Bee Roll, owner of Beezy’s, on the potential of The Wolverine

Yesterday, when I posted about The Wolverine being up for sale, I was hoping that our successful restaurateur friend Bee would leave an enthusiastic comment of some sort, confirming my belief that Ypsi could support another small, well-run restaurant. Well, not only did she leave a comment expressing enthusiasm for the idea of reopening The Wolverine, but it looks like she herself may want to do it. Here’s her comment:

I’m going to look at it on Monday via the realtor.

I don’t have the [any] capital, but I think I can pull monkeys outta my butt and make something happen if I walk through there and it *feels* right.

I think there’s potential there like woah- and I’d love to helm a place actually designed for breakfast. I’d love to recruit talented & passionate people like Andrew and Autumn Rae to give different day-parts different personalities. I’d love to have a 24 place that didn’t give me gut-rot & the runs. I’d love to serve an Ugly Mug brew. I’d love to have flapjacks & hashbrowns and real butter & real syrup. I’d love to keep an under $5 filling but not heart attack inducing food menu, but I’d also love to have a really good upscale grilled cheese and chocolate malts. I’d want diner dresses & bow-ties, polished shoes and sassy servers. House made pies, fresh baked buns, shiny formica and perfect corned beef hash, crispy hand cut french fries and a roast beef au jus [omg] on to vegan tofu rellanos & migas to perfect coneys & chicago dogs, individual pot pies, meat loaf sandwiches on thick, fresh texas toast and sloppy joes, lasagna and roast chicken… things I can’t execute at beezy’s due to equipment/space limitations.

My guess is it seats about 40 people, at peak capacity it would take 2 servers, 1 cook, 1 disher/prep cook per shift- at full throttle, another person running the counter/register and probably an additional prep cook that doubled as a busser. If the average check were around 6 bucks, that’s only $250/hour max, but that’d be a sustainable target for profitability w/good management.

I’m sitting on about 40 amazing looking applications/resumes, an almost 3 year old cafe that gets to running itself more and more without me [so much practicing] and all the dabbling I’ve dipped in the last couple years gave me cold feet but the clarity to see more of what beezy’s needs to keep growing and adapting and how I need to work differently to make those things happen. It’s akin to spacing births- beezy’s is getting ready to wean, but is still incredibly demanding [whoever said terrible 2’s hadn’t lived through 3 yet] but it’s almost ready to send off to pre school and I could consider having another “baby”.

But here I am daydreaming. We’ll see.

Those interested in learning more about Bee, and her restaurant, Beezy’s, are encouraged to check out our old interview with her on the occasion of her first anniversary in Ypsi.

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49 Comments

  1. Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Sorry the photo is old, but it’s the most recent one I could find on the site, Bee.

  2. Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    And, Bee, we can talk off-line, but I agree with Murph that you could probably raise quite a bit of what you’d need by selling shares in the community.

  3. Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I support this idea. I would put in money to help make it happen.

  4. bee
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    oh mark! Since I read the post at 4 am, its been incubating. It’s encouraging that 10 hours on shift running a crazy day and I was still able to articulate myself well enough to garner support at such an early state…. not to pat myself on the back or anything but I had a strikingly clear vision of what it would like by about 7 am. It’s big & scary to put an idea out there like this, cos really, who the hell am I, but it’s certainly worth checking into.

    I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, pray/sacrifice/chant on my behalf for a generous benefactor and I will use it for good & not evil, cross my heart.

  5. Oliva
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    “who the hell am I”?!

    Here’s just a start from a grateful and adoring fan:
    Some kind of magic good fairy for our tummies and spirits, a street transformer. A wizard and miracle worker, with an inborn (or hard-won?!) knack for concocting healthy, inventive utter deliciousness and bringing really swell people together, some of ’em working hard, smiles or grins upon their lovely faces, others there just getting to be spoiled rotten by simple, honest, wonderful food and such good coffee (thanks for the October coupon generosity!)–reliably, every time. And then some, and then some.

    What a hopeful post–in so many ways. Thanks Mark and Bee–and Peter. (Our Ypsilanti, place of earnestness and tremendous promise, always outwitting sobering “realities.”)

  6. Posted October 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    All I can say is that I live in A2 without a car and I’ve taken the bus to Ypsi twice this week (an hour each way, more or less) just to go to Beezy’s. So, yes, more.

  7. bee
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    “What a hopeful post–in so many ways. Thanks Mark and Bee–and Peter. (Our Ypsilanti, place of earnestness and tremendous promise, always outwitting sobering “realities.”)”

