| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter

News

3640 Articles | Page: | Show All

Downtown co-working space to double in size, eyes big future

The Bamboo Detroit co-working space downtown is focused on the growth of its tenants, providing facilities, resources, and programming to freelancers and startups alike.

That commitment has resulted in the company's own expansion. Bamboo recently announced a new location twice the size of their current one at 1442 Brush St., growing from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet of co-working facilities and more.

Come January 2017, Bamboo will open its doors on the third floor of the historic Julian C. Madison building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Construction is currently underway.

The new Bamboo location will count 20 dedicated desks, seven private offices, and three conference rooms among its new features. The private offices are in direct response to customers' needs, co-owner Amanda Lewan says. The current location doesn't offer private offices, a fact that Lewan says led to a loss of potential tenants.

The top floor of the new location boasts a loft-style events space, something Bamboo will use for job fairs and other pro-business programs. Also planned is a large cafe area, complete with coffee and snacks. In April, Bamboo won a $30,000 Motor City Match grant to help build the cafe.

"Be really clear about what you need; have a really clear budget," Lewan says to future Motor City Match applicants. "It might not be perfect, you might still be playing around with it as you get close to the end, but if you have a really clear plan, people can get on board with it."

The company believes that the expansion will result in significantly more tenants, with Bamboo expecting the amount to grow from the current count of 120 to 300 tenants. 

Bamboo currently has a pop-up co-working space at MASH Detroit on the city's east side. Lewan says Bamboo may one day have multiple co-working sites throughout the city and its neighborhoods.

Motor City Match winners use grant money to help cushion construction costs

Construction has started on the Meta Physica Wellness Center in Corktown. The business will be located in the Bagley and Trumbull building, which counts the Bearded Lady salon and barber shop, Mama Coo's Boutique, and the Farmer's Hand market as its tenants. The latter two businesses are Motor City Match winners. All four businesses in the Bagley and Trumbull building will be women-owned.

Meta Physica Wellness Center owner Jenevieve Biernat started her massage business in Midtown, which she has since outgrown. The Corktown studio will feature expanded services, including two massage rooms, three saunas, a raw juice bar, and an apothecary. Biernat won both a $50,000 Hatch award and a $20,000 Motor City Match grant for her business earlier this year.

"Every bit of money helps," Biernat says. "You don't always know how much you need going in but it turns out you need a lot of money to do this."

Biernat says that once she's established, she'd like to put herself in a position to help others through the Motor City Match application process.

A resident of Corktown, Biernat has been visiting the other shops at Bagley and Trumbull nearly every day, learning from her future neighbors, and soaking up as much advice and information that she can.

Another $20,000 Motor City Match grant winner, Noelle Lothamer, is currently in the midst of construction of an Eastern Market storefront for her Beau Bien Fine Foods. The Michigan-sourced fruit jam-, chutney-, and mustard-makers recently celebrated the one year anniversary of their Eastern Market location, which has served primarily as a kitchen.

Lothamer says the money won from Motor City Match has quickly gone toward construction costs, including the storefront, roof, and some other much needed repairs. "As soon as we knew we could spend it, we did."

The hope is for the storefront to open by Thanksgiving, though Lothamer cautions that there is no set date. In addition to acting as a retail area for their jams, chutneys, and mustards, the Beau Bien Fine Foods storefront will also offer grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and drinks.

Meta Physica Wellness Center is located at 1707 Trumbull Ave.

Beau Bien Fine Foods is located at 2478 Riopelle St.

Royal Oak made-from-scratch bakery to open second location in Birmingham

A favorite bakery is expanding with the opening of a second location in Oakland County. Love & Buttercream, the Royal Oak bakery that opened in 2012, will be opening in Birmingham as Love & Buttercream Too.

At 6,300 square feet, the new Love & Buttercream is more than five times the size of the Royal Oak location. Like the original location, Love & Buttercream Too will feature handcrafted treats made on-site and always from scratch.

There will be some differences, as the abundance of space allows owner Brooke Wilson Vitale the opportunity to try new things. The Birmingham location will have a retail and seating area, including breakfast options, coffee service, and WiFi. A private events space will allow for wedding cake tastings, event planning meetings, children birthday parties, girls' night outs, bridal showers, corporate events, and baking and decorating classes.

