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Bonbon shop opens in Hamtramck

Years of training and chocolate-making have culminated in the grand opening of Bon Bon Bon, chocolatier Alexandra Clark's bonbon production facility and retail storefront in Hamtramck. A grand opening was thrown Saturday, July 19.

Throughout the week, the shop at 2756 Evaline St. is the center of operations for Clark's wholesale business -- she sells bonbons to a number of boutique hotels. The storefront opens to the general public every Saturday, where they're open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Clark, who has nearly a decade of training from a number of culinary programs, has always known that she was going to be a chocolatier. She chose bonbons for their inherent creativity. Where truffles are strictly defined by their ingredients, bonbons allow the classically-trained Clark to come up with her own twists on a centuries-old treat. Of the nearly 50 flavors available at Bon Bon Bon, there's the paczki bonbon, a dough ganache and berry-mix bonbon that pays homage to the deep Polish roots of Hamtramck, and her signature bonbon, the Hot Mess, a hard-shelled chocolate filled with molten chocolate.

"It's sort of like doing a shot but you can do it with your grandma," says Clark. "Not like you couldn't do shots with your grandma but you can do it with kids and your grandma."

Clark and her team craft many of the ingredients by hand, whether they're tempering chocolate or chopping mangoes. Other ingredients are bought from local bakeries or the corner grocery store. What she can't find locally she imports from places like France and Switzerland.

Once the weather cools down, Clark will take her bonbons to Eastern Market. If that goes well, she'll start searching for a retail storefront and have longer hours. Until then, Bon Bon Bon is open every Saturday.

Source: Alexandra Clark, owner of Bon Bon Bon
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

$100K awarded for arts and culture programming along Hamtramck-Detroit border

Non-profit group Power House Productions has been tasked with shepherding two cities, four community arts organizations, and $100,000 in grant money through an 18-month long series of arts and culture placemaking activities along the Hamtramck-Detroit border.

The focus rests along Carpenter Street, Hamtramck's northern border. The $100,000 grant was awarded to the groups by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of Our Town, their arts-based community building and placemaking program. In total, Our Town awarded $5.073 million in grants to 66 projects in 2014.

The Hamtramck-Detroit winner is titled Carpenter Exchange and will begin an 18-month-long run of events this September. Community arts organization Power House Productions will manage events led by the Hinterlands, a performance arts group; Carrie Morris Arts Production, a story-telling and performance arts group; Popps Packing, an arts studio and venue; and the Work Department, an open-source programming and development studio.

"Power House Productions and their project partners, including the City of Hamtramck, demonstrate the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community," NEA chairman Jane Chu says in a statement.

Planned activities include the Porous Borders Festival, a two-day fest along the entirety of Hamtramck's northern border. Led by the Hinterlands, the May 2015 festival will attempt to engage both sides of Carpenter Street through performance and visual arts.

Carrie Morris Arts Production will lead two events, a large-scale shadow puppet show and a documentary on young women and story-telling. An abandoned storefront will receive the pop-up treatment from Popps Packing as they install a trading post, tool library, and community gallery in the unused space. The Work Department will produce a communications toolkit along with graphic art installations and workshops open to the public.

Source: NEA press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Hamtramck bakery quietly becomes go-to source for French baked goods

What do Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, Mudgie's Deli, and the Detroit Institute of Arts have in common? They all carry Matt Knio's breads, pastries, and buns. The Frenchman-turned-Michigander has quietly become one of the city's go-to people for baked goods.

Despite keeping a low profile, Knio's Hamtramck-based Golden Wheat bakery provides baguettes, croissants, and other French baked goods to a number of the city's popular restaurants, cafes, and markets. With very little web presence or branding, Golden Wheat's popularity has spread by word-of-mouth. Knio says that he doesn't advertise and that 90 percent of his customers come from referrals. You could be eating one of his almond croissants right now and not even know it was his. Still, business keeps growing.

Knio started Golden Wheat when, on account of a girl, he left France for Michigan. A year later in 2003, Knio opened a storefront in Birmingham. A 2007 chance encounter at a Rochester farmers market led to his opening a commercial kitchen in Hamtramck. By 2008, he closed his Birmingham storefront and started doing wholesale baking full-time. He's since opened a small Birmingham coffee shop, Cannelle Patisserie.

In Hamtramck, Knio runs his bakery at night, preparing his fine French baked goods for the morning. They work odd hours at the kitchen, operating from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. As a result, Knio catches up on sleep during the day. It's a committed lifestyle, but one that he finds rewarding. Knio believes that Detroit dining options have really turned a corner and he's glad to be a part of that.

