Nostalgic candy and more at Roger’s Bulk Candy Shop

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For many of us, Valentine’s Day is a time to indulge our sweet side. We go out of our way to be kind to our friends, families, neighbors, coworkers and significant others, and this usually includes plying them with sugary candy. If you’re looking for some really unique sweets this Valentine’s Day, shop at Roger’s Bulk Candy Shop on 9 Mile Road in Eastpointe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a modest exterior, Roger’s takes on a Wonka-like atmosphere when you walk through the door. The walls are lined with glass jars, bins and barrels overflowing with bright pieces of candy. They carry every kind of confectionary you can think of, but what is especially impressive is their selection of nostalgic candy.

Some of the memorable brands Roger’s carries date back more than 100 years, like Taffy Town. Other candies like Squirrels, Bit-O-Honey and Black Jacks were developed in the 1920s. And there are plenty more candies that have stood the test of time such as Mary Janes, Candy Buttons, Turkish Taffy, Slo Pokes, Astro Pops and ZotZ.

Roger’s also carries all of today’s kids’ favorite treats like gummy bears, lollipops, Swedish Fish, Runts, Jolly Ranchers, Skittles and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. With malt balls, chocolate-covered almonds, pecan turtles and classic name-brand candy bars, there is plenty of chocolate to choose from as well.

I spoke with owner Roger Berro who said he opened the business eight years ago because there was a need in the area for a specialty candy shop. Generations of his family have been in the retail business, and he said business is their passion. As he showed me around the shop, Berro was like a candy librarian, pointing out different popular candies and giving me a little history about each of them.

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The shop originally only sold candy and later expanded to ice cream. Now they also carry Mediterranean food like grape leaves, tabouli and spinach and meat pies. Additionally, they offer habanero pistachios, Jordan almonds, jumbo salted cashews and other specialty nuts. Their freshly made smoothies and 52 flavors of Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream are extremely popular in the summer.

While I was there, a woman was buying candy for her daughter’s shower. Berro said they are a popular destination for people putting together candy tables for graduation parties, showers and weddings. Customers can purchase anything from one piece of candy up to 20 pounds!

“People come in happy, and we make sure they leave happy,” said Berro.

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15020 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe, MI 48021 ~ (586) 772-1076

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New coffee haus in the Clem

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Downtown Mount Clemens is a cross section of Macomb County life. People from all over the county come to the city every day to work, conduct government business and go to school. It is a place where politicians, reporters, county employees, construction workers, judges and students all come together.

And something all of these diverse people have in common? Coffee. Yes, that comforting liquid that is part of our morning ritual, that caffeine boost that gets us through the day, that delicious beverage that makes all of us a little kinder to our fellow human beings. For too long, downtown Mount Clemens was missing an independent coffee purveyor. I am happy to report that this is no longer the case.

019.JPGMinha’s Coffee Haus, located at 58 Cherry St. (next to the exceptional Thai Orchid), is open for business. Just in the beginning phase, this business is starting small, taking its time and carefully planning for future growth. Deliberate thought has gone into every decision – everything from the compostable cups, to the Coca Cola products in glass bottles, to the inviting yellow paint on the walls. Extensive research went into picking the right coffee bean supplier. They decided to go with Dean’s Beans because they are fair trade, organic and kosher.

This is a family business run by Sora Childress, who grew up living in Korea, China, Germany and France. Childress worked as a sports journalist, but the nature of her work started colliding with her growing family, so she began looking into entrepreneurship.

023.JPG“I wanted to own a business to have more control over my life,” said Childress. It gives her the flexibility she needs to spend time with her family, in particular with her son Ilan who works behind the counter. “We’re a close-knit family.”

Minha’s Coffee Haus has clearly taken on the personality of its owners. It is relaxed and friendly with an international flair. While I was there, the baristas were talking in French to one another and Childress and a customer broke out in German. There are plans to offer international baked goods in the future.

“We wanted to do something true to us, something multicultural,” said Childress, whose mother is Korean and father is German.

She created a space that is open to everyone. That’s why a large coffee is only $1.70, because she wanted anyone to be able to afford a cup – whether it is the high-powered attorney or the high school kid on probation. Childress is also hoping to provide the community a place to connect with one another, a place where the attorney and the high school kid can have a conversation. That’s why there are no TVs, just comfortable seating and light music.

