New garden center offers plethora of magnificent Mother’s Day gifts

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In Michigan, the anticipated warmth and beauty of spring’s arrival can sometimes be anticlimactic. March 20 was the first day of spring this year, but we still experienced cool weather, cloudy skies and even some snow in late April.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, now is the perfect time to shake off the chill and look toward the sunny skies of May. That’s right – it’s time for bright-colored annuals, hanging baskets and even vegetables.

The newest garden center to open in Macomb County is Drew’s Garden, and it’s the perfect place to find gifts for mom. You can’t go wrong with a birdhouse, wind chime, patio pot, 10-inch hanging basket (for only $12.99!), colorful watering can filled with flowers, butterfly bush or hummingbird plant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADrew’s Garden is located in what was formerly Semrau Garden Center in Eastpointe. Opened in 1916, Semrau was in operation for 99 years, with four generations of Semraus working there. For me and many others, it was a staple of spring and summer, and I was heartbroken when I saw the “for sale” sign go up. However, after some time to process and a visit to the new garden center, much like spring, my spirits have been renewed.

Opening just this past March, Drew’s Garden has already made a large investment in the community. The store was completely gutted and freshly painted in vibrant colors, the bathrooms were remodeled and there is a ton of new merchandise including houseplants, gardening tools and supplies, exotic tropicals such as palms and pineapple plants, seeds, bird feeders and fairy garden landscapes.

Renovations have been occurring outside as well. A new electronic sign, a 48-by-44-foot wooden pergola and a 60-foot flower box (soon to be a wall of flowers) have all gone up. The pergola is stocked full of hanging baskets and their outdoor merchandise includes shrubs, roses, vegetables, herbs, annuals and 279 varieties of perennials. You will also see familiar faces as many of the Semrau employees have stayed on staff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatrick Kouza is the proud new owner, but this isn’t his first time running a business. He also owns Penny Lake Market in Walled Lake where he added a flower market in the parking lot. His love for flowers has led him to buy this nursery, which he named after one of his children. In addition to renovations, Pat has also lengthened the store’s hours and season. In August, he plans to have a farmers market, offering Amish-grown plants.

Exciting new things are happening at 23751 Gratiot, and now is the perfect time to check it out – and don’t forget to pick up something great for mom!

 

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23751 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 775-3770

 

Hours
Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Cloverleaf: Experience Detroit-style pizza at its best

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Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant is an iconic staple in Macomb County. Founded by the father of the Detroit square pizza, Gus Guerra, it has been in business since 1953. Still using the original recipe, Cloverleaf offers one seriously tasty deep-dish pizza in addition to other favorites like crunchy sweet bread, whipped cheesecake and cold drinks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing from the area, you might take Detroit-style pizza for granted and not even know what it is. It is defined as a square, deep-dish pizza with sauce on top and a crispy crust. Guerra and his wife Anna first introduced this style of pizza in 1946 as the original founders of Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit. They sold Buddy’s and the recipe in 1953 and purchased Cloverleaf in East Detroit. Today, Cloverleaf still sits at 24443 Gratiot Avenue in Eastpointe and is run by the Guerras’ children Jack Guerra and Marie Guerra Easterby.

Cloverleaf offers a large eight-piece or a small four-piece pizza with a variety of toppings from which to choose. The specialty gourmet pies include bruschetta, Hawaiian, barbeque chicken, supreme and BLT. Each pizza is made fresh when you order it. Loaded with cheese, sauce and toppings, the pieces are substantial. Also newly available is gluten-free pizza, which is a really great-tasting option for those looking for gluten-free alternatives.

crunchy breadWhile you wait for your pizza to bake, try one of their delicious antipasto salads. This comes with fresh bread with rosemary baked into the crust and crunchy sweet bread. The latter is buttery, parmesan cheesy and at the same time sugary and sweet. If you decide to forego the salad, I highly recommend you ask your server for a bread basket so you can discover this crunchy sweet goodness for yourself.

Not in the mood for pizza? Cloverleaf also offers classic Italian dishes, pasta, ribs, lake perch, burgers and sandwiches. If you still have room for dessert, try the homemade whipped cheesecake with cherries or strawberries or the whipped Oreo cheesecake – both made in house and exceedingly good.

Also popular is the lunch buffet, offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Eastpointe location offers carryout and so do its franchise locations in Macomb Township, Sterling Heights and coming soon to 13 Mile in Roseville.

pintsThere is a fully-stocked bar with an assortment of beer on draft, bottled domestics and imports, wine and spirits to complement your meal, and if you time it right, there are happy hour specials. Cloverleaf has also been adding a growing number of craft beers to their selection. The bartenders are friendly, and in addition to bar seating, there are also high-top tables where you can watch sports or play Club Keno.