"I travel quite a bit and see a lot," says Knio. "The area is getting more and more good food. It's not like it was five or six years ago."

One of the more recent restaurants to carry Golden Wheat products is La Feria, which opened in November 2013.

Source: Matt Knio, owner of Golden Wheat
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Practice Space works to develop two new businesses

Detroit small business hub Practice Space has accepted two new projects into its Incubator program. One, a retro arcade bar, is searching for the perfect location while the second, a West Village property owner, is searching for the perfect tenant. Practice Space is helping each find what they're looking for.

Practice Space is assisting Donald Behm in opening Offworld Arcade, a retro-themed video game bar. In the four month-long Incubator program, the people at Practice Space are helping Behm articulate his concept and craft his business plan. They're also helping him find a building to purchase. A successful pop-up "barcade" was recently held in Hamtramck.

"One thing we've noticed is we want to work with people who want to collaborate," says Austin Kronig, cultural development director for Practice Space. "Donald realized he did everything he could on his own and now he needs support. He's an accidental entrepreneur. He doesn't have a business plan or a space but he knows the business and is an expert in classic arcade games."

In the second project, Detroit Institute of Bagels co-owner Alex Howbert approached Practice Space about identifying the right use for 1417 Van Dyke in West Village. The late-Victorian house is from the 1880s and features a storefront on the first floor of the building. It's near West Village hangouts like Craft Work, Detroit Vegan Soul, and the seasonal Tashmoo Biergarten pop-up. Practice Space is working with Howbert on architectural and concept designs, identifying the scope and breadth of the project. Kronig says that Howbert is open-minded about tenants as long as they don't need a full commercial kitchen.

This is the second term of Practice Space Incubator programming. Practice Space previously worked with Eleni Zaharopoulos and Jenile Brooks on their North End Store-House project.

Source: Austin Kronig, cultural development director of Practice Space
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Business is popping for these unconventional restaurants

Pop-up dining is a popular business model for many a restauranteur whether they want to eventually open their own space or not. For Detroit, the trend may have reached its pop-culture zenith when television host Anthony Bourdain featured local pop-up Guns & Butter on an episode of his CNN program Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. That's not to say that pop-ups are going anywhere any time soon. In fact, it's just the opposite.

Pie-Sci is one of the more successful pop-up restaurants in the city. Co-founders Jeremy Damaske and AJ Nanoulian started the pop-up pizzeria in March of 2011, making pizzas out of Jim Geary's Woodbridge Pub every Sunday. Though they started small, Damaske says that they now sell around 100 pizzas every Sunday. They don't even have pizza ovens, having to use the Woodbridge Pub's two conventional kitchen ovens. The business has gone so well that they're moving operations into the building adjacent to the pub. They hope to be operating daily by the end of the year.

Damaske says that the pop-up restaurant model is perfect for people looking to start a business without a lot of capital. It gives people the chance to get their product out there and build a customer base without having the up-front investment of outfitting a space. It also benefits the host business, drawing customers in that may have not come otherwise.

"There was no real liability for us," says Damske. "We got to use their servers, their liquor license, their alcohol."

The nature of pop-ups can turn going out into more of an event and especially so for less frequent pop-ups like Guns & Butter and Tashmoo Biergarten. Others are further customizing the model like the community building Detroit Soup fosters through its monthly dinners, funding creative projects throughout the city. And then there's Hamtramck's Revolver, whose whole business model is built on hosting rotating chefs and pop-ups.

Source: Jeremy Damaske, co-owner of Pie-Sci
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Restaurant round-up: what just opened and what's coming next

We love to write about food, and you love to read about it. So, since 2013 is closing with a flurry of food-related activity, more than we've even had the chance to cover, here's a quick look at places that have recently opened and places that are coming up next.

The Grille Midtown at 3919 Woodward is now open for lunch and dinner, part of the Woodward Garden Block development project that has been completed in phases over the last decade. The menu is solidly "new American," with red meat and seafood getting prime billing. 

Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar is now open in the Eastern Market district and the locals already love it. Michigan craft beer and artisan spirits elevate this above just another sports bar, and the cozy wood-paneled interior helps. Feel free to give this place a short nickname, though. Tommy Magee's, perhaps? That's got a nice ring.