The Birmingham location's daily offerings include five to eight varieties of cupcakes, French macarons, cake pops, sugar cookies, cakes, mini pies, whoopie pies, scones, mini doughnuts, and more.

"We set ourselves apart by using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and try to source organically and locally whenever possible," Wilson Vitale says. "No shortenings, preservatives, oils, or any of the fake stuff here."

Wilson Vitale has been baking for much longer than 2012, when her shop opened. She grew up baking with her grandmother, eventually working out of her parents' basement. By 2010, she was taking cake orders and baking from home.

The Royal Oak Love & Buttercream location remains open. It's located at 3202 Crooks Rd.

Love & Buttercream Too celebrates its grand opening Wednesday, Nov. 9 and will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's located at 746 E Maple Rd., in Birmingham.

Entrepreneur resource center to open in Arab American National Museum in Dearborn

The Arab American National Museum is adding entrepreneurship to its programming. Called the Growth Center, the entrepreneur resource center will offer small business coaching and tutelage to the area's Arab-American, immigrant, and refugee populations. There will also be a focus on nurturing the local arts and culture scene.

For the past three years, the Growth Center has been a part of ACCESS, the parent organization of the Arab American National Museum. As a result of an internal reorganization, the Growth Center will now have a physical presence inside the museum located on Michigan Avenue in east downtown Dearborn. 
 
Given its standing as a community center for metro Detroit's large Arab-American population, officials believe the museum to be best equipped to operate the Growth Center.

"With our cultural institutions and business districts, Dearborn is the heart of the Arab-American community throughout metro Detroit. Our built environment and culture within it is rich," says Devon Akmon, director of the Arab American National Museum. "How can we leverage those assets in a way that's beneficial to the community?"

Akmon and his organization believe the Growth Center is one way to do just that. The resource center is offering classes for entrepreneurs and one-on-one small business coaching sessions. Pop-ups too are a focus.

One way to teach small business lessons might be to turn the museum store into a sort of laboratory for budding entrepreneurs, exposing people to the different aspects that go into running a successful business, Akmon says.

There will also be a focus on arts and culture. An artist himself, Akmon wants to see more artists become financially successful. 
 
"Our region is a magnet for creative people from across the nation. We want to enable artists to have further reach and become artist entrepreneurs."

The Arab American National Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

Australian senior-monitoring tech startup establishes Ann Arbor base

Australian health technology startup Curo Technologies has relocated its home base from Melbourne to Ann Arbor SPARK's Central Innovation Center.

Curo director Steve Hopkins says the strategic decision to move the company's core operations to the United States was based on the size of the domestic market and better positioning for continued international growth.

"All of our tech development going forward will be based here in Ann Arbor for the global operation," he says.

Curo’s wireless sensor technology monitors seniors' daily activities (with their consent and without any cameras, Hopkins says), such as the completion of expected tasks—think opening a bedroom door, refrigerator, or medicine cabinet—whether they are home or away. It can then alert caregivers if the patient deviates from his or her normal routine.

"We're basically a software company that gathers data and then conceptualizes it," Hopkins says.

Hopkins, a Dexter resident, joined the company in January after helping to arrange and oversee its first commercial pilot with his previous employer, Evangelical Homes of Michigan, in fall 2015.

Hopkins brings more than 10 years of health care industry experience to Curo from his own private consulting business and previous role as chief operating officer for Evangelical Homes of Michigan.

If things go as planned, Hopkins plans to double Curo's staff of four in the next six months as he hires software developers and a business development support team to work out of the new office.

This year the company is focused on generating massive amounts of data to help identify trends in senior health and well-being, and proactive ways that data can be used.

Curo is sold directly to care centers and other businesses for now, and it will likely be at least a year before consumers can start purchasing it directly here in the United States.

Curo continues to maintain a presence in Australia, including six commercial pilots underway there now. It also recently received a $1 million investment from Australian-based health insurance company HCF.

Curo is the second international company to make a "soft landing" at SPARK Central. It joins Germany's iTiZZiMO, which launched its first U.S. office at the nonprofit business incubator's downtown space over the summer.

