it a bit and added some modern twist to the existing menu by incorporating cuisines form other southeastern Asian cuisines,” he says.
 
Chou took some time off from running his own restaurant to spend more time with his kids. Now, however, East Lansing is the benefactor of his return to the restaurant business. 
 
“I believe my restaurant can offer a niche to the Asian dining scene as the cuisine is more Hunan and Szechuan in style, while others offer more of a Cantonese flavor,” says Chou. “I have confidence in the unique recipes and the careful selection of ingredients that go into preparation of the food.”
 
Chopstix currently seats 70 diners in its 2,000 square foot, Grand River location. Chou currently employs seven workers, and anticipates increasing that number as the business grows.
 
“Chopstix does not only appeal to American palate, but carefully designed our menu with the large Chinese and other Asian population in mind,” he says. “Our ultimate goal is to turn Chopstix into a local dining fixture where people who truly enjoy delicious and high quality Asian food would consider us as their home.”
 

Unique beer, handmade furniture and three jobs coming to Mason with Bad Brewing Company

Brian Radsdale has been brewing beer as a hobby for several years. Starting this summer, that hobby will officially become a career with the opening of Bad Brewing Company in Downtown Mason. The pub will offer five house-brewed beers daily, as well as two to three beers that will change with the Radsdale and his co-owner Ryan Smith’s creativity. 
 
“We do really small batches so that gives us room to experiment,” says Radsdale. “You might come in and there might be some crazy kind of beer we’re trying, but we’ll also have the staples.”
 
The 1,600 square foot location on Jefferson Street in Mason was a former flower shop that Radsdale, Smith and their friends and family have been working to renovate since January. Radsdale’s background in construction came in handy as they renovated nearly every aspect of the building, including adding two bathrooms and custom-made furniture and bar. 
 
“It was my dream to start a small micro-brew,” says Radsdale, “the kind of place where you’d like to sit down, relax and have a beer.”
 
According to Radsdale, the Bad Brewing Company will have a laid-back, comfortable feel where customers can play darts, relax and even bring their own food to eat. Pre-packaged food items from Michigan companies will be available for purchase. 
 
Radsdale expects the bar to be ready to open by mid-June. Bad Brewing Company will employ both owners and a third employee open opening. 
 

Greenfield Collection reopens in Old Town, adds three jobs

When brothers, Mike and Dave Polston and their business partner Ron Cosson, reopened their Old Town shop, Greenfield Collection Antiques this month, there was no need to worry if they’d have enough customers to support the business. In fact, their primary reason for opening the store was because so many of their former customers asked them to.  
 
“It was basically customers we spoke with in Old Town,” says Mike Polston. “They said they missed our store and wanted us back.”
 
Polston and his partners managed to find their new Old Town location and open in the 1,500 square foot space within about a month. The transition was fairly quick in part because they had no question about where they’d open the store. 
 
“We wanted to stay in Old Town because we love Old Town,” Polston says. “It’s a great location and a great place. I believe it’s the center of art ad culture here in Lansing.”
 
Antiquing runs in the Polston family, as the Greenfield Collection was actually named after Mike and Dave’s father’s store in Greenfield, Tennessee. Family connections aren’t the only thing that attracts the partners to the industry, however. According to Polston, the environmental aspect of antiques really appeals to him. 
 
“If you think about it, antiques are a kind of green movement,” he says. “It’s recycling old things to make them functional for people to use. It’s a cool thing.”
 
The Greenfield Collection is located at 117 East Grand River and currently employs the three part-owners. 
 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe brings vacation atmosphere, 20 jobs to East Lansing

Getting away on a tropical vacation once a year sometimes just isn’t enough. Ruth and Dave Buko are giving patrons of their new Tropical Smoothie Café in East Lansing the ability to do it a little more often. 
 
“It’s a ten-minute vacation to get away from it all,” says Ruth Buko. “It’s a tropical environment, the music will be going – you go on vacation and when you get back you just feel better. Hopefully people will feel that way when they leave here too.”
 
The new Tropical Smoothie Café opened on Grand River last week, and the 1,600 square foot space has already seen a good deal of visitors. So many that the Bukos have ordered additional tables and chairs, which will bring the restaurant’s capacity up to 49.
 
The Bukos were attracted to the idea of opening a Tropical Smoothie Café because of the business’ emphasis on fresh fruit and produce and affordable food options. The former Blimpie location required significant renovation, and the Bukos hope to add a patio for outdoor dining this summer. The café currently employs 20. 
 
As the restaurant continues to grow, Buko hopes to expand their catering options, as well as expand the local footprint of Tropical Smoothie Café. 
 
“We have a second franchise and we are hoping to open an little express café in the area around Grand River,” Buko says. “We’re playing it by ear to see how it goes here.”
 

The Barberrettes expands with new Coterie Purlieu spa, adds three jobs

Felix Compos opened The Barberrettes in Downtown Lansing last summer, and the barbershop has become so successful, that he’s already expanding. Compos has taken over the 2,500 square foot space next door to open Coterie Purlieu, a day spa.

“We needed to expand services downtown,” says Compos. “We’re excited. We have other services we’re going to be offering soon.”

Since the spa’s soft opening Coterie Purlieu has offered manicures, pedicures and massage therapy. Soon, tanning and permanent makeup services will be added to the list. Though the spa has yet to announce its opening, some of Compos three new employees are already booking up.

“We do a broad variety of things,” says Compos. “We’re also going to have a small boutique with wraps and jewelry.”

A native of Downtown Lansing, Compos is excited to be building his business in the same neighborhood in which he grew up. His plans are to continually add new services, such as a five-dollar shoe shine station for business people during the lunch hour.

Compos hopes to have Coterie Purlieu fully operational by April 23.

Tony Sacco's to bring coal-fired dining to Lansing Twp, add 30 jobs

Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza is a rapidly growing franchise started by East Lansing native Chuck Senatore in Florida that will open its second Michigan location near Senatore’s old stomping grounds in Lansing Township.
 
The new 4,200 square foot restaurant is set to open near Eastwood Towne Center and will be one of four restaurants part-owned by Senatore that will open there soon. Six additional Michigan locations are currently in the works. The secret to Tony Sacco’s has been the restaurant’s commitment to an unusual cooking method.
 
“It’s a traditional pizzeria,” says Senatore, “the way things used to be made. We make our own sauce, our own dough, everything. We have no microwaves, no stove. Everything we do is done in the coal burning oven.”
 
And he means everything. Senatore explains that everything is heated in the coal-burning ovens originally used by the first pizza places operated by Italian immigrants at the beginning of the last century. The method cooks the pizza in four minutes, creating a unique texture to the crust, as well as tastier toppings.
 
“We cook at extremely high temperatures,” says Senatore, “near 1000 degrees. Because it only takes four minutes to cook, the toppings don’t get murdered with all that heat.”
 
About 30 employees will be hired to staff the new Tony Sacco’s, which will seat approximately 120. The restaurant will feature a full bar and 40-person capacity heated patio.
 
Senatore plans to open Tony Sacco’s within the next month.

City Salon expands to 1,350 square foot Cedar St location, to add staff

Lansing’s City Salon has been changing since Heather Jarous purchased the business in January. The most recent was the salon’s move from their former Michigan Avenue location to a 1,350 square foot spot next to Biggby at 750 North Cedar Street.
 
“I came across a great opportunity,” says Jarous. “I had a bunch of people who believed in me. I can’t even tell you how it happened – it was like a dream come true.”
 
City Salon celebrated their new location with a grand opening last week. The new space will allow Jarous to add a manicure room and a full body waxing room. She expects to hire two new employees in the next couple of months to staff the new services.
 
Judging by the response she’s see so far, it doesn’t seem like the growth will only continue for City Salon in its new location.
 
“We have so much drive-by traffic, and walk-by traffic with Biggby right here,” says Jarous. “And there is so much more parking here.”
 
The secret to City Salon’s success thus far, says Jarous, is even better than the right location: the right staff.
 
“They don’t have to be anyone other than who they are, and people just gravitate toward them,” she says. “New clients who come through the door stay forever. It’s just the kind of people they are.”

Twisters Soft Serve adds an East Lansing location, 12 jobs

What  started as the purchase of a small Perry ice cream shop 13 years ago has grown into big business for Joe Spadafore and his family. They enjoyed operating the King Cone so much that they are now opening their eighth soft serve ice cream shop in East Lansing. 
 
Twisters Soft Serve Ice Cream is set to open in about a week on Grand River near Coral Gables. The 1,000 square foot location will have walk-up windows for outside ordering and an assortment of picnic tables for diners. 
 
“We wanted to be on that side of town,” says Spadafore, “and that building used to be an ice cream store, so it made sense."
 
Spadafore and his family own Twister locations throughout Michigan, and are now growing the business into a franchise. Franchise locations are now underway in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
 
Spadafore credits the success of the growing soft serve business to Twisters’ commitment to quality. 
 
“We don’t skimp out,” he says. “We only use the best stuff and give the best service at the best price.”
 
The new Twisters will employ 12 workers. 
 

Azzi Jewelers opens in 3,000 sq ft Frandor location

Azzi Jewelers may have only opened near Frandor in December, but it might look familiar to area jewelry shoppers. After owning and operating Medawar Jewelers in Frandor for 10 years, Elie Azzi has opened a new store with his very own name. 
 
“We had a great response so far,” Azzi says. “Most of our customers are finding us now, and we’re very happy with the location.”
 
Azzi opened the 3,000 square foot location on December 5 and retained all six of his employees from Medawar. The expertise of his long-time employees, in fact, is one of the reasons Azzi says his customers shop with him. 
 
“I find customers still like to come in and be taken care of,” says Azzi, “even though they can go online and buy jewelry or go to the mall and buy jewelry, they still like to be taken care of.”
 
Azzi Jewelers features the same brands shoppers were able to find at Medawar, such as Rolex and Pandora. If business continues to go well at the Frandor location, Azzi hopes to open additional Azzi Jewelers locations. 
 

T.C. Paintball comes to 35 acre Charlotte site

Charlotte just became even more fun. The Traverse City-based T.C.  Paintball has opened their newest facility on McConnell Highway.
 
“The location in Charlotte used to be Chaos Paintball,” says co-owner Rick Steinebach, “and that is where my partner, Tomas Soria, started playing.”
 
The 35 acre property has three 25,000 square foot tourney fields, including a big village field, a woods field and soon, a field featuring big mounds of dirt. The business is operated from a 1,500 square foot pro shop.
 
“Our goals are to grow paintball in the area,” says Steinebach. “We will provide private parties for corporate events, birthday parties, bachelor parties and the like.”
 
T.C. Paintball has been in operation since 2001 and now includes four locations throughout the state. The Charlotte location is open on Sundays.
 

Social media, pub culture and new jobs meet at Taps 25

Being cutting edge doesn’t necessarily mean looking futuristic. The newest bar to join the family that includes The Tin Can, Harem and The Loft on Michigan Avenue will prove exactly that. 
 
The owners of Taps 25 will weave social media technology into their new bar that will otherwise look and feel very much like a good, old-fashioned beer pub.
 
“It will be a classic style pub,” says Jerome White, who owns the new bar along with his partner Doug Johns, “but with a very tech savvy feeling to it.”
 
With a bar handmade from 125-year old reclaimed barn wood, patrons will feel right at home while tweeting and updating from their seats. A large TV monitor will display a live stream of tweets with the hashtag #Taps25, and messages mentioning @Taps25. 
 
“Not only will you be able to see what you’re tweeting in front of your face,” says White, “but you’ll also be telling people about the bar while you’re there.” 
 
Taps 25 will also offer Facebook-based discounts for interacting with the bar. 
 
“My company The Media Advantage specializes in digital media and social media,” White says. “This will be one of the models we use to see how the medium is growing.”
 
Visitors to the 800 square foot bar will enjoy 26 rotating beers on tap that will range from classic domestics to imports to Michigan favorites. It will be staffed by a combination of existing employees from White and Johns’ other bars, as well as around four new employees. Taps 25 is expected to open in mid-April.
 

Wine bar set to open this summer in Downtown Lansing, will add nine jobs

Paul Fox and Paul Bussard have been researching wines and wineries for years. During their most recent trip the wineries of West Michigan, they decided that it was time to translate their dream of owning a wine bar into a reality. 

“We’re Lansing residents,” says Fox. “We’ve lived here for a long time, and we wanted a wine bar we could go to in our own downtown.”

P Squared Wine Bar will not only be Downtown Lansing’s first wine bar, but it will also be unique to the genre in a variety of ways. Most notably, Fox and Bussard intend to create an atmosphere that will make everyone feel welcome, from the most amateur wine drinkers on up.

“Our goal is to take the snobbery out of wine,” says Fox. “Wine and snobbery tend to go together. We want to create an environment where normal people can come in and enjoy wine.”

Fox and Bussard recently signed the lease on the future home of P Squared, the former location of the Pita Pit on Washington Square. The 2,000 square foot space will have a comfortable, living room-type feel, and will feature a café menu of sandwiches, light appetizers, and flatbread pizza. 
 
“We’ll have simple food to complement wine,” says Fox. “We’ll also offer craft beer from the bottle and some signature cocktails.”
 
The real focus, however, will be the wine. P Squared will feature wine from all over the world, as well as highlighting Michigan wineries, such as Tabor Hill and St. Julian. 
 
“We’ll also have smaller wineries people wouldn’t even recognize,” says Fox. “Places [and wines] that, until we open our doors, the only place you would have been able to get it is the winery.”
 
P Squared is expected to open the first weekend of August. 

Edge Partnerships moves into 3,400 sq ft Downtown Lansing location, adds four staff members

After five years of growth, Edge Partnerships is expanding into a new Downtown Lansing location. The advocacy and communications company, owned by Lorri Rishar Jandron and Angela Brownell Witwer, moved from its original Old Town location last weekend. 
 
“We love our [Old Town] space and we love our landlord,” says Witwer, “but we’ve grown a lot since we opened, and the space is about double what we were in.” 
 
Witwer and her partner purchased the 3,400 square foot building at 117 E. Kalamazoo and have been busy renovating it to fit their needs, as well their clients' needs. They installed a new furnace and air conditioning, lighting and electricity, as well as working with Lansing Glass Company and Old Town’s Against the Grain on design elements. 
 
“It’s beautiful,” says Witwer. “It has punched tin ceilings and is over a hundred years old.”
 
The increased space was a necessity as Edge Partnerships has grown significantly during their five years of operation. The company now employs four full-time staff members and three to four interns. Edge Partnerships continues to grow their client list and has yet to lose a client. Witwer attributes the company’s growth, as well as their customer loyalty, to Edge Partnerships' unique business model. 
 
“We believe in keeping it small enough so Lorri and I have a part in every account,” she says. “We give them excellent service and we always have a hand in everything that goes on.”
 

Hear Michigan opens 1,500 sq foot Okemos location, adds three jobs

Hear Michigan is the state’s largest family-owned, privately operated audiology company, so it’s only appropriate that the Lansing area would be the right location for their newest office. The Okemos branch, located in the Heritage Office Park on Okemos Road, is Hear Michigan’s fifteenth. 
 
“I think Lansing is a great market,” says Hear Michigan owner John L. Ackerman. “It allows us to cover a good portion of Michigan.” 
 