Delite Cafe is now open in Hamtramck, serving coffee from Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and deli sandwiches made with Boar's Head meats in a handsome space with limited but comfortable dine-in seating. They also serve soups, salads, smoothies, ice cream, a full menu of espresso beverages, and halal meats for the area's significant Muslim population. 

Alley Taco will open inside the extensively renovated Marcus Market in Midtown late January. Until them, you can catch them Tuesdays at Great Lakes Coffee Midtown. 

Frontera in Eastern Market is soooooooooo close. Maybe spring 2014? They're hosting pop-up dinners in the meantime, giving eager diners a chance to see inside the space that some are already hailing as the best-looking restaurant in Detroit. 

The Work Department combines design with positive social impact

The Work Department is a communication, design, and development studio with local, regional, and international clients. A partnership between Nina Bianchi and Benjamin Chodoroff that started about two and a half years ago, the Work Department works with nonprofit and educational organizations – organizations that make a positive social impact while advancing open-source movements. Their client list includes Allied Media Projects, Excellent Schools Detroit, Tour de Troit, the New America Foundation, MIT, Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Detroit Farm & Garden, and more.
 
Formerly located in Midtown, the Work Department recently relocated to a space in Hamtramck at 2750 Yemans. The company has a small team of employees, but they work with collaborators and contractors as far as Washington D.C. and Toronto. They are moving towards becoming a cooperative worker-owned company and grow their network of partners and collaborators. They also want to grow their educational design portfolio and "use design to break down the complexity of the world around us," according to Work Department Principal Nina Bianchi. "We pride ourselves on making our processes accessible and transparent." The company provides print and digital design, web development, communication strategy consulting, branding, content creation, and other services.
 
Source: Nina Bianchi, The Work Department
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg


Detroit Bus Co's Eight & Sand in Hamtramck will be an entertainment complex and business incubator

The Detroit Bus Company has officially made the move to Detroit after purchasing a 90,000-square-foot building at 3901 Christopher St. in Hamtramck that they are calling Eight & Sand, a term used in the 19th century to wish a steam locomotive conductors safe travels.
 
"The methodology around here, to borrow from Daniel Burnham, is make no small plans," says Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company. And 90,000 square feet of space certainly isn't small.
 
Eight & Sand will be used as a sort of business incubator meets entertainment complex. The industrial building was built in 1920 by the Gear Grinding Company and was turned over into a constant-velocity joints production facility in 1940. Cranes and other heavy machinery still remain from its days as a factory, and they're leaving it that way for the certain "ambiance" it gives to the place.
 
While there is still PLENTY of space to lease out, Eight & Sand already has several tenants. First is the Detroit Bus Company, which should go without saying. All DBC operations have been moved inside, including the vehicle fleet. "I always thought DBC needed to be in Detroit," Didorosi says. "Hamtramck is close enough! (It's) perfect; it's right in the middle of everything. We'll be successful here."  
 
He also says that the building, along with its five acres of parking, was affordable and they are able to provide affordable space to tenants because of it. "We can cut through the red tape when renting space to people because it's ours." He wants the Eight & Sand businesses to be able to "get things done and hire the sh*t out of people," instead of wasting time and money dealing with corporate bureaucracy. "Immediately available space is pretty finite. Here we are going to make it easy." He jokes that if you wanted to open an industrial-scale bike manufacturing facility, you could do it tomorrow.
 
Eight & Sand is perfect for small businesses looking for big spaces. Pot & Box, a semifinalist in the 2011 Hatch Detroit competition, will have a 4,000-square-foot event space inside (the Corktown retail storefront is still planned). Fowling Warehouse will be the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet in the center of the building complete with a full bar and concert stage (with hopes of drawing in some big-name talent). Fowling Warehouse is nearly doubling its space from its previous location at 17501 Van Dyke St. (which the business moved out of earlier this year) and will have 30 lanes of "fowling" – football plus bowling. 
 
Eight & Sand also houses a processing and storage space for Reclaim Detroit and is providing free space to Sit On It Detroit, a completely DIY effort to build and install benches for bus stops. Didorosi says they will provide free space for one tenant at a time that needs some help starting up. There is no limit on the amount of time the business can occupy the space. Didorosi says of Charles Molnar, founder of Sit On It Detroit, "Once he's big fish he'll move out (to somewhere bigger) and we'll give the space to someone else." Both of these tenants came with the building and are staying.
 
