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Hazel Park’s Cellarmen's going strong after 3 years, expanding canning operations

If a loyal fan base and strong community support is anything to go on, Cellarmen’s mead, cider, and beer brewery promises to be the sleeper hit of Hazel Park.
 
What started with humble beginnings has expanded to its first official line of canned products with ambitions to sell outside of Michigan. Co-owner Dominic Calzetta, also a Hazel Park resident, says the company owes its continued success to the support of friends, family, and the Hazel Park community.
 
“Our regulars are completely diehard, devastatingly committed, and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Calzetta says. “That’s where it all started, and you always want to keep those people happy. You always owe it to those original people.”
 
Cellarmen’s began as experimentation with home brewing. Calzetta would often partner with co-owner Andy Zelewski on mead making, and later met co-owner Ian Radogast-Gvens while working at B Nektar Meadery. The trio bonded, and after gaining several years of experience working in the industry, decided they wanted to run their own business.
 
Calzetta says they were able to make this decision because they all shared a vision: they wanted to make mead with a specific emphasis on serving a community.
 
The three always wanted Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park, but finding the right building was a challenge in the beginning. For this dream project, they needed a building that could house both their production and tap room in one location.
 
Early in their search, Calzetta found an old lumber office down the street from where he lived that was perfect. At the time, the building was spoken for, but Calzetta was drawn to the location and kept checking back. The original business proposal fell through, and Calzetta and partners wasted no time making an offer.
 
“We only knew one thing to do, and that was to go make alcohol,” Radogast-Givens says. “We said if you know anybody more talented than us, then give them the building.”

Getting the building ready for business would take another six months of preparation and production. Once they had the setup down, they began to produce their own creations, with the goal of only releasing products with the highest quality.
 
During production, the individual partners’ strengths became distinctive. While Radogast-Givens and Zelewski excelled in working in the back making the mead, Calzetta was out in the world promoting their products and spreading the word. Radogast-Givens adds that their roles are often shifting so much that everyone is always wearing seven hats, all the time.
 
Describing the operation of Cellarmen’s as a literal three-man-job would not be exaggerating, especially when they first opened their doors in October 2015. Though now they occasionally hire outside help and have proper bartenders working the tap room, the trio did everything themselves in the beginning. Calzetta said those first few months had some extremely long days, but it was worth it because they quickly established their fan base amongst the Hazel Park residents.
 
Cellarmen’s products use real fruit and honey and never used refined sugar, concentrates or flavorings. Calzetta said they have put out a total of 120 different meads, ciders and beers within the last few years. Many of these releases were exclusives for special events such as mead day, Kentucky Derby day, tastings, anniversaries and holidays. In total, the company visits around 60 mead festivals a year.
 
Despite always trying something new, Cellarmen’s has some regular products that have become staples. The current lineup goes as follows: Moscow Miel, Pineapple Cider, Razzgar, Handsome Dan, Coffee Cider, and Le Goose. This lineup, however, is subject to change. While it isn’t likely that Pineapple Cider or Moscow Miel are going anywhere (due to popularity), certain drinks, such as Le Goose, have only been brought into the main lineup by popular demand. Sometimes the lineup also depends on the availability of specific ingredients.
 
“We like to make not only things that are approachable for everybody, but we like to have fun too,” Calzetta says.
 
Calzetta knew from the beginning that they wanted to move into canning their product. During their first year anniversary, they started canning in 32-ounce cans called Crowlers. While this proved to be popular in its own right, the larger than normal cans were a tough sell for newcomers or light drinkers. Calzetta knew they would have to start canning in a smaller size to be more marketable and accessible. The following year the Crowlers were replaced by smaller 12-ounce cans, which allowed select products to be canned on the spot and bought straight from the tap room.
 
With the tap room sustained and the locals happy, the next logical step was to branch out. To start, Cellarmen’s has canned retail versions of Moscow Miel and Pineapple Cider, sold in four-packs.
 
To date, Cellarmen’s has canned 188 cases of Moscow Miel and 210 cases of Pineapple Cider. These drinks, along with select barrels of their products, are now sold at beer bars, restaurants, craft beer stores, and party stores across Michigan. While this step was huge for the trio, their ambitions go much further.
 
