local business

Aaron Selbig

Morgan Springer

The family-owned restaurant Hofbrau Steakhouse and American Grill in Interlochen is changing its name after being asked to do so by a German company. The German beer maker Staaliches Hofbräuhaus says the Hofbrau is violating its trademark.

The restaurant owners considered fighting it, but decided the best thing to do was to pick something new. So they're holding a public naming contest. People can propose names for the restaurant, and the winner gets a prize.

Rare Bird Brewpub co-owners Nate Crane and Tina Schuett. Tina says when they were planning the brewpub, there were only about five other breweries in the Traverse City area. Now, there are more than 10.
Rudy Malmquist

It’s 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening at Rare Bird Brewpub. There are about 80 people inside drinking beer and eating dinner, and only one open table left.
 

"Everybody might think like, 'Oh you’re busy, you have a successful business, that means you’re rich,'” says restaurant co-owner Tina Schuett. "No. It means I’m several hundred thousands of dollars in debt for a long time out."
 

Tina Schuett and Nate Crane opened Rare Bird Brewpub two years ago in downtown Traverse City.


Aaron Selbig

It’s been 35 years since the heyday of video game arcades. By the late 1980s, most arcades had died, but over the last few years, the classic games started making a comeback, popping up in hip neighborhoods in major cities.

A Traverse City couple saw the trend and decided they wanted in on the action. Last week, they opened their new arcade, the Coin Slot, in the warehouse district.

It’s the first time I’ve been in a real arcade in I don’t know how long.

Two-thirds of all restaurants will fail within three years of first opening their doors, a statistic that could be attributed to an owner’s desire for expansion only after a few months of profits.

“Hometown Holdouts” is a new e-book that breaks down the success of businesses that chose to stay local, despite nationwide recognition. Author Micheline Maynard says "hometown holdouts" benefit their communities, and resist the pressure to expand.

Michigan Attorney General's office

The Michigan Attorney General’s office has accused a Traverse City resort owner of extortion. 

Attorney General Bill Schuette says 58-year-old Bryan Punturo, owner of the ParkShore resort, threatened the owners of a competing parasailing business on Grand Traverse Bay. Puntoro allegedly convinced the victim to pay him in exchange for not forcing the victim out of business.

Attorney Brace Kern represents the alleged victim – Saburi Boyer – in an ongoing civil case.

Aaron Selbig

Costco is coming to Traverse City, but even before ground is broken for the big box store, city officials are worried Costco might try to get a so-called “dark store” tax assessment.

That’s when big retailers argue that the value of their stores is only equal to an empty – or “dark” – store. They’ve been winning these disputes all over Michigan.

Opponents are fighting back, saying dark store assessments are hurting communities.

Wikipedia

Officials in Traverse City are concerned that if Costco comes to town, it will take advantage of so-called “dark store” tax assessments. That’s when businesses argue for lower tax rates based on what their stores would be worth empty – or “dark.”

Retailers like Target, Meijer and Costco have appealed their assessments in Michigan, hoping to pay less money in taxes. They say if they turned around and tried to sell their stores, not many companies would want to buy them. The Michigan Tax Tribunal, which decides tax appeals, has been ruling in favor of retailers.

Morgan Springer

The German company, Staaliches Hofbäuhaus or HB, says the Hofbrau Steak House and American Grille in Interlochen has to change its name.

This week Hofbrau’s owners, Brian McAllister and Laurie Bouwman, got a letter from the German company saying HB has a trademark on the name.

"HB, therefore, demands that you change the name of your establishment by removing the word HOFBRAU from the name of your restaurant," reads the letter signed by company officials.

Shorts Brewing Company

Shorts Brewing Company announced Thursday it will ship beer out-of-state for the first time. Next month, the brewery will expand operations into Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Shorts has always prided itself on being a “Michigan-only” brewery. But Chief Financial Officer Brian Beckwith says the company has grown since it opened in 2004.

“We got to a point where, after 12 years of thinking Michigan could consume all of the beer that we could brew, we started to wonder if that was true,” says Beckwith.

Bill Marsh Auto Group has withdrawn its support from United Way. The decision was made after company leaders discovered United Way of Northwest Michigan provides funds to Planned Parenthood in Traverse City.

Bill Marsh Jr., a partner of the family-run auto group, says the decision was made based on his family’s values and was in no way an attempt to make a political statement. 

Aaron Selbig

The future of Michigan’s cherry industry may be tied to what happens in the courtroom.

An Elk Rapids cherry processor is suing the federal government over its power to regulate the industry. The man who filed the lawsuit is encouraged by a recent decision from the U.S. Supreme Court involving raisins.

    

Bill Sherman has run Burnette Foods with his brothers for 59 years. Way in the back of his factory are rows of pallets, stacked floor to ceiling with thousands of cans of pie filling. It’s pie filling that Sherman can’t sell.

Michigan's local food movement is growing and thriving. We're seeing more chefs who deeply care about what they buy and from whom.

Chefs like James Rigato of the Root, a locavore restaurant in White Lake Township.

Writer Michael Jackman of the Metro Times recently analyzed a meal prepared by Chef Rigato and traced nearly 100% of its ingredients to Michigan producers. His just-released story in the Metro Times is billed as "a grand tour of Michigan's local food movement."

The meal consisted of a Charcuterie platter with meat, cheese, fish and vegetables from the region.

West Michigan’s first “live escape room,” is opening next month in the town of Walker, near Grand Rapids.

Based on the popular video game genre, players are locked in a room where they have to solve puzzles and link clues to eventually escape.

Aaron Selbig

A new zoo opened this month in Williamsburg but visitors won’t find elephants, giraffes or gorillas there.

What the Grand Traverse Butterfly House and Bug Zoo does have is a South American cave roach named “Chaz.” 

Chaz lives in the bug zoo with dozens of his creepy, crawly friends – including a collection of tarantulas, a ghost mantis from Africa named “Casper” and a hive of Michigan bees.

Cyndie Bobier opened the bug zoo earlier this month. The project took more than two years to get off the ground. 

In the age of Amazon, bookstores are a dying breed – unable to compete with online retail and the popularity of e-readers. Or at least that’s been the accepted narrative in the book business over the last few years.

In Traverse City, there are a couple of bookstores trying to buck that trend.

Brilliant Books on Traverse City’s Front Street feels like a throwback to bookstores past. Jazz music is piped softly through overhead speakers. The wooden floor creaks underfoot as you walk past plush leather sofas and neatly arranged aisles of hardcovers.

Tax Credits/Flickr

 

 Many northern Michigan business owners have a new tax opportunity from the state, but might not be seizing it. The state of Michigan enacted changes late last year that allows business owners an $80,000 dollar exemption to personal property taxes. The required forms are due by February 10.

Area city and county officials are worried property owners are not taking advantage. Petoskey city assessor Robert Englebrecht says he’s noticed local owners have not been filling out the new form, although they are the target.