    AMAZING! You took a hopeful post and one upped it in the best possible way!

    xoxox

  8. Edward
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    This HAS to happen.

  9. TeacherPatti
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Agreed. I still have money in my EMU student loan “account” that I would put up for some sort of “share”. That soup at Beezy’s is some good shit right there!!

  10. Tim
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    There are plenty of creative ways in which to raise funds for what would be a downtown saving (just my opinion) venture. I think within 6 months of conception, places like the old VG Kids space and other vacant store fronts would fill in.

    I really like how Lemonade Detroit raised funds for it’s movie by selling frames for $1/ea and giving “investors” producers rights. It’s similar to what Love Land is doing in Detroit as well to buy up small chunks of vacant land in the city. Another option could be temporary pop up events in the vacant store fronts to raise funds by hosting art galleries or some kind of retail or food samples.

    Beezy’s has become kind of the voice for Ypsi as it’s home and the “must go to place while in town”. Given the opportunity, I’m fully confident the community would support the birth of another gem like Beezy’s. And while I know you bacon lovers just love your meat, more vegetarian stuff please!! :D

    Please keep us at iSPY informed on how we might be able to help.

  11. kjc
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I’m with Tim! and everybody else. Last night I got so excited thinking about it, I felt sick. I would be willing to contribute also (though I’d have to save up for it, depending on the minimum).

  12. Bee
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Tim, I rarely do meetings but wanna chat next week? Wednesday afternoon?

  13. Bee
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    …and thank you SO much for the encouragement & support, it’s inspiring & invigorating!!!

  14. Tommy
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Count me in for some stock (both the paper and soup varieties)! Didn’t the Corner do something similar to get going???

  15. Mr. X
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    If Bee’s plans don’t work out, I say we open a place like this.

    http://www.thegridto.com/city/places/down-the-rabbit-hole/

  16. Watching Laughing.
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Tim’s a good egg.

    Good luck with everything,

    Watching Laughing.

  17. Watching Laughing.
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Bee’s a good eggette.

    GLTA,

    Watching Laughing.

  18. Posted October 29, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Matt and Rene did raise about $100,000 from the community in order to launch the Corner. Most of the investors, in that case, put in a lot of money. There were a few smaller investors, but I believe most invested $20,000. I think, however, the success rate for breweries is probably greater than for Michigan Ave restaurants, so I suspect that a different model is probably called for, and I’ve been mentioning some ideas to Bee. Personally, I think that, if she decides to go forward with the idea, we could do something with $500 or $1,000 shares. I’ve mentioned it to about 10 people so far, and they were all enthusiastic about the idea of being a part of it.

    There are a lot of people who love Beezy’s and feel passionately about Ypsi. And some percentage of these people have a $1,000 that they could invest in hopes of jumpstarting some kind of development on Michigan Ave. (The thought is that a well run restaurant, like the one Bee described, could encourage other people to invest in the block.) The question is, what kind of payback would people want for their investment in this new business, and what’s legally acceptable. I’m going to start doing some research, and see if I can come up with some ideas for Bee, and if you have thoughts, please leave a comment.

    I should add that all of this could come to nothing in a few days, if Bee decides the space isn’t right for whatever reason, etc. The thing is, I think the exercise of thinking about alternative funding for local businesses is a good one to go through anyway. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and, even if Bee’s not up for something, there might be someone else who is. (My original thoughts related to retail. I was thinking of recruiting an entrepreneur to open something, and offering public funding as an incentive.)

    But, like I said, the big question is, what will be people want in exchange for an investment? What’s reasonable in exchange for the risk?

    If you put in $1,000, what would you want back after 3-5 years? And would you be OK with the possibility that the restaurant could go under, and that you’d get nothing?

  19. bee
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    too many thoughts right now to articulate, but my gut says yes.

    first, it stays the wolverine. classic diner fare. 24 hours. no booze, no yuppification.

    second, beezy’s stays beezy’s/

    third, aside from minor cosmetic repairs, a thorough cleaning and some floor repair in the kitchen, it’s practically turnkey.

    fourth, the upstairs is a barebones shambles, but has potential; I see it as boarding and an office not 2 apartments, but I also haven’t seen the floor plan on paper- right now it’s studs and plumbing and, well, a shambles.

    …off to ruminate…

  20. Posted October 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to hear that you liked the place, Bee, and look forward to talking with you about next steps.

  21. TeacherPatti
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    At the Corner, you could buy stools with your name(s) on it (I *think* you also got a credit at the bar, too) or buy a space on the Wall of Foam. I am forever sad that I wasn’t into craft beer (!!!!) at the time and missed out of this :( Sometimes I just paw at the Wall of Foam and whimper.
    But that might be an idea…some sort of “diner bucks credit” and public recognition. Personally, I’d be happy with something like that. Can I also put a shout out for smaller amounts, like $100 or $250? I’m going through some major life shit right now and I’d have to be in that range.