Throughout the rest of the restaurant, there is ample table and booth seating able to accommodate large groups. The enclosed patio is a great space to reserve for events like birthdays, showers or rehearsal dinners (this is where I had mine!). With a family-friendly atmosphere, I often see couples out on “date night,” families enjoying dinner out together and coworkers deconstructing their day over beers. Cloverleaf is also community-oriented, often hosting fundraisers for nonprofit and charity organizations.

Paint Nite logoSomething new being offered is Paint Nite, where an artist instructor guides you step by step to create your own beautiful painting. The registration fee includes the lesson, paint and canvas, making this a fun and easy night out with the girls or with your significant other. Most painters arrive early to grab a bite to eat, and of course, you must enjoy a glass of wine to get the creative juices flowing while you paint! Paint Nite takes place at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in the enclosed patio. Go to www.paintnite.com to register (discounts are often available through Groupon, Living Social and the Paint Nite Detroit Facebook page).

If you’re looking for a really good pizza or simply a fun place to hang out, give Cloverleaf a try. Check out their Facebook page for current specials and upcoming events. You can also find them on Instagram under Cloverleaf Restaurant.

Cloverleaf entrance

24443 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 777-5391

  Cloverleaf Menu

Hours
Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on March 18, 2015.

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.

The Walkability Factor

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Macomb County roads are always evolving, and whether you drive, take the bus or ride your bike to work, roads affect all of our daily lives.  Many spend hours sitting on these roads in rush hour traffic while commuting to work each week. Every winter, we turn to our local news for weather and traffic report updates to plot out alternate routes and hope the roads are plowed.  Even Executive Mark A. Hackel has taken up the topic, asking local legislators to look at our potholes and take action.

While the northern part of Macomb County is paving dirt roads and widening busy thoroughfares, the built-up southern end of the county is taking measures to close the concrete gap.  An example of this can be seen on Gratiot Avenue in Clinton Township.

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety, the Michigan Department of Transportation has installed four new high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) signals.  Signals were installed on both sides of the Gratiot median at Quinn Road and Laurel Street.  The HAWK signals remain dark until activated by a pedestrian, at which point the signal will flash yellow, turn solid yellow, then solid red, indicating to traffic to slow and stop.  Traffic can begin again once signals flash red and pedestrians have cleared.

Another pedestrian-friendly project recently completed in Macomb County was the installation of a traffic island and pedestrian-activated signals on 12 Mile Road in Warren between Macomb Community College’s South Campus and Wayne State University’s new Advanced Technology Education Center.  As a result, students and SMART bus riders are able to conveniently traverse the five lanes of traffic.

While roads are the portals that take us anywhere we want to go, they often serve as impassible dividers within a community. For example, a store may be within eyesight and walking distance, but crossing eight lanes of traffic may be nearly impossible or simply impractical if the nearest intersection is a half mile away.  These projects increase the convenience for anyone trying to get around by bike or on foot – something that is becoming more popular with not only young professionals, but also senior citizens who want to stay in their community without relying on cars for transportation.

Walkability plays into the major placemaking movement many communities are striving to adopt.  The city of Roseville has taken on an initiative to create a pedestrian-accessible business district at the Utica and Gratiot junction.  The Roseville City Counsel passed an ordinance that creates a town center overlay district for this area which could feature landscaped streets, restaurants with outdoor seating and a mix of commercial and residential areas.  The council also passed other ordinances allowing for more sidewalks, less parking spots and more bicycle parking.

Both Roseville and Eastpointe were recently declared Development Ready Communities by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  Last October, Eastpointe hosted a charrette where it invited students from Lawrence Tech and the George Brown College’s Institute without Boundaries program from Toronto to brainstorm redevelopment ideas for the city.  Of the many ideas that were generated, some were to turn the Stephens and Gratiot intersection into a walkable area of commerce and to add bike lanes on Kelly Road.

Bike lanes are soon to become a reality for the city of Warren.  Warren officials approved funding for a non-motorized pathway along Van Dyke Avenue that will include a dedicated lane, median enhancements, a decorative crosswalk and sidewalk ramps.  Once completed, there could be an opportunity to extend the path to other neighboring communities.  The goal is that the increased pedestrian and bike traffic will lead to more revenue for businesses in the area.

The next time you find yourself sitting in traffic in Macomb County, keep your eye out for some of the exciting new developments that are coming down the pike.

This article was also published in eMacomb Winter 2015.