Minha’s Coffee Haus’ inclusive and creative attitude is certain to foster growth and evolution in unexpected and exciting ways. The next time you find yourself in downtown Mount Clemens for a festival, work, school, jury duty or because you live here, grab an espresso or Mexican hot chocolate and give this new local business a try – and be sure to say bonjour to the friendly staff!

58 Cherry Street, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 292-7007

Hours
MondayFriday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sunday

To learn how the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is assisting this small business, read more at the Macomb Business blog.

Bagels on the eastside

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This past weekend, I went to Baffin Brewing Company to meet up with Shannon Parent of Eastside Bagel to drink some micro-brewed beer and talk about bagels. I savored a Heffenwolf hefeweizen while she sipped a Crossroads cream ale and told me about the origin of Eastside Bagel – a St. Clair Shores instituation for the past 21 years.

When Shannon’s mom and dad Liz and Joe Parent moved into the area in 1987, they had a tough time finding a bagel shop anywhere on the eastside. With career backgrounds in office and industrial work, these entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands to remedy the situation. Liz started working at a bagel shop to learn how to bake. From there, they opened their own business and perfected their bagel recipes. A family business, Shannon and her sister have worked at the shop most of their adult lives.

“Over the years, I fell in love with every aspect that it takes to be part of this business,” Shannon explained. “It’s a craft and a process, and it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”

Eastside Bagel produces thousands of bagels a week. They make the dough, kettle boil the bagels, lay them out on canvas boards, bake one side, and flip onto stone to bake the other side until shiny. And all of this usually takes place around 3 a.m.

Shannon compared the bagel process to brewing at Baffin, another small business in St. Clair Shores. Brewer Evan Feringa often brews all night and into the early morning hours, crafting a unique product from scratch. When you put that much effort into your work, you’re bound to be passionate about it.

Eastside Bagel offers an extensive variety of bagels, the most popular being Jalapeno Cheddar, Everything and Spinach Asiago. The bagels are soft and fresh. One of my favorites is the Cinnamon and Sugar bagel, but I also really enjoy their nutritious Breakfast Cookie, which is packed with dates, raisins and almonds.

While bagels are the star, Eastside Bagel also offers sandwiches, soups and salads made to order. The vinaigrette they use is Shannon’s great-aunt’s recipe. They make their own cream cheese that comes in delicious flavors like cherry almond, garlic and chive and feta. Lox sandwiches are also popular, and they sell lox by the pound at a competitive price. Beverages include coffee, chai tea, cappuccino, fresh-squeezed juice, fruit smoothies and more.

When you walk into one of their stores, you’ll order at the counter. The line moves fast, so it’s helpful to have an idea of what you want. There are a lot of interesting options to choose from though, so don’t be afraid to try something new! Pay at the counter, and if you’re dining in, just have a seat and they will bring you your food. The friendly staff may chat with you while you wait.

Eastside Bagel is a great place to enjoy a hot breakfast and a cup of coffee, to pick up a dozen bagels for the office, or to cater your next business meeting. So now that you’ve heard all about these delicious, one-of-a-kind, preservative-free bagels made locally, go try one!

Bagel A

21601 Harper, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
(586) 775-8820

Hours
Monday – Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The gift of reading

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs an expecting mother-to-be, some aspects of my baby shower were easier to figure out than others. Venue: Fishbone’s – check. Cake: Giuseppe’s Bakery – check. Favors: Midwest Suds Soap Co. products made by my sisters and me – check. But when it came to registering, that was a different story.

There are thousands of items with limitless variations to sort through. The aisles of bedding, toys, car seats, diapers, nursery pieces, strollers, bath essentials, clothes, bottles and safety gear were a little overwhelming. However, armed with a scanner gun, my husband and I were determined to find everything the baby will need.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter fruitlessly wandering the store for a while, we naturally gravitated over to the book area. Paging through our old favorites from when we were young, the scanner gun quickly snapped into action. We scanned every Dr. Seuss book we saw as well as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other Eric Carle books, “The Monster at the End of this Book,” “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and more.

As I examined the familiar covers, I remembered my parents and grandparents reading to me, and I look forward to reading to my child. And as he or she grows, I can’t wait to share with them “The Giving Tree,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “The Secret Garden.”