According to Ackerman, the success of Hear Michigan has been rooted in the company’s commitment to serving clients from every income level.
 
“In the hearing impaired world, sometimes patients will go to [other audiologist] and are quoted from $3,000 to $5,000 for a hearing aid,” says Ackerman. “When you can’t afford that, you never return.” 
 
To facilitate the needs of those who can’t afford a brand new hearing aid, Hear Michigan offers demo and used models, so every patient can hear better.
 
The 1,500 square foot office employs 15 workers, which is a combination of existing employees from other branches and three new positions. The Okemos Hear Michigan office opened in 2011. 
 

Swab Collision opens in 2,100 square foot Mason location

Melvyn Swab may have only opened Swab Collision in Mason in February, but he’s not new to auto work, or the Cedar Street location. Swab was just a teenager when he wandered into Tom’s Auto Body in 1978 looking for work. When he backed into owner Tom Hummer’s car in the process, he agreed to stay and work off the damages.
 
“And I never left,” says Swab.
 
Though Swab worked at Tom’s Auto Body for several years, he left to pursue other opportunities. After his kids were raised and he was looking to slow life down a bit, he and Hummer made a plan to transition shop from one man to the other. 
 
“Swab Collision opened out of my garage in 2009,” says Swab. “I was just waiting for Tom to retire. We planned this about three years ago.”
 
Since purchasing and renaming the 2,100 square foot business, Swab has been busy painting  renovating. He plans to grow his customer base with quality craftsmanship and great customer service. His history in the area shouldn’t hurt either. 
 
“It’s a small town and I know a lot of people here,” Swab says. “Tom’s friends still come here too.”
 

Buck's All Repair expands to 8,000 square foot location

If one was looking for proof that a commitment to honesty in repair work is a winning strategy, it can be found in Buck’s All Repair. The repair shop opened less than two years ago in Downtown Lansing, and has already expanded to a new, 8,000 square foot Delta Township location.
 
“And we needed it,” says owner Steven Simons. “The bays are 110 feet long, so I can work on everything.”
 
“All Repair” isn’t just a clever title. Simons and his team work on vehicles of all kinds, from foreign cars to heavy-duty construction equipment. 
 
“This makes it nice for my mechanics,” Simons says, “as they don’t ever get bored. Everybody brags about their mechanics, but I have really good guys in here.”
 
Simons is now looking to hire one more mechanic for his team, while still working on renovating the new building. He made many interior renovations prior to opening in early January, and now will begin working on the exterior of the shop. 
 
Buck’s All Repair is now located at 4820 Empire Way. Simons chose the location because it is a high traffic area for large trucks. He is currently experiencing a good deal of business at his new location, and hopes to add truck sales to his business in the future. 
 

Motorcycle shop expands to new 3,700 square foot Delta Twp location, adds four jobs

When Steve Hollon started his small motorcycle shop in Grand Ledge six years ago, he did not anticipate just how quickly his Golgotha Performance Cycles would grow. After doubling, then tripling in size, Hollon is now moving to a 3,700 square foot Delta Township facility where he’ll be able to expand his retail services.  
 
“We do everything from boots to leather to repair," says Hollon. "We’ll also have art, tin signs, neon clocks, heck we'll have everything a rider could want and help people looking to buy their friend or loved one that perfect gift!" 
 
Golgotha Performance Cycles specializes in custom-built motorcycles, parts and repair. The new shop, which is a former Napa Auto Parts store at 610 North Creyts Road, will also offer an indoor space for customers to take photos with their bikes with a variety of hand-painted backgrounds created by local graffiti artists. He says the location is ideal both in its proximity to major roadways in the area, and its safe driveway for motorcycles to enter and exit.
 
“We will have great pricing but we’re definitely not a discount store. Some people are going for the cheapest thing and buying items on the Internet,” says Hollon. “But the Internet can’t give good service, or talk to you and understand about what you want to do with your motorcycle so you get the best parts for your ride the first time. Our customer service is great, and we’re unique because we have so many different things for the motorcycle enthusiast.”
 
Hollon will hire a staff of four to work at the new location, which is scheduled to open in early May. 
 

Sultan's to open 2,700 square foot location in Downtown East Lansing, adds seven jobs

Fans of Sultan’s Restaurant in the Hannah Plaza in East Lansing and Sultan’s Express in Downtown Lansing have a whole new reason to get excited. The makers of fresh Mediterranean cuisine are bringing their winning formula to Ann Street in Downtown East Lansing, with Sultan’s Delight.
 
“I like this part of East Lansing,” says Bassam Mahmoud, part owner of Sultan’s Delight, as well as the other area Sultan’s restaurants. “I wanted to target the students because I think there is a need for healthier food here. My food is good, healthy and fresh.”
 
Mahmoud expects the new restaurant to open in early April. Until then, he and his staff are busy building out the 2,700 square foot space. The leased space began as a blank slate, allowing Mahmoud and his staff to build and design the kitchen and every other aspect of the restaurant to their liking. 
 
Mahmoud has been in the restaurant business for 20 years and believes the key to his success has been offering the freshest food options around. Nothing from his kitchens is ever frozen, canned or boxed. Even the fruit smoothies are fresh-squeezed to order. 
 
“We are going to serve gelato,” says Mahmoud, “and our smoothies will also be fresh prepared, with no chemicals or mixes. It will always be 100 percent fresh fruit."
 
Seven employees will be hired to open Sultan’s Delight, which will seat 85-90 diners. 
 

Force by Design expands East Lansing office, adds 10 staff

California-based Force by Design only expanded to East Lansing a little more than a year ago, but their Midwest office is already expanding in University Place. The office began with one staff person in a 900 square foot space, and is now growing into a 7,898 square foot office that the company is currently renovating.
 
"We have about 11 full-time people in the East Lansing office now,” says Micaiah Filkins, president and co-founder of Force by Design. “That includes a number of consultants and a marketing team. We’re still looking for hungry salespeople and talented consultants."
 
The Downtown East Lansing location at the corner of Albert and M.A.C. Avenues is receiving upgrades in the Force by Design suite, including new countertops, a training center and a new entrance.
 
Force by Design is a consulting firm specializing in call center management, customer relationship management implementation, and business strategy and process design. They are a salesforce.com select consulting partner focused on cloud-computing, and they plan to continue their growth in the Lansing area and throughout the state. 
 
"We’re continuing to find highly talented resources in Michigan, and specifically in the Lansing region,” says Filkins. “We’re very excited with the response we’re getting from our primary partner, salesforce.com, to the business we’re doing in the area."

Rifkin Scrap Irons to open $1 million Delta Township Facility

Rifkin Scrap Iron & Metal Company has been processing scrap metal for four generations. Headquartered in Saginaw, with locations in West Branch and Traverse City, when the business decided to expand southward, they knew just where to go.
 
“For quite a few years we’ve wanted to be in the Lansing area and we discovered this location,” says owner David Rifkin of the company’s new site in Delta Township. “At the same time, we were getting customer feedback from scrap suppliers from that area wanting to know why we didn’t have facilities in Lansing.
 
Rifkin Scrap Iron & Metal’s commitment to customer service not only allowed the business to be able to grow into the Lansing area, but created a demand before they even got here from existing customers. Rifkin hopes construction on the $1 million property development will begin in April and would like to see the facility up and running by June, if not May.
 
“We’re refurbishing an office that was there,” says Rifkin, “and we’re going to build a pre-engineered metal building that will be an indoor receiving station. Then we’ll be doing quite a bit of work to the property as well.”
 
The new building will be an expandable facility, beginning at 6,000 square feet with the possibility of increasing in size as needed. Rifkin expects to employ five workers at the site initially, and says the business could eventually employ up to 15.
 
“We’re really excited to be a part of the community,” he says. “We enjoy participating in the communities where we have our facilities.”
 

Working Bugs expands into renovated, 45,000 sq ft East Lansing facility

Expansion has always been in the plans for Working Bugs, the green chemical manufacturer in East Lansing; but that doesn’t make adding a 45,000 square foot production facility to the formerly 4,000 square foot operation any less exciting. 
 
“We were in the development phase,” says Working Bugs owner Dianne Holman, “but we knew in order to be profitable we’d have to have a production facility that was much larger. We make chemicals, and you have to make over a certain volume to be viable.”
 
Holman and her team purchased the former City of East Lansing Public Works building off of Haslett Road last June. As a location where vehicles were serviced for many years, the property has been under significant environmental cleanup and renovation since that time. Working Bugs partnered with the city on the clean up effort.
 
“We still have some things to do,” says Holman, “mostly outside the building. Our plans are to remove some of the asphalt and really green it up. Our whole approach at the site is to be more environmentally friendly.” 
 
Working Bugs is now in the process of transferring production to the renovated location as new, larger production equipment arrives. The original Chandler Road office will be retained, and will continue to house the research and development operations of the business.
 
Working Bugs currently employs a staff of eight. Holman says up to two more may be hired by the end of 2012. 
 

$6 million Lansing Asphalt to open in Delta Township

When Superior Asphalt opens in Delta Township in July, it will be the third asphalt manufacturing facility in the Lansing area, but the very first to be Michigan-owned and operated. The Grand Rapids-based company opened in 1983 and has grown into a 100-employee operation there.
 
“We feel that Lansing is a great community with a lot of potential for further growth,” says owner Jeff Kresnak. “We thought it would be beneficial to the municipalities in the area to have three options when they go out for bid.”
 
The estimated $6 million plant, to be called Lansing Asphalt, is now under construction at 3880 S. Canal Road and will be capable of manufacturing 400 tons of asphalt per hour. The development will take shape on an 18 acre property and will add 15 to 20 local jobs right away. Kresnak hopes to employ 50 to 100 at the location in the next five years. 
 
One standout feature of the facility is its already operational asphalt recycler that produces small quantities of hot mixed asphalt 12 months a year. 
 
“It gives Lansing an option that the City of Grand Rapids has had for about ten years,” says Kresnak. “[Cities] would rather come in and get hot mix than use cold patch. It’s a nice benefit, and it’s also recycled. Asphalt is one of the only materials that is 100 percent recyclable.” 
 
Silo footings are currently being dug at the future home of Lansing Asphalt, and Kresnak hopes to be in operation by the first week in July.
 

Real Sicilian pizza & pasta come to Trowbridge Plaza

When the owners of the Woody’s Oasis, Chuck and Delista Raad, moved their original East Lansing location to a larger building down the road on Trowbridge, they hung on to their original space in Trowbridge Plaza. Last August, they launched a new restaurant, Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta in its place. 
 
Pizza places may be plentiful in East Lansing, but Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta is setting itself apart with something rare in the biz: authenticity. A local Sicilian couple partnered with the business to develop the recipes.
 
“Everything here is homemade,” says restaurant manager Rita Haidamous. “We make all of the sauces, shred our own cheese, and all the dough is made by hand.”
 
In addition to delivery options, the new restaurant offers dine-in eating for 60-70 guests, who can chose from ordering the made-to-order menu options or pizza by the slice from a selection of seven types of pizza each day.
 
Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta employs ten workers and is currently open until 10 pm. According to Haidamous, the business hopes to expand their delivery hours in the future. 
 

Simplified Tax opens Eaton Rapids, North Lansing locations

Simplified Tax & Accounting Services has been locally-owned and operated in the Lansing area since 1945, but in the last few years, the company has been growing at a notably fast rate.
 
“We’ve been consistently opening one new office a year,” says Ryan Lowe of Simplified, “and this year we happened to open two.”
 
Those two newest locations are in Downtown Eaton Rapids and on North Larch on Lansing’s north side, and are 800- and 1,400-square feet, respectively. They employ four new workers each, and bring the total number of Simplified locations to eight.
 
According to Lowe, the company’s success has been due to the quality and personal service they give to their clients.
 
“I think our reputation in the community has grown of being an appropriately priced tax service with skilled preparers,” he says. “What we’ve found is that the comfort people feel when they come to our offices makes them tend to stay with us.”
 
Lowe expects Simplied’s growth to continue in the upcoming year.  

Fusion Shows expands to Downtown Lansing location

Paying $10 for a $10 concert ticket doesn’t seem like it should be a revolutionary concept. But to anyone who has purchased a ticket for any type of performance through a mainstream ticketing agent knows that service fees can often rival the cost of the ticket itself.
 
Not so with Fusion Shows. The formerly Howell-based music-booking agency known for their fee-free ticketing recently tripled their footprint with a move to an office on North Washington near Oakland Avenue in downtown Lansing. According to Fusion Shows co-owner Nate Dorough, the move made sense as an increasing number of the company’s regular contractors are located in Lansing.
 
“We needed more space, and to save gas money,” Dorough says. “We tripled our space, and we're sharing an office with Meridian Entertainment. Their offices are located in a beautiful old house in downtown Lansing, and they had some space they weren't using. It was just a great fit.”  
 
Fusion Shows began in 2008 when Dorough and Lansing-based booking agent Irving Ronk combined their efforts. The company works regularly with venues across the state from Grand Rapids to Pontiac to Frankenmuth, booking both local and out-of-state bands. Fusion Shows recently worked with Downtown Lansing, Inc booking entertainment for Frost Fest.
 
“We've always grown in a very slow and steady fashion,” says Dorough. “We'd like to continue that, selling more tickets, growing into larger venues, and expanding our company in a way that makes sense.”  

New mixed martial arts gym opens in East Lansing

Mixed martial arts enthusiasts and prospective enthusiasts of the sport have a new place to train in a variety of martial arts methods. East Lansing Underground Martial Arts opened in the Campus Town Mall on Grand River in October of 2011.
 
“I chose the Campus Town Mall for its location near campus and its proximity to the heart of East Lansing,” says owner Charyl Kirkland.
 
At the new facility students can learn jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, judo and self-defense. Kirkland is pleased to have East Lansing native, Matt Torres, volunteering his time to the gym, bringing over 20 years’ experience in martial arts and training at some of the best mixed martial arts gym in the country to the gym.
 
“We have a lot of great members with various backgrounds in martial arts, boxing and wrestling,” says Kirkland, “so it’s a great environment where members are passing on their knowledge to other members and everyone benefits. It’s a great place to be.”
 
Kirkland says she eventually plans to move the business to a larger facility as the business continues to grow.

New photography studio brings green screen technology to Old Town

There’s no reason to leave Lansing just because you want to stage a photo shoot on a tropical beach or a foreign country. Old Town’s newest photography studio, Chamberlin Photography, allows locals to have their photo taken in virtually any setting with green screen technology. 
 
“The green screen is a fun technique I developed about five years ago,” says owner Mark Chamberlin. “It’s just a really fun place to go. You can be anywhere you want to be. Hollywood has been doing this for years. Now the photo world said, ‘hey we can do that too.’”
 
Chamberlin and wife moved to Old Town’s On the Grand condos more than a year ago from Portland, Oregon. When he decided it was the right time to open a local studio, he found the spot he was looking for right in his own neighborhood, across Grand River from The Temple Club.
 
“It’s an awesome location,” he says. “It’s a funky and cool inside. The landlords have done a great job with renovations.”
 
Having photos taken isn’t the only service available at Chamberlin Photography’s 625 square foot space. Chamberlin also teaches photography classes to amateur photographers.
 
“In today’s world, everybody wants to shoot their own photography,” Chamberlin says. “People are doing that instead of going to studios. Since I’m good at teaching, I thought, why fight the trend? Now I help people take better photos.”