Eight & Sand will also have seven bays for food trucks to come and dock that come with power hookups, a wash bay, and an on-site commissary kitchen. Didorosi's long-term plan is to enable these trucks to vend indoors so they can continue running their businesses in the winter, which is a real challenge for mobile food vendors.
 
Space is still available for tenants with needs for large and slightly less large spaces. "We've got pretty specific requirements for the kind of businesses we want. We want to foster growth in terms of businesses that are going to grow the city."
 
Source: Andy Didorosi, founder and president of Detroit Bus Company
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Link Detroit celebrates groundbreaking of five-phase cycling and greenway infrastructure project

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation, State of Michigan, City of Detroit Department of Public Works, DEGC, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown, Inc., and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, will celebrate the groundbreaking of the five-phase Link Detroit greenway infrastructure project next Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Eastern Market's Lot 1 (adjacent to Shed 2).
 
"This goes back a few years," says Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative. He says that when the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009, it was always intended to run further north than where it currently ends at Gratiot. When the first portion of the Midtown Loop opened in 2010, it was intended to go further south and connect to Eastern Market. Link Detroit is the fulfillment of those intentions.
 
The full $25 million scope of this project is fully-funded, thanks in large part to a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in addition to support from the Community Foundation and other partners (see above).
 
There are five phases to this project, and most are able to operate on independent construction schedules simultaneously. Though the "ground-breaking" celebration is next Tuesday, the event is mostly ceremonial. Woiwode says they hope to already have bulldozers at work by then.
 
The five phases include extending the Dequindre Cut north from Gratiot to Mack, rebuilding five bridges over the Dequindre Cut's extension (with funding from the Critical Bridge Fund), extending the trail system and providing some infrastructure improvements and amenities in Eastern Market along Wilkins and Russell St., connecting Wilkins to the Midtown Loop which will be extended south along John R, and the construction of bike lanes and greenways along Dequindre Rd. north of Mack connecting the Dequindre Cut to Hamtramck. Ultimately Link Detroit will connect Midtown and Wayne State to Eastern Market to the Dequindre Cut to both Hamtramck and the Detroit River.
 
They hope to have construction of all five phases completed by this time next year.
 
Source: Tom Woiwode, director of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's GreenWays Initiative
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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(revolver), a new table d'hôte restaurant, will open during the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week

Hamtramck has long been known for its diversity of ethnic culinary offerings, but new concepts opening this fall promise to elevate this neighborhood to a new level of gastronomic savviness. First there is 2012 Hatch Detroit finalist Rock City Eatery, a new American restaurant serving locally-sourced items made from scratch with a Anthony Bourdain-like culinary sensibility (think: offal, and items like bone marrow fritters). It will be open this fall, pending final inspections. 
 
But one concept you haven't heard much about yet, as the partners haven't said much about it yet, is the new (revolver) in Hamtramck.
 
(revolver) is located at 9737 Joseph Campau, in the space that was previously going to be Ootie's, then Acme Food Company. Neither of those concepts ever came to fruition. (revolver) is a partnership between Tunde Wey and Peter Dalinowski, self-taught chefs with a passion for food and community.
 
(revolver) is their take on a table d’hote restaurant, a concept with origins dating back to the 1600s when countryside inns would serve large family-style meals to their guests. The hosts would decide what to prepare and all guests would be invited to the table. "Our concept is similar," says Wey. "We are inviting people to our 'table,' so to speak, and offering them a chance to eat delicious food sourced locally, and fresh, prepared by people who LOVE and are experts at what they do." To further embrace this concept, all seating is communal.
 
They are working with five chef partners, a mix of self-taught and professionally-trained chefs – Jessika Rae Warren, Oliver Honderd, Brad Greenhill, Alla Dihes and the team of Thom Ingram and Nate Bankowski – on an ever-evolving multi-course prix fixe menu. The set menu will always be changing to encompass a variety of culinary styles, and will include offerings for vegetarians. (revolver) will offer two seatings nightly by reservation only. Reservations are prepaid and available through the website.
 
(revolver) will open for the first-ever Hamtramck Food Week, happening Sept. 23-28. (Read more about Hamtramck Food Week here.) After that they will be open for dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays initially, with seatings at 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. They will start with 35 available spots per seating and gradually work their way up to their 60-person capacity.
 
Source: Tunde Wey, partner in (revolver)
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Hatch Detroit to announce 10 semifinalists for 2013 this Thursday

This Thursday Hatch Detroit will announce 10 semifinalists for 2013. Now in its third year, Hatch Detroit has grown from a $50,000 small business contest to a full-blown small business incubator.
 
