Traverse City News and Events

Numerous Retail, Restaurant Changes Underway Across Region

By Beth Milligan | Nov. 9, 2023

Numerous retail and restaurant changes are underway across the Grand Traverse region, including several openings and closings in downtown Traverse City, local coffee shops launching or changing concepts, prominent businesses listed for sale, and multiple other retail and restaurant companies on the move in the Traverse City area.

Downtown Traverse City
Two popular downtown businesses – gift shop Suhm-thing and Zest Plant-Based Kitchen – are closing their doors on Front Street.

Suhm-thing officially shut down operations at the end of October after nearly a decade at 153 East Front Street. “Times are changing and so are we,” the company wrote on Instagram, adding that “the retail world has been challenging times so we headed in a different direction.” The owners will be focusing on a new ice cream shop in downtown Gaylord. Gail Lawson, Suhm-thing’s manager for the past seven years and a downtown staple for 50 years, is moving over to Relish part-time. The store’s departure paved the way for adjacent business Roth Shirt Co. to relocate into expanded digs in Suhm-thing’s former space.

Vegan café Zest Plant-Based Kitchen is closing at 439 East Front Street after two years in business. “Change is inevitable and as one door closes, another door opens,” the owners wrote on Facebook. “We are still brainstorming and planning ways in which we can keep the ‘why’ behind Zest going in some way, shape, or form.” The restaurant’s last day open will be November 15.

Slip. Vintage is expanding at 121 East Front Street (Suite 108), doubling its square footage this month and adding more vintage clothing, accessories, and housewares. The store is adding a tailor pop-up on a regular basis for customer fittings and is booking private denim fittings and vintage styling services. The company is also opening a studio space called Secondhand Social Club that will offer a variety of creative classes, as well as an art café with a menu of art projects and supplies for customers to try on-site.

In Midtown, Archie’s Social House is expanding from brunch and adding dinner service at 237 Lake Avenue. Owner Jon Petrie says customers “will see some familiar dishes, but we have introduced some more complex entrees” – with menu items like duck confit with butternut cream sauce and gnocchi, harissa-seared chicken with Israeli couscous, tempura shrimp with a spicy apricot glaze, and shishito cheddar corn bread. Archie’s now also has a full selection of liquor and beer, including handcrafted cocktails. Dinner hours will be Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm and Friday-Saturday 5pm-10pm. The eatery held a soft opening last Friday for dinner service and plans to host a grand opening in the next few weeks.

Just outside downtown at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a new store called Underground Toys will host its grand opening in the Mercato November 25. The store will “offer a variety of toys, dolls, books, activities, gifts, and other fun items,” with an “emphasis on unique and unusual games, independent brands that are sustainably made, and items focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM),” according to a company release. The store is owned and operated by Jacquilyn Herman (who also owns Premier Floral Design & Gift Emporium), Ansel Bowden (who also owns Sanctuary Goods), and Caitlin Bowden, who will serve as the store’s general manager. Herman says the store will “offer activities including scavenger hunts, activity sheets, puppet shows, and creation stations to keep kids engaged,” as well as storybook readings with local authors and a potential future Village tour geared toward younger visitors.

On the east side, new eatery Dreloco Taco has opened its doors at 1201 East Front Street in Campus Plaza. “At Dreloco Taco, we strive to create a one-of-a-kind quick serve experience where flavor meets fun,” the company wrote on Facebook. “Our authentic and delicious tacos are made with love and passion, using only the freshest ingredients and traditional recipes.” Posted hours are seven days a week 11am-8pm. Across the street, popular pizza franchise Hungry Howie’s is returning to Traverse City with a new location planned at 1112 East Front Street next to Starbucks. Franchisee Kory Hershock is targeting a January opening for the business.

Coffee Shops
Numerous changes are underway in Traverse City’s coffee shop scene. Rough Pony has changed ownership hands in Warehouse MRKT, with Becky Tranchell handing the business off to long-time TC barista Azure Klug. A new name and rebrand for the space will be unveiled in February, according to Klug. “The new brand will be more witchy/zodiac focused, but I am incredibly lucky to have the same staff, food, and drinks as before,” Klug says. The coffee shop has added meat (bacon) to the menu and is now carrying Blessed Be Tea & Apothecary teas and 9 Bean Rows pastries. A “meet the neighbors” event is planned in Warehouse MRKT with vendors including Rough Pony on November 17 from 4pm to 6pm.