Find made-in-Michigan and vintage gifts at Iron Ivy

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen looking for holiday gifts this year, Iron Ivy is the perfect place to shop. This local business is full of antique and vintage items ranging from feathered hats and sequined purses, dinnerware and china, toolboxes and crates with classic logos to furniture and lamps. They also carry a great selection of made-in-Michigan products handcrafted by 20 metro Detroit artists.

The owners of Iron Ivy are Jim and Donna Jalosky. Married for 39 years, they have always collected antiques. Jim knew how to weld from working in a collision shop, and when he taught Donna, these skills soon translated into art.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom bugs a few inches tall to giant 6-foot birds, Jim and Donna produce sculptures made from upcycled metal. This means that they turn anything and everything into art. Shovel heads are crafted into faces, dogs are constructed from tool boxes and watering cans and ostrich-type birds have buckets for bodies. Each is a one-of-a-kind, whimsical piece.

As a hobby, Jim and Donna started welding out of their garage in 1998. When they outgrew their space, they moved into a workshop on 9 Mile. In 2011, they landed in their present location on Gratiot near 10 Mile in Eastpointe. They live in Warren and really enjoy working close to home. They would like to see the area grow into a strip of specialty shops, making it an artistic destination on the eastside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey worked for three years to renovate the current facility, adding artistic touches wherever possible. A tile mosaic stream cuts a serpentine path along a portion of the floor. It incorporates tumbling stones found in a decaying rural building and features fish comprised of broken pottery from a vendor at Eastern Market. They also added large windows facing Gratiot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIron Ivy artwork is sprinkled throughout Eastpointe. The public art can be found in the median in front of the store (Gratiot and 10 Mile), in the garden in front of Andary’s Family Grill and adorning the walls inside (Gratiot and Semrau Avenue), at the entrance of the Urban Seed Community Garden (9 Mile and Pleasant Avenue) and in the city manager’s office in city hall (Gratiot and Aurora Avenue).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to Jim and Donna’s metal creations, also interspersed throughout the store are handmade items by other local artists including jewelry, fused-glass pieces, photography and pottery from two local potters with 30 years of experience. There are items made out of license plates, framed word art made from photographs and collages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne artist recovers discarded bricks from Detroit onto which he transposes photographs. Another artist sews pieces of fabric from old jackets into purses and transforms the comfort and warmth of sweaters into stylish gloves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIron Ivy offers a wide array of trinkets, accessories, home goods and art. Just in time for the holiday, they are also stocking their shelves with vintage Christmas items, including ornaments. Shop local this year and walk away with some truly special gifts.

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24935 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 381-2119

Hours
Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Monday and Friday

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Dec. 12, 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.

Coffee Break photo

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.

You Wanna Pizza Me?

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One of the newest businesses in Eastpointe is Pizza Me. Though only three months old, this pizza place is starting to grow its clientele and already has quite a few regulars. Whether you are looking for a quick slice on the go, a classic cheese and pepperoni or a unique specialty pizza, this place has you covered.

Pizza Me is owned and operated by veteran and first-time business owner Will Francis. He served in the army for seven years and spent a year and a half in Iraq as an airborne infantryman—yes, that means jumping out of airplanes. He always dreamed of owning his own business, and when he was able to save enough money while deployed overseas, he came home and made his dream a reality.

While searching for a space, Francis realized Eastpointe offered a competitive affordability that made financial sense for his new business venture. He eventually settled on a storefront located on the south side of Nine Mile Road, between Gratiot and Kelly.

When asked what he enjoys most about running his own business, Francis says it is the flexibility. From following orders to calling all the shots, this veteran is certainly having fun along the way. He designed the logo for Pizza Me by turning an image of a friend’s face into a cartoon pizza. Francis has also customized his own menu and hours and makes pizza the way he thinks it ought to be made.

The dough is made from scratch daily, and all of the cheese is hand grated from blocks. Only the freshest ingredients are used. In this tiny shop, the kitchen is open, and if so inclined, you can watch your pizza being handcrafted.

The specialty pizzas are anything but ordinary. The Taco Pizza (ground beef, onion, cheddar, taco sauce, lettuce and tomato with a drizzle of sour cream) and the Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza (cheddar, bacon, ground beef, fries, pickles, onions, pizza sauce, and drizzled with ranch) are two of Pizza Me’s most popular pies. Not quite ready for French fries and pickles on your pizza? They also offer regular pizzas with flavored crusts, cheese bread, subs, salads, pasta, and wings.

With high quality ingredients, innovative combinations, hard work and a great attitude, Pizza Me is off to a great start. So the next time you are debating between tacos or pizza, why not pick both and see what Pizza Me has to offer?

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16936 E. Nine Mile Road, Eastpointe, MI 48021 586-541-8675

Pizza Me Menu

Hours
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday noon to 10 p.m.