Calzetta says they have recently purchased a canning line. This means they will no longer have to wait on deals with other companies; now their limited runs will become semi-frequent small runs, with the ability to push more of their main staple products. Their biggest goal, Calzetta says, is to get their products sold out of state.
 
But that won’t mean Cellarmen’s will ever forget their roots in Hazel Park.
 
“We always want to be here in this city,” says Radogast-Givens.

Fillmore 13 sets out to manufacture and distribute craft beers from Pontiac with $100,000 grant

Fillmore 13 Brewery was one of several Pontiac businesses receiving funding on March 14 as part of The Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program funded by Flagstar Bank. The grant program aims to offer one award annually to support manufacturing businesses to grow in Pontiac.

 

The brewery, which opened its doors in downtown Pontiac in March of 2017, was awarded $100,000 to launch manufacturing and distribution of its craft beers under the brand Fillmore 13: Brewed in Pontiac, MI.

 

Lee Roumaya, the owner of Fillmore 13, says he plans to use the funds to acquire canning and bottling materials as well as hire two new staff to assist with distribution. Funds will also support marketing and promotion of the product line regionally to bars, restaurants, and retailers.

 

“This will be a huge help for us, and it'll give us the opportunity with the funding to move forward,” says Kourmaya. “It'll help pay for more labor in the brewery, more products, a canning system, and a promotional program to get our name out there, and let people know we exist, and we are making beer in Pontiac.”

 

Kourmaya expects it will take three to six months before Fillmore 13 products will be available in bars, restaurants, and stores.

 

Brewer Bo Holcomb recommends Fillmore 13’s Abricot Belgian Ale. “It’s served right to the line between being a traditional Abbey Pale, and then with the addition of the apricot, opens it up to a lot of other beer drinkers that might sort of stay away from a Belgian style.”

 

This is the second announcement of grants under the Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program. On January 8, 11 grantees were announced in the first round of funding. Today, nine more are being announced in the second round of funding including:
 

  1. Fillmore 13 - $100k

  2. Your World Electric - $10k

  3. Libby International - $10k

  4. K&R Studios - $10k

  5. Plug N Play - $10k

  6. Upholstery with Class - $4k

  7. E&K Arts and More - $5k

  8. Epiphany Studios - $6k

  9. Max Out Fitness - $10k


The Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program is committed to investing $700,000 per year into Pontiac over five years. Of the total $3.5 million overall planned investment, approximately $500,000 will be allocated in the form of grants and $250,000 in the form of business loans, with an average grant size of $10,000 and an average loan size of $5,000 to $25,000. The disbursement is being leveraged through a partnership with CEED Lending, a Small Business Administration lender.

ArborOakland Group honored as one of the 2018 "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch"

ArborOakland Group will be honored at an awards ceremony during the fourteenth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 3, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan.

ArborOakland Group, one of Southeast Michigan's leading printing companies since 1967, is proud to call the Motor City its home and with wide-ranging print capability help its clients to Speak Visually!

The company is continuing with a growth and investment strategy that has seen ArborOakland Group invest in the latest print technology, acquire two companies in 2017, and double the company's production square footage when it completed the purchase and build-out of a second location in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Don Kirkland, President of ArborOakland Group said "After completing the most recent pieces of our company's strategic vision, it was humbling to be nominated by one of our valued clients as one of the 2018 'Michigan 50 Companies to Watch'. I can't think of a better way to celebrate this honor as we begin to see the investments paying off for our team and most importantly, our clients."

Companies making it to the "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch" list are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue, these companies form the backbone of Michigan's economy. Representing all regions of the state and a diverse range of industries, companies like ArborOakland Group are known for their exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, creation of innovation or use of innovation in creative ways, and their sustainable competitive advantage.

Winners were selected by Michigan-based judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development, and venture capital communities.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center is the managing partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business in 2018.  Michigan Celebrates Small Business was founded by the Michigan Small Business Development Center, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration - Michigan, Edward Lowe Foundation, Michigan Business Network, and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Information about Michigan Celebrates Small Business can be found at www.MichiganCelebrates.biz.

