608 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
Kick back, listen to great music, and grab a beer or glass of wine, of course!
While Tawnya stressed the fact that she has numerous “faves,” she picked Motor City Wine (MCW) as the local jaunt that holds on the top spot. MCW is described as “half wine shop and half wine bar” with a “living room” vibe that combines wine, music and art. Located in a second-floor space atop Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub on Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detriot, MCW celebrated its two-year anniversary earlier this summer.
Mark Szymanski and sommelier David Armin-Parcells, who have nearly 30 years of combined experience in Michigan’s wine industry, created the value boutique to cater to wine aficionados and newbies alike. Besides wine, many of which are sustainably produced, certified organically grown or produced by small family-owned vineyards, MCW offers weekly sets featured local bands and DJs. Oh, and they offer a great beer-Tawnya’s favorite.
Not just any beer, but a ginger beer produced by Unity Vibration small micro-brewery based in Ypsilanti. What else would you expect from a local, small-business owner? The beer in question is known as Triple Goddess Kombucha Ginger Beer. Described as a somewhat sweet, but smooth beer great for a summer evening by a reviewer on Beeradvocate.com, MCW carries the beer which is only found in a few specialty grocers in Metro Detroit.
So, besides a great atmosphere, a variety of budget-friendly wines and a flavorful micro-brew, Tawnya also loves the music scene at MCW. Every Thursday the wine bar’s vibe kicks it up a notch and hosts the Jazz Vinyl Club. The musical guests and DJs rotate weekly, but the dance floor remains opens.
MCW definitely fills a void in Detroit’s bar scene. As owner Armin-Parcells stated, “Detroit is very much a beer and shot town, but people are out here looking for an alternative. I feel we’re converting a lot of new wine drinkers.” The value boutique can sell wine and beer at its bar or to-go and features several economical ways to step your “wine game” up.
Miss one of MCW’s monthly wine tastings? Don’t worry! Every day you can select 5 wines by the glass and for only $10 you can fine tune your palate.
For three installments of either $65 or $95, MCW will hand select six wines a month for three month. Top Value is the entry level club while the Explorer Series
is a pricier option for those who prefer to try regional varieties. While mail delivery is not currently and option, both are a great choice for locals.
Already know what you like, but still looking for a few perks? For every bottle of wine you buy from MCW, they punch your “Wine-O” card and for every ten punches you earn some free stuff. Twenty punches gets you a free glass of wine and forty punches gets you a free MCW shirt.
The owners are looking to expand to a second location in Detroit. “It’s pretty awesome when you start at zero and see a lot of growth,” Szymanski said. “We definitely haven’t hit our critical mass yet … So we’re just really growing our list of customers and friends.”
Sometimes entrepreneurs struggle for years to find the perfect product or business idea to fulfill their startup dreams. For others, the concept serendipitously appears.
This was the case for Tawnya Clark, Founder of The Batata Shop. Clark grew up on Detroit’s Northwest side close to Marygrove College. The resourceful entrepreneur illustrates how perseverance and patience can help Detroiters, both young and old, grow their business slowly and successfully–a recipe for long-term success.
While caring for her ill grandmother, who was limited to a restrictive diet, but loved sweet potatoes, Clark began to experiment with different combinations and recipes in an effort to diversity her grandmother’s menu. Years earlier, her family had taught her to make waffles and pancakes from scratch in an effort to preserve the family’s Sunday brunch tradition. Inspiration hit one day while watching a chef on The Cooking Channel. Clark turned her kitchen into a laboratory and began to perfect a recipe for sweet potato waffles. Shortly, thereafter, the concept for her business was born–a company specializing in creating small batches of whole wheat baked goods with sweet potatoes, including waffles, pancakes, breads.
Then came the first major decision as a budding entrepreneur. What should I name my company? Clark decided to use the spanish word for sweet potato, batata, to distinguish her company and its brand. And, well, the sweet potato shop just doesn’t have the same ring does it?