New yoga studio in Ferndale started by longtime teacher

Caren Paskel is well-known among certain yogic circles for her involvement with the Yoga Shelter studios. Her brother Eric is a former co-owner of the local chain and Caren long held a leadership position there. No longer involved with Yoga Shelter, Paskel is striking out on her own by opening her own yoga studio in downtown Ferndale.

She's calling it EnSoul Yoga and it opened Saturday. An official grand opening won't be held until the first week of November, when Paskel will celebrate with DJs and vendors.

For those familiar with Paskel's style of teaching, EnSoul will be an extension of what she's taught in the past. Paskel believes in a style of yoga that stretches the mind as well as the body, and not just during the class period. She says it's a yoga that keeps working well after a session is over.

Whatever nerves Paskel had when considering starting her own yoga studio have dissipated leading up to EnSoul opening. Originally planning on a now-scrapped Royal Oak location a year ago, she's since had that time to promote EnSoul as she readies the new Ferndale space. She's been offering pre-opening specials and Groupons leading up to the opening, all of which have been going fast, she says.

"We're off to a really good start," says Paskel. "This is pretty invigorating and exciting for me. It tells me I'm doing the right thing. People are coming."

She believes that the move to Ferndale has been the right thing too. She says the downtown stretch of Nine Mile Road is very community driven, with lots of neighboring business owners stopping in to say hello.
"The vibe there is really awesome," she says.

EnSoul Yoga is located at 210 W. Nine Mile Rd. in Ferndale.

This Detroit manufacturer is making prefabricated houses cool—and green

There's a hundred-year-old manufacturing building on Detroit's near east side not unlike many on that side of town. Drive by it and one might have little idea that behind those old brick walls is a company at the forefront of a potential trendsetting technology. 

What once was an automobile manufacturing plant a century ago is now home to Phoenix Haus, a designer and builder of prefabricated building components for super-high efficiency homes.

Phoenix Haus subscribes to the Passive House approach of high-energy efficiency building design and construction. This means that the building envelopes are super insulated, air-tight, consider the angle of the sun, and have high standards of ventilation. By prefabricating the components at their Detroit warehouse and then shipping the products to the construction site, Phoenix Haus is able to keep prices down and the technology more attractive.

Of course prefabricated building envelopes weren't invented yesterday. But it's a construction method yet to be embraced in the United States, and especially the Midwest, says Bill McDonald, founder and principal of Phoenix Haus. It can, however, be found all over Europe. 

But McDonald thinks that Detroit is primed for their style of building and is considering a parcel in the city, perhaps Corktown, where they can construct one of their homes as a demonstration of the finished product.

"Prefab is the answer," McDonald says. "There's a ton of companies looking into this mindset. There's a ton of pent-up demand for it. It's the next step.

"It's a level of innovation that hasn't existed in the housing industry in years. We've been building houses like we have since the 1940s and '50s, basically. There've been a few changes here and there but it's basically the same theory. It's like building your car in the front lawn."

While prefab is important to McDonald, the ultimate goal is to make buildings as energy efficient as possible—prefabrication is simply the means by which Phoenix Haus can make it happen. By employing the Passive House method, net zero energy homes is that much more attainable. A net zero building is one that matches the energy it consumes by producing its own energy, typically through methods like super efficient insulation and solar power.

Phoenix Haus is a family business, owned and operated by the McDonald family of Saginaw. It was born out of another family business, Cech Corp., founded in 1936. The mother, Hilde, who still runs Cech, is an investor and co-owner of Phoenix Haus. The son, Bill, started Phoenix in 2011. And Kate, his sister, recently joined on as project manager.

The McDonalds purchased the building at 1000 Mount Elliott St. in 2015, renovating for both their offices and production facility. The high ceilings and open space give the office a contemporary feel—and that's not to mention Bill's drum kit, set up just outside his own office. They're excited about Detroit and their place in it, hoping to see the city be at the forefront of another industry yet again.

"Detroit has a manufacturing mindset," Bill says. "So the people we're looking to hire, CAD designers or the people working in the shop—the city lends itself well to that kind of manufacturing. We've got a good pool of people to hire from."