Since it first launched in 2011, Hatch has completed two full rounds of contests in which the winner receives $50,000 cash as well as a host of free business services including legal, accounting, marketing and advertising, and IT support from Hatch and its partners.
 
2011 winner Hugh opened inside the Auburn building in Midtown last fall. 2012 winner La Feria is putting on the finishing touches and will open this fall. But the top prize winners aren’t the only winners of Hatch. Several semifinalists from the last two years are in the process of opening their own storefronts, in many ways assisted by the tremendous publicity they received from being Hatch participants.
 
Past participants include:

 
Alley Wine (2011) – received re-zoning approval needed for alley space in Midtown, now working on other licensing and still fully committed to opening (owners hope for a 2014 opening)
 
Anthology Coffee (2011) – now roasting and serving coffee while working on their permanent space inside Ponyride in Corktown.
 
Detroit Gypsy Kitchen (2011) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Detroit Institute of Bagels (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Detroit River Sports (2012) – working as a monthly kayak rental pop-up on Belle Isle, still working with city to open full-time.
 
Detroit Vegan Soul (2012) – working on permanent space in West Village to open later this year.
 
Pot & Box (2011) – working on permanent space in Corktown to open later this year.
 
Rock City Eatery (2012) – working on permanent space in Hamtramck to open in September.
 
Tashmoo Biergarten (2012) – functioning as an occasional pop-up.
 
Hatch Detroit Executive Director Vittoria Katanski says that they are looking to expand the portion of their program in which they assist and promote previous semifinalists. With help from a grant from Strategic Staffing Solutions, they will be developing the pocket park that will be a key feature of Detroit Institute of Bagels, one of the first semifinalists from previous contests to open.
 
Hatch is also partnered with the Detroit Lions on their Living for the City initiative, which focuses on building up the retail presence in some of Detroit's other (read: non-Midtown, Corktown and downtown) neighborhoods. They are working together with local community development corporations (CDCs) to determine what the needs of these neighborhoods are – improving signage, facades, activating empty storefronts – and how best to address them. Their current neighborhood of focus is the Avenue of Fashion, which was recently awarded $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments and is also a major focus of the DEGC.
 
Kattanski says, "The whole neighborhood initiative is to help existing businesses and perk up their spaces," adding that a lot of emphasis is placed on bringing in new businesses but not as much attention is paid to those that have been working and serving Detroit's neighborhoods all along. "These are great businesses on the Avenue of Fashion and this will help improve the retail experience for their customers."
 
While the top 10 haven't yet been announced, Kattanski says that the number of quality applicants this year was much higher than before, estimating about 90 percent of the applications received were quality proposals with solid, well-thought-out ideas.
 
Source: Vittoria Kattanski, Hatch Detroit Executive Director
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Beignets brings a taste of the Bayou to the New Orleans of the North

From the Paris of the Midwest to the New Orleans of the North: Detroit is getting a taste of the Bayou with Beignets
 
After many years of travelling to the Big Easy and enjoying late-night beignets with chicory coffee at the famous Café du Monde, Michele Pearson and her partner Mark Hausner launched Beignets to bring the dense French doughnut to Detroit. "We just loved the fact that when people were together eating beignets all hours of the night, listening to zydeco, they were happy," says Pearson. "We figured with the French influence in Detroit, why doesn't Detroit have something like this?"
 
They started introducing Beignets to Detroit with a food truck currently operating Saturdays at Eastern Market and at various food truck meet-ups. "From the warm welcome we've been getting from the beignet truck, the opportunity presented itself (to open a store) in Hamtramck, where both myself and (Hausner) have roots," says Pearson, who is also an interior designer and owns the Yoga Suite in Hamtramck. "We want to do what we can to bring business to Hamtramck."
 
Beignets will be located on Joseph Campau next to the soon-to-open Flavor Restaurant. The two businesses are open to each other through their shared wall, and will also share a kitchen.
 
Beignets will serve the namesake pastry as well as chicory coffee (another New Orleans specialty) and regular coffee. The café will be open both early morning and late evening hours to capture some of the nightlife crowd. It will seat 30-40 people with free WiFi, and also has an outdoor patio out back where there will be more café seating and live music during the spring and summer.
 
Renovations are underway inside and Beignets will open by early summer. The truck will continue to operate at local events and farmers markets.
 