Massage Therapist renovates Williamston space

After teaching exercise classes for 27 years, Karen Bastien is a believer in massage therapy. Because she wasn’t always sold on the idea, the owner of Massage Therapy with Karen Bastien in Williamston now takes a special pleasure converting the massage-skeptical.
 

“Once somebody walks through the door, I want them to feel comfortable with massage and see what I can do for them,” Bastien says. “People who aren’t sure about it are my favorite. I really believe in what I do, and the more people I can share that with, the better.”
 
Bastien can now share her skills through her new studio in the Tina Brookhouse Fitness Studio. She completely renovated the approximately 250-square foot space to create an atmosphere of relaxation for her clients. 
 
“We completely gutted it,” Bastien says. “The walls had holes it them, we pulled up the carpet, painted the walls, the baseboards, put a sound system in there, and there is a lovely fireplace now. When you close the door, you don’t know there is anything else out there. People never want to go home.”
 
Bastien opened her new studio in October of 2011. Williamston, she says, is the perfect community for her massage therapy business, as its residents embrace fitness and healthy lifestyles. 

New longboard shop opens in Downtown EL

If you’re going to open a longboard and skateboard shop in Michigan right before winter, this was the year to do it. The online retailer Action Board Sports opened its first physical location in East Lansing’s Campus Town Mall.
 
“We specialize in longboards,” says Action Board Sports owner Jim MacGregor. “We have pretty much all the top brand of longboards, and we’re probably the largest in terms of longboard variety and inventory in Michigan.”
 
Longboards, MacGregor explains, are similar to skateboards, but are larger, more stable, and typically attract an older crowd. They are used by many college students for transportation around campus, which is why Downtown East Lansing became the home of the new, 770-square foot retail space.
 
“This weather kept us going this winter,” MacGregor says. “People were riding into the shop in January.”
 
MacGregor expects in-store sales to grow even more as the genuinely warm weather hits. He expects to hire two employees in the next few weeks to prepare for spring. He hopes to see the spring and summer sales in the new store match the level of sales he is used to seeing in his online store.
 
In addition to custom-built longboards and skateboards, Action Board Sports will soon expand its inventory into apparel.
 
“Along with the variety of brands, I have large selection of pricing,” says MacGregor. “A lot of college kids aren’t looking to spend a lot of money.”

Dansville Mercantile revives local family business

In the 1950s, the local grocer in Dansville was the Anderson Grocery on East Mason Road in the center of town. When the most recent business in that location closed a few years ago, the sons of the original owner thought it might be time to get it back in the family.
 
“They thought it would be a great idea to have it back in the family,” says Candace Hart, one of four sisters-in-law who own and operate the new Dansville Mercantile. “And there was no small grocery store in the area, so we needed to get the store back for the community.”
 
After significant renovations, the Dansville Mercantile opened with all the charm of the original store. Featuring antique fixtures, ten-cent candy jars, hand-dipped ice cream and a full-service deli, the new family business brings a sense of community right back to the center of Dansville.
 
“We’ve kind of tried to make it look like an old fashioned style store,” says Hart. “We have old chalkboard signs with our menu. We’re keeping to the whole county store theme.”
 
Dansville Mercantile opened in early 2011 and has recently expanded their offerings to include beer, wine and liquor sales. The grocery store currently employs six workers. 

Full Circle brings a new face to financial planning

Jose Yanez is not the typical financial planner. After working in the industry for a few years, he knew that “typical” was anything but what he wanted to be for his clients.

“I worked for a large insurance company,” Yanez says, “and was really tied to what I could offer my clients. I wanted to build a business for myself because I knew I could offer my clients more. People want to work with a person, not a company.”

Unlike many financial advisors who focus on near-retirement age clients with a lifetime of wealth, Yanez likes to help young families, professionals and even college students plan their financial futures.

“I want to grow with my clients,” says Yanez. “I oversee your whole financial picture as you start out your career, or, if you have kids, we figure out how can you save for your future needs.”

After three years of operating Full Circle Financial Planning from home and on the road, Yanez has opened his first office in Downtown East Lansing on Grand River above Sundance Jewelry. Yanez chose this location to be close to the students and young professionals he serves.

“There is a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in East Lansing,” says Yanez. “The future of Lansing is all about small businesses.”

Though now opening his office to clients, Yanez still meets clients in their homes and offices for their convenience. Full Circle Financial Planning currently employs a second financial planner angfd marketing coordinator. Yanez plans to expand his staff soon.
 

Sugar Berry to open second, West Lansing location

Frozen yogurt lovers, the world is about to become a yummier place. Sugar Berry, the Frandor-area haven for fans of self-serve frozen yogurt and fresh toppings, is opening a second location on Lansing’s Westside.
 
“I just left like we needed one on the other side,” says Sugar Berry owner Ann Nguyen
 
The new, 1,800-square foot Sugar Berry location will be on West Saginaw near Chuck E Cheese’s. Nguyen hopes to see the store open in May. Nguyen will be working on renovating the space in the meantime.
 
“It’s a whole new buildup from the bottom up,” she says.
 
Sugar Berry’s current location, which opened in October of 2010, currently employs six. The new location is expected to employ six to ten workers. It will look similar to the original location and will seat 20 to 30.
 
Taste-wise, visitors can expect the same fun and flavorful experience at the Westside location.
 
“We always have fresh fruit on hand not matter what the season,” says Nguyen. “We want to stress that you can have the healthy choice without giving up great taste.”
 

Owlyn Solutions and Growers doubles space in first six months

Hydroponic gardening is on the rise. Between growing demand and good timing career-wise, it seemed opening Owlyn Solutions for Growers was an obvious choice for Tonie and Robert Brovont.
 
“My husband and I have been indoor gardeners for a long time,” says Tonie Brovont. “We first became interested in hydroponics about 30 years ago when it was just being developed.”
 
The Brovonts opened Owlyn Solutions for Growers at 2398 Jolly Road in Okemos in September. Already, they’ve doubled their space to 3,000 square feet by expanding into the suite next door. The extra space allows them to grow their own hydroponic vegetables right inside the store.
 
“We're very passionate about local food and helping people eat more healthfully,” says Brovont. “We’re into the whole buy local and raise your own food movement.”
 
Owlyn currently employs five workers and offers growing supplies for both indoor and outdoor gardeners, as well as organic gardening supplies.
 
“One of the misconceptions about indoor gardening is that it’s expensive,” says Brovont, “but it isn’t. You can grow all sorts of vegetables under florescent lights and LED lights now.”


Dansville Saloon expanding in new space after fire

Kathy Hershiser worked at the Wooden Nickel for 15 years before the Dansville landmark was destroyed by a fire last April. The historic restaurant and bar was a community meeting place, and the fire hit the town pretty hard.
 
“I believe Larry says it was the oldest running saloon in Ingham County,” says Hershiser of owner Larry Arnett. “It’s been a bar since prohibition." 
 
But now, the local saloon is on its way back. Though the original building was beyond salvageable, Arnett purchased two buildings immediately behind the Mason Street location. Slowly, one was renovated into a replacement location and opened with a limited menu. In the next month or two, Hershiser expects the second building to open and the full menu to return.
 
“It took him a lot to come back,” she says of Arnett. “He’s 63, so he didn’t have to do it. He did it for the community.”
 
The Dansville community has been enjoying the smaller version of the Wooden Nickel with seating for 30 to 40 people and a staff of four. When the new building opens that space will double and steaks, burgers and more will return to the menu.
 
“It’s not going to be huge,” Hershiser says, “but it will be a nice size for Dansville.”
 
Hershiser hopes to see the staff continue to grow and more of their customers to come back more regularly after the expansion.

LIfe-long bike enthusiast opens EL repair shop

Trek Vandecar was destined to live a life centered around cycling. His grandfather owns Denny’s Central Park bicycle store in Okemos, where biking became a big part of his life early on.
 
“Basically, I’m named after a bike,” Vandecar says. “I’ve been working on bikes since before I even wanted to.”
 
Vandecar is now taking a lifetime of experience into his new East Lansing bicycle repair business, The Bike Shop. The approximately 600-square foot shop below the colorful parking garage on Albert Street turned out to be exactly what he was looking for.
 
“It’s in the heart of East Lansing, and there is tons walk-by traffic,” he says. “Another benefit is I can ride to work. I ride everyday unless it’s freezing.”
 
The Bike Shop will also sell bike accessories and some apparel, but will specialize in bike repair. The shop is scheduled to open on March 31.

Williamston gets new 800 sq ft Our Space Yoga studio

Though Our Space Yoga just opened in Williamston in January, owner Cherie Ferro isn’t a new face in the local yoga scene. Ferro, who is certified by the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago and registered with Yoga Alliance has taught yoga in the Greater Lansing area for more than 16 years.
 
“I first did yoga in seventh grade in Southern California and remember that it was the first time I actually enjoyed my P.E. class,” says Ferro. “Eventually, I returned to yoga, and over time decided that I wanted to teach it, to share that good feeling with others.”
 
Ferro chose Williamston as the home of her new 800 square foot studio on North Williamston Road because of the community’s business-friendly atmosphere, and so she could be centrally located to her existing clients in from such cities as Lansing, Okemos, Holt, Webberville, Bath, and Owosso.
 
“What makes the studio unique,” says Ferro, “and why I chose to name it Our Space Yoga, is the relaxed, communal feeling my students and I have created here.”
 
The studio also includes a rope wall, a feature that allows students to hang from and stretch using anchored ropes. Ferro makes her space available for rent by other yoga instructors. She has future plans to develop “"A Day in Williamston" class, during which the class would do morning yoga, have lunch in Williamston, do some shopping, and then return to the studio for additional yoga and relaxation.

Vine & Brew brings 2,000 sq ft specialty food and drink to Okemos

Curt Kosal loves interesting food, beer and wine. So much so, he decided to share that love by opening Vine & Brew, a new specialty food and drink store on Jolly Road in Okemos. 
 
“I’ve been in the food business on various levels in both retail and wholesale levels for the last 15 years,” says Kosal. “Finally we just decided that we would try to take a crack at opening up our own place.”
 
Vine & Brew opened about six weeks ago, and Kosal reports a great response from the community thus far. He chose the 2,000 square foot location because of its size, accessible parking and because he felt the area was a good fit for his products.
 
“Okemos has a great demographic for specialty foods, wine and beer,” he says.
 
Kosal says his inventory will continue to grow over time, but he intends to keep a special emphasis on Michigan-made products.
 
“The kind of product we want to focus on are those from the smaller, more artisanal producers,” he says. “We’ll be adding a lot more of those things as we come in contact with people and discover new ideas.”
 
Vine & Brew features a build-your-own six pack service with their Michigan-made and specialty beers, and hopes to offer a variety of events and tastings as the business continues to grow.

Chester's Nuts moves into new Eastwood Towne Center space

Chester’s Nuts may be an East Lansing staple, but that doesn’t mean the business isn’t always improving upon its tried and true recipes for sweet and salty success. Nelson has owned the business more than a decade - and the business - which features nuts, chocolate, gummies and customer packaging, has been located in Eastwood Towne Center for seven years.
 
The specialty shop opened its doors in a new location, also in Eastwood Towne Center, just last week. The new location in the lifestyle center’s central court, will provide ideal traffic for Chester’s Nuts.
 
“They do a lot more activities in the summer in the center court,” says Amy Nelson, Chester’s Nuts employee and daughter of Nelson. “They’ll have a band that will come out and play, they’ll have face painting, and they have Santa here for the holidays.”
 
According to Nelson, Chester’s Nuts will continue to offer the same variety of goodies and services in the new location, including their handmade caramel corn and unique gift-wrapping services. They'll also be unveiling a new website soon to complement their new location. 

Twiggies expands to 3,000 sq ft in DeWitt

Beth Herendeen’s floral, retail and events rental store Twiggies has been a Downtown Mason business for 14 years, even through two successive expansions. When Herendeen saw a larger storefront opened just a block away from her original location in 2010, she jumped at the chance to grow.
 
“The space became available and it’s a beautiful storefront that gave us more square footage for retail space,” Herendeen says.
 
She moved from her 1,200 square foot location to her new, 2,200 square foot location on East Main Street in April. It didn’t take long, however, for her to expand once again.  In November, Twiggies expanded into the suite next door adding another 800 square feet to the business for an events rental studio.
 
“It retail boutique is one of those places where every little nook and cranny has something neat in it,” says Herendeen. “It’s like a modern day general store. All of our fresh floral daily business has picked up tremendously.”
 
Herendeen attributes her business’ growth to making careful choices over the past 20 years, since Twiggies began as a home-based business.
 
“It’s always been a slow growth,” she says. “I’m a strong believer in slow growth if you’re going to be in it for the long haul. I’m extremely fortunate that we have such a good name for event planning, so our referral business is amazing.”
 
That slow, steady growth is set to continue, as Herendeen has plans for future expansion and adding a new element to her retail operations. 

Good Fruit Video expands into REO Town's Art Alley

What began as two similar companies and a play on words is now a full-on video production company moving into a new home in REO Town. Good Fruit Video actually began as Justin Caine’s Good Time Communications and Kraig Westfall’s KiWe Productions.
 
“At the time both of us were kind of struggling,” says Caine. “I had a large network of people but I did not have all the resources and knowledge I needed to for a full time video production company. Kraig, on the on the other hand, had all the experience and know-how, but his network was limited.”
 
The two started working together, sort of smashed their company names together off-handedly, and before they knew it they had a winning team and the name Good Fruit Video stuck. The team spent three years in the first class of East Lansing’s Technology Innovation Center.
 
“They TIC helped us out a lot,” says Caine. “When a business just starts out, cash flow is always the biggest issue. So when you have a resource like the TIC or like the NEO Center, that means you have a lot less of a burden so you can focus more time on building your company.”
 
Caine and Westfall are now graduating from the TIC and moving into a larger space in REO Town’s Art Alley building.
 
“REO Town is rtarting to redevelop and become a vibrant piece of our community,” says Caine. “We’re extremely excited about being there and really excited to keep on growing.” 

Mason's Ruff Cuts expands to new 1600 sq ft location

Ruff Cuts began in 2008 as a little pet-grooming salon in Mason that owner Stephanie Wood opened as a part time supplement to her day job.
 
“And it just kept growing,” Wood says. “I kept hiring one person at a time until now I have four people working here.”
 
Between four employees and an onslaught of canine customers, Wood decided it was time to expand. Her now 600-sqaure foot operation will soon move into a 1,600-square foot space on West Maple Street. Though already open seven days a week, Wood hopes to expand her hours as well as take two of her part time staff up to full time.
 
Wood attributes Ruff Cuts’ growth to the great service she and her staff offer their clients.
 
“We try to give more of a personalized grooming,” says Wood. “We don’t hurry through it, and we do one dog at a time instead of stacking our appointments in.”
 
Wood also tries to place returning customers with the same groomer each time to establish a close relationship between the groomer, the dog and the owner.
 
Ruff Cuts will be moving the first weekend in February and will be open in their new location on February 6.
 

Play brings 2600 sq ft of fun to East Lansing

When Holt native and MSU graduate Kasey Shoemaker had twin girls, she knew it was time to leave Chicago and come back to the Lansing area to be closer to her family. When she returned six months ago, however, she found something missing from her life as a mommy.
 
