Traverse City News and Events

New Life For Bardon’s; Pizza Shop, Nautical Retail Store Opening Downtown

By Beth Milligan | March 4, 2020

A Traverse City institution is under new ownership. David and Dawnette Wessell closed on the purchase of Bardon’s Wonder Freeze Tuesday, announcing plans to freshen up the East Front Street building and revive ice cream sales at the location starting April 24. The Ticker has details on this and several other restaurant and retail developments, including a new eatery bringing Detroit-style pizza back to the former Alley’s Market building and the expansion of a national nautical retailer to Front Street.

Bardon’s Wonder Freeze
After only a few months on the market, Bardon’s Wonder Freeze has found new owners. Held by the Kratky family since the late 1960s, the small East Front Street ice cream shop was purchased by David and Dawnette Wessell of Wessell Investments. The Wessells, who also own two Epiphany Salon & Spa locations in Traverse City and Acme and Great Guns in Acme, closed on the property Tuesday for $775,000, according to sources familiar with the deal. The couple plans to reopen Bardon’s for business starting April 24.

The Wessells say they have been life-long customers at Bardon's, often going to the ice cream shop for date night during their 33-year partnership. The duo plans to "carry on with the core ice cream business, freshen up the building, and continue operations in the tradition that has made Bardon's an integral part of the community for so many years," they said in a statement.

"We want to be the stewards that keep this tradition going amid all the changes and developments we are experiencing as a community," says Dawnette Wessell. “We have been going to Bardon’s our whole lives. We are so happy to be able to make this happen, and we hope to make the Kratky family and our community proud."

Charles and Reid Detroit Pizza
Detroit-style pizza – characterized by its thick, rectangular crust and top layer of red sauce – will return to the former Alley’s Market building behind Union Street Station under new ownership.

Dan Karabacz, 35, is taking over the space from Alley’s owner Simon Joseph and launching his own new eatery called Charles and Reid Detroit Pizza this spring. Karabacz and wife Kristin will inherit Joseph’s recipes and plan to continue making the popular pizza, but will eliminate the former convenience store in the space to make way for dine-in seating and an expanded menu.

“We’re planning to use as much local produce and product as we can, and then focus on making it more dine-in friendly instead of just take-out,” says Karabacz. “We’ll be bringing in more tables and seating, and will have fresh salads, sandwiches, certain appetizers, and a burger on the menu. It will have almost a small gastro pub feel inside of it.” Karabacz, who attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh and recently was behind the bar at The Little Fleet, says he’s exploring adding a small bar program in the future that would offer a limited selection of beer, wine, and drinks to accompany the food menu.

Karabacz has already hired a kitchen manager/chef and will hire a handful of additional staff this spring. He’s targeting a late April or early May opening, with plans to be open 6-7 days a week for lunch and dinner service.

Sea Bags
Sea Bags, an East Coast retailer with 25 stores specializing in bags, totes, and accessories handmade from recycled sails, is expanding to Michigan.

The company will open stores in Traverse City, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, and Saugatuck over the next month, with the first store opening in TC Friday (March 6) at 223 East Front Street in the former Orvis Streamside space. The retailer sells a variety of handmade products from recycled sail material, including totes, handbags, duffel bags, travel bags, diaper bags, wine bags, and more. Sea Bags also offers a program in which customers can donate old or unused sails to be turned into products; for every sail donated, the customer receives a free item in return. The company has reclaimed over 700 tons of sail cloth material since starting the program in 2017, taking in 8,800 sails last year alone.

Paul Gori, vice president of retail stores for Sea Bags, tells The Ticker that Traverse City appealed to the company because of its “larger year-round local population and passionate sailing community.” The store will employ three to five staff members, Gori says, and will operate daily from 10am to 6pm. He notes that numerous renovations have been made to the 1,000 square-foot space. “If people were familiar with the former Orvis store, they truly will not recognize it now,” he says. “We have completely transformed the space by removing all of the fixtures and wall treatments, replacing the old carpets with new flooring, painting all the walls in our fresh, neutral color palette, and upgrading the lighting. The store is now bright, open, and airy, with many nautical touches and sensibilities.”

In other restaurant and retail news…
Silver Spruce Brewing Company will double its footprint this spring, taking over the other half of the building at 439 East Eighth Street from Family Video, which recently vacated the premises. Co-owner Scott Stuhr says the brewery has already begun renovations and plans to have the expanded space open by Memorial Day weekend. “It will increase our parking, increase seating, increase room for storage of beer and production…just generally give us more space,” he says.

Jennifer and Ramiro Jimenez have opened Purely CBD Traverse City at 1112 East Front Street next to Starbucks. The store focuses on all natural, hemp-derived CBD products, which are GMO and gluten-free and third party-tested. Items offered include oil tinctures, water solubles, capsules, pain patches, pain creams, bath and body products, gummies, honey sticks, and CBD pet products, among others. The company is part of a Texas-based franchise and is open 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sunday. The owners tell The Ticker they are looking to open other northern Michigan locations “in the near future.”

Across the street from Purely CBD, Bubbie’s Bagels has opened a brick-and-mortar location in the former Pod Drop space in Campus Plaza. Owner Sam Brickman first started the business as a food truck at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market and has spent the last several months renovating his new retail location. The shop specializes in boiled and fresh-baked bagels, as well as a variety of shmears and coffee from Stockist Coffee Company.

Vasquez Hacienda has closed its doors on US-31 just south of Elk Rapids. Owners Al and Elaine Vasquez closed for the season in October but later decided not to reopen the business, ending a 45-year run for the Mexican restaurant. The couple recently auctioned off some of their restaurant equipment, fixtures, and furniture. The 5,910 square-foot building – which seats 150 – is currently listed for sale for $475,000 and includes Keno and Class-C liquor licenses.

Finally, several changes are underway in Leelanau County. After relocating from Lake Leelanau to bigger digs in the former Subway space on Fourth Street in Suttons Bay, sandwich shop Lylah’s officially reopened its doors in the new location February 22. In Empire, Blue Heron Mercantile owner Mae Stier closed her doors effective February 16, citing a need to spend more time with family. And three historic county buildings are getting new facelifts and businesses, as reported in the Leelanau Ticker: A combined Aveda salon and home decor shop will open mid-March in what was formerly The Business Helper in Suttons Bay, restaurateurs Eric Allchin and Paul Carlson are converting The Union into an event space in Northport, and photographer Meg Paxton is working on a new co-working space called the Blue Maple in the former Gabe’s Country Market store in Maple City.


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