It's a mindset that started a century ago, in buildings like the one they currently occupy. 

Quick Facts on Bill McDonald
 
Title: Principle of Passive Haus
 
Date of Opening: 2011
 
One interesting job held before Phoenix Haus: cafeteria dish washer, Marquette University 
 
What's your favorite TED talk: Sir Ken Robinson (Education reform activist)
 
Favorite drummer: Patrick Carney of the Black Keys

Bill McDonald will be giving a TED Talk on the Passive House methodology at the TEDxDetroit event at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Henry Ford Health System chooses Ann Arbor-based software to manage clinical trials

Research pharmacists at Detroit's Henry Ford Health System should soon be able to spend more time supporting clinical trials of cutting-edge drugs and less time pushing paper thanks to automation software from Ann Arbor's McCreadie Group.

The research hospital recently chose McCreadie's Vestigo system to manage its Investigational Drug Service (IDS) for clinical trials as it looks to increase its number of active studies over the next few years.

HFHS spokesperson Brenda Craig says an initiative to expand the hospital pharmacy's offerings, and a new cancer center planned to open in 2018, will drive the uptick in clinical trials.

"Vestigo is a necessary tool for that expansion," Craig says. "[It] will increase efficiency through the use of automation for many of the day-to-day activities in our [IDS], including dispensing, drug accountability, and revenue generation."

While Vestigo had all the functionality the hospital was looking for, not having to look very far for it didn't hurt. Craig says McCreadie's close proximity to Henry Ford made it easier to talk about the project and see the system in action.

"We have also collaborated with the McCreadie Group for other systems in the past and have maintained a great working relationship with them," she says.

Launched in 2005, Vestigo is a web-based software designed specifically for hospital pharmacies that do clinical research trials. By providing a standardized workflow, simple user tools, and accurate data collection, Vestigo automates labor-intensive processes and helps keep pharmacies compliant with regulations. And since Vestigo is a web-based application, there's no hardware or software to maintain.

Henry Ford Health System is McCreadie Group's second Michigan client for Vestigo; the first was the University of Michigan Health System. Vestigo is used by more than 70 clients nationwide.

Michael Schlesselman, McCreadie Group's director of research products, says Vestigo will provide HFHS with flexibility and efficiency as it grows its pharmacy program and involvement with clinical trials.

"It allows the hospital pharmacy to focus on providing great service to the clinical research team and patient rather than manually completing required paperwork," he says.

Logicdrop expands, set to launch new product

Earlier this year, technology startup LogicDrop was crammed in a tiny space in Berkley, its founders finding every which way to fit up to 15 employees and computers and work desks. 
 
Things are a little roomier now that Logicdrop has moved into a spacious second-floor space on the same block as popular nightspots Sneakers, the Loving Touch, and Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale. And that's been a boon to the organization.

“We have a very close-knit team. We spend a lot of time working on the culture of our company," says Logicdrop co-founder KimJohn Quin. "We try to bring that startup mentality to our team."

Logicdrop co-founders KimJohn Quinn, John Shuell, and Jared Grabill met each other 10 to 12 years ago, each coming from a long history of working at startups. They've been working on some form of their flagship technology product, Logicdrop Studio, for almost two decades now.

The technology has finally caught up to the vision they first shared nearly twenty years ago. It's a business rules platform that allows users to customize data analysis. They say their platform cuts weeks of computing time down to mere minutes.

Logicdrop is gearing up for the release of Logicdrop Studio and the bigger space is a reflection of how the company feels about its future. They've opened up their signature intelligence platform to a round of beta tests and expect to release a final version in the second quarter of 2017. The cofounders say that no matter their future growth, they want to maintain their startup mentality. 

The workplace culture is decidedly loose. There's no dress code, and there are no titles. Employees don't have to punch in and out, don't have to put in for vacation days; all that Logicdrop expects of its employees is that they complete the tasks they've been assigned.

Startups are trial-and-error enterprises, Shuell says, but they've worked it out to where Logicdrop is now growing. The team has discovered that while the Logicdrop Studio product is their goal, maintaining a service-based model to complement the development process of Studio allows them to keep the lights on. 
 