  22. Tommy
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Seed money for good ideas on a large scale (venture capital) has been in play for ages. There is absolutely no reason why it would not work on a small scale for a local person making a difference in her community. With the right package and some patience, community funding could work. The way real estate is these days, I would look 65% of the listed price immediately – around 124k – to see where things stand. Raise 50% (62k) or more from the poeple and your’re on your way. I know it isn’t that simple, but the sun has to shine down on Ypsi at some point doesn’t it? as was pointed out here last week … “To love one’s city, and have a part in its advancement and improvement, is the highest privilege and duty of a citizen.” …

  23. bee
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Yes, Patti! i think there’s certainly room for something like that; I’ve thinking all morning [ok, for years] on how to make gift cards an enhanced investment, and for smaller investments might be the best move. Though I’d still like to find a way to isolate that cash flow and reward folks beyond redeeming them for food & drink.

    thoughts?

  24. TeacherPatti
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi Bee! Maybe “donors only” events or relatively inexpensive tokens? As you can see from my screen name, I am a teacher and I have learned over the years that people will do lots of things for a) cookies, b) stickers. I’m not kidding…when I taught adult ed, I had a class of cynical 20 year olds singing the 27 Amendments to the 10 Days of Xmas tune–all for COOKIES!
    So honestly, I think people just like the recognition in some form. This is where community contacts come in! People can perhaps trade goods “in kind”. (Hell, I teach braille to kids and can braille stuff…that’s about where my talents end, sadly).

    This is really exciting! Thanks for including us!

  25. j
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Talk to a lawyer before taking investments. The SEC is not a big fan of selling shares to the general public: http://startuplawyer.com/preferred-stock/life-is-too-short-to-deal-with-non-accredited-investors and http://www.sec.gov/answers/rule506.htm.

    Maybe prepaid meals? Like selling gift cards before the restaurant exists?

  26. Posted November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    gift cards an enhanced investment,

    I’m guessing it isn’t what you meant, but I’m envisioning “Beezy Savings Bonds”. $100 gift cards that can be used in the first 6 months for half face value, maturing over time to full value. Issue batches with different maturity dates to help you plan for redemption.

    Best part is, you could do some rockin’ WPA-style art to go with ’em.

  27. Meaghan
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have much money to invest, but I do have a lot of elbow grease and I’m good at scrubbing and painting! I live right down the street and would be thrilled to see the Wolverine consistently open and serving classic diner fare, and I’ll bring my scrub bucket and paint brush to help it happen!

  28. j
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678356/locavesting-investing-in-main-street-instead-of-wall-street

  29. JB
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Is this price drop true?!

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/228-W-Michigan-Ave-Ypsilanti-MI-48197/98552159_zpid/#{scid=hdp-site-map-list-address}

  30. Posted November 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Bee,
    I love the vision. Makes me want to nice back to Ypsi in a major way

  31. Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I love your idea, Murph. When Bee first mentioned using pre-paid Beezy’s cards to raise working capital, my first reaction was to encourage her not to do it. I was concerned about cash flow, and the probability that she could find herself in a situation where a disproportionate number of people were paying with debit cards in the first few weeks, leading to a situation where she didn’t have money to buy food and pay her staff. The idea of releasing cards in waves, however, and rewarding people for waiting to redeem them, may solve that issue. At least, I think, it would limit the risk.

    This post reminds me why I keep this blog going… Thanks, everyone.

  32. Bee
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Jb- the price is listed on the other site at 189 still.. curious…

    Yes murph! That’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been thinking!

    I won’t know more -really- until next week. But keep thinkin’ good things and stop by Beezy’s and wish us a happy 3rd birthday! (not til the 10th, but, hey, birthdays get special privileges)

  33. Joanne
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    It might be cheaper than Bee thinks. I don’t think the Wolverine ever had more than the one waitress-was it Dolores-anytime I was in there and one cook in back. No busser-the waitress picked up the dishes and cleaned the tables and wrote up the bill and collected payment.

  34. dragon
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    was it Dolores
    Thanks
    I was trying to remember of her name, but I couldn’t quit thinking it was Mulva.

  35. bee
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    It could be cheap like that, joanne- but I think a) to run it 24 hours, b) to quickly & successfully handle peak times so that people keep coming back & back & back without it taking too long that it would require more labor; beezy’s could probably run ok with 5 less staff, but then I wouldn’t be able to provide any kind of quality of life for for them or myself AND maintain an increasing level of revenue and service…

    but yeah, I always estimate labor on the high end and sales on the low end~ excited to have news early next week!