After recently closing Brew’s doors at 108 East Front Street, operator Fernhaus Studio has launched a new venture called Outpost in the space. Operating seven days a week from 8am to 4pm, the pop-up has a full espresso bar with Panther Coffee, pastries and breads from The Mill, and sandwiches. More offerings will be launched in the coming months, according to Kelsey Duda of Fernhaus. The terms of the company’s lease with the city require the business to be open until 7pm at least five days a week in the long term.

Several new coffee chops are coming online, with NoBo Mrkt recently opening its doors in the Commongrounds building on Eighth Street. The café overlooking the Boardman River offers specialty coffee and local food items and is planned to soon expand into alcohol sales. Operating hours now are Monday-Friday 6am-3pm and Saturday-Sunday 8am-2pm. Drive-thru coffee trailer the Daily Grind has set up shop at 711 Boyd Avenue, operating Tuesday-Friday 7am-3pm and Saturday 8am-3pm (closed Sunday-Monday). On US-31 next to Best Buy, 7 Brew Coffee is preparing to open its second drive-thru coffee shop in Traverse City. An exact opening date has not been set, but will be announced soon on the company’s Facebook page. Hours when open will be 5:30am-10pm daily except Friday-Saturday, when hours extend until 11pm.

Other restaurant and retail news...
> Multiple local businesses or buildings hosting well-known tenants have been listed on the market. Three Magnum Hospitality restaurant buildings – including the Red Mesa Grill locations in Traverse City and Boyne City and Pearl’s in Elk Rapids – have been listed together as a portfolio for $5,627,184. The listing promotes a triple net lease structure “with zero landlord responsibilities, while being under the strength of a master lease. Enjoy seven-plus years of term remaining, plus annual rent bumps to hedge inflation. Underlying real estate is solid with great visibility and strong traffic counts.” The restaurant businesses themselves remain open and are not included in the listing.

The former Calypso Mediterranean Grill & Restaurant space has been listed for sale at 1500 N US Highway 31 for $1.35 million. The 4,950-square-foot restaurant is being sold with all furniture and fixtures, as well as a Class C liquor license. The Bake Shoppe business at 839 South Garfield Avenue has been listed for sale for $295,000, with the listing noting that the current owner is ready to retire. The space is “fully equipped and ready” for a new owner, the listing states.

Downtown, the building housing Fresh Coast Beer Works at 120 Park Street has been listed for sale for $1.35 million. The listing notes the space is “currently being used as a microbrewery” but could be “converted back to restaurant.” Brewery co-owner Chuck Green says he’s aware the owners have put the building up for sale, but that “as far as Fresh Coast Beer Works is concerned, it’s business as usual for the foreseeable future.” The brewery is launching food options in the next week including sandwiches and paninis featuring Louis Meats and bread from Grand Traverse Bakery and is expanding weekly activities to include Tuesday Night Dart League, Thursday Trivia, Friday Live Music, and weekend sports games on TV, Green adds.

> A new clothing boutique designed to “empower and support women in the community” will hold a grand opening celebration November 16 from 4pm-8pm at 1425 West South Airport Road. Bella’s Boutique, which will offer women’s apparel, accessories, and beauty styles, will donate one percent of all store profits to local nonprofit organizations supporting women, with The Women’s Resource Center being the first recipient in 2023 and 2024. Founder Maria Richards said she wants to support women who may be experiencing financial struggles or domestic or sexual abuse. “Bella’s Boutique isn’t just a store, it’s a place where every purchase makes a difference,” she says. “Our commitment goes beyond just outfitting the lives of women in our community. We firmly believe that by contributing a percentage of our earnings, we can help foster a more equitable and empowered society for all women.”

> Pets Naturally has undergone an expansion at 1117 W South Airport Rd (Suite B), adding 5,000 square feet of showroom. An expansive freezer section now showcases raw and gently cooked frozen products like goat’s milk, bone broth, and more, with an expanded cat area offering more food, accessories, apparel, toys, supplements, and treats. The store also now has “room to host more pet events, such as adoption events,” adds owner Kathy Hyland.

> Finally, new tenants have popped up at both mall locations in Traverse City. Northwoods Tattoo has moved from its former digs on West Fourteenth Street to a new location in the Cherryland Center. Owned by Brett Craft and Hayley Bergstrom, the shop specializes in tattoos and piercings and is open Monday 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-8pm, and Sunday by appointment. At the Grand Traverse Mall, new restaurant Frida’s Mexican Grill has opened in the mall food court, taking over the space formerly occupied by Agave Mexican Grill.

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