We didn’t register for very many things on our first try. We weren’t sure how many footie pajamas we would need or what brand of diapers to choose, but we did know our baby will need books.

caterpillarMarch is National Reading Month, and it’s a great time to remember the huge impact reading has on our lives. Literacy is not something to be taken for granted. It needs to be initiated, nurtured, developed and maintained. The fundamental reading skills we acquire in our youth translate into academic and career assets in the future.

Illiteracy is not something that only affects children. Reading Works is an organization that helps metro Detroit adults learn to read or raise their literacy level. Find out more on their website readingworksdetroit.org.

This month is the perfect time to read to your toddler, take a child to the library or set aside time to discover a new book for yourself.

A version of this article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on March 13, 2015.

Champagne Chocolates: A decadent delight

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Before you find yourself in the drug store on your lunch break on Feb. 14 frantically searching for your Valentine’s Day gifts (we’ve all been there), do yourself and your loved ones a favor and make a stop at Champagne Chocolates in Mount Clemens.

Champagne Chocolates has everything you need for Valentine’s Day: boxed chocolates, toffees, barks and turtles – and they are all hand-crafted on-site daily.

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These candies are made with the freshest ingredients – and I’m not just saying that. While most chain stores started stocking Valentine’s Day candy right after Christmas, Champagne Chocolates has just begun to make theirs. The candy is preservative-free, ensuring freshness and optimal quality.

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Thursdays are Raspberry Delight Day, which means Owner Debbie Heuchert goes out in the morning to buy fresh raspberries that will sit atop chocolate cups filled with dark chocolate ganache. Debbie also regularly heads to the Peanut Peddler to handpick hazelnuts for the candies.

“We take pride in our ingredients,” said Debbie. “When you start with good ingredients, you end up with good products.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA lot has changed since Debbie started making candies in her basement 25 years ago, but she still uses her own original recipes. Her husband John also plays a valuable part in the business, building machinery to improve consistency, accommodate larger molds and increase productivity.

Ten years ago, she opened up shop in downtown Mount Clemens. This past July, she moved to a new location at 65 Macomb Place, suite E (around the corner from Max & Ollie’s Vintage Boutique and across from Bath City Bistro). Still in Mount Clemens, the new building is larger, allowing for more efficient manufacturing. The more prominent location has also lead to increased sales.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We love being in the heart of Macomb County,” explained Debbie. “The downtown area has a big town feel, but you know everybody. The businesses here support each other.” She also appreciates all of the hard work done by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The recent Mount Clemens Ice Carving Show the DDA hosted brought a lot of fun – and new customers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADebbie loves to indulge in the creative side of the business, especially when it comes to developing chocolate recipes. Champagne Chocolates carries a few items you might not expect, like chocolate-dipped bacon and Rustic Bars made partially with organic ingredients.

They also offer chocolate parties where you and a group of friends can make your own truffles and learn some interesting facts about chocolate – did you know all of their chocolate nibs come from the same farm in Ecuador? If you bring along a bottle of wine, staff will also help you pair it with the perfect chocolate.

Be kind to your valentine, and treat them to a box of chocolates or toffees from a great local business. You won’t regret it!

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65 Macomb Place, suite E, Mount Clemens, MI 48043 (586) 468-1170

Truffles with a Twist and Chocolate Party information

Hours
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sunday

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Feb. 6, 2015.

The perfect twist

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I had the opportunity to speak with St. Clair Shores resident and small business owner Ann Bobek about her burgeoning decadent gourmet pretzel business, The Twisted Pretzel, which combines the perfect twist of salty pretzels with drizzled chocolate and gooey caramel.

The Twisted Pretzel officially launched in February 2013, but its inspiration started many years earlier. Ann has always loved to cook and bake, something passed down to her by her grandmothers and great aunts who often baked pies and cookies. But it wasn’t until her son started kindergarten that she discovered her passion for chocolate-covered pretzels.

peppermint in cello bagOnce introduced to the technique, she quickly began bringing tasty pretzel rod treats to school parties and holidays, where she started to hear, “You should start your own business” – a lot. But with young kids, the timing wasn’t right.

Flash forward to the present day, and Ann’s youngest child is a senior in high school and The Twisted Pretzel is open for business. But it didn’t happen overnight. Ann did what every new business owner should, she put in the work.