Information about ArborOakland Group can be found at www.ArborOakland.com.

Cantoro Italian Trattoria to open in May in former Tre Monti space in Troy

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Cantoro Italian Market and Trattoria in Plymouth Township announced it will open a new trattoria at 1695 E. Big Beaver Road in Troy, behind the San Marino Club in the space formerly occupied by Tre Monti. The announcement was made by Cantoro Italian Market and Trattoria owners and brothers John and Michael Fallone.

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Local coffee roastery, bakery, and cafe to expand to downtown Royal Oak with third location

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is expanding to a third location — this time in downtown Royal Oak. It's a town that Nathan Hamood, President and Director of Coffee Roasting Operations at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters, has been eyeing for a while. So when Hamood saw the 3,200-square-foot former home of La Dulce restaurant, he jumped on it.

Hamood hopes for a grand opening in downtown Royal Oak in May.

He expects a pretty easy build out this time around, at least as compared to the other two Dessert Oasis locations. The Hamood family opened Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Rochester in 2009, relocated to a more central downtown Rochester location in 2010, and opened a second location in downtown Detroit's Capitol Park neighborhood in 2015.

Given the building's former role as a restaurant, the infrastructure for a coffee shop and bakery is already there. Hamood will relocate the business baking operations to the Royal Oak location, and also move a coffee roaster to the front of the building, allowing customers and passers-by the opportunity to see—and smell—the coffee roasting process first-hand.

The Detroit location features an industrial, minimalist design aesthetic, and Hamood says he is working with design firm Ideology to maintain a minimalist approach but add some warmth to Royal Oak. Nightingale Company is tasked with the build-out.

"I'm excited about what the growth of our company does for our team," Hamood says. "Over the years, I've learned to delegate tasks to people's strengths. It creates an opportunity for others."

"We're operating like a real company."

Hamood also has his own line of hair pomade, Ace High, as mentioned in a profile that appeared in Metromode in 2016. He says that the business is growing as well, with the addition of hair clay and beard balm products and the hiring of a few employees. Ace High has picked up more local accounts, and even some distributors overseas.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters will be located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Royal Oak.

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

Valentine Distilling announces expansion

Excerpt

After 10 successful years, Rifino Valentine of Valentine Distilling Co. in Ferndale has announced plans to expand with a $1 million investment in its production operation. 

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LTU gets $100,000 state grant for business incubation

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has approved a one-year, $100,000 extension to fund the Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory Gatekeeper Business Incubator.

The grant runs from April 1 through March 31, 2019, and was part of $1.7 million in state grants to support entrepreneurial resources. 

This is the third year LTU has received the grant to assist entrepreneurs and innovators in Southfield and throughout Southeast Michigan with a variety of programs, services, and events. 

The mission of the LTU Collaboratory is to help small manufacturers and hardware enterprises scale up for success. More about the programs and events available through the Collaboratory at www.ltucollaboratory.com

LTU has partnered with the City of Southfield to foster economic development through the city’s SmartZone. Based on the results from the Gatekeeper Grant, Southfield has provided the LTU Collaboratory additional support over the past year to help foster small business success.

Through the Gatekeeper Grant, the LTU Collaboratory has also strengthened its collaboration and working relationships with agencies such as the Michigan Small Business Development Centers, Automation Alley, Pure Michigan Small Business Connect, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and other organizations.

The new Gatekeeper grant will continue the momentum established from the first two years’ awards to assist the growth of early stage technology companies, especially in those companies focused on product design, engineering, prototyping and manufacturing.

For further information on the programs, contact, Mark Brucki, executive director of the LTU Collaboratory, at mbrucki@ltu.edu.

“Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy,” said Fred Molnar, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state’s chief marketing and business attraction agency. “The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in not only building and growing startups in Michigan, but in attracting out-of-state talent.”  