“I said, ‘What am I going to do with my two-year-olds?’” says Shoemaker. “I wanted a place on the east side for moms to meet and have some coffee while their kids play.”
 
It didn’t take her long to open the doors of Play, an eco-friendly indoor play area for kids on Northwind Drive in East Lansing.
 
“I wanted to be close the East Lansing Coop and the community garden,” says Shoemaker. “We got it up and running in a couple of months.”
 
Play is 2,600 square feet of open space with couches and coffee for parents and nature-based, Montessori-style activities for children from infants to six years old. The space features play houses, a miniature farmer’s market and the innovative Imagination Playground, a playscape made of large, movable blue blocks.
 
“They are usually only found in public institutions,” says Shoemaker. “The parents have had just was much fun with them as the children.”
 
Play opened just over a week ago, and Shoemaker reports the business was at capacity for the first two days. She already has birthday parties booking up in March.
 
“It’s been amazing,” she says. “The moms have been great,” she says. 

Comforts N Joy owner trades corporate world for fine retail

Though the transition from more than 20 years in the corporate world to boutique apparel may seem like a stretch, according to Kathleen Maxwell, owner of the newly opened Comforts N Joy, it makes as much sense any other career leap.

“If I couldn’t find a job in the field I was involved in, I decided I would do something I’d always wanted to do,” says Maxwell. “I love beautiful things.”

Now Maxwell is surrounded by beautiful things every day. The 2,500-square foot Comforts N Joy on Marsh Road in Okemos specializes in Chinese silkwear, cashmere, accessories and semi-precious jewelry. Maxwell provides personal shopper services, custom cashmere ordering, private shopping by appointment and more for her clients.

“It’s like playing dress up,” says Maxwell. “We laugh, I put scarves on them and jewelry – I am just having an absolute ball.”
 
Comforts N Joy opened on October 25 and is already establishing a local clientele. Maxwell says her hand-on shopping service and inventory featuring specialty luxury items is something new to the area. As her business continues to grow, she hopes to expand to new locations in the Lansing area and beyond.

Knitters' Nook expands location in first four months

Until few months ago, knitting was just something Kristi Lundgren did for fun. Though she still finds it as fun as ever, her hobby became a business when she opened the doors to Knitters Nook in Williamston in November.
 
“As with anything that comes along at the right season of your life,” says Lundgren, “everything just fell into place.”
 
A former nurse, Lundgren was stopping in to Yeetown in Williamston’s Keller’s Plaza to see if the retailers would be interested in selling some of her knitting projects. When she stumbled upon a 200-square foot commercial space in the same building, her plans suddenly changed.
 
“I walked up these stairs to the second floor and the space just gave me a good feeling looking at it,” says Lundgren. “I decided to call and see if it was available.”
 
Within weeks, she was selling yarn, giving knitting lessons and selling her own works at the new Knitters Nook. When the reception was even better than she’d hoped from the area knitting community, she knew she needed more space. Just months after opening, she is more than doubling her size to 450 square feet by connecting to the space next door.
 
“I’ve been doing small classes with, two or three people,” Lundgren says. “I didn’t really have the space to teach a group. My passion is teaching people how to knit.”
 
With construction near completion, the Knitters Nook on South Putnam Street will soon offer expanded class options.

East Lansing Indian grocer adds 3,000 sq ft restaurant

Siddartha Reddy doesn’t have to venture too far to do the grocery shopping for his new restaurant. The new Swagath Indian Cuisine is right next door to his business of nearly ten years, Swagath Foods in East Lansing’s Trowbridge Plaza.
 
“People were telling me for three or four years that they need a good Indian restaurant,” says Reddy. “I waited for three years, and then said, ‘OK.””
 
The new restaurant opened on India’s Independence Day, August 15. A month later, demand for seating became so great, Reddy opened a banquet room next door to expand his total restaurant to 3,000 square feet.
 
“We had people standing, waiting to sit,” Reddy says.
 
Reddy says Swagath is unique to local restaurant scene in its selection of very authentic Indian fare from both the Northern and Southern Indian food varieties.
 
The 150-seat restaurant currently employs approximately ten workers. The restaurant also caters and has brought their food as far as Grand Rapids and Mt. Pleasant. 

American-style creperie joins East Lansing restaurant scene

Theresa Rice was on a family vacation when she had a new experience that would change her life: she had crepes for breakfast.
 
“I realized there was no place around here for something like that,” Rice says. “We did a little bit of research and really only found on place in Detroit.”
 
Determined to bring delicious crepes to the masses, Rice, a recent graduate of Aquinas College, looked for opportunities to open a creperie in Grand Rapids and Lansing before finding the perfect spot in East Lansing’s Trowbridge Plaza to open American Crepes.
 
“Being right next to campus was important,” says Rice, “and Trowbridge Plaza has always been packed with cars at lunch time.”
 
The 1,000-square foot restaurant space seats 16 for dining-in and also offers carry-out service. The six employees prepare a mix of sweet and savory crepes, including such flavors as Nutella and Banana, and Ham, Egg and Cheese.
 
“All of our items are pretty familiar tastes to people,” says Rice. “A lot of time people will come in and have no idea what a crepe is.” 

Family gourmet olive oil business opens in Eastwood Towne Center

Talk about being inspired into action: when Elyse Lee and her family visited a specialty olive oil store in Minneapolis, it didn’t take long for them to decide to return home and start a similar business of their own.
 
“When we left the store we kept talking about how much we loved it over the dinner table,” says Lee. “We’re very much a foodie family.”
 
Now they’re professional foodies. They opened their first Great Lakes Olive Oil Co. store in Frankenmuth about a year ago. Now they are celebrating the opening of a second location in Eastwood Towne Center.
 
“It’s a lot closer to home for me,” says Lee, who lives in Albion. “And also, there aren’t any small, gourmet shops for people in Lansing to get really good, affordable olive oil and balsamic vinegar.”
 
Lansing area olive oil aficionados certainly do now. Great Lakes Olive Oil carries between 18 and 20 types each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar at any given time. With the store’s tasting bar, visitors have the chance to sample the olive oils from all over the globe before purchasing.
 
The 1,000 square foot location opened in late December. Already, Lee and her family have their eyes on further growth.
 
“We’re always looking for opportunities to go in other cities,” she says. “We’ll see how this place goes and see. We’d definitely like to expand.”

Bliss Law Office expands into Westside office

After sharing office space in Holt for two years, Thomas Cooley Law School graduate James Bliss has expanded his Bliss Law Office, PLLC to an office on Lansing’s Westside.
 
“I grew up in Lansing,” says Bliss, “and for a time my family lived on the west side, so I am very familiar with the area. The west side is great for businesses.”
 
The approximately 1,000-square foot W. Michigan Avenue location was chosen for its proximity to both the Ingham and Eaton county courts, as well as a more personal reason.

“I chose this specific location because my dad had his own office in this building over 15 years ago,” says Bliss of his father, also an attorney. “It is nice to have things come full circle now with my own practice in this building.”
 
Bliss Law Office, PLLC offers criminal defense and family law. Within the next year, Bliss hopes to offer services for Chapter Seven Bankruptcy as well.

Midwest Intel grows from home-based firm to 2,000-sq ft Okemos location

The transition from carpet cleaning to website development may not seem obvious, but the career change happened naturally enough for Clinton Benard III, Co-Founder and Web Developer of Midwest Intel. Benard owned Dry Green Carpet Cleaning in East Lansing, but his interest began to shift when looking to develop a website for his company.
 
“There seemed to be a wide range of pricing to get a website done,” he says. “We found developers that were really good. They told us the price and it was out of our budget at the time, but they said if we bring them more business they could work with us.”
 
Benard quickly became his developer’s best source of referrals, connecting them to more than 20 clients. Over time, Benard began to develop his own skills in web design, and a few years later reconnected with his web development associates.
 
“It was kind of a hobby at the time,” Benard says, “but I was looking for a new business venture, and they said they wanted to start a company with me and put together a team.”
 
Bernard and his Midwest Intel co-founder Evan W. Hurst saw things develop fairly quickly from there. What began a year ago as a home-based business is now a 2,000-square foot Okemos office with three interns, two fulltime staff and more than 20 contractors. The firm was helped by incubator-like support in their location, owned by Chris King of King Custom Homes.

New 1,410-sq ft Dairy Queen continues local family tradition

Going to the neighborhood Dairy Queen may be a part of several families’ traditions, but few families are as tied to the restaurant as Angela Karkou’s. Her grandfather owned the Dairy Queen on Cedar Street for 26 years before her father purchased it and has been operating it for 25.
 
“I’ve worked there since I was ten,” says Karkou.
 
Though she still works at Dairy Queen, she’s now calling herself the boss. Karkou now owns a brand new Dairy Queen and Orange Julius store on West Saginaw. The addition of the Orange Julius is in keeping with the corporation’s new business model.
 
“We’re now open year round and Orange Julius offers more sandwich offerings,” says Karkou. “We have a wider menu with paninis.”
 
The 1,410 opened last week. The new Dairy Queen includes a drive through and interior seating for up to 12 diners. Karkou will hire 12-15 employees to operate the location.
 
A grand opening celebration is scheduled to take place from December 16 through December 18 including promotions such as half priced Dairy Queen cakes. 

Tacos and beer join Michigan Avenue nightlife with Aldaco's Taco 911

Ruben Aldaco’s family has been serving up tacos to the Greater Lansing area for a long time. His uncle owned Famous Taco, where Aldaco began his career in the restaurant business at the age of 14. When his father opened Aldaco’s on East Grand River in Lansing, he worked for him as well.
 
Now Ruben owns Aldaco’s on South Cedar with his father and the business is expanding right into Downtown Lansing. Aldaco’s Taco 911 opened its doors the day before Thanksgiving to find the patrons of its neighboring bars – including Harem and The Tin Can – hungry for tacos at bar close.
 
“We did good,” says Aldaco. “Everyone got some thing to eat. Hopefully we get some people sobered up with food before they go home.”
 
The late-night crowd is the prime customer base for the restaurant, which serves a selection of Mexican beers along with tacos, burritos and popular mush bowl. The 800-square foot restaurant seats about 25 and currently operates from 8pm to 3am Thursday through Saturday.
 
Those limited hours may not last long, according to Aldaco.
 
“I’ve already had people who work around here stopping in to ask about lunch hours,” he says. “We’re definitely going to have some new hours as soon as we build it up a little bit.”
 
Aldaco hopes to expand Taco 911 in other ways as well, including a possible sidewalk café during warm weather months.

My Sista's Boutique brings handmade jewelry and fashion to Downtown Lansing

Tina Robinson started creating jewelry at home three years ago when back issues prevented her from continuing her studies in interior design.
 
“It was something I could do without bending over the drafting table all day,” says Robinson.
 
Her jewelry design grew quickly from a replacement hobby to a career. Robinson began selling her work online, as well as art shows. Now, she’s expanding her business to include women’s clothing and accessories and opening the doors of her new store, My Sistas, in Downtown Lansing.
 
“It was another progression to open the boutique,” says Robinson.
 
My Sistas opened the Friday after Thanksgiving in a 4,000-square foot Washington Square location.
 
“I’ve always liked this space,” says Robinson. “The history of the building has always appealed to me.”
 
The physical location give Robinson an opportunity to expand beyond the handmade jewelry market – though she still carries a wide variety of beaded, pearl, metal and crystal jewelry – into apparel.
 
“We’re trying to offer a unique products that people have not seen in Lansing,” says Robinson.
 
In addition to her retail space on the first floor of her building, My Sistas also offers a specialty area upstairs for formal dresses and event space for bridal showers and girls’ nights out.
 
My Sistas celebrated their Grand Opening last Friday.

Aggie Mae Bakery expands in City Market, opens new Old Town location

For many, starting a new career is a long and slow march toward rebuilding success. For Neva Austin, the transition from her job in sales to follow her passion of baking was far more direct. Austin began selling her breads under the name Aggie Mae, at farmers markets in July of 2009. By September, she’d moved into a permanent space at the Lansing City Market. Two years later, she is now opening a second location in Old Town, soon after expanding her City Market space in April.
 
“It just kind of exploded,” Austin says. Her City Market expansion included the addition of the Aggie Mae Market Deli, serving deli salads and lunch meat along with her famous breads. She hired a new staffer to help with that space, and expects to hire up to two more when she opens into a 1,200 square foot Old Town location in early December.
 
“The business owners in Old Town were encouraging,” Austin says, explaining her decision to locate there. “They all said, ‘We could really use a baker in Old Town,’ and they have been so embracing of my business. The energy of Old Town is extraordinary.”
 
Austin is currently renovating the new bakery, which she hopes to open in a limited capacity on December 3. Even as the new space is opening, she has plans for how her City Market space will evolve.
 
“We hope to convert our space there to be a gluten free market,” she says. “There is a huge demand for that here.”

Evergreen Car Wash moves detail shop to 2,000-sq ft East Lansing location

What began as a small detail shop at Walnut Hills Country Club has grown into two independent car wash and detail locations, including Evergreen Car Wash and Detail’s new detail shop location on Grand River in East Lansing.
 
Owners and former MSU basketball players David Thomas & Andre Hutson moved the detail shop from their original location in Downtown Lansing.
 
“We mainly did dealership cars downtown,” says Thomas. “It was great for those bigger accounts, but it wasn’t a good place for drive-by traffic.”
 
Thomas and Hutson hope their new, highly visible location will be the key to expanding their customer base. The 2,100-square foot detail shop will continue to work with their larger dealership clients, but is also open to the public for a variety of interior and exterior auto detailing work.
 
“It’s been good,” says Thomas of business in the new spot just days after opening last week. “We don’t even have our signs up yet, but we’ve had a couple people stop in on the day we opened.”
 
Evergreen Car Wash & Detail also includes a 90-foot tunnel car wash on South Pennsylvania. According to Thomas, the future of the growing business could include even more locations.
 
“We’d like to open up another drive through car wash at some point,” he says. “We believe we provide an excellent service, so we’d like to service more people.” 

New political PR firm Advantage Associates comes to Downtown Lansing

There’s a new political public relations firm in town, and while they might be the new kids on the block today, founder Jake Davison has big plans for Advantage Associates to be operating along side the big dogs before long.
 
“Our goal is to be up there next to the big, expensive firms,” says Davison. “That’s where we see ourselves in a couple of years.”
 
Advantage Associates opened this summer and is already working toward growth with six clients and two employees, including a creative director and a senior policy consultant. Davison plans to hire a political coordinator in the near future. The Downtown Lansing-based firm was founded on Davison’s experience learning from the best.
 
“I’ve had two very important mentors in my career who made me who I am today,” he says. He credits his time working with Kelly Rossman-McKinney at Rossman Public Relations and John Selleck during his tenure with the Michigan Republican Party as integral to his career development.
 
“Ever since I worked at the Rossman Group I wanted to open my own firm,” says Davison, who adds that the troubled economy is working to his advantage.
 
“We have worked for the best people in the state and we can do what they can do at least 99 percent as well at a lower cost.”  
 
Advantage Associates is currently finalizing their permanent office location, but intends to remain close to Downtown Lansing. The firm’s services include political campaign consulting, public relations, lobbying and digital and print design.