  36. Posted November 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    This seems like a good idea (buying the old Wolverine) and opening it as a restaurant again. However, Bee, be careful not to get too stretched out. Both your places could serve breakfast, only Beezy’s serve lunch, and only the Beevorine should serve dinner. A nice dinner, something just a bit upscale with local foods a focus, like Grange in Downtown Ann Arbor, only good. Could people bring their own booze and you serve nice bottled waters and Italian soda-type things? Keep the cost of a liquor licsence down and inventory too. Sushi and other types of appitizers that no one else in Ypsi offers and good solid main courses. Coffees from the Ugly Mug Roasters. Not trying to set up a menu, but have thought about this sort of thing in the past. 2 waitpersons and one behind the counter on a weekend. 2 cooks in the back. Need better service than the Wolverine.
    Local investors seems like a good idea as long as people invest what they are willing to loose.
    Better bet than gambling at the MGM Grand!

  37. Posted November 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I should have mentioned it, Citywatch, but Bee doesn’t take kindly to hearing what she “should” do.

  38. kjc
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    i don’t want anything upscale like the Grange, or in fact anything modelled on anything in Ann Arbor. Which is why I’m glad Bee is the one looking at it.

  39. bee
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I love you guys.

    [I don’t throw that phrase around a lot]

    I think the way to make the bee-wolv shine is to let it be what it is, but tickle the quality & consistency into submission [like a cafe dominatrix, I am]

    But man! SOMEBODY [else] should totally open a sushi/coffee bar/farm to table place…

    and that actually might be happening on some level- have you guys heard about the mix marketplace? http://mix-marketplace.com/pop-up-holiday-market/

    My vision for business, and for Ypsi, is to work with what’s RIGHT about it and make it a consistent draw, not try to ann arbor-fy or upscale it. Many folks might argue that beezy’s is upscale, to which I’d scoff, but to each their own; what makes Ypsi work is a lot of hard working underdogs with a sense of place that care passionately about making shit work. Or at least, that’s how *I* make it work :D

  40. Carmen Sandiego
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Rollverine Grill

  41. Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the advice Mark.
    Bee, not telling you what to do, but gave it some thought and shared it.

  42. bee
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    it’s cool citywatch- it’s a running joke. I’m kind of a thinker, and rarely speak up or make a decision until I’ve exhausted every possible reason I could be shot down, so when ‘suggestions’ come around [and they usually come up in the middle of 10 million tasks I’m immersed in] I’m quick to shoot folks down. My mouth moves faster than my brain can make it stop sometimes; on the internet however, my fingers are *much* slower than my mouth.

    Rollverine Grill, bwahahahah!

  43. bee
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    …just a quick update: nothing really to report at this time- looks like the timing/pricing is just off enough to make this not work right now.

    Kind of bummer, but all things in good time! And many more conversations to come!

  44. Mr. X
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    It looks like Ypsilanti resident Kevin Hill has worked out a deal to lease the building, with plans of reopening the restaurant. While I was hoping to see Bee’s vision come to life, I’m happy to see an independent local getting a shot at opening his own place, and wish him all the best.

    http://annarbor.com/business-review/ypsilantis-wolverine-grill-could-reopen-in-the-next-month/?cmpid=NL_BR_topheadlines

  45. Mr. X
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    The new Wolverine, under the management of Kevin Hill (not Bee), will be opening March 26.

    Hours:
    11:00 AM – 7:00 PM Monday though Friday
    8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Saturday and Sunday

  46. Jesse
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Think she wants a breakfast sausage?

  47. Eel
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Who doesn’t want a breakfast sausage? That’s the shit that makes the world go round.

  48. Mr. X
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    AnnArbor.com has a story about the new Wolverine.

    http://annarbor.com/business-review/ypsilantis-wolverine-grill-opens-with-new-look-menu

  49. wobblie
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    walked down to the Wolverine for breakfast this morning and found it closed. Sign on door advertised that a Latino restaurant was opening on Dec. 4. Any body no what happened?

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Funding local startups on November 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    […] Bee may open another restaurant in Ypsilanti, but there are a few things that have come up since my last post on the subject that I wanted to share here, on the front page. Regardless of whether Bee decides to go forward […]

  2. […] A few years ago, we discussed how, now that Beezy’s was up and running, you were getting antsy for another big project. At the time, we were discussing the possibility of you opening another restaurant. “It’s […]

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