Gatekeeper business incubators assist early-stage companies in accessing various services and programs administered by Michigan SmartZones, including mentoring, incubator and wet lab space, technology assessments, market analysis, product development and entrepreneurial training. Under the grants they’ve previously received, Michigan SmartZones have helped 231 companies form, served 1,695 companies, created 730 jobs, retained 4,223 jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $286 million with an additional $125 million in sales.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
 

Drifter Coffee to open Ferndale cafe this spring

Excerpt

Fans of Drifter Coffee’s mobile trailer will have an easier time finding the brew this spring when owner Alleah Webb sets up a permanent location in Ferndale.

The two-story coffee shop and roastery will be at 780 Woodward Heights. It will be part of a multi-building development known as Iron Ridge District, which also aims to include a full-service bakery, farmers, florist and other local vendors.

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Royal Oak-based Vectorform and Microsoft Partner to expand HoloLens technology for automotive design

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Royal Oak’s Vectorform, a digital product and experiences company with capabilities in mixed reality design and engineering, announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. to innovate vehicle design and the prototyping processes for the automotive industry.

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Cold juice producer Drought adding production kitchen in Berkley, launches business consulting

Excerpt

Royal Oak-based Drought, a producer of USDA organic, cold-pressed juices, has launched a new arm of its business called Drought Solutions. Services are aimed at small businesses that are seeking to resourcefully expand their operations, including food preparation, manufacturing, distribution, business planning, and growth strategies.

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Retro-themed club Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco to celebrate grand re-opening in Ferndale

What's old is new again. Or is it: what's new is old again. Either way, Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco, that venerable retro-themed dance club in downtown Ferndale, is making a comeback.

In 2014, after 15 years of Boogie Fever, co-owners Mark McConnell and Rob Potter decided to reboot the Woodward Avenue nightspot as Twisted Tavern, a more contemporary club and restaurant. But after just three years of operating Twisted Tavern, McConnell and Potter are bringing the Boogie back.

"We realized that running Boogie Fever is what's in our wheelhouse," McConnell says. "And that's what the people wanted, so we're going to give them what they want."

The retro-themed dance parties are back, and so, too, is the light-up dance floor. There are some slight differences from its first iteration, with McConnell and Potter keeping some of the Twisted Tavern upgrades. McConnell says the decor is a little less cheeky, and a little more chic. The cafe features windows that open up to the sidewalk, and the kitchen will be serving dishes a step above the average bar food, including Ahi Tuna.

What remains the same is Boogie Fever's emphasis on entertainment. The establishment is open Wednesday through Saturday, with each night featuring a different theme. Wednesdays are trivia nights. Thursdays include half-off bottles of wine, and could eventually become New Wave night, featuring early 1980s-era MTV music videos and dance parties. 
 
There's an acoustic open mic night in the cafe on Fridays, and will eventually host classic rock cover bands on the club side. And Saturdays are reserved for the big Boogie Fever dance parties, with a DJ playing music from the 1970s and 80s, and some from today.

McConnell seems excited to bring back the Boogie Fever brand. Marveling at people's enthusiasm for the club, he says that people are flying in just for the grand reopening party. The demand is there.

"When you work for yourself, you have to recognize trends," McConnell says. "We have a lot of people that work here. We owe it to them to be the best that we can be.

The Boogie Fever grand reopening party is Saturday, Jan. 20. The cafe and club assume regular hours Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Boogie Fever Cafe and Disco is located at 22901 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

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

Vitrine Gallery & Gifts opens in downtown Berkley

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Vitrine Gallery & Gifts has opened in downtown Berkley, featuring work by local artists, global artisans, Michigan food products and fair trade products. Susan Rogal is the owner of the 1,500 sq. ft. shop. She also owns ArtWear Detroit, a functional art fashion, accessories and housewares company and has a studio at the shop.

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Owner of Southfield salon to open Detroit studio and launch national brand

Excerpt

Dana White, the owner of Paralee Boyd Salon of Southfield, recently launched her national brand with the grand opening of her second Paralee Boyd salon. The new salon is at 3939 Woodward Avenue in Midtown, Detroit.

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Popularity of beards has metro Detroiters looking for relief with balm

Excerpt

It started with an itch and grew into an enterprise that sells products to make beards more bearable.