And it's their reputation that has carried them through; each of their clients have come to them, and not the other way around, says Shuell. Clients have included automotive companies, hospitals, law firms, banks, and Fortune 500 company Nestle.

Another way Logicdrop has kept the lights on is to hire college students. The company believes strongly in this practice; it allows them to keep costs down without having to outsource offshore talent. While it's not an official internship program, the company contends that the students it hires are better prepared for the workforce—should they decide to leave the company after graduation, which is not often the case.

"We expect everyone to understand why they do something, not to go online and say, I found the solution, place in your code and say I'm done," Quinn says. "We want our developers to understand why they did that. And that's been a huge feather in our cap."

Though they first may be leery of the age of some of the developers, clients recommend and return to Logicdrop because of the team's successes, according to Quinn. With the pending official release of Studio and expected growth, Logicdrop is currently hiring.

Cafe and specialty gift shop opens in downtown Flat Rock

Just steps from the Huron River is downtown Flat Rock, a small Downriver community with a population just shy of 10,000. It's there where a new shop and cafe has opened up, the Blue Heron Trading Co.

Having celebrated a mid-September grand opening, the Blue Heron Trading Co. is gearing up for the fall and holiday seasons. Located inside is a cafe with coffee and teas, cozy with a fireplace and leather couches. Blue Heron is also a specialty gift store, offering Olivewood bowls, vintage aprons, jams, sauces, and more.

Blue Heron is owned by the husband and wife team of Mark and Alisa Maul. Both California natives, the Mauls moved to Flat Rock in 2001. They say they had no idea what to expect when they moved here, though they've become big Flat Rock boosters since. Mark and Alisa are both involved in the Downtown Development Authority and the City Planning Commission for Flat Rock.

The Mauls see Blue Heron as a way to help revitalize downtown Flat Rock.

"Our newest business venture began with the desire to meet the needs of Flat Rock residents with a place to gather and shop while instilling a sense of community pride," Alisa says.

The couple also own Home Source Property Management, a rental management company.

With the holiday season fast approaching, the Mauls plan on offering a variety of holiday products. Also planned are after-hours events, including cooking demonstrations, chocolate-making classes, artist and author meet-and-greets, and more. The first, a pallet painting class, will occur in mid-October.

Blue Heron Trading Co. is located at 26217 E. Huron Dr. in downtown Flat Rock. Its hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

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

LLamasoft welcomes Local Orbit as officemate in former Google space

Still settling into its new McKinley Towne Centre digs, Ann Arbor supply chain management firm LLamasoft welcomed a new officemate when local supply-chain startup Local Orbit moved in earlier this month.

Sharing Google's former downtown office space with an up-and-comer helps the veteran firm maintain entrepreneurial roots that are part of its corporate values, according to LLamasoft CEO Don Hicks.

"We welcome the opportunity to work closely with organizations that are offering emerging and disruptive technologies, so that we can innovate and further the field together," Hicks says.

Since launching in 1998, LLamasoft has opened offices on six continents and employs about 400 people worldwide, more than 150 of them in Ann Arbor.

Over the past three years, the company has grown by more than 130 percent. It made the move to 201 S. Division St., in June, where open and collaborative workspaces left behind by Google were a natural fit for LLamosoft's workplace philosophy.

"The new office allows us ample space to continue to grow our team, especially as LLamasoft expands our technologies and solutions throughout the remainder of 2016 and into 2017," Hicks says.

LLamasoft's software and solutions help large, complex organizations realize savings in cost, service, sustainability, and risk within their supply chain network.

Founded in 2011, Local Orbit's nine-person team offers software and solutions that help food service buyers and suppliers support their supply chains with a focus on locally-sourced and sustainable foods.

"The food and beverage industry is a key area of focus for LLamasoft, and one that, much like retail, is facing a number of changes with the evolution of customer needs," Hicks says. "By working together we expect to discover new ways to approach common challenges and foster innovation."

Upcoming collaborations between the companies include a November workshop on local food economies hosted by Local Orbit at LLamasoft's event space. The event is expected to draw attendees from around the country and will feature a panel discussion including LLamasoft's executive vice president Toby Brzoznowski.