The Southern Grille brings hometown cooking to REO Town

The word is out. REO Town is the place to open a new business. When Tyson Guillen was helping his friend Michael Lewis open his new REO Town specialty pet shop, Trick Your Bully, an idea was born.
 
“He’s the one who mentioned it,” says Guillen of Lewis. “I never even thought about doing a restaurant before.”
 
But now he does. The Southern Grille in REO Town became a reality after Lewis’ suggestion combined with the right partner.
 
“My brother-in-law is a real good cook,” Guillen says. “It just came together.”
 
The 600-square foot restaurant opened last week with a menu that is a blend between southern cooking – barbeque, ribs and greens – and more traditional American dishes, such as omelets and burgers.
 
“Nothing is bland,” says Guillen. “Everything has a lot of seasoning.”
 
In it’s first week, flexibility was the name of the game for The Southern Grille. Guillen says his first customer on the first day walked in and unknowingly asked for a specialty order.
 
“He came in from the GM plant,” Guillen says. “He just took three steps in the door and said, ‘Let me get a BLT to go.’ We didn’t have a BLT on the menu, but my brother-in-law and I just looked at each other and said ‘OK.’
 
“Every day since he’s been in and has ordered a BLT. If we got it we’ll make it.”
 

Popular local food truck to open 1800-sq ft Fork in the Road restaurant on the Westside

Worried that the onset of cold weather means you’ll be without Lansing food truck favorite Trailer Park’d’s famed smoked meatloaf sandwich for months? Worry not. Trailer Park’d owners Jesse Hahn and Benny Blanco Ackerman have a new, indoor location in the works.
 
Fork in the Road is set to open in November at 2012 West Saginaw. The 1,800-square foot location will feature the same dedication to locally-sourced artisan diner foods as Trailer Park’d.
 
“We want to keep the trailer going,” says Hahn. “It's kind of our calling card. We're going to do some special events this winter with the trailer, and as soon as the snow breaks in the spring we'll get it out there again.”
 
In the meantime, diners will enjoy lunch and dinner service in Lansing’s Westside neighborhood. Fork in the Road will offer walk-up-and-order service at the counter and seating for 44 to 54.
 
“We really like this neighborhood,” says Hahn. “A lot of our clients come from the Westside and we really liked the building. It has a lot of character. Plus, we're close enough to Old Town that hopefully people who have come to the trailer there will come see us.”
 
According to Hahn, the restaurant will open with an additional four or five employees, and staff could expand again in the spring when the Trailer Park’d truck is again open for full service.

U-Save Moving & Storage into Grand Ledge office space

Talk about starting from the ground up. When Jae Burnham moved back to Michigan from California and first started his moving business, he was just a guy who could help you pick up big things and move them from one place to the other.
 
“I literally had nothing,” Burnham says. “I had to go to the library to use the Internet. I had a pay-as-you go phone. I figured everything out from there.”
 
Burnham credits his online marketing savvy and the help of local moving industry mentors with the early success of his local moving company, U-Save Moving and Storage. He recently hired his first fulltime employee in addition to the three part time workers he’s been keeping busy.
 
“We’ve got so many jobs, they’re basically full time,” says Burnham.
 
With the growth in jobs and staff, U-Save Moving and Storage recently made the leap from a home-based business to a 500-square foot office on W Jefferson in Grand Ledge on the property of Comet Mini Storage, a partnership that works well for both businesses.
 
Not that having an office or his also newer services having moving trucks available or offering long-distance moving services are the end of the business development road for Burnham.
 
“Our next goal is to have our own trucks,” he says. “I’d also like to hire a full time marketing person, and we’ll probably expand into other related areas like landscaping and home improvement.”

Downtown Charlotte store doubles its presence with new 2,200-sq ft Bella consignment store

The plus-sized consignment store Bella Grande has been making waves in Charlotte for years. Customers drive from Jackson and Detroit to the unique store. As of June, the owner’s footprint in Downtown Charlotte just became even more grande with the opening of Bella's Consignments, a second consignment store one block away.
 
“We had a lot of requests for smaller sizes, but I didn’t want to dilute our inventory,” says owner Betsy Smith. “Now, when our customers bring their skinny friends or daughters, they can shop with us too.”
 
The 2,200 square foot location more than doubled the Smith’s presence in the downtown district. She also doubled her staff to meet the needs of the new business, now employing four workers to cover both stores.
 
“It’s been well received,” says Smith of Bella, which she named after the family dachshund. “We have a lot of good quality merchandise. We keep the same quality standards for Bella as Bella Grande and have all current styles.”
 
Bella carries inventory for women and girls of all ages in sizes 2-12.
 

Detroit-area Leo's Coney Island to open in Downtown East Lansing

Leo’s Coney Island has been building a committed fan base for its Detroit-area restaurants since the company’s inception in the 70s. Now, the chain with more than 40 locations is moving westward – bringing some of the Leo’s excitement with it.
 
“The location is perfect,” says Bill Krall, president of Leo’s Coney Island MSU. “We've received great positive feedback from the students who have stopped by during construction saying, ‘We can't wait until you open.’"


They won’t have to wait much longer. The 2,600-square foot restaurant will open in the Marriot Hotel building in Downtown East Lansing in mid-October. The new Leo’s Coney island will seat 82 and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 
Making East Lansing the next home of Leo’s has been in the plans since 2008. The site was chosen not only for the customer base of students, downtown employees and residents, but because of the unique kind of graduates coming from MSU.
 
“MSU in known to have a great school of hospitality,” says Krall. ”I would like to recruit students and graduates who are looking to have a career in restaurant business management or as a franchise owner for future locations.”  
 
The Kralls also have a family connection to the area. Owner/partner Chris Krall graduated from MSU in 1994 and was an Alpha Phi who lived on M.A.C.
 
“East Lansing has everything,“ says Krall. “I wanted to be in an area with a thriving downtown area close to a residential population.”  
 
 

Former TIC tenant moves creative agency into 10,000-sq ft shared working space

The agreement businesses make upon entering East Lansing’s Technology and Innovation Center is that after three years, they’ll be ready to graduate into a space all their own. That time has come for Nicholas Creative, the boutique creative agency that is now expanding into 10,000 square feet of shared working space in The State News building on Grand River.
 
The move comes at an opportune time for Nicholas Creative as the agency, which opened in 2008, continues to grow.
 
“We do have plans to expand,” says Nicholas Chilenko, owner of Nicholas Creative. “The great thing about the space here is there’s a great amount of office space available for use to use as we grow.”
 
The service Chilenko intends to grow most in 2012 is the company’s email marketing program.
 
“It’s just a powerful tool for marketing,” says Chilenko. “We’ll do a substantial marketing push for growth in that aspect of our business.”
 
Though the State News space is new to Nicholas Creative, some aspect will feel familiar. In fact, Chilenko worked with the State News and the City of East Lansing to purposely create a  work environment similar to the TIC for he and other former TIC businesses.
 
The benefit of these like businesses working together allows each firm to leverage the others’ services to bring more value to their clients. Other tenants in the space incdlue marketing firm Netvantage, editorial staff for Entrepreneur magazine and emergency planning and training company Comprehensive Emergency Management Associates.
 

New Arc Point Labs brings testing, education opportunities to South Lansing

After retiring from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, Tom Marlow decided he needed something new to invest his time and talents into. As he and wife Carol looked around to see what kind of business would be best suited for the pair to open, one option he didn’t think they’d choose was a drug and DNA testing lab.
 
“This was low on our list,” he says, “but as we checked off other options, we realize that no one else in the area is doing what Arc Point does, and it began to look really nice.”
 
Now the owners of the new Arc Point lab in south Lansing, the Marlows now offer the comprehensive testing solutions they weren’t finding in other area labs.
 
“This is really a business-to-business operation,” says Marlow. “We offer education and training for businesses as well as drug testing.”
 
In addition, Arc Point also offers walk-in testing, including drug screens, DNA testing and – arguably the business’ most fun option – doggie DNA testing.
 
“When I was young we used to call them ‘mutts,’” says Marlow. “Now we call them ‘designer breeds,’ and people are paying a lot of money for those dogs without really knowing what kind it is.”
 
The nearly 2,000 square foot Arc Labs location opened in April and currently employs five workers. The Marlows plan to add to that number soon as they consider expanding their services into wellness testing. 

Pure Barre opens 900-sq ft studio in Okemos

Okemos has a new way to workout. The Pure Barre franchise, which began in Birmingham, Michigan, now has a location on Meridian Crossings Drive.
 
“The owner [Allison Weyand] was looking for a place that was close enough for her to commute, but with a bigger demographic of customers,” says Renae Lange, manager of the new Pure Barre location. Weyand formerly owned Pure Barre studios in Midland and her hometown of Saginaw.
 
“We love the layout of this location,” says Lange of the approximately 900 square feet of studio space, “and we love all the traffic we get out front.”
 
Pure Barre Okemos opened last week with seven employees and a list of customers waiting to get into the classes.
 
“We have gotten so many calls and emails about people who are excited for us to be in Lansing,” says Lange.
 
The workout studio specializes in pure barre classes, which are a blend of ballet, yoga, Pilates and stretching. The Okemos business also includes a clothing boutique offering high end workout clothing lines.

Vintage and new home good comes to Williamston with 1,500-sq ft Bungalow 47

When Jill Rinner and Chantelle Deimling were hunting for the right location to open their chic home good store, they knew exactly what they were looking for.
 
“We definitely wanted to have that feel of a downtown that is funky and eclectic,” says Rinner. “Williamston had the vibe. Its’ been a perfect fit.”
 
Having a clear vision has been the driver for the women, who came up with the idea for their store, Bungalow 47, over lunch in April (on 4/7, to be exact) and opened their doors last week.
 
“We’re the type of girls who just jump in the pool,” says Rinner. “We ended up purchasing this building. It needed some charm.”
 
The women refinished the approximately 1,500 square feet of retail space with floor made of local reclaimed barnwood and completely renovated the building’s facade. The now open Bungalow 47 offers vintage, refurbished and new furniture and home items.
 
“We have great pieces, some that we’ve price super cheap, and then we have some amazing, one-of-a-kind pieces that are exclusive,” Rinner says.
 
Thus far, the response from the community has been just was the women we hoping for.
 
“We’ve already had a few people as when we’re going to open a second location,” says Rinner.
 
A grand opening event is planned to take place some time in October.

New Red Cedar Cafe to open in 2,600-sq ft Brookfield Plaza location

With a background in food service and love for serving college students and young professionals, a full-service café seems to Angie Anderson like the perfect way to launch her career as an entrepreneur.

Her Red Cedar Café located in Brookfield Plaza is scheduled to open at the end of August.

"It's always been a dream of mine to have my own business," says Andreson. "I love working with the public. I love customer service."

As well as great service, visitors to the 2,600 square foot business will be served soups salads and made to order meals as well as the regular café fare of baked goods, coffee and espresso drinks.

"Hopefully it will be a place where people will want to meet and have dinner, and students will want to come to have coffee and study," Anderson says.

Anderson has been working on the idea of the Red Cedar Café since January, and now construction on the restaurant is well underway. She is converting the locations of two former adjacent businesses in the Brookfield Plaza into one for a large space that will seat 58 inside and include outdoor seating.

"We had to totally renovate," Anderson says of her project, which includes everything from an all-new kitchens to funky décor. "It's going to have a welcoming feel and still really appeal to the younger eye. It's going to be eclectic."

Twenty-two new employees have now been hired to staff the Red Cedar Café upon opening.

Old Town welcomes new store featuring old-time candy

Mandy Walton got a big idea from some little heads.

"My kids and I were walking in Old Town and they said to me, 'There's no candy store down here,'" says Walton.

With that, the new Lansing resident and mother of four and her husband Jason set about opening Walton's Old Town Candy Store. The new retail location carries nickel and dime candy on display in glass jars, as well as snacks and drinks.

"We have over 100 kinds of candy," says Walton. "Nothing is over a dollar. Have both old-fashioned candy and all the new stud the kids like the sour stuff. We have been keeping a list of candy people have been asking for, and we'll keep expanding what we have."

Walton hopes to eventually expand her services as well. The former Muskegon resident once owned a balloon and gift store specializing in wedding décor, and would like to continue those services by offering candy bars for special events.

Walton's Old Town Candy store opened in June, just a few months after the family moved to Lansing.

"We just like it down here in Old Town," says Walton. "I like the feeling of the area, and they're always having festivals. We thought it would be fun to have something down there for kids."

Thai Village brings 2,000-sq ft of fresh ingredients Downtown

The Yang family opened their first Thai restaurant in Farmington Hills about five years ago. When they decided to expand, they took their time looking around Michigan for the perfect location.

"We felt Downtown Lansing had a homey feeling, a community feeling," said Lisa Yang. "With it being the state capitol and having so any businesses downtown, we knew it would be the right place."

Thai Village opened on the 400-block of Washington Square on Monday with a ribbon cutting. The 2,000 square foot restaurant will feature dine-in for about 50 customers, as well as catering and carry out. According to Yang, customers will first note the freshness of the food at Thai Village.

"My parents shop for food and vegetables daily," says Yang. "All of our food is really fresh."

Yang's parents, Steve and Marie Yang are the owners of both family businesses. They will employ approximately 10 local employees.

"We're just excited," says Yang. "I think overall, this is the best place we could be."

New 1,350-sq ft nutrition center opens in Frandor

The new, 1,350 square foot Fountain of Wellness on Clippert in Frandor serves smoothies, hosts weight loss challenges and one-on-one nutrition counseling. But it wasn't owner Driscilla McCourtie's intention to get into the wellness business.

After struggling with her weight for years, however, she finally found a system that worked for her in the Herbalife product line and became a distributor just so she could get a discount.

"I did not want to sell," says McCourtie. "But people came to me. So then it was suggested that I start running Weight Loss Challenges in Lansing."

The success of her Weight Loss Challenges pushed McCourtie to make a career in wellness. She and partner Mark Ives now operate the Fountain of Wellness.

"We're here to make a difference in people's lives," McCourtie says. It's about more than weight loss. I've helped people with fibromyalgia pain, allergies, cholesterol, all sorts of things."

La Playita brings authentic Mexican to Webberville

The new La Playita restaurant aims to bring authentic Mexican food with a small town feel to Webberville. The restaurant held a grand opening in June in it's 2,950 square foot Grand River location.

"He loves small town life," says La Playita waitress Kayla Taylor of owner Herlberto Benavides' decision to open in Webberville. "He's been around the US in places that are more fast paced. It's a lot friendlier here."

La Playita currently employs 25 and is open for breakfast through dinner seven days a week. According to Taylor, the community has already been receiving their new eatery with open arms.

"Everybody who is here is from the local area," she says. "There is a lot of familiar, friendly faces here."

CB Richard Ellis/Martin assisted in the real estate transaction.

The Barberrettes renovates and brings new concept to former Perelli's Downtown

Downtown Lansing men have a new place to get a trim on Washington Square, and it won't be like any haircut experience they've had before. The Barberrettes is now open, and owner Felix Campos is billing his new business as "Lansing's Premier Gentlemen's Barber Shop.

"I came up with the concept of showcasing professional women barbers," says Campos. "Hopefully it will be something that people find very tasteful."

