Traverse City News and Events

What Next As DICK'S Store On Hold?

Oct. 3, 2016

According to multiple sources, DICK’S Sporting Goods has withdrawn its plans to open a new store in Grand Traverse Mall. News of the retailer's arrival broke in December; the store was to take over the massive space left by the departure of Carmike Cinemas and 10 other tenants in the northwestern wing of the mall. The 54,000 square-foot store was to employ 60-75 staff members. 

Mall General Manager Donald Pelland says the deal is not officially “dead, but it’s also not moving forward.”

“It’s in a holding pattern for the moment pending negotiations, for a lot of different reasons,” he says. The mall “should have a better idea in 30 days” what the status of the project will be, according to Pelland. He says rumors DICK’S pulled out because of the mall’s no-carry policy are “absolutely” untrue, but demurred when asked about roadblocks with Garfield Township approvals. “The township I’m not going to comment on,” he says.

Garfield Township Deputy Planner Brian VanDenBrand says the last his department heard from DICK'S developers was in February, and that it's been a "routine matter of getting their building permits," which were issued months ago but never picked up.

Piccolo Forno
In other business news, the owner of Patisserie Amie is opening a new Neapolitan pizzeria in downtown Traverse City. New Jersey native Eric Fritch aims to bring the Little Italy food he loved on the East Coast to northern Michigan.

“It’s my responsibility to bring some good pasta and pizza to Traverse City,” Fritch says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Fritch is targeting a December 1 opening for Piccolo Forno (“Little Oven” in Italian) in the former Happy Hog Café space at 810 East Front Street. The old-school joint will offer Neapolitan, New York and Sicilian-style pizza, pasta and “gravy” (simmered Italian meat sauce), gelato, zeppole (Italian fried doughnuts), and “maybe an arcade game or two,” says Fritch. Pizza variations will skew both traditional – such as pepperoni and margherita – and more exotic, including clam and conch.

Piccolo Forno will offer dine-in, take-out and delivery six or seven days a week, likely from 11am to 9pm, according to Fritch. The restaurant will not have a liquor license. Fritch will continue to run Patisserie Amie along with the new eatery, he says.

Ecco Closing
Less than a week after the announced closure of InsideOut Gallery in the Warehouse District, another downtown event venue is shutting down operations.

Venue Manager Madeline Begley tells The Ticker she will stop booking events at Ecco at 121 East Front Street at the end of 2016. Begley is leaving after four years of managing the space for building owner Marty Lagina in order to focus on her event planning business, Events to Remember. According to Begley, Lagina – who was out of the country and could not be reached for comment – does not plan to employ another event manager to continue rentals for him, but will instead seek a long-term tenant. That could include an event company willing to assume rent, utilities and all responsibility for the space, Begley says.

“If someone wants to come in and keep it going, it’s a great opportunity,” she says. “It’s a lot to take care of it, but it’s such a valuable space in downtown Traverse City.”

Fusion Love In Limbo
Also in downtown Traverse City, plans for Frankfort’s The Fusion Restaurant to open a second location called Fusion Love at 317 East Front Street have been aborted. Marsha Stratton of Idea Stream, the marketing firm representing Fusion, says a number of building issues – including plumbing and ventilation – made it “cost-prohibitive” to convert the former office space into a restaurant. However, Fusion’s owners are “still looking and hoping to find another location downtown,” Stratton says.

In Other News….
Press on Juice closed its retail store at 134 Front Street effective September 25. In an email to customers, owner Kris Rockwood wrote that overwhelming feedback showed patrons “preferred coming to our Eighth Street store because the parking is so much easier than on Front Street…we are now focusing all of our energy back on our Eighth Street location.”

Mobile wood-fired pizzeria trailer Rocco’s Old World Pizzeria has opened on M-22 next to Northern Building Supply near Suttons Bay. The eatery offers pizzas and calzones created from fresh house-made dough and baked in an authentic Italian wood-fired oven. Salads and desserts are also available. Rocco’s is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 11:30am to 7pm.

Short’s Brewing Company is expanding its Elk Rapids production facility. The expansion includes a new 2,500 square-foot warehouse, a 1,000 square-foot cold-storage facility, and laboratory upgrades that will allow Short’s to test products for IBU, alcohol, calories, pH and more. The company plans to make the lab’s services available to other area brewers, vinters and cider makers.

Great Lakes Malting Company aims to be in full operation by early November at 3025 Cass Road in Traverse City. The company owned by partners Jeff Malkiewicz and Mike Chereskin will be one of only a handful of malt houses in Michigan, and the only one in northern Michigan. GLMC will convert grains like barley, wheat and rye for use in brewing and distilling, as well as food products like flour. “All the grain is sourced here in northern Michigan,” says Malkiewicz.

Edany B.L.T. owners Eddie and Dani Walker are planning to reopen their restaurant at an undisclosed location February 1, according to the company’s Facebook page. The couple closed their restaurant at 720 West Front Street earlier this year, then canceled plans to reopen at 317 East Front Street (the same space targeted by Fusion Love). The Walkers now have a contract with the city to run concessions at Clinch Park and Hickory Hills Ski Area. 

Finally, the former Hooters building on US-31 is back on the market after a proposed bar and restaurant deal fell through. The site had been advertised as the future home of a new restaurant and bar called Paradise Grille and the Shrunken Head Tiki Bar. However, real estate agent Tom Krause – who represented the buyer – said “the financing fell through due to complications.” The 5,000 square-foot building is listed for $1.3 million, according to Jason Elsenheimer of Coldwell Banker Schmidt.


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