RetroSense's sight restoration therapy moves forward with Allergan acquisition

Six months after its first clinical trials on human patients, Ann Arbor biotechnology company RetroSense Therapeutics has been purchased by one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Earlier this month, Allergan, Plc announced it had bought the startup for $60 million, plus payments to be made as RST-001, RetroSense's lead gene therapy program for sight restoration, meets regulatory and commercial milestones.

Launched in 2009, RetroSense is developing a novel gene therapy to restore vision in patients with retinal degenerative diseases. Using technology licensed from Wayne State University, the company plans to use genes extracted from blue-green algae to regenerate photoreceptors in the human retina.

In 2014, RetroSense received orphan status for Wayne State's technology, which protects RetroSense's rights to research as it works toward commercialization. Clinical trials were launched last spring and should wrap up next year.

RetroSense CEO and founder Sean Ainsworth says the Allergan buyout allows his four-person development team to focus on preparing their technology for the market while remaining in Ann Arbor.

"My role will be much more focused on clinical development than the myriad things a startup CEO is tasked with," he says. "Allergan brings the resources to bear, which will ensure opportunity to develop our programs optimally, and I am excited to continue leading those efforts under the Allergan umbrella."

Ainsworth and his team shopped the business to "all of the major players in ophthalmology" before coming to terms with Dublin-based Allergan.

"Allergan is the world leader in the space and was a great fit for us," he says.

Ainsworth credits RetroSense's success to its team of officers, advisers, and board members, as well as support from nonprofit business incubator Ann Arbor SPARK.

"We had some of the foremost experts within RetroSense, which enabled us to secure the capital needed to develop our programs," he says.

That capital included $250,000 from the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund, which SPARK helped connect the young company with early on.

Grooming company to return to Detroit, open barbershop in Corktown

Detroit Grooming Co. is returning to its namesake city. The company, which outgrew a small production space on Fort Street in Detroit, had since established itself in Ferndale, with both a larger production facility and, most recently, a Woodward Avenue barbershop.

At a private event for friends and family, the team behind Detroit Grooming Co. announced that they would be opening a second barbershop, this one on Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The owners hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 opening in 2000 Michigan Ave., a building currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Detroit Grooming Co. co-owner and CEO Michael Haddad says a return to Detroit is important for the company. While it's a great business opportunity to open a new barbershop in development-crazed Corktown, Haddad says it's also a goal to re-establish a presence in the city for which it takes its name.

Haddad started the company in 2013, developing his own blend of beard oil. When Detroit Grooming Co. launched, it had four products; today, it has over 200 personal care and beauty products. Though the company started in the beard oil business, it has since expanded to products for both men and women, from mustache wax to hand soap, hair pomade to combs and brushes.

Dessert Oasis' Nathan Hamood pioneers coffee and pomade in Rochester and Detroit

Nathan Hamood isn't very good at sitting still. That's not to say he's an angsty or fidgety sort of person. He just doesn't stop working.

Hamood spends 13 to 14 hours a day between his family's two Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters locations, one in downtown Rochester and one in downtown Detroit's Capitol Park. And when the shops shut down for the night, he somehow finds the time to develop his own hair pomade company, Ace High.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is a family business. Hamood's parents opened up the shop in 2009, and he his sister Stephanie soon became partners. Today, each Hamood remains involved. Dad Jamal is a business law attorney who handles business administration duties for Dessert Oasis. Mom Charlene can often be found helping out around either shop. Sister Stephanie, a talented musician working in the music industry in Nashville, books the music acts. She's turned the two locations into destinations for live music, especially for fans of Americana and roots music.

Hamood's role has increased substantially. He began to study coffee in earnest and by 2010 was experimenting with coffee roasting techniques in a small rotisserie oven. A year or two later, the Hamoods purchased a full-size coffee roaster.

"People started to seek out our coffee more and more," Hamood says. "I was beginning to become really proud of the coffee we were putting out, because what we do next year will always be better than what we do this year."