Source: Michele Pearson, co-owner of Beignets
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Cupcak'n is sweet on Hamtramck, will open this spring

Hamtramck is definitely experiencing a growth spurt. Another new food business is set to open, a cupcakerie and gourmet ice cream shop called Cupcak’n located at 2756 Evaline St.
 
Owners Faness and Anthony Gray will debut their interactive cupcake bar concept this spring. Like a Cold Stone Creamery where you pick your own ingredients, they will offer eight different cupcake flavors with 14 kinds of frosting and over 20 different toppings so you can build your own cupcake. Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting with Oreos and fudge on top? No problem.
 
They’ll also offer their own line of 23 different signature cupcakes with names like "Coconut Crazy for You" and "Peanut Butter Passion." Everything at Cupcak’n (which itself is a term of endearment) is all about love, including the love Anthony, the master baker, puts into his baking.
 
"He wants everything to be perfect, all made from scratch, all natural," says Faness. "We’ve both been in the kitchen every day for the last two years. We have baked more than 5,000 cupcakes in our test runs."
 
Cupcakes will be baked fresh on-site every morning by Anthony and his assistants. They will also carry premium ice creams in funky flavors like spicy chocolate, sour cream cinnamon, and avocado, made for them by Ruth and Phils in Chicago.
 
The 584-square-foot space was previously an ice cream shop. Interior renovations were minimal, but they did add an additional counter for their cupcake bar as well as a wall ledge where people can stand and enjoy their treats.
 
Faness is excited to bring a new kind of bakery to Hamtramck, where there are no bakeries that specialize in cupcakes, as well as a new kind of concept to Michigan. "There is no place that I know of in Michigan that has an interactive (cupcake) bar."
 
Source: Faness Gray, co-owner of Cupcak’n
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Hatch Detroit 2012 finalist Rock City Pies will open restaurant in Hamtramck this summer

Following in the footsteps of fellow 2012 Hatch Detroit finalists Detroit Vegan Soul and winner La Feria, Rock City Pies will become a brick-and-mortar reality later this year.
 
Rock City Pies owner Nikita Santches has formally signed a three-year lease for the space that was formerly home to Maria's Comida in Hamtramck. Maria’s, which closed late last year, is moving into a new facility around the corner on Caniff to focus on production of their Maria’s House Made Salsa label.
 
Because the space was previously a restaurant, Santches has very little work to do on the interior but plans on making the bathrooms more accessible and aesthetically revamping the dining room area with new floors, booths, and other updated design details. Construction will begin immediately upon floor plan approval from the city, which he and his father will do themselves.
 
Through the course of the Hatch competition Santches didn't think Rock City Pies would end up in Hamtramck. He remembers Hatch Executive Director Vittoria Katanski asking him if he would ever consider the city-within-the-city and he dismissed it quickly, but after being introduced to Jason Friedmann, Hamtramck's Director of Community and Economic Development, and learning more about the city first-hand he felt an immediate connection to it.
 
One of the most appealing aspects of Hamtramck for Santches was the cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhood. As a Russian immigrant himself, he felt an immediate connection to the many Eastern European immigrants who live and own businesses in Hamtramck. "That aspect of it is very appealing to me," he says. "I'm surrounded by people who grew up eating the same kind of food I ate and living the lifestyle that I lived. People around me have the same mentality and view on things."
 
He hopes to be open by this summer. He will also start wholesaling Rock City Pies to local markets once situated in the new space.
 
Source: Nikita Santches, owner of Rock City Pies
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Have a Development News story to share? Send Nicole an email here.

Downtown Hamtramck makes National Register of Historic Places

Downtown Hamtramck is now a part of the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that should help the commercial district leverage more redevelopment dollars and maintain its classic character.

The historic district runs the length of Jos Campau Street between the GM Poletown plant to the south and close to Carpenter Street on the north end. "The historic district is a couple of streets short of that," says Jason Friedmann, director of community and economic development for the city of Hamtramck. "This is the area with the oldest buildings with the most character are located."

The Jos Campau Historic District encompasses about 200 buildings that are about 100 years old. Most of the them were constructed after the old Dodge Main Plant was built in the early 1900s. It joins the historic district around St. Florian Catholic Church near the intersection of Jos Campau and Holbrook streets.

The Jos Campau Historic District is only a national historic district. That designation allows it to leverage national historic tax credits for redevelopment but doesn't come with the strict restrictions and oversights commonplace in local historic districts.

Source: Jason Friedmann, director of community and economic development for the city of Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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