WE’VE GOT CRAFT breweries downtown, along with a wine bar, a tattoo parlor, a piercing shop, a waxing studio, farm-to-table restaurants, and tons of coffee shops…so why not a sushi bar?
It’s on the way.
Thomas Flemal and his fiancee Charlene Donovan are moving their business, Benri Sushi, from Escanaba to Masonic Square in Marquette next month.
“We love it here (in Escanaba),” Thomas says, “but there’s just not the population to support it. And let’s face it, Escanaba is a meat-and-potatoes kind of town.”
Benri will be moving into a tiny space on the lower level of the Masonic in early December, if things go well.
Washing and rinsing will be done upstairs in the Masonic’s large commercial kitchen, but all the other prep work will be done at the restaurant itself. Everything, Flemal says, will be made-to-order. On the spot. Absolutely fresh.
Gets your mouth watering.
It’ll be strictly takeout at first, but the Masonic will likely set up some bistro-style tables and chairs for customers in the near future. Customers of the pop-up Lakeside Bakery, which is also looking for a permanent space at the Masonic, may also want to use the seating area.
MASONIC SQUARE IS clearly in the midst of a major transition.
For years it’s been a hodgepodge of stores and offices and vacancies. Right in the center of downtown, and yet terribly underutilized.
Tenants coming in, tenants moving out. Now, under the leadership of business manager Ryan Engle, a sushi shop is arriving, and within a few months, according to Engle, a tourist shop–Lake Love Marquette–will be moving into the prime streetfront space currently occupied by Second Skin Shop, which will relocate to a smaller space in the back.
Lake Love has a seven year contract. Solid.
And of course, the biggest change at the Masonic will be Ampersand, the Chamber of Commerce- sponsored co-working space. It’s due to open the latter part of January, according to Chamber executive director Jason Schneider.
Twenty-two firm commitments from companies that will be using Ampersand’s offices, and 38 currently “kicking the tires.”
Especially impressive: Five local lending institutions are involved in the funding for Ampersand. That shows faith in future of downtown.
AN INTERESTING PHONE call made to Travel Marquette the other day.
“Hello, can I speak to Nicole Young (the executive director)?”
“Nicole’s not here.”
“Do you know when she’ll back?”
“Well…she won’t be back. She resigned.”
Nothing more explained until Anna Dravland, the director of community relations and event marketing, got on the phone.
“All I can tell you is Nicole resigned. It’s an employee change, not a directional change. It’s business as usual.”
Dravland referred us to Michelle Cook, who’s the chairwoman of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and current acting director of Travel Marquette.
“Yes, Nicole resigned and we’re in the process of finding a new director. We’ve hired an executive recruitment firm. We expect it’ll take about 60 days.”
No more detail about the resignation. What we do know, however, was that there was no smiling, public parting of the ways, complete with handshakes, hugging and Thank yous for your three years of service.
A strange turn of events, especially considering the surging growth in tourism here lately and the coups achieved with Delta Sky magazine, the Travel Channel, Bike Magazine et al.
Lotta questions unanswered. Like, for instance, why the resignation?
CHERRY CREEK MARKET in Harvey is no more.
It’s now Great Lakes Fresh Market. New ownership, under Great Lakes Fresh Food, out of Menominee. They own about a half dozen stores in Wisconsin and Michigan.
“Our vision is to expand the perishables in the store,” says store director Tony Lofaro. “We’ll have a full service deli, a bakery, in-store recipes, more variety in everything.”
The store has been remodeled inside and out over the last several months. More and fresher food.
A remarkable transformation. Great news for Harvey shoppers.
HOW DO YOU transform junk into art?
Just ask local artist/environmentalist Stella Larkin.
On three separate days, she picked up plastic refuse that had washed up onto a beach east of Marquette.
Now she has fashioned the junk–combs, cigar tips, baby bottle nipples, bottle caps, spoons, etc–into a mandala (a complex, artistic symbol representing the universe).
She’s turning that mandala over to the Superior Watershed Partnership which intends to use it for instruction in schools.
Art with a message: Let’s not ruin the greatest body of fresh water on earth.
MARQUETTE SENIOR HIGH School students are getting into the coffee shop business.
Yep. They’ll be calling it “Wake U.P.” They expect to open it in a former classroom in January.
It’s the brainchild of math and business teacher Christine Columb and other faculty members.
“If you can actually get the students doing something, instead of just sitting in a class,” Columb says, “they get excited and it becomes a valuable learning experience.”
The 30 students in her marketing class have taken on the job of giving the old classroom a coffee shop atmosphere with new paint and furniture, buying the equipment and products, designing a menu, training the personnel, and marketing their business.
Donations have come from students, parents, and businesses.
How do you teach students about business? Have them start one, and then run it.
JUST ANOTHER ROUTINE, ho hum giveaway by Anytime Fitness in Harvey last week.
Three thousand dollars worth of free VIP certificates given to the Sister Stockings campaign which helps out struggling single mothers.
It’s astonishing what Anytime has managed to do in the last year in addition to providing fitness for its members. How about donations to veterans, the Special Olympics, UPAWS, Cancer Care of Marquette County, and others.
Thirty four different charity events in the last year. Thirty four. That was enough for it to be named “Outreach Club of the Year” by Anytime Fitness. Which has 3000 clubs nationwide.
“I really believe a fitness club has to set the tone for a healthy community,” says owner Jamie Thayer. “We’re a business but we’re also neighbors.”
But surely, all these giveaways cut into the profits, right? Uh, no.
Thayer’s added five positions to her business in the last year, and seen membership jump from 500 to 800.
Good works equals good business.
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