"When you start growing a beard, you get itchy and irritable," said Steve Henes, who this summer purchased Detroit Grooming, a Ferndale-based company, with a business partner, Victor Simon. "So the founders developed this oil, shared it with other people, and they said, 'You've got something that works!' "

Read more.

Ferndale restaurateur and DDA chief not content to rest on laurels: Dean Bach of Dino's, M-Brew

They told him that it couldn't be done. They said he was crazy for building a nice bar in turn-of-the-century downtown Ferndale. And to the naysayers' credit, when Dean Bach opened Dino's Lounge in August 2002, Ferndale didn't anywhere nearly resemble the trendy hub that it's become today. Bach says that downtown was more known for empty storefronts than it was condos, more for busted "massage parlors" than hip nightspots.

But with Dino's, Bach took an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach. A patron of the nearby Post Bar, he was starting to age out of the "plastic cups and sweaty bodies bumping into each other" phase of his nightlife. As he transitioned out of his early 30s, Bach wanted to build a bar where you could feel like a grown-up but still young, too; a place that was upscale but not uptight.

It's fifteen years later and Bach has been proven right on his gamble on the old Rialto Cafe building on Woodward Avenue. His enthusiasm for the community early on, like appearing on local TV spots and acting as a booster for the city as much as for his restaurant, helped establish Ferndale's downtown as a destination. So it's no wonder he's since become chairperson of the Ferndale Downtown Development Association. 
 
Today, development in Ferndale is going both up and out, with taller buildings being built and downtown's fashionable footprint beginning to stretch east of Woodward and down Nine Mile Road toward I-75.

"There's nothing wrong with putting a nice place somewhere that doesn't have many nice places. I thought, It'll catch up to me. And the next thing you know, people were passing me by and now there's a lot nicer places all around me," says Bach. "That's why we've done all these renovations. Because now I have to go back and catch up to the people that have passed me up while I sat here for fifteen years enjoying the fruits of the original labor."

Bach recently shut down his restaurant for a two-week-long renovation blitza risky move for any business owner. Most of the work was performed by Bach, his wife, family, friends, and employees, determined to re-open as soon as possible.

Garage doors open up to the city sidewalk. The mustard yellow walls have been painted over in shades of grey and white, with most of the posters and knick knacks removed for a cleaner, modern look. Reclaimed wood covers many of the walls and pillars. Bach hired a former employee with her own furniture business to build tables and chairs out of reclaimed wood from a 300 year old Grosse Ile building. The giant mirror has been refurbished, and Edison bulbs punctuate the room.

Rebuilt bathrooms, new kitchen equipment, and more gives Dino's a fresh feel, one Bach contends is necessary after fifteen years in businesswhich is 50 years in restaurant years, he says. Bach even got rid of three of the five TVs and, he says proudly, not a single person has complained.

The menu, too, has been updated. It's smaller with more focus, centering on foods that don't require a fork but lend themselves to creative and easily modifiable recipes, including sandwiches, loaded fries and poutine, mini-shish kabobs, and chicken wings. One thing that has remained, of course, is the famous Dino's brunch.

In 2014, Bach partnered on another bar in town, M-Brew. It's a Michigan-themed bar in an old VFW hall converted to feel like a northern Michigan lake house, complete with a fireplace and wrap-around porch. Bach personally drives around northern Michigan, happily searching out hard-to-find small batch beers to bring back to Ferndale.

Bach's enjoyed that last pursuit so much that he's ready to announce yet another restaurant: the Belle Iron Grill in the northern Michigan town of Gaylord, tentatively scheduled to open in July 2018. Bach is bringing the Dino's "Funday" Brunch concept to Gaylord, a trend they've yet to catch on to, he says. If M-Brew is his chance to bring northern Michigan to Ferndale, than the Belle Iron Grill will be his chance to bring Ferndale to northern Michigan.

"This has become a kind of utopia of friendliness," says Bach. "Ferndale is a very special city. It's become this bright and shiny piece of Woodward where everybody says hello to you when you're walking down the street."

"This is a special town."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
352 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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