The 1,500 square foot Barberrettes shop is in the location of the former Perelli's barbershop. Campos says the renovations have taken awhile, but he is pleased with the result

"I've got great concepts going inside," Campos says. "I'm going to add some of the history of Lansing at each station."

Updates to the location include bamboo hardwood flooring, glass partitions, granite countertops, a theater area and more. Campos plans to employ five workers at The Barberrettes.

Home-based insurance business to move into 1,000-sq ft Haslett Village storefront

The insurance industry has had some ups and downs over the past few years, but for the third-generation insurance family and owners of the Keibler McCoy NuStar Insurance Agency, the key to success was changing to fit the economy. After operating out of their home office since 2008, husband and wife team Todd McCoy and Lisa Kiebler-McCoy are moving into 1,078 square foot storefront in the Haslett Village.

"Well we both grew up in the Haslett and East Lansing area," says Todd McCoy. "It's close to home, it's close to where we grew up, and it's a good place to start to grow our business."

The Kiebler McCoy NuStart Insurance Agency will open later this summer, and McCoy hopes to have one employee hired and trained prior to that opening date. Additional hiring may occur after they open.

Their decision to open in the Haslett Village shopping center was aided by CB Richard Ellis/Martin.

"We wanted a storefront area, as opposed to being in a office building," says McCoy. "We wanted a retail storefront type look. It's a nice, growing area."

Community kitchen incubator Incu-BaKe to open in 3,200-sq ft Holt location

Health department regulations may be important for public health, but they present a challenge for entrepreneur foodies who are just starting up. Marcy Bishop Kates found this out when her well-known cooking skills resulted in unexpected catering requests.

"I'd never done it in a professional basis," says Kates, who is a grant writer with Michigan's AmeriCorp program. "I wanted to do everything legally, so I was looking around the area to find a kitchen to rent and couldn't find much."

She soon found out that she wasn't the only one in such a pickle. Kates is currently on the board for the Holt Farmers Market, and she utilized a farmers market list serve to survey others in the industry and learned that the demand for a local kitchen incubator was strong.

With the help of CB Richard Ellis/Martin, Kates responded to the demand by leasing a 3,200-square foot commercial kitchen on Aurelius Road in Holt to open Incu-bake. Though the kitchen incubator, which will offer commercial kitchen space, meeting rooms and businesses assistance tools for food entrepreneurs, won't open for a couple weeks, Kates is already getting rental requests.

"I have people who were waiting for the applications," she says. "The response is even more than I expected." Kates is pleased about this for many reasons.

"I truly believe the local foods and farming combined with local business will play a big role in bringing Michigan back," she says. "I've seen the change that it's brought to our community."

Flores Design Studio moves to Lansing with client-based focus

When Miguel and Corina Flores worked for a design firm in Ann Arbor, there was something important missing from their work lives.

"We had no direct contact with our clients," says Miguel Flores. "We had a go-between who was our creative director. We wouldn't even know what color they wanted, and instead of having access to a client to ask [the creative director would] just say, 'Try something different.'

"We decided we could do this and we would do it much better," he says. "And we decided to quit."

The married couple formed Flores Design Studio in 2009. After building up a client base in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Lansing, they decided to move their operations to the capital to be closer to family, and because a majority of their clients happened to be from Lansing. Fortunately for them, it turned out to be the best place to give their business a boost.

"This is a very supportive community," say Corina Flores. "The Chamber, the Grand River Connection, LEAP and all these organizations are here working to help get businesses get off their feet."

Flores Design Studio currently employs Miguel and Corina, but the couple is already training Miguel's younger brother to be a future employee. The family business is focused on client relationships and hands-on service.

"We have direct contact with the client and we don't outsource work," says Miguel Flores. The firm also hopes to soon branch their design services into the mobile app industry.



Artie's Filling Station to serve coffee 260-sq ft from walkup Old Town location

Lots of energy has been brewing about the newly renovated gas station in Old Town, recently. Its John Miller’s plan to keep brewing up energy in that location for the long term.

This fall Miller will open Artie’s Filling Station, a walk-up and drive-through coffee shop serving beverages, pastries and sandwiches from the --square foot building.

“I’ve loved that building since the first time I saw it,” says Miller, who recently stepped down as the fitness director of Riverview Fitness to work on his business full time. “I saw it being worked on and I called Dale the same day.”

Miller’s passion for the location extend to his passion for his product. Wanting to bring a new café experience to Lansing, he recently underwent barista training with a company in Portland, Oregon to learn proper brewing techniques.

“We’ll do the typical lattes and cappuccinos but we’ll make them the traditional way,” he says.

In keeping with Miller’s background in wellness, Artie’s will offer natural and organic food and beverage options and source their ingredients as locally as possible.

“We’re going to do our best to be climate neutral,” he says. “When we do delivery service we won’t have a delivery charge, but we’ll have a mandatory donation to reforestation efforts.”

Artie’s Filling Station, which is named after Miller’s grandfather, will employ three when the business opens in September or October.

Source: John Miller, Artie’s Filling Station

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

Courtesy photo


Travel Agent moves back to Downtown Lansing in 500-sq ft space

It’s been a tough decade for travel agencies. Between the same financial crisis all businesses had to contend with they have also suffered from the advent of Internet travel sites and a notable downturn in international travel after September 11, 2001.

Today, Craig Corey Vacations celebrates 20 years in business not only because they survived, but now they are back in growth mode. The agency, which once employed six in a large Downtown Lansing loft office, downgraded to a home-based business in 2002. Now, the agency is moving back to downtown, into a 500 square foot office in the Atrium Office Center.

“You really still need the visibility of a physical office,” says owner Craig Corey, “and I want to seize the opportunity to do so, but also, there is a renaissance occurring in Downtown Lansing, and I want to be a part of it.”

Corey is currently the only employee of his company, though he plans to expand his staff as the business continues to grow. He explains the resurgence of his industry as travelers having a renewed interest in learning more about where they’re about to go.

“We’ve had a huge a move back to professional travel planning,” he says. “There is so much information on the Internet. It might be factual, but it might not be realistic when it comes to your trip.”

Corey will move to the new location in mid-July. Craig Corey Vacations will be the only full-service travel agent in the City of Lansing.

Source: Craig Corey, Craig Corey Vacations

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New Haslett pharmacy to bring free delivery, jobs to Haslett Village

Fadi Nuseibeh has been a pharmacist for 12 years and the owner of Patient Careway Pharmacy in Lansing for more than two. As a believer in independently owned pharmacies, he saw an opportunity he couldn’t resist when the Haslett’s only independent pharmacy recently closed. Trained employees were there, the need was there, and now, Nuseibeh’s Haslett Health Mart will be located in Haslett Village.

“The service [in independent pharmacies] is by far much better than in chains,” says Nuseibeh. “You’ll have people who know your name behind the counter. The personalized service is completely different.”

The 1,565 square foot store will offer free delivery services to Haslett, Okemos and East Lansing. It will employ four workers when it opens in late summer, and Nuseibeh hopes to hire more as the business grows. He believes Haslett Health Mart will have an advantage by being independently owned, but a national franchisee.

“It’s going to be part of the Health Mart franchise,” he says. “It has some name recognition and, most importantly, the kind of buying power that will allow us to compete with the chains.”

Leases for Haslett Village are manged by CB Richard Ellis/Martin.

Source: Fadi Nuseibeh, Haslett Health Mart

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New walkup bar brings baseball theme, $20K investment to Michigan Ave

A new style of street level, open-air bar has made its debut in Lansing, just in time for a summer of fun across Michigan Avenue from the Lugnuts.

The Dugout is a 400-square foot walk-up bar from the owners of Harem, who converted one of the original bar’s VIP area into the new, baseball-themed space.

“We’re right around the corner form the baseball game, and it’s just a small, little space, so The Dugout was the perfect name,” says Dave Sell, the bar’s general manager. “We’ve got ballpark-style dog and big draft beers, and we’re in the perfect place to watch fireworks. They literally pop up right above your head.”

The Dugout opened three weeks ago and employs four new workers. Even with a quiet opening and less than ideal weather in their first couple of weeks, the bar had a strong showing from the get go.

“Surprisingly, I’ve been pretty busy,” says Sell. “We’ve had people just walking by who say, ‘What’s this?’ We’ve gotten a great amount of walk up business.”

Sell plans to ramp up the buzz even more with a grand opening as soon as the warm weather stabilizes this summer.

The new bar is a part of the same ownership as neighboring bars The Exchange, The Harem Urban Lounge and The Loft, who invested $20,000 in the The Dugout.

Source: Dave Sell, The Dugout

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

8,000 sq ft pet store offers unique services to pet owners

To say Laurie Griffith is big into pets is a bit of an understatement. In addition to holding a Master’s in Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Genetics, Griffith has worked as a trainer, breeder, exhibitor, groomer, veterinary assistant and behavior consultant for rescue groups nationally and internationally.

“A pet store just seemed like the logical step,” she says.

Her new, 8,000 square foot Eaton Rapids facility is just as comprehensive as her resume. All Creatures Great and Small Pet Resort, Spa and Canine Training not only carries specialty training and exhibition accessories and all the services the name implies, but also has a special focus on education.

“We have a pet education series once a month,” says Griffith, “often with topics suggested by clientele.”

As Griffith’s aim is to educate pet owners, not encourage impulse ownership, no animal are sold at All Creatures. At any given time, however, a variety of visiting pets can be found there, such as her children’s potbelly pig, rats or even a pair of tortoises who are best friends with a pair of bunnies.

“We wanted to open a local business and support the community’s pet needs,” Griffith says. That same impulse has led her to carry many Michigan-made items, such as homemade treats, heating pads and locally made toys.

All Creatures opened in December and celebrated its grand opening in March. The shop currently employs Griffith’s family members and supports an internship program, training two local students in pet care and training.

Source: Laurie Griffith, All Creatures Great and Small Pet Resort, Spa & Canine Training

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Sisters open 800 sq ft children's consignment boutique in Downtown Mason

For sisters Michelle Kangas and Renae Akright, opening a children’s consignment boutique in Downtown Mason was a win-win-win for everyone. They were looking for more family-friendly careers, Kangas has a background in consignment sales, and when they looked around, they saw a clear local need.

“We’ve always loved Mason and we’ve always shopped here,” says Kangas. “We noticed they didn’t have a consignment shop downtown.”

After painting and some minor renovating of their new 800 square foot space on Maple Street, Jack and Jill Children's Consignment Boutique opened on April 15.

“It’s been going really well,” says Kangas. “We’ve had lots of business already.”

Kangas and Akright hope to continue that trend by offering a higher quality product than shoppers may find in other consignment stores.

“We like to have a warm and friendly atmosphere here, but we also think it’s more an upscale store,” says Kangas. “We’re very picky about what we take in.”

Should Jack and Jill continue to grow, the sisters plan to open a second consignment shop in the Greater Lansing area offering children’s and/or women’s attire.

Source: Michelle Kangas, Jack and Jill Children's Consignment Boutique

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Wild Rose Cafe brings gourmet homestyle cooking to 1,500 sq ft Old Town space

For a long time while growing up, Alex Wilder battled a condition that made it difficult for him to eat. Now, he’s feeding the whole neighborhood. Nineteen-year-old Wilder is the owner Old Town’s new Wild Rose Café on Turner Street.

The idea for the café was actually inspired by Wilder’s condition.

“My dad talked about opening a restaurant so we could experiment with food and I could eat whatever,” he says. “I went to the Art Institute in Novi, got some training and decided to leap right into it from there.”

The Wild Rose Café features homestyle cooking with a culinary twist. Though only open for a couple of weeks, Wilder says he’s already been told his gourmet burgers are the best in town. His secret is the ingredients. The Charlotte native gets his organic beef fresh from his neighbor’s farm.

“We also do all baking on site and support local business for our ingredients,” Wilder says. In fact, all ingredients are locally sourced when possible.

The approximately 1,500 square foot café seats 32 dine-in customers and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wilder says he chose to locate the Wild Rose Café in Old Town because of the neighborhood’s connection to the arts.

“I’ve always been around music and the different arts,” he says, “Old Town pretty much covers all of it.”

Source: Alex Wilder, Wild Rose Café

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

The Daily Scoop brings MSU Dairy ice cream to Mason

Mason ice cream lovers may know the successful dessert shop on South Jefferson as Turtle Tom’s. But when it re-opened in January of this year it did so with not only a new name, but a new look and ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store.

“When I saw the ‘for sale’ signs go up I had to jump on the opportunity,” says new owner Shawn Sodman of Mason. “I knew it was a good, sustainable business.”

Sodman purchased the business in November and has been busy putting his personal touches into the 1,000 square foot space ever since. Now called The Daily Scoop, the ice cream shop features a news theme.

“We have old newspapers on the wall,” says Sodeman. “People get a kick out of reading them.”

The major change, however, is the ice cream itself. He began working with the MSU Dairy Store early after purchasing the shop with the hope of carrying the famous ice cream, but didn’t get the final go ahead until a week before The Daily Scoop’s opening day.

“It’s was no brainer,” he said. “We had to do it.”

The response thus far has been terrific, according to Sodman. The Daily Scoop expanded its limited hours to being open daily in March, and Sparty himself came for the grand opening in April. The shop employs 11-12 part-time workers, whose hours are expected to expand as the weather improves.

“We’re looking forward to a productive summer,” Sodman says.

Source: Shawn Sodman, The Daily Scoop

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

Courtesy photo


Store brings specialty dog accessories to REO Town

Michael Lewis loves pit bulls.

“They’re great dogs,” he says. “Some get bad stigmas, but it’s all about the owner. I want to create awareness about the level of responsibility that goes along with the bully breed.”

To do so, Lewis opened Trick Your Bully, a new specialty pet store in REO Town featuring equipment for larger dog breeds including specialty collars, show leads, large muzzle and more. Lewis invested approximately $8,500 in the new location, including high-quality, handmade dog handling accessories.

“I used to show pit bulls,” Lewis says. “For the larger breeds, there’s not a lot of equipment in most stores that is functional for them.”

Lewis chose his 850 square foot REO Town location for its accessibility and for the walkable nature of the neighborhood that inspires dog walkers, but also for the growing sense of community there.

“I think REO Town is beginning to be an artsy place,” he says. “I want to be a part of the community.”

Lewis has community engagement plans of his own, hoping his store can be host to dog rescues and like organizations.

Trick Your Bully opened in March. Dogs are welcome in the store.

“It’s their store,” Lews says. “I’ve even got a big mirror here for them, so they can check themselves out. They like that.”

Source: Michael Lewis, Trick that Bully

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New owners make 36 acres of community fun of golf range and banquet hall

Williamston is about to get a big dose of fun. When Greg Hogsect, Jerry Smith and Becky Smith saw Dietz Creek Golf Range and Roadhouse Event Center for sale on Craigslist, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to capitalize on their own interests, as well as bring some good times to the community

“I’m a huge golfer,” says Hogsect, “so the golf center part appealed to me, and the hall rental appealed to Jerry. He has experience managing bingo halls and a youth center. One of our goals is to give kids something to do.”

The trio re-opened the golf range and 1,600 square foot banquet hall under their ownership in March. They plan to offer a more personal experience than customers may be used to at the business under its former ownership.

“Nobody was here before,” Hogsect says of the golf range. “It was all on the honor system with a vending machine out back. We’re going to do a lot of customer service and get to know the community.”