Ann attended classes at the Small Business Development Center, took classes at the Michigan State Product Center and scheduled meetings with Small Business Counselor Wendy Richardson, Innovation Counselor Micah Loucks and our Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns.

“Jack’s proactive and pushes me forward, connecting me to other people,” said Ann. Connecting and networking with peers and mentors has been a source of knowledge and insight.

At the Michigan State Product Center, Ann soaked up all she could from the “food people” there. She first showed her product to Micah who saw it as a unique item not currently on the market in this area. He gave his initial stamp of approval and continues to counsel and work with Ann regularly. “Not only has he helped me out and guided me, but there is also a friendship that develops when you go through this process,” Ann said of Micah.

Cinnamon crunchThe Twisted Pretzel specializes in gourmet pretzels that come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Their most popular product is Funky Chunky Bark. Not wanting to let broken pretzels go to waste, Ann came up with the idea to incorporate pretzel pieces, dark chocolate, peanut butter chocolate and handmade marshmallow made from scratch. Other products include Caramel Twisters, Twisted Turtles and Pretzel Twists that can be embellished with Cinnamon Crunch, Cookies and Cream, Java, M&Ms, Razz Berry, Toffee or Peppermint Twist.

Ann refers to her product as “edible art” because it looks as beautiful as it is delicious, and I can vouch for that. These gourmet desserts are perfect for holidays, graduations, showers and even corporate events. Each product is handmade with care, and Ann supports other Michigan businesses whenever possible, including in her printing and packaging, which she does through the Detroit-based Michigan Box Company.

A lot of changes occur during the first stages of a new business. There is a lot to learn and an evolution that occurs as you iron out your product, identity and key market. But Ann is up for the challenge, saying, “Whatever fabulous journey awaits, it’s sure to be exciting.”

Macomb County locations carrying The Twisted Pretzel products are Viviano Flower Shop branches in Chesterfield Township, Shelby Township and St. Clair Shores and Urban Attic also in St. Clair Shores. You can also catch Ann (and some free samples!) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23 at the St. Clair Shores Viviano Open House. For more information on The Twisted Pretzel, visit their website at www.twstdprtzl.com/.
Twisted turtle with rck card

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Nov. 20, 2014.

Have you had your Coffee Break?

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Did you know you can buy coffee from Congo in Eastpointe? Tucked away in a strip mall, Coffee Break is a cozy and chic coffee house that offers big-chain quality with small business appeal. Dim pendant lights, custom-laid floor tiles and charming bistro tables create a comfortable environment for any coffee lover. The rear alcove also features a sleek leather couch facing a flat screen TV mounted above a functioning fireplace. Additionally, in warm weather, the wide walkway out front accommodates outdoor seating. Free Wi-Fi is another amenity available year-round. Coffee Break is the ideal location to collect your thoughts, catch up with friends or network with colleagues over a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Specializing in beans from around the world, Coffee Break boasts an impressive array of in-house-roasted coffee grounds. They sell one-pound packages of whole beans (which they will grind for you upon purchase) from countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Columbia, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Congo, Indonesia, Sumatra, Ethiopia and Kenya – and the list continues to grow. Drinks are moderately priced and cover all of the coffee aficionado’s favorites and then some—my favorite is the marshmallow latte. Cappuccino, espresso, latte and coffee flavors, sizes and prices are fetchingly scrawled on an oversized chalkboard behind the counter. Coffee Break also serves tea and a limited menu consisting of sandwiches, baklava, handmade shortbread, pastries, ice cream and more.

Conveniently located on Ten Mile between Kelly Road and I-94 (just a mile from where I-696 meets I-94), Coffee Break is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. This established business has been operating in Eastpointe for almost four years. Just a stone’s throw away from Sugarbush Tavern, a prominent sidewalk promotes walkability among other neighboring businesses including Mario’s Meats, Little Italy Pizzeria and Fairway Drugs.

Vastly versatile, Coffee Break can accommodate just about any coffee enthusiast’s whim, whether looking for a meeting spot, to refill your coffee supply at home, to explore a new taste from across the world, to work on your laptop, to catch the game, to perfect your tan or to simply obtain your caffeine fix.

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19156 E. Ten Mile Road, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 362-8683

Hours
Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.