A tasty product, catchy name and a cult following among friends and family members gave Clark the confidence to enter the first cycle of the Hatch Detroit contest in 2011. Although Clark did not win the competition, she learned a great deal from the experience and underscored the importance of being resilient. “Ted Balowski and Nick Gorga were gracious and gave me invaluable feedback on my concept. They encouraged me to start selling my product in an effort to prove my market existed. I didn’t make it, but the experience put me on the path to success and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to move beyond catering for my friends and family.”
Clark has a clear vision for the future of The Batata Shop. Ideally, she would love to open a brick and mortar restaurant in the Livernois/7 Mile area close to where she grew up. She sees the restaurant specializing in a “breakfast menu, but with enough business to gain a full day following” that will help stabilize the neighborhood’s economy and offer an alternative to popular breakfast spots in the ‘burbs. Clark is also finalizing plans to launch Eat My Batatas, a youth development program for children interested in pursuing culinary arts, as well as testing the feasibility of selling a line of packaged frozen waffles in grocery stores.
Until then, she’s remained committed to developing her business through pop-ups and catering gigs. “My plan is built on what I consider a modest growth model. I want to develop slowly and establish my market. Although I would prefer not take on debt, if I need to, I will have several years of establish business credit to make that process easier.”
In a time where social media allows people to capture moments from their lives and instantly disseminate them, it is somewhat novel for an entrepreneur not to despise incremental growth. Yet, Clark remains open to all possibilities. “I learned how to be patient and how to persevere. I’m clear on what I want to create, but I’m continually learning about my business and seeing where the model I’ve created takes me.”
And, we bet it will take her far! Follow The Batata Shop on Twitter @thebatatashop to find out where you can buy her yummy waffles, complete with homemade pecan butter spread.
Code for America, the non-profit that works with tech geeks to make government more effective, is at it again. Fresh off the Apps for Detroit Challenge, they’ll partner with Vanguard CDC and Data Driven Detroit to launch the beta version of its LocalData App. The app will increase the the capacity of community groups to “capture and visualize neighborhood-level data” on residential, commercial and industrial property as well as the status of vacant land.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past several years, you know tax foreclosures are at an all-time high in Detroit. By law, the Wayne County Treasurer is charged with administering the auction in an effort to recoup some of the delinquent taxes. The Wayne County Treasurer transitioned to an on-line auction in an effort to alleviate the administrative burden caused by the increasing number of properties. While this new system seems tailor-made for out-of-state speculators, potential homeowners may be able to find a deal. For those resourceful Young Detroiters, the idea of scoring a house and living mortgage free before your parents is definitely attainable.
Madame Noire, an online women’s lifestyle guide owned by Moguldom Media Group, is described as a “passionate, cutting-edge web publication that unites black women at various state stages of their lives, around a common aspiration for better, more fulfilling lifestyles.”
Besides dishin’ on the latest in pop culture, Madame Noire feature an original web series that explores modern motherhood, men’s view on sex, love and relationships and features on successful female entrepreneurs. Since launching in June 2010, the site’s popularity continues to grow by attracting 2 million unique visitors and 20 million page views each month.
Recently, the publication featured Detroit native, Nailah Ellis. Ellis launched Ellis Island Tropical Tea with $50 she borrowed from her mother to purchase a tea pot, a spoon and some tea bags. Launched in 2008, the Ellis’ tea is carried in 11 restaurants and grocery stores in Michigan including Detroit local retailers such as Avalon Bakery, Honey Bee Market and Goodwell’s Natural Food Market.
What would make a business owner move from Ferndale, a bustling inner-ring suburb of Detroit, to Highland Park, one of Michigan’s most struggling cities? According to A.J. O’Neil, a native of HP, as it is affectionately called, it takes a commitment to seeing his hometown rebound from decades of disinvestment and economic challenges.
Tonight, TechTown will host Startup SOUP, a mash up between a traditional pitch contest and Detroit SOUP. Over 200 people have registered to hear finalists pitch their businesses ideas. The event will feature entrepreneurs from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties who are in the pre-revenue phase.
Innovation is most successful when a new product hits the market and immediately leads you to recognize how unsatisfied you were with the previous options. Creative professionals in Metro Detroit, and eventually those elsewhere, will soon realize Rippld meets a need few imagined they had–a social networking platform designed with their needs in mind.