For the kids in the community, Hogsect and the Smiths plan to host teen events such as battles of the band, post-football game parties and get the 36-acre property’s pre-existing climbing wall back into certified, usable condition.

“Eventually we’d like to open a put-put golf course,” Hogsect says.

A grand opening will be held for Dietz Creek Golf Range and Roadhouse Event Center on May 13-15 with games, inflatable toys and free tips from a golf pro.

Source: Greg Hogsect, Dietz Creek Golf Range and Roadhouse Event Center

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

Courtesy photo


Inspired Green grows into 2,000 sq-ft Grand Ledge location

One of Grand Ledge’s newest downtown businesses is on a mission to make your home life greener. Inspired Green moved to their current location at 223 Bridge Street in September, and has already begun to grow out of the 2,000 square foot space.

As a business that began in 2008 with four employees and has currently grown to 100 including field workers, rapid expansion has been the story for owner Denny Duchene from the beginning. Duchene explains the growth of his energy optimization and performance contracting company as simple demand.

“The reality is that more than 85% of homes in the US today have chronic performance issues because of a poorly installed key system,” he says. Inspired Green’s job is to both identify the issues, and then, as a licensed builder, fix them.

“Our homes are a lot like our bodies,” says Duchene. “The assessment works a lot like an MRI for your body. We clearly figure out what is causing the negative symptoms that cause problems for the people living in a sick house.”

The ability to address the problem, however, is what makes the Grand Ledge company stand out from the pack.

“Imagine going to a doctor,” Duchene says, “finding out that you have an illness, and having them tell you that they don't have the ability to help you.”

This coming September, will Inspired Green will expand business again, utilizing the second floor of the same building to add another 1,400 square feet.

Source: Denny Duchene, Inspired Green

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Williamston Exchange opens in 3,800 sq ft downtown space

The Williamston Exchange is the newest business to open its doors in Downtown Williamston, though this one comes with a familiar face.

Travis Johnson is the former owner of El Indio de Tijuana on Grand River Avenue, and his new resale business is now operating right across the street.

“We’re going to have some antiques, furniture and household appliances,” says Johnson. “We’ll always be having new stuff, so we’ll be rotating what we have a lot and offer some unique items.”

The family-owned and operated business is located in a 3,800 square foot space at 127 W. Grand River. Johnson says Williamston was the obvious choice for his new venture.

“I live here and my kids go to school here,” he says of his hometown. “This is my community.”

The Williamston Exchange opened for business in March and celebrated its grand opening on April 1.

Source: Travis Johnson, The Williamston Exchange

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor


1,200 sq ft student business incubator opens in East Lansing

Community collaborations may take time to assemble, but that makes for all the more hands clapping when things come together. More than 100 sets of hands applauded the opening of the City of East Lansing and MSU project “The Hatch” on Thursday in the Technology Innovation Center.

It was back in 2009 when an advisory committee identified a need for a business incubator for college students. After considering such spaces as the SCENE Metrospace, the team settled on a 1,200 square foot space on the top floor of the TIC.

The Hatch will be available to higher education students from any learning institution. Services available from The Hatch include a mailing address, conference rooms, co-working space, use of office resources, mentorship from msuENet and business consultation.

“This isn’t just for technology businesses,” says Smith. “This could be perfect for the design student who is looking to start a clothing line.”

Smith and his MSU partners believe The Hatch will prove to be an invaluable tool for fostering local entrepreneurship. MSU has invested $90,000 over three years to fund to the project, and the city will contribute staff time and the TIC space.

“We’re not saying they’re going to graduate and their business is going to take off,” says Smith. “We’re giving students an opportunity and encouraging their creativity and problem solving.”

The Hatch opened with ten student businesses already approved to operate and has room for another fifteen. Students interested in The Hatch can find applications on their website.

Source: Jeff Smith, City of East Lansing

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New Thai 102 Degrees brings authentic heat to Downtown East Lansing

Apparently, most people only think they know what spicy food is like. Pamela Yang recalls many visitors to her new East Lansing Thai restaurant learning this very quickly.

“Right when we first opened people were ordering the meals hot and extra hot,” Yang says. “They didn’t think it was going to be that hot. It’s been pretty interesting.”

Yang says it didn’t take long after the opening of Thai 102 Degrees in January for diners to start requesting gentler use of their signature Thai peppers. The authentic Thai food offered by her business, which she owns with her father, Michael Yang, is based on the cooking she grew up with in her Hmong home.

Thai 102 Degrees is the Yang family’s second restaurant. Downtown Plymouth’s Little Bangkok Cuisine is owned by Yang’s father and managed by her brother.

“This is a change of pace from the other restaurant that we have,” says Yang.
“We trying something new with an express location rather than full services.”

The walk-up and order services at the new East Lansing restaurant are ideal for carryout, though the 1,800 square foot location does include tables for dining in. Thai 102 Degrees currently employs seven part time workers.

Source: Pamela Yang, Thai 102 Degrees

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Tina Brookhouse Fitness expands to 1,500-sq ft facility in Williamston

In just two and half years, Tina Brookhouse Fitness has done a lot of growing. The Williamston business is now announcing their third move to a larger location.

“Basically, we were just getting crowded out of the old place,” says owner Tina Brookhouse. “I have a group cycling class, which is really popular, and I needed to get some more bikes, but had no where to put them.”

Brookhouse’s new 1,500 square foot facility is allowing for not only the growth of the cycling class, but also add a pilates class, expand her Zumba classes and offer her four fitness instructors the opportunity to teach more classes.

“There just wasn’t a lot of fitness opportunities here before,” she says. “Even now that I’m a block closer to downtown, people are saying, ‘Williamston has a fitness studio?’”

Her move to a more highly visible downtown location certainly did attract more local attention. She opened her new location in January and has already witnessed a 50 percent increase in business.

Brookhouse, 48 is a Williamston resident who became an advocate for fitness when she herself lost 60 pounds. Her experience led her to place an emphasis on exercise beginners.

“I really try to push to work with beginners and people who are intimidated to go to a normal gym,” she says. “But we also appeal to the fitness buffs.”

Tina Brookhouse Fitness is now located at 162 W Grand River in Williamston.

Source: Tina Brookhouse, Tina Brookhouse Fitness

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Famous Taco to open a second location in Haslett

After 42 years of serving up his infamous Mexican delicacies at Lansing’s Famous Taco, Frank Delacruz is happy to have a wife who is ready to take the reigns.

“I’m retired and she took over the business,” Delacruz says of his wife Peggy. “I just tag along now. She’s got all these ideas and she’s going to put them to work.”

What he’s been tagging along to lately is the opening of a second Famous Taco in the Haslett Village Square. Work on the 1,500 square foot property is now underway. The Delacruz’s plan to employ 15-20 new workers at the location and hope to open mid-April in time for possible Cinco de Mayo celebration.

“[Peggy] has been looking at Haslett since the ‘90s,” said Delacruz, “We’ve had a lot of people asking us to come there.”

The second location will feature dine-in and carry-out and expand the Famous Taco delivery into Williamston.

In addition to the new restaurant, Delacruz explains that Peggy also has plans to expand the company’s catering capabilities. Customers will soon be able to have a catered Famous Taco meal prepared and served on site under a forthcoming taco bar tent.

“This is one of the best ideas she’s come up with so far,” Delacruz says.

Source: Frank Delacruz, Famous Taco

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

8,600 square foot NEO Center set to open by June

The dream has been a long time coming, but after years of planning and building community partnerships, The Center for New Enterprise Opportunity, or NEO Center, is becoming reality.

Work is beginning on the former Clark Street print shop that will house the Center. The 8,600 square foot facility will now be renovated into a LEED certified business incubator including space for 21 businesses, co-working space, conference rooms, a workout center and office space for building owners and contractors Kincaid Henry.

“The Ingham County Land Bank was critical in making this happen,” says Ryan Henry, COO of Kincaid Henry. The Land Bank originally purchased the property and facilitated the financing package that made the NEO Center project possible.

But as exciting as the building itself sounds, the real news is what will take place inside the NEO Center walls.

Tenants of the center won’t simply have a space to test out a start up, but will be a part of a three-year program designed to train, monitor and develop the businesses to be ready to strike out on their own.

“We want to help manage their transition,” says NEO Center president Tom Stewart. “We want to create the environment that failure isn’t a bad thing. It's OK to fail, we just want you to fail fast and learn from it.” Kincaid Henry projects the total investment into the project will reach $750,000. The NEO Center is currently accepting applications and plans to begin opening office space and co-working space by June.

Source: Tom Stewart and Robin Miner-Swartz, NEO Center; Ryan Henry, Kincaid Henry

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

Before photo and rendering of future building courtesy of Kincaid Henry


New 2,600 square foot children's consignment store opens in Grand Ledge

As new parents know, babies and toddlers require a lot of stuff - a lot of stuff they’ll soon grow out of. It was on a trip to Chicago with her two grandsons and daughter who had a third on the way that Dawn Parks was struck with an idea to help lesson the load for those parents.

“We started hitting all the consignment stores,” she says. “We just kept seeing that the market was right for it at home.”

So Parks and her daughter, Heather Straley teamed up to bring “Lil Hearts Preloved Boutique” to Grand Ledge. The women opened the doors of the 2,600 square foot maternity, infant and children’s consignment store on N. Clinton Street Nov. 1.

“We’re overwhelmed with the amount of sales and consigned items we’ve sold and received,” Parks says. “We get new things in every single day. Even first time moms come in and say, ‘Babies grow out of things so quickly, there’s no reason to buy new.’”

Consigners benefit from a 50/50 split of sales with Lil Hearts, and they can also track their sales, browse new inventory and monitor their accounts though myresaleweb.com.

“Most of our consigners are also our shoppers,” says Parks. “They’ll just come in and spend what they’ve made in the store.”

In addition to maternity and child apparel, Lil Hearts carries toys and parenting necessities.

Source: Dawn Parks, Lil Hearts Preloved Boutique

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Creative Wellness expands into 8,000 sq ft space to support growth

Creative Wellness in East Lansing is growing in every conceivable way. The 21-year-old business that began with six partners is now a business staffed by 50. The growth will continue over the next several months as the wellness center adds services, jobs and moves into a new space three times the size of their current location.

"This is very exciting time to be involved in integrative medicine and holistic healthcare," says co-owner Christine Reay. "More and more people are understanding that need to be proactive with our health."

So many, in fact, that Creative Wellness will move into an 8,100 square foot space nearby their original 3,000 square foot location in April. The added space will allow for expanded services, including couples massages, as well as doubling the number of treatment rooms. CB Richard Ellis/Martin facilitated the company’s relocation to 2045 Asher Court in East Lansing. "We’re busy interviewing for additional staff," Reay says. "We expect to add ten jobs in the next year."

Reay and her Creative Wellness co-owner Irene Savoyat employ both support staff and practitioners of massage, acupuncture, oncology massage, chiropractic, yoga, tai chi and more.

Creative Wellness will celebrate the opening of their new location in April with an open house. Details will be available on the company website closer to the date of the event.

Source: Christine Reay, Creative Wellness

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Sew Creative opens in 850 sq ft space in downtown Grand Ledge

Roxann Mills has been sewing for 40 years. After all those years of practice, she’s now sharing her skills with the Capital region from her new Grand Ledge storefront. Mills’ business, Sew Creative, offers such services as alterations, slipcovers, pillows, window treatments and more.

It’s basically sewing for you and your home," says Mills, 55 of Grand Ledge. "We’ll even go into your home and help you decorate."

Sew Creative opened its doors in October, and so far, the 850 square foot shop at 214-C S Bridge Street has been booming. Her clients include both residential and corporate customers.

"We’ve been very well received," Mills says. "I’m actually off the main road, but you can see our sign from Jefferson. We’ve been doing very well."

Mills often works in partnership with another local Grand Ledge business, Lamb’s Gate Antiques, reupholstering vintage furniture and restoring antiques.

"I refurbish,” she says. “I like to fix things up and recycle."

The current workspace works well for Sew Creative’s sewing operations, but as Mills spends more and more time working with antiques, she hopes to expand her space to sell resale items of her own.

Source: Roxann Mills, Sew Creative

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor  

Courtesy photo


Soup Spoon Cafe owner to purchase 6,000 sq ft Eastside Lansing building

The Soup Spoon Cafe on Lansing's Eastside has been churning out breakfast and lunch to their happily dedicated local customers for four and a half years now. Those fans were no doubt pleased with their recent addition of a dinner menu and adult beverages.

Now, Owner and Chef Nick Gavrilides has added more good news to the pot: he recently purchased his building at 1419 East Michigan.

"It’s always been in the plans," says Gavrilides. "We’ve staked our commitment to this location. If you’re going to spend your business career in one place, you might as well own your space."

The timing of the purchase — so close to the restaurant’s other changes — was no coincidence.

Gavrilides explains that they acquired their permit to serve alcohol through a redevelopment liquor license. This type of license requires the owner to invest in the development of their property — something Gavrilides says he and his former landlord were doing even before he purchased the property.

Besides The Soup Spoon, the approximately 6,000 square foot property also hosts Bancroft Flowers and one available storefront.

"Purchasing the real estate is our commitment to Eastside, Lansing," says Gavrilides, "and we intend on staying for very, very, very long time."

Source: Nick Gavrilides, The Soup Spoon Cafe

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Kirabu fair trade shop makes move to Grand River Ave. in East Lansing

Fair trade just got a little more noticeable in East Lansing with local fair trade retailer Kirabo's move to 225 East Grand River Avenue. Though the move was motivated by development occurring at their former location in Ann Street Plaza, the relocation isn’t without perks of its own.

"We’re excited about the increase in foot traffic being right on Grand River," says Kirabo owner, Gail Catron, of Haslett. "We’re a lot more visible, and we’ve brightened up the store."

Kirabo is a 100 percent fair trade store, meaning everything in their inventory supports the development of sustainable economies in developing nations. In addition to Catron, Kirabo supports six part-time employees locally.

The 1,100 square foot space behind the Grand River storefront will showcase some new features to the three-year-old business.

"We’re changing up a our merchandise a bit," says Catron. "We’re going to increase jewelry and increase space for our infant and baby department. We are still keeping our focus on clothing and increasing a bit there as well."

Kirabo’s new location should be open for business in the next week. A grand re-opening event is planned for March and will feature giveaways, in-store events and new merchandise.

Source: Gail Catron, Kirabo

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Draths adding 20 jobs, moving into 30,000 sq ft Lansing facility

Thanks to a partnership with Dart Development Group and a new 30,000-sq ft facility, the entire Lansing-based Draths Corporation—including ten new employees and more on the way—is now under one big roof in Lansing.

The Draths Corporation is an MSU spin-off formed in 2005 with the idea of using fermentable sugars instead of petroleum-derived materials to produced chemicals used in the manufacturing of nylon, plastic bottles and resins. The Okemos-based company later expanded into a multiple-facility operation, including a Minnesota location, before consolidating at the new Lansing facility.

"Chemical plants usually start in a pilot phase and develop from there," says Draths Corp's operations manager, Roger Cook. Though the growing company is now in the pilot stage, they expect to move quickly into the demonstration and commercial stages over the next two to five years.

"This new facility has our lab size," says Cook. "We recently hired ten new employees and will be hiring more in the upcoming year."