Dessert Oasis first opened on the edge of downtown Rochester in 2009. After a couple of years in that location, the family began to develop a new business model emphasizing craft coffee and moved to a central location within downtown Rochester. The first day they reopened, sales doubled. A few months later they tripled. 

While Dessert Oasis remains a family affair, Hamood is the face of the business. He says he does as much as he can, including buying coffee, roasting coffee, training employees, quality control, and day-to-day administrative work. 
 
He also regularly works behind the coffee bar. Being hands-on is important to him. While sitting down for this story, Hamood left the interview for 10 minutes, joining an employee to help make lattes behind the counter.

"There isn't a job here we ask our staff to do that isn't something I'd do," he says.

The success of Dessert Oasis in Rochester led to the Hamoods opening a second location in Detroit's Capitol Park in late 2015. While the brand remains consistent between the two, each has its own vibe. The Rochester location feels warm and living room-like, while the Detroit shop has a more stark, contemporary style.

The Hamoods are excited about Detroit and their place in it. With several residential projects undergoing construction around Capitol Park, Hamood certainly got in at the right time.


Hamood plans on continued growth for Dessert Oasis. He'd like to increase wholesale coffee sales to other shops as well as online. This past spring, Hamood took his beans to America's Best Espresso Competition in Dallas, where he placed second in the contest, qualifying Dessert Oasis for the final round in Nashville later this year.

There might even be more locations in the family's future, though Hamood says he won't do it at the sacrifice of identity and quality.


And then there's Ace High hair pomade, which Hamood developed with a Dessert Oasis employee. The pomade, which is sold at both Dessert Oasis locations, is named after old cowboy slang for someone being first-class and well-respected. It fits the country and Western theme present in both shops, something he picked up from his musician sister in Nashville.

"Over time, me and one of our guys started playing around with making our own pomade," Hamood says. "We thought we could come up with something kind of cool and brand it cool. We've just been chipping away at it whenever we had spare time. After hours, late at night if I couldn't sleep, I'd just work on the pomade."

While coffee and pomade may seem a surprising combination, it's that craftsmanship, that attention to detail, that keeps Hamood's imagination. Even when he's trying to sleep.

Quick Facts on Nathan Hamood

Title: President, Director of Coffee Roasting Operations at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters


Date of opening: July 2009 (Rochester), December 2015 (Detroit)

First job: "The business in a way was actually my first job. Before that I played drums, though I never did so all that professionally."

Favorite musician: "It's hard to name one favorite musician. I listen to all sorts of stuff, anyone from the Clash to Ray Price, but I'd maybe have to say Hank Williams overall."

Favorite Western: "It's a toss-up between 'Stagecoach' and 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'"

Grooming company to return to Detroit, open barbershop in Corktown

Detroit Grooming Co. is returning to its namesake city. The company, which outgrew a small production space on Fort Street in Detroit, had since established itself in Ferndale with both a larger production facility and, most recently, a Woodward Avenue barbershop.

At a private event for friends and family, the team behind Detroit Grooming Co. announced it would be opening a second barbershop, this one on Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. The owners hope for a late 2016 or early 2017 opening in 2000 Michigan Ave., a building currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Detroit Grooming Co. co-owner and CEO Michael Haddad says a return to Detroit is important for the company. While it's a great business opportunity to open a new barbershop in development-crazed Corktown, Haddad says it's also important to re-establish a presence in the city for which it takes its name.

Haddad started the company in 2013, developing his own blend of beard oil. When Detroit Grooming Co. launched, it had four products; today, it has over 200 personal care and beauty products. Though the company started in the beard oil business, it has since expanded to products for both men and women, from mustache wax to hand soap, hair pomade to combs and brushes.

At a recent party at the Detroit Grooming Co. Barber Shop, the owners threw an event to celebrate the big announcement. A red carpet and photographer greeted the guests. Chef Brennan Calnin, formerly of Detroit's Townhouse restaurant, offered a menu that included smoked turkey neck tamales and laughing bird shrimp ceviche. Corktown's Batch Brewery was also on hand, supplying an exclusive firkin of Goodrich, a wet-hopped version of their Marzen. And perhaps most befitting for a company that got its start in the beard oil business, old-timey band Shine on Kentucky Moon provided the music.
3640 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts