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Salted Cupcake finds a welcome home in Schoolcraft

Korina Thompson was looking for a good location for her new cupcake store. Grand Rapids had one on every corner. Kalamazoo only had one. So she put plans in place to open in the Milwood neighborhood when she found out the property was not zoned for--wait for it--mixing dough.

She could sell her cupcakes, she couldn't make them there. That obviously was not going to work. The next day she found a store in downtown Schoolcraft and has never looked back.

She turned what formerly was an antique store into The Salted Cupcake and moved into the apartment over the store. With the help of her then boyfriend the antiques were cleared away, the old bricks exposed, and display cases went in.

Soon Schoolcraft natives turned out to welcome her, customers traveling up and down the streets looking for antiques stopped in for cupcakes and coffee, and commuters traveling up and down U.S. 131 slowed down long enough to come in and try her cupcakes.

Orders for baby showers, bridal showers and work parties started to come in.

"I love this location," Thompson says. "I had no idea what Schoolcraft was."

Thompson grew up in Ionia, halfway between Grand Rapids and Lansing. In her family her mother did not enjoy cooking so it often fell to Thompson. She liked it so much she decided to go into a food related business. She got her business degree and went on to culinary school.

She spent three years creating her business plan and that planning is paying off. Her financials are doing better than projected and a startup loan from her  her mother is almost paid off.  

Thompson has built her cupcake business around the taste combination of sweet and salty. It started when she fell in love with the taste of salted caramel. It became her signature cupcake and many of the cupcakes on her menu have a sweet and salty taste.

She also tries to make her cupcakes as healthy as cupcakes can be. Her recipes are all her own and ingredients--such as honey, dairy, milk, eggs, and grains--are sourced to ensure they are "healthy, delicious," she says.  

Thompson also uses sweets from Confections with Convictions for those candies that she can't make herself.

Each day she posts a menu of cup cakes on Facebook. A recent menu featured flavors such as White Wine Goat Cheese, Salted Caramel Vanilla Bean, Strawberry Fields Forever, Champagne Manhattan, Thai Coconut, and Wheat Free Vanilla Strawberry.

She's also started selling cupcakes with flowers or balloons for special events.

Individual cupcakes sell for $3 each or $2.90 for larger orders for events. When she opened Thompson told customers she was open each day until the last crumb was sold, but they insisted she set a closing time. Hours for the shop at 224 N. Grand St. in Schoolcraft are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.  269.568.8696 or thesaltedcupcake@outlook.com

Source: Korina Thompson

R W.Eats finds niche among those who want to eat well

R.W.Eats is proving you don't have to travel to a big city to find healthy food and supplements.

The healthfood store in downtown Otsego had its grand opening June 20-21 and business has been going very well ever since, says Casie Dussia, who co-owns the store with her husband John.

Organic, gluten-free and vegan foods all have a place on the shelves at R.W. Eats.

Casie Dussia says eggs from free range chickens, all natural beef and pork from area farms, and a variety of health foods are offered. Even their organic coffee is from Michigan.

Bulk foods, spices, and herbal teas also are bringing in customers to the the 1,200-square-foot store.

Vitamins and supplements are providing a comfortable niche for the store, Dussia says. People are finding sport nutrition products that they previously could only find by traveling to Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids.

Dussia has been helping people get in shape since 2010 when she started a running group, Run With Endurance. Since then she has promoted endurance and motivated women. She also has coached middle school cross country and track and field.

"I've been offering free personal training over the years, and that has allowed me to build personal relationships and get information out there to help people make healthier choices," Dussia says.

The store currently has one employee, Kendall Dowler, in addition to Casie and her husband. Their son Jase, 14, also has been a real asset in starting and running family business, Dussia says.

Opening a store front is apparently not enough for the Drussias. "We in the process of developing and online store," Casie says.

Classes in nutrition, health, and fitness also are in the works. 

Source: Casie Drussia

Kalamadoodle: Beer, drawing, networking for creatives

Because creative people need a way to connect, Mike Klok and Nick Clark created Kalamadoodle.

Kalamazoo has its share of clubs and organizations dedicated to networking for business people, but Klok and Clark wanted something that catered to creatives. Kalamadoodle, a drink and draw event is what they came up with.

Networking based on sharing common interests is often recommended as a better way to make connections, and Kalamadoodle brings together those who share a creative impulse and a liking of craft beer.  

The first event for Kalamazoo was Aug. 20 at Arcadia Brewing Co. and the organizers hope to have enough interest to create monthly get togethers. They were encouraged by the turnout to the first event.

Those who attend found tables lined with paper and art supplies, colored pens, colored markers, crayons, colored pencils and more, Clark says.

And the beer for the very first event was $1 off a 20 ounce glass for Kalamadoodlers. There will be similar beer specials for Kalamadoodlers at each drink and draw event.

The event is intended not only for artists but for the desk jockey who does not get a chance to use his or her creative talents on a regular basis.

"This is a chance to let your creativity come out and show off your art skills," Clark says.

Clark is a freelance graphic designer with an Etsy store he calls EpicNickNacks, featuring items he makes by hand, such as tables, cutting boards, and coasters. Klok is a freelance designer who also works for Kalamazoo College. The two connected through Underground Printing, a custom apparel print shop that Klok ran after Clark left.

The idea to bring together artistic beer drinkers grew from a sense that there are a lot of creative people in Kalamazoo who were not getting together. Klok had participated in a similar group in Detroit area, enjoyed them, and believed Kalamazoo could and should embrace the idea. He and Clark liked the drink and draw idea and wanted to make it even more engaging, something people would look forward to each month.

One way is by sharing doodles on social media. (Their Facebook page is here.) They are asking people to share their doodles at #Kalamadoodle. There might be to be a weekly contest for best doodle. Monthly events also might be themed. It all depends on what beer drinking artists who attend are interested in.

"We're not in this for the profit, we want to build up the community," Clark says. "We are blessed to live in a state that has the kind of talent that you can find here, and Kalamazoo is one of the best, if not the best city in Michigan. It's about working together to keep people here, rather than having them move to Chicago, New York, or L.A."

Klok says: "We believe in Kalamazoo and want to help grow the Creative and Craft Beer Communities.  We encourage you to try one of the many great local breweries and let your creativity flow. Show us your doodles!" 

Source: Nick Clark, Mike Klok

Secant issues invitation to see new data center

Secant Technology says it's a company that's ready for what comes next. Some time agoIt became clear to them that Michigan needed a large data center, bigger than the one the company previously provided, and if Secant didn't provide it that business was going to go to someone else.

They began planning a Tier 3 Data Center (their previous center was Tier 1) about three years ago.

CIO Alex Ellingsen says when Secant began to explore construction of the data center it anticipated the project would take about 18 months. Unexpected delays came about when the bank that owned the building they were trying to buy for the center went into foreclosure.

Those delays turned out to be fortuitous as it gave the company more time to research other data centers and learn from them. The design team toured 20 existing private and commercial data centers all over the United States.

On Sept. 18 those interested in seeing how the data center came together are invited to tour the building from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Seminars at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., a gourmet lunch, and a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. all are planned for the day. RSVP here to attend.

The 3,400-square foot data center--about a $5 million project--has been built to withstand just about anything Mother Nature can throw at it, including straight-line winds and a direct tornado strike.

It has 12-inch-thick concrete walls and doors rated to resist a 300-mile-per-hour debris strike. It also has enhancements to provide security against intruders and fires. Further, it has dual-redundant electrical and power components enclosed by large concrete walls and isolated at opposite ends of the data center to protect against switch or generator failures.

The company also built for energy efficiency and with an eye toward environmental responsibility. For example,  Secant installed fly-wheel batteries to reduce hazardous contaminants found in other batteries.

The data center, built in response to customers' requests, offers cloud hosting, managed service data solutions, and colocation. Ellingsen explains: In the late 1800s everyone who used electricity had their own generator. Then power companies were formed, the power was grid built up, and people no longer created their own electricity. That shift away from everyone owning their own generator is the kind of shift now being seen in the technology today as some companies analyze the cost savings realized by not owning  their equipment and move into the cloud.

Some companies, especially those with sensitive data, will continue to own their own equipment and software, but will move it to a secure facility like the new data center, others will have all their technology handled by Secant. In between those two ends of the spectrum is a wide range of technology solutions for customers.

To address those needs, Secant Technology has a staff of 70, about five or six of which were added during the construction project. Ellingsen says building the data center means the company will be able to retain those employees and it hopes to add five or six more as the facility fills.

CIO Alex Ellingsen says he is proud of the design that emerged for the data center. "There is truly nothing like it in Michigan." 

Source: Alex Ellingsen

M&K Truck Centers builds new facility in Kalamazoo area

M&K Truck Centers has outgrown its current location in Portage and is now building a new facility with plans to relocate in November of 2014.

The truck dealership group is constructing a 23,000-square-foot building in Comstock Township, more than double the space of its current location. The new building is being designed by TJA Architecture of Grand Rapids and M&K's Facilities Manager Mike Stolk is general contractor.

The new building, going up on six acres at 2593 AZO Drive, was needed so the company could increase its service capacity and lend additional support to leasing customers in the area, says Ron Meyering, president of M&K.

"We needed the new building to accommodate growth in demand for our services in and around Kalamazoo," says Meyering. "Our customers will continue to receive world class service, parts support, leasing and sales from our existing team.”

The new location will be managed by Jim Johnson, a longtime company employee. He says that with M&K Truck Centers's steady growth in the community and increased customer base the time was right to invest in a larger, state-of-the-art facility to support its local customers and its transient, rental and lease customers.

"By relocating along I-94 we will be in a great position to better meet the needs of our customers with a larger service facility, more parts, and easier access," Johnson says. “Our commitment carries through to our customers throughout the area that have relied upon our 24/7 mobile service units as well.  M&K’s new visibility on I-94 represents that continued commitment to our customers and our community.”

M&K Truck Centers has been in business for 25 years. It began as a used truck dealership and has grown to one of the largest Mack and Volvo dealer groups in the United States. Hino and Isuzu trucks also are among those sold by the dealership. M&K Truck Centers employs over 400 people at its nine locations throughout the Midwest.

Source: Kirby Shotwell, M&K Truck Centers

Parents as Teachers program receives $535,000

One of the goals of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo is to help children get the right start so they can succeed when they get to school.

Toward that end, The Learning Network and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region have awarded $535,000 to a program that equips parents of children younger than age 3 so that they can help their children reach short- and long-term education goals.

The program is Parents and Teachers offered by Community Healing Centers. The program that follows a national model is intended to help parents countywide.

Community Healing Centers will work with Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (KRESA), Comstock Community Center, Advocacy Services for Kids (ASK), Catholic Family Charities, and the Douglass Community Association as the program proceeds.

Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, says the program fits with the foundation's goals for countywide collaborations and preparing children for kindergarten readiness.

Sally Reames, executive director of Community Healing Centers, says Parents as Teachers will provide individualized and intensive parent education, help connect parents with various community resources, and other support services.

More than 500 families are expected to be served in the first year and their progress will be monitored, Each child's progress and parents' skills in helping children as they attend pre-kindergarten educational experiences will be tracked.

"School readiness must begin at the earliest age possible, and this collaboration targets that critical stage of a child’s life," says Matt Lynn, director of Community Impact for UWBCKR. "Because the need stretches beyond borders, this partnership will have a positive impact for kids across the county."

The grant to support the Parents as Teachers program is just one of the local efforts designed to promote early age education. In June, The Learning Network granted $542,412 to Kalamazoo Ready 4s for an early childhood initiative by the Northside Committee to provide support for 3-year-olds and their families residing in the Northside and Douglas neighborhoods. At the same time, UWBCKR announced education grants of just over $1.8 million, mostly targeting early age literacy and school readiness programs.

Source: The Learning Network

Battle Creek entrepreneur to redevelop 32 W. Michigan

Tara Hampton, an entrepreneur with a track record of getting things done, has taken on the redevelopment of 32 West Michigan property in downtown Battle Creek. Locals know it as 28 W. Michigan Ave.

Hampton has acquired the property with plans to give it a $1.3 million renovation. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

When completed, the building will be the new location for the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the primary anchor for the building. The Battle Creek Community Foundation will occupy 8,900 square feet, a portion of the first floor and the entire second floor.

“The Battle Creek Community Foundation has outgrown its current location at Riverwalk Centre,” says Brenda Hunt, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This development provides an opportunity for us to construct an environment that provides optimum interaction among our staff and guests."

There also will be four or five office or retail spaces. These spaces could range in size from 333 to 1,340 square feet.

As the Battle Creek Community Foundation leaves the Riverwalk Centre there will be an opportunity for organizations that are the right size for the suites in that building and which have collaborative energy, says Hunt.   

“I’m proud to be part of a catalytic example for downtown development by demonstrating how partnerships can work successfully between public and private entities,” says Hampton.

Battle Creek Unlimited acquired the building in 2009 as part of the Downtown Transformation Initiative and listed the property for sale in November 2011 through the Building Momentum program.  This program offered several downtown buildings for the cost of title transfer in exchange for development projects demonstrating the ability to provide substantial economic impact downtown.

Source: Alyssa Jones, Battle Creek Unlimited

Business builds for sweet and savory Crepes by the Lakes

Sometimes all the stars align and a business comes together as if it were meant to be. It was like that for the owners of Crepes by the Lakes.

The food cart that makes sweet and savory crepes using fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients can be found in a number of locations around Kalamazoo.

Owners Danielle Barney and Stephanie Lenhart were in the Washington D.C. area when they decided to come back to the Midwest where the lifestyle was more affordable. Barney was from Battle Creek, so it was easy for the two of them to settle in Kalamazoo.

"Everyone was so supportive," says Lenhart. "We liked the culture and that we could purchase a house here." They bought a Queen Victorian home in the Stuart Neighborhood that they are bringing back into a single family home from one used for rentals.

The food cart debuted at the Bank Street Farmers Market in Kalamazoo in mid-May. Lenhart says she had been working in the deli at People's Food Co-op and Barney was working in the deli at Irving's Market on the Kalamazoo Mall. Lenhart previously gotten a degree in business and then attended culinary school and Barney has been working in kitchens from the age of 16.

The two knew they wanted to do a food business together in Kalamazoo and when the City of Kalamazoo passed its ordinance allowing food trucks they were very excited about the possibilities that had just opened up for them. Still they were not certain in which direction to go.

Lenhart talked to her family about it and they recommended crepes. Lenhart lived in Paris the first five years of her life and her mother has always made the thin pancakes associated with France. "They've been a huge part of my upbringing," Lenhart says.

Barney, not knowing that Lenhart was leaning toward creating and selling crepes, meanwhile had located a crepe cart on e-Bay. "She was already on it," Lenhart says. A couple in Florida had previously used the cart in the early years of their business before they moved into a brick and mortar location. They had decided to get out of the restaurant business altogether and their custom-made cart was for sale. The 8-year-old cart is custom made because at the time the couple decided to go into the business of selling crepes by cart no one was making the carts. It had to be specially built for them. The result is that Lenhart and Barney obtained a cart that met all their needs. They flew down to Florida to and returned with their food cart.

They got all the necessary approvals and started selling crepes. (The food cart meets the same requirements as a food truck, but has more limitations as it can be open to the weather, more of a concern in Michigan than it is in Florida.) They have a spot on the Kalamazoo Mall where they sell crepes on Tuesday and Thursdays. They are in Bronson Park for Lunchtime Live on Fridays, at 100 Mile Market at People's Food Co-op on Wednesdays and at the Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also have been asked to be part of the Taste of Kalamazoo this year, July 24-26.

Because they strive for locally sourced ingredients for their sweet and savory crepes their menu changes with the season. Everything is made from scratch. Some local favorites are the Philly Cheese crepe; the huevo ranchero crepe; the creprese with mozzarella, basil and greens.

Basics are on the menu, too, such as ham and cheese and turkey and cheese. Sweet crepes offerings include sugar and cinnamon, blueberry and nutella; blueberry and marscapone with almonds on top; ;apples with candied pecans and a special caramel sauce created by Cherri Emery of Cherri's Chocol'art. She also is creating a special habanero chocolate sauce that will work with crepes.

"We are having fun with it," Lenhart says. "Now that we have the technique down and have gotten used to working side-by-side it's getting really fun."

Source: ?Stephanie Lenhart, Crepes by the Lakes

Water Street to open new joint with sunroom in Portage

Renovation work is under way for Water Street Coffee Joint's newest location. The newest coffee shop will be at 245 W. Centre St., Suite B, in the Portage Centre Plaza in Portage.

Water Street is remodeling an existing building that it is leasing to suit its needs, says Jessica Del Vacchio, of Water Street Coffee Joint. The new coffee shop will be about 1,800 square feet and have many of the features Water Street customers have come to appreciate at its other locations.

Customers will find a full-service coffee bar, deli sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, flowers, retail shirts and mugs, and bagged coffee and tea as they do in other locations.  

The new coffee shop also will have a number of new features, including a drive through window and a sun room. The glassed in area also will feature a fireplace.

There also will be a lofted seating and a drop-down seating area. Custom steel fabricated in Kalamazoo by Lee Custom Iron is being made for the loft area.

Another feature will be a slow bar for coffees that are brewed by the cup. The pour-over coffees that have been offered from time-to-time at Water Street's other shops will be a regular feature at the Portage location and a special spot will be set aside for it, says Del Vacchio.

It is expected about 25 employees will be needed for the new shop.

Work on the new coffee shop is expected to be completed in late 2014.

For those who have lost count, the new location brings the number of Water Street places of business to six. All the others have Kalamazoo addresses: Downtown Kalamazoo 315 East Water Street, Oakland 3037 Oakland Drive, Borgess (Inside Atrium) 1521 Gull Road; Water Street Kitchen 6938 Elm Valley Drive; and the Water Street Coffee Roaster 610 West Willard Street.

Source: Jessica Del Vacchio, Water Street Coffee Joint

Awww...Binder Park Zoo introduces newest baby animals

Here at Second Wave we cover what's new and what's next--usually new businesses, new ideas that are making the community a better place to live, new innovations that are changing the way work gets done. Today we take a short break from that to cover what's new in the animal world. Specifically, the too cute new babies at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek.

The cutest of the bunch has to be a baby black mangabey monkey, named Chekelea (smile in Swahili), born May 1 to Sunniva. The birth of the baby brings the troop of black mangabey monkeys to four. Mangabeys are some of the rarest monkey species in the world.

Two new baby giraffes born this summer also are being exhibited for the first time at the zoo. Kitovu, a female baby, born June 12 and Hulka, a male giraffe born June 16 can both be seen at the zoo's Wild Africa exhibit. Kitovu (belly button in Swahili) weighed 104.5 pounds when she was born and she is the second calf for her mother, Kayin. Hulka (meaning nature) was 159 pounds at birth, the largest of the giraffe calves born at Binder Park Zoo.

By design, in the first 10 years of the Wild Africa exhibit there were no giraffes born at the zoo. The first baby giraffe was born there in 2009. Binder Park Zoo was holding two male giraffes from the Columbus Zoo and they went back to Columbus in 2013, so the zoo did more planned breeding of its giraffe group. Ideally, the zoo can accommodate a maximum of nine to 10 giraffes. With the new babies it now has eight.

The new male baby giraffe and his mother, Makena, are owned by the Columbus Zoo through a breeding loan agreement. The young female, who cannot breed with her father, may be kept for exhibit or may be traded to another zoo for an unrelated female.

"It can get very complicated and there is a lot of science behind who breeds with who," says the zoo's director of Conservation and Wildlife Management. "We try to do what is best for the species and the individual animals."

The baby giraffes are not yet tall enough to be take lettuce from the hands of zoo visitors on the feeding platform as their parents are.

Rounding out the cuteness collection are two guinea hogs now on exhibit in Wild Africa. Twiglet and Rosebud--are one-year-olds from the Scovill Zoo in Illinois. Their species originates from the country of Guinea, in western Africa, and is now found in many parts of the world as a domestic breed.

Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek, Michigan on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. In the past 38 years, the Zoo has grown to be one of the leading cultural attractions in the region.

Source: Kari Parker, Binder Park Zoo

New initiative in place to revitalize downtown Battle Creek

Prospective retailers who want to locate in downtown Battle Creek have a new tool to get them up on their feet.

Battle Creek Unlimited has launched the Battle Creek Downtown Partnership and asked it to reinvigorate the downtown. The first tool it has been given is a new Retail Acceleration Program, designed to reduce the downtown's 35 percent retail vacancy rate.

The program will help fledgling retailers with assistance paying their rent. In return, they must participate in training and mentoring, and maintaining specific hours. They also must complete a business plan, as businesses that have plans are most likely to succeed.

“The planning process will help them discover what is required to meet their sales goals, and whether those goals are attainable,” says John Schmitt, consultant with the SBDC.

Each participant will work with an existing downtown business owner who will act as a mentor, helping them navigate the early years of operation after they have opened their doors.

Battle Creek Downtown Partnership also is working with the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce to provide ongoing training for the participants.

With the announcement of the program, applications are now being accepted, says Rob Petersen, Downtown Development Director for Battle Creek Unlimited. Meetings are already under way with those who have expressed an interest. There is funding to support three or four businesses over the next 12 months.

The program is designed to encourage retailers who will bring something new to downtown--unique, hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind items. Petersen says that downtown's succeed when they attract businesses that sell unique or unusual items that people like to touch and feel before they purchase them, which they cannot do if they are buying online. "We still like to engage all five senses," Petersen says.

To bring back the downtown will take some redevelopment of spaces that currently is not move-in ready for retailers.

Petersen says the former J.C. Penny property is a good example. The building is about 15,000 square feet and most retailers need only about 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. With an anchor tenant and a number of smaller retailers the property could be brought back into the retail mix.

“Our goal is to see downtown Battle Creek grow,” says Team Active owner Mike Wood, who participated in the planning process for the program.

“Retail is the psychological barometer of a downtown’s health,” says Peterson. “There can be great things happening all around, but if the storefronts are empty, people perceive downtown is not doing well.”

Source: Rob Peterson, Battle Creek Unlimite

A party's on tap at Tapistry to celebrate anniversary

The past 12 months have been exciting for the folks at Tapistry Brewing Company. And now, following a year of hard work, it’s time to celebrate.

On Saturday, July 19 the brewery, at 4236 Lake Street in Bridgeman celebrates its one year anniversary with live music, food, prizes and plenty of limited edition and barrel aged beer.

"The party really is a thank you. It’s a thank you to the community, to all the patrons that we’ve had this past year, and to all the people that aren’t familiar with us to check out all the beers we’ll have that day," says Greg Korson, co-owner of Tapistry Brewing Company.

The beers on tap will be headlined by four barrel aged offerings including Kilting Me Softly, a scotch ale that has been aging in bourbon barrels provided by Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks; a Sour Blond, the first of its kind created at Tapistry; an IPA; and Eilmer, a Belgian style Triple housed in gin barrels.

"This is our first time ever using  gin barrel. It's going to be a little bit of a surprise to us in how it’s going to come out; we’re trying to have a little bit of fun with these," Korson says.

All of the beers offered during the party, including a couple of one-off brews that will be served only at the party, are in essence a microcosm of what Tapistry Brewing is all about--finding unique ways to offer both traditional and contemporary beer styles.

"Every brewery is going to have their own niche, everybody is going to have their thing, and a big part of our thing is making beers that people enjoy but at the same time exposing them to all these different styles of beer, maybe offering something they wouldn’t be able to find unless they traveled all over the world," Korson says.

Bringing the many beers of the world to Southwest Michigan was a primary goal of Tapistry right from the beginning, but as it turns out, the brewery is also bringing brewers from around the world to the area as well.

Tapistry, which had to say goodbye to one of its assistant brewers earlier in the year has recently welcomed Philip Zanello to the team. Zanello, a native of Brazil, brings a  different understanding and new mindset to the table when it comes to brewing Tapistry’s beers.

Zanello also is a graduate of Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, the country’s oldest brewing school. "He is very proficient in home brewing from his time in Brazil," says Korson. "It’s good to have a little bit of new perspectives. We’re extremely pleased to have him on board now."

With its brewing team now securely in place Tapistry is ready celebrate its one year anniversary and then plans to move forward and continue experimenting with both and new beer styles.

"It’s been exciting. It’s been challenging, sometimes nerve wracking. Up to this point, I’ve lost count, but we’ve come close to 40 different beers that we’ve produced already. We’ve had the opportunity to be very creative," Korson says.

Writer: Jeremy Martin, Second Wave Media
Source: Greg Korson, Tapistry Brewing Company

Lost Raven open for business in Plainwell

What Michigan has to offer is on display in a big way at the recently opened restaurant The Lost Raven, 200 E. Bridge Street, in Plainwell.

"The idea was to bring to the area a Michigan-centric gastro pub," says Scott Campbell who along with his partner in business and life Rebecca Stephens have remade the former site of the London Grill in Plainwell.

In Europe the Public Houses were houses that actually were opened to the public. The warmth that comes from that kind of hospitality is what Stephens and Campbell wanted for The Lost Raven. 

"Our food is made from scratch," Campbell says. This time of year, when local produce is plentiful, the food is 90 percent from Michigan. At the bar the spirits, beers, and wines are 100 percent from the Great Lakes State.

Response during the first two weeks of business at the new restaurant has been "absolutely outstanding," Campbell says. (With good reason. On a recent visit the food and service lived up to the high standards the couple has set. Or to put it another way, the pulled pork was amazing.)

The minor problems that arise any time a new restaurant opens have been addressed and now the restaurant has the feel of an established business, Campbell says.

Business has been good enough to allow additional hiring and The Lost Raven staff now boasts 25 to 30 employees.

Getting to opening day, June 25, was a long process. The restaurant had stood empty for about two years and there was a great deal of work to be done remodeling and updating it. 

With 25 years of history in the restaurant, the couple did not want to totally gut it, but there were floors to be replaced and the basic decor needed to be freshened up. "I did all of it with my own two hands," and with Rebecca's support, Campbell says.  "She might not have been swinging a hammer, but she was always helping out with something. The two of us are really great partners in life and business. This could not have happened without her."

Now the two are managing two restaurants, something that Campbell has done before. "The key to running multiple restaurants is the kind of family you build around you."

He also says that either he or Stephens is usually at one or the other of the restaurants keeping an eye on how things are going. 

Campbell owns Eleven & Co., named for the balance represented in the number 11, balance being a state most people are seeking these days. He has many years experience at the head of a number of successful restaurants and together he and Stephens turned around the London Grill in downtown Kalamazoo. (They manage the properties owned by Tom Huff.) 

The kind of deep thinking that leads one to name a business after the search for balance is also seen in the naming of The Lost Raven. Campbell says public houses often used animals on their signs and the raven is a strong image; whether it be Edgar Allen Poe's reference to the raven or the birds who were Norse god Odin's helpers, the raven is memorable. 

The raven also is one of the animals man has chased from the area, Campbell says. Think of it this way: Once people fed themselves from food they grew themselves, then big businesses and farms replaced locally grown food, and now demand for local food is back. 

"All good things come back again," Campbell says. "We're bringing the raven back."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Scott Campbell, Eleven & Co.

Tea Leaf sets up shop in downtown Battle Creek

Early retirement was not working for Christy Wonderly. "I really wanted a job I loved," Wonderly says. As she pondered her options her daughter suggested she think of the two things she liked the most: tea and talking to others.

That idea for the Tea Leaf, where "happiness is a cup away," has grown into a full-fledged business for Wonderly. She now shares space with other businesses on the first floor of the Ermish Travel Building, 26 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Battle Creek.

Today, Wonderly and her daughter, Jessica Lazarus, run the tea shop. More employees are expected soon as Lazarus moves to another full-time job. 

The business got its start at the Springfield Market and recently moved to downtown where the landlords, the Breitbachs, have welcomed 13 fledgling businesses in the three-story building. Wonderly says she appreciates how welcome she has been made to feel and the mentorship in such areas as advertising and similar assistance the Breitbachs have offered. 

As you walk in the door of the Tea Leaf, you will see a tea bar complete with a wide variety of organic, fair trade teas. Wonderly says she is really excited to be working with the local nonprofit Urban Sprout Farms to develop her own blend made from Michigan grown tea and herbs. Rose petals and mints will be part of the blend coming soon.

Because she shares space with others, the actual square footage of her business is small, so the business is largely takeout right now. She is looking forward to creating outside seating for her customers soon.

She points out that although some local retailers offer tea, none carry the high quality brands she does. The teas she carries also are for sale on her website. 

So far, Battle Creek tea drinkers have shown a preference for Masala Chai, Moroccan Mint, Cherry Bomb and green teas, Wonderly says. These top sellers are the ones she brews early in the day and keeps chilled all day long. "They're ready to go," Wonderly says.

The former teacher got her love of tea from her mother, a Bradford from Boston. Beyond that, teas have many health benefits that Wonderly loves to share with others. 

"I really like both ends of the business," Wonderly says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Christy Wonderly, Tea Leaf

WKW Roof Rail Systems to add 185 new jobs

WKW Roof Rail Systems, an automotive parts manufacturer that makes aluminum rails for car roofs, is bringing 185 jobs to Battle Creek.

The company plans to purchase the former Toyota Tsusho America facility in the Fort Custer Industrial Park, an investment of up to $23 million.

WKW automotive CEO Peter Kruft says that with the company's successful acquisition of  Bowers Manufacturing Company in Portage the management team realized a need to expand production.

"As we intend to build-up the extrusion business in North America in the same way we serve the European market, we need more space for anodizing and assembly of roof rail systems,” says Kruft.  

WKW Roof Rail Systems, LLC, is a newly formed subsidiary of WKW Erbsloeh North America, Inc. It is a subsidiary of WKW automotive located in Wuppertal, Germany. The company currently has a sales office in Troy and a manufacturing facility in Portage.

“WKW is an exceptional, global company, and we are thrilled to have them select the City of Battle Creek for their new location and future expansion,” says Battle Creek Unlimited President and CEO Karl Dehn.

Michigan was chosen over a competing site in Alabama and one other State.

As a result of WKW's investment, it received a $950,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. A request will be made to the City of Battle Creek for property tax abatement and two acres of land for future expansion.  

The new business is one of a string of successes for Battle Creek, with 15 new companies or expansions announced in the last 18 months.

Source: Peter Kruf, WKW automotive
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