In fact, while the company expects to bring on ten more highly-skilled employees in 2011, that’s just the beginning. Once in operation, the demonstration and production plants have the potential to create over 100 jobs.

Drath’s expansion came about as a partnership with Dart Development Group.

As it turned out, just when Drath needed a much larger facility and the capability of growing, Dart stepped forward with a building and a keen interest in their green technology.

"The building was really a shell when we first started talking to Draft," says Steve Mills, real estate manager with Dart. "We were able to build exactly to their specification, and we made a substantial investment—several million dollars—into the facility.

"We look at our tenants as a partnership," Mills says. "We want them to succeed."

Source: Roger Cook, Draths Corporation

Writer: Natalie Burg, Interim News Editor

Urban Feast Opens New Restaurant, Edmund’s Pastime, in Downtown Lansing

Edmund’s Pastime is a new casual-dining restaurant located at 101 S. Washington Square in Downtown Lansing

Looking to fill this niche near Lansing’s Capitol, Urban Feast — the management company that also owns the Downtown restaurants Troppo and Tavern on The Square — opened the new location.

Edmund’s "is a great place that meets the needs of many within the Lansing demographic,” says Josh French, manager of Edmund’s. “Though it’s simple food, it’s very good food, and we do all our soups from scratch.”

Edmund’s is a “come as you are” combination restaurant: a family-friendly space that’s part restaurant, part diner and part sports bar, with 15 televisions.

“The restaurant has a 'mom and pop' feel, but can accommodate larger parties. There’s a pool table in the back, and we even have board games” adds French. "This is just a 'cater to everyone' kind of place."

The space seats 150 people, with standing room for more.

Source: Josh French, Urban Feast

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New Favorites Café Opens in 1,200 Sq Ft Old Town Lansing Space

When John and Kim Robertson were looking to start a business, they discovered a neighborhood called Old Town, with the perfect space for them to start their family business: Favorites Café.

“When I saw this place, I came alone initially. I checked it out, talked to the owners and kind of fell in love with it,” says John Robertson, co-owner of Favorites Café. 

“The community was also very interesting. The people I talked to were open and friendly and they wanted someone to come into the area.”

But John (who was the one with the entrepreneurial spirit) still had to convince his wife, Kim, of the business venture.

“When I talked about the business in an abstract way, she didn’t want to do it," Robertson says. "But when she came here, she wanted to do it.”

Favorites Café now occupies the 1216 Turner St. space that was once the home of the Pastry Palette. The café serve soups, sandwiches, salads and pastries that are homemade by Kim.

"If you want a friendly place to get a nice meal at a decent speed in a relaxing atmosphere, Favorites Café is perfect,” says Robertson.

The café also takes large reservations for office meetings and groups.

Source: John Robertson, Favorites Café

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Elm Street Recording Moves Into Newly Rehabbed, 1,200 Sq Ft REO Town Space

When Lansing entrepreneur, Ryan Wert, opened Elm Street Recording in his home in Lansing’s REO Town in 2004, little did he know how much space the studio would actually take up.

The studio started in a few small rooms and gradually occupied more of the house until more space was necessary.

After a successful six years in business — with growing profits and clientele — Wert purchased the 1,200 square-foot home next door to expand Elm Street Recording.

“My wife [Megan] had to deal with clients walking in and out of our home,” laughs Wert. “After a while, it was pretty clear that we needed to commit and give Elm Street Recording its own space, and get a little of ours back.”

The new place, located at 218 Elm St. was condemned when they bought it, so the Werts have been busy painting, remodeling and refurbishing the new home into a professional studio space.

"We did everything from replacing rotting subfloor — I actually stepped through the floor in the kitchen at one point — to building new walls. It's now the studio and our old place is being reclaimed as living space."

Wert is also a pioneer in the revitalization of REO Town, investing at a time when there was no REO Art Alley or REO Eats project. “There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the REO Town area these days, and we’re just glad that it’s been our place of business for so long.”

Source: Ryan Wert, Elm Street Recording

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Former Spartan Basketball Players Open Evergreen Car Wash and Detail Shops

Andre Hutson and David Thomas. These names might ring a bell, and the two certainly have a lot in common. Hutson and Thomas played together on Michigan State University basketball’s 2000 NCAA championship team, married sisters and now own two car washes and detail shops in Lansing and East Lansing.

Evergreen Car Wash and Detail has two locations, one at the Walnut Hills Country Club and one at a new location on 201 S. Grand in Downtown Lansing.

Both Thomas and Hutson went on to play on national and international teams after graduating from MSU. Thomas played mostly in Australia for eight years, while Hutson played for the Milwaukee Bucks, then in Italy, Greece and Russia, with another year left on his contract.

After a while, both Thomas and Hutson decided it was time to focus on the homefront. “As much as we love basketball and could continue playing, we spend lots of time away from our family and friends,” says Thomas. “I'm back in the real world. We started these businesses, and we're trying to build from the ground up. I've known Andre since we were roommates in our sophomore year. We go back almost 10 years now, so it was just natural to go into a partnership together.”

Source: David Thomas, Evergreen Car Wash and Detail

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Artist Opens New Gallery 1212 On Turner Street in Lansing’s Old Town

An unexpected health situation gave Old Town artist Carolyn Haun no choice but to close the doors of the Banyan Gallery, formerly located at 1208 on Turner. However, it didn't deter her from returning to the art world.

So when 1212 Turner Street became available, Haun jumped at the opportunity and she's now back on the Old Town gallery scene.

Haun has teamed up with four others who also have art and business experience — Donna Randall, Joni Sztykiel, Barb Mann and Rebecca Stafford — to open Gallery 1212, a fine art studio and gallery, where artists can come together to create art in its studio, and many can come to enjoy art in a gallery setting.

It took these women a month to get the gallery up and running, including painting, offering workshops, fitting laundry tubs (which Haun is ecstatic about) and getting the space ready for its first show.

"I am almost breathless to be in Old Town again," says Haun exuberantly. "We hope to provide a space where people can come together to create and enjoy art."

Gallery 1212 celebrated its opening with workshops and participation in Old Town’s first Sunday Gallery Walk on Nov. 7.

Source: Carolyn Haun, Gallery 1212

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

The Spice Rack Celebrates Grand Opening at the New Lansing City Market

If you’re ever in the need for the hottest chili in the world, The Spice Rack, located in the Lansing City Market, is the place to get it. The chili pepper, Bhut Jolokia, (Ghost Pepper) is 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. That’s hot.

Business partners Kathy Wolcott and Robin Davis aim to offer an array of unique and interesting spice blends, from a Shawarma spice mix to applewood smoked sea salt.

"We just decided we wanted to move into a space that allowed us to start small and grow big," says Wolcott. "This has been a dream of ours for a long time and we are just so excited for it to finally be happening."

Wolcott and Davis strive to purchase goods produced in Michigan, in order to support the local economy.

When The Spice Rack was looking into the City Market for space, they realized there was none available. That's when old friends and vendors, Hickory Corners Greenhouse, offered to share some of its space with The Spice Rack.

“What The Spice Rack brings to the City Market is unique and we're really glad to be able to provide them with space," say Pam Maddix, co-owner of Hickory Corners. "It's gotten great reception so far.”

The Spice Rack will continue to offer samples of its coffee and cider for the rest of the week to celebrate its new space.

Source: Kathy Wolcott, The Spice Rack

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Local Glass Artist Opens Michigan’s Largest Single-Artist Gallery Space

Lansing artist, Craig Mitchell Smith, is opening the largest single-artist gallery space in the state of Michigan. His glass gallery will open in the Macy's wing of the Meridian Mall at 1982 W. Grand River Ave in Okemos.

Mitchell Smith’s work has been shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts and on HGTV, and he has also been included in a number of prestigious gallery and museum exhibitions outside of Detroit.

“It is exhilarating and exhausting to be in this new space. I was working in my basement overlooking the Grand River before,” says Craig Mitchell Smith. “We are actually fabricating the glass here on site and people stand there and watch this happen. It’s a lovely thing for people to be involved in.”

For the holiday season, Mitchell Smith will feature a 1,000-piece, limited edition run of the ornament he created for the national Christmas tree in Washington D.C.


"He is a rising national star and an example of the world-class artistic talent we have within our community," said Leslie Donaldson, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

Source: Katie Robiadek, Arts Council of Greater Lansing

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Just B Yoga Offering Community Classes in 650 Sq Ft REO Town Space

Tucked quietly in a space at 106 Island Ave. in REO Town, Just B Yoga offers yoga for people of all levels, as well as tai chi and meditation classes and programs to the community. What makes the establishment unique is that it is donation-only, so you pay what you can.

Owner Belinda Thurston aims to encourage participation and never wants money to be an issue.

“Yoga and tai chi are often the most needed in our underserved communities … [but] they are least accessible in these communities,” says Thurston. “Just B is about helping restore, heal and build community from its roots. That's what I see REO Town is doing and I love being a part of it.”

Just B Yoga’s programs have increased since its inception last spring, and will also begin offering power yoga classes, a restorative yoga class and a prenatal yoga class. There is also a Hip Hop Power Hour class, giving power yoga students a hip hop playlist.

“Please keep checking the website because the [programs are] expanding quicker than I can keep up with myself,” adds Thurston, playfully.

Source: Belinda Thurston, Just B Yoga

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Innovative Online “REO Town Eats” Diner Design Project Kicks Off in Lansing

Have you ever wanted to have input on the development a new eatery in the Capital region? Imagine being able to suggest what’s on the menu, the interior and exterior decorations and even help name the place.

Well, thanks to developer Pat Gillespie and a group of local entrepreneurs, you can do just that through the REO Eats Project.

The project, which will be located at the former Dalmatian’s Firehouse Grill at 1107 S. Washington Ave. in REO Town, will use social media as a vehicle for creative community involvement.

The project is asking for input and feedback to determine virtually everything about the diner — from menu and pricing, to the theme, name and interior design.
 
“REO Eats represents the spark of innovative, entrepreneurial, community thinking that is going to bring REO Town back to life," says REO Eats team member Josh Hovey, who is an account executive at The Rossman Group.

"Yes, the diner is a small space. Yes, it’s a challenged area," he says. "But by creating the opportunity for the entire community to have a hand in creating the new diner, we’re going to increase our chances of success and hopefully people will want to continue to be active in seeing all of REO Town succeed.”

Input isn’t just being left to residents; people all over the world are encouraged to share their ideas through social media. The REO Eats Project will last 90 days. As far as the group is aware, the REO Eats Project is the first of its kind.

Source: Josh Hovey, REO Eats Project

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Vesta Completes Construction of 1539 Sq Ft Green Home in Dimondale

Specialists in efficiency design and construction, Vesta Building Industries (VBI Homes) in Old Town have completed yet another energy efficient project. It took VBI 100 days to complete the project: a home located on the west bank of the Grand River in Dimondale.

“The green building mantra promotes local sourcing of building materials. This will always have a positive effect on local job stability,” says Scott Schmidt with Vesta Building Industries. “The other is through energy efficiency, which reduces the operating expenses of green buildings. Whether you operate a business or a residential structure, it is useful to have consistent monthly expenses.  The more energy a building uses, the more expenses will fluctuate with the energy markets.”   

Vesta Building Industries emphasizes that cost reduction isn’t the only benefit to energy efficiency. “An airtight building provides better interior control over temperature, humidity and pollution. This control allows us to provide a healthier more comfortable environment that can increase productivity, and an overall improvement in quality of life,” adds Schmidt.

Source: Scott Schmidt, Vesta Building Industries

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Entrepreneurs Open 1600 Sq Ft Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery Near Downtown

Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery is a quality custom tattoo studio and art gallery opening at 615 E. Michigan Ave. in Downtown Lansing today, Sept. 1. With many years of experience between them, friends and owners Geary Morrill, Mike Riina and Sean Peters decided it was time to connect, combine their passion for the art form and invest in a business.

“Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery is a high-end establishment that takes pride in providing a unique and personal experience focusing on client needs, both artistically and conceptually,” says co-owner, Geary Morrill. “[We hope to provide] a new and distinct tattoo experience and art platform, while also becoming involved in the local Downtown business district and community.”

The owners are both painters and tattoo artists, and the business enables them to combine and showcase both talents in the one space. They have an art space under the gallery to spend time on other creative projects. 

“[We hope to create] a thoughtful and conscientious version of the standard tattoo experience, and exceed the expectations of the clients and community,” adds Morrill.

Source: Geary Morrill, Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

Photo:Geary Morrill & Mike Riina (missing Sean Peters)

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New Stateside Deli Opens in Former East Lansing Melting Moments Location

One night after taking his friend out for his birthday in East Lansing, businessman Spencer Soka strolled up Grand River Avenue and stopped in front of the storefront that used to house Melting Moments.

It was perfect, Soka thought, for a deli. If only the spot was available.

As fate would have it, Melting Moments closed shop after 25 years in April, and Soka wasted no time moving in.

The Stateside Deli and Grill, opened its doors Aug. 7 at 313 E. Grand River Ave. It’s Soka’s second Stateside location. The first is in Okemos at 3552 Meridian Crossing Dr.

Soka promises a full deli experience, complete with fresh-baked breads, pastrami sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks and meats hanging from the ceiling. But you can also order a burger and onion rings.

“We never ask our customers if the food is good,” says Soka, 30, who also owns a Verizon store in Okemos. “You know why? Because we know it’s good.”

Stateside Deli and Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., Thursday through Saturday. On Sundays, the deli is open noon to 9 p.m.

Soka says he wants to cater to students, so he has opened up a back room where students can sit and study.

Source: Spencer Soka

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

New Outdoor Bar Opening Next To Tin Can In Downtown Lansing

It’s game day, and you’d like nothing better than to sit on a deck somewhere, dig into a steak and enjoy a cold beer.

Now you can.

Construction is nearly finished on a new 1,000-square-foot outdoor bar next to the Tin Can and Harem Urban Lounge on Michigan Avenue near The Stadium District.

Managers of The Big Deck Bar — who also are partners in the Tin Can and Harem — envision a spot where people can kick back and relax like they do in their own backyards.

“We’re going to have these buckets of beer from the Tin Can so you don't have to run in and out,” says Dave Sell, one of the managing partners. “We’ll have a grill out there for game days, and we’ll roll out a big screen so you can watch the games.”

Though the Deck will be accessible from both the Tin Can and Harem, Sell said they’re billing it as its own bar.

“We’ll have street-level access, as well,” he says.

The Deck will have seating for up to 55. Sell says they plan to be open for business by the weekend of Aug. 6.  Updates are available on the Tin Can’s Facebook fan page.

Source: Dave Sell

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


Entrepreneur Opens New Men's Clothing Shop in Downtown Williamston

Even men want a good deal on clothes, but finding them isn’t always easy.

But a new business in Williamston hopes to fill that gap. The Men’s Attic recently opened at 107 S. Putnam St. The storefront is part of the historic Keller’s Plaza location at the corner of Putnam and Grand River Avenue.

Owner Brooke Locke says she has always dreamed of owning a business in that location and vowed that if a reasonably-priced storefront ever opened up, she’d do it.

So when Fabinelli’s Candy Shoppe recently closed, Locke jumped at the opportunity. She just wasn’t quite sure what she would do with the space.

So after some market research, she realized that even though th