LOOKS LIKE MARQUETTE will soon be getting a major new tenant in the heart of downtown.
The Chamber of Commerce and the UP Masonic Association will be signing a memorandum of understanding in the next week or so to develop a “coworking” space at the Masonic Square on Washington Street.
It’s a big deal. Five thousand square feet, including the storefront on Washington Street.
What is a “coworking” space? Well, it’s a cluster of little offices, work spaces, and conference rooms for little businesses, freelancers, and traveling businesspeople, some of them from large corporations. In other words, a place to do business without leasing or buying a larger store or office.
Grand Rapids has several such developments with names like Worklab, the Factory and Blue35. Successful apparently. Chamber of Commerce director Jason Schneider thinks it’ll work here. He’s got 12 businesses who’ve committed to the project so far; he needs a few more but he’s confident he’ll get them. He’s expected to make an official announcement in about two weeks.
Ryan Engle, the business manager at the Masonic Square, is equally confident. “This should be a long term fix for this building,” he says.
Masonic Square, a large complex of varying types of businesses and offices, has struggled to find an identity and true prosperity over the last several years. The Chamber of Commerce project, which will include an office for the Chamber, could change that.
Engle says if things proceed smoothly (Do they ever?), construction could begin in October and be completed by the end of the year. The Chamber and the Masonic plan to finance it jointly.
Mona Lang, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, loves the idea of a coworking development, but doesn’t like the location. She’d prefer that it be located outside of the heart of the downtown. A retail store is more appropriate there, she says, because it would generate more foot traffic.
An honest difference of opinion.
Regardless, it looks like it’s going to happen. (Famous last words.)
“IF IT AIN’T broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s what John Scheidt says about Babycakes. He and his wife Darci just bought that little treasure of a coffee shop/bakery/restaurant downtown.
Longtime Babycakes fans have voiced concern about what might happen to Babycakes now with new ownership. But in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X.
“Kim Danielson built up a good, strong business,” Scheidt says, “and that’s what we purchased–the business, the reputation, and the recipes.”
Yes, they will use the same recipes, they will offer the same muffins and other pastries (including gluten-free), and they will absolutely keep the same name.
No, they will not be offering donuts and cakes (the specialties at Scheidt’s other business, the Huron Mountain Bakery).
However, three changes are anticipated. One, Scheidt wants to improve customer flow. In other words, get people served more quickly. Anyone who’s stood in line some mornings behind seven people while the barista’s fashioning a latte and a mocha can appreciate that.
Two, he’ll be hiring 6-7 more employees.
And three, he wants to introduce some European style pastries in the near future.
But otherwise, it’s the same ol’ Babycakes. Including Wifi.
One more thing: Scheidt says that the Huron Mountain Bakery rates in the top 2% in the country in terms of sales by retail bakeries.
Oh, wait, one more thing: He also says HMB uses up to 10,000 pounds of flour a week sometimes. Seriously.
A SAD SIGHT at the Bayou in Harvey.
An empty parking lot, a sign on the door telling you that the restaurant/bar/brewery is closed down until further notice.
A call to the owner of the business produced only a brusque “no comment.”
Take a look at neighborhood bars and restaurants around here, and you start to see a pattern. Coco’s, Fat Boyz, The Grove/Roots, and now the Bayou. For one reason or another, they couldn’t make it.
It’s tough enough to make a go of it in the middle of a town. Apparently, it’s even tougher when you’re isolated, out in the neighborhoods.
THE SIGN JUST went up last week. Fitworx.
A brand new gym on Front Street downtown with the just one trainer, Tom Stone, who’s also the owner.
Not a standard type of gym. Just training for individuals and small groups. Stone claims he’ll be open seven days a week, and again, he’ll be the only trainer. The only employee. Yikes. Although, to be fair, he does live upstairs in the building. An easy commute.
Stone’s a former hockey player at NMU who left town for several years but then came back, because of the lifestyle. Seems we’ve heard that before.
A LOCAL DOCTOR’S office is taking part in a major national study of diabetics.
Specifically, it’s U.P. Holistic Medicine and Dr. Scott Doughty in Harvey. And the study, financed by the National Institutes of Health, involves treating diabetics with chelation therapy to decrease their chances of heart attacks. Diabetics are more prone to heart attacks than the general population.
Not to get all technical on you but…chelation therapy infuses patients, through an IV, with a liquid that will help them excrete lead and cadmium from their system. That’ll cut down on inflammation and heart attacks.
A first study with this therapy proved highly promising. This is a broader study, and Doughty is still looking for more patients to take part.
IT’S YELLOW. BRIGHT, bright yellow.
We’re talking, of course, about the Wooden Nickel.
Why the change? Nothing profound, according to a bartender. They just wanted a change, a fresh look. Something different from purple.
Something to get people talking. And they succeeded. Bigly.
The new sign should be arriving soon. Even our favorite old standbys need a facelift every once in a while.
MARQUETTE GETS ALL the gushing praise from the national media, and Ishpeming…well, it gets mocked.
Road Snacks, an online publication, recently honored Ishpeming, dubiously, as the 8th most white trash city in Michigan. Lovely.
The criteria supposedly used: ignorance, racism, violence, alcoholism, poverty, and Anglo-Saxon ancestry.
Quoting: “This number (the 8th place rating) doesn’t reflect the high number of mullets (is it a mullet, a perm, or merm, Ishpeming?), shag haircuts, bangs teased out like it’s 1990, and the number of people who wear pajamas to the local Dollar Store.”
Road Snacks also recently listed the ten snobbiest towns in Michigan.
No surprise here. No U.P. community made the Top Ten.
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