by Tony McReynolds
From the January, 2011 issue
While you're waiting futilely for the next trolley at the old interurban railway station on Jackson Road, you can enjoy fresh peaches, admire blown glass artwork, or even buy some mulch. Wackenhut Gartens sells all three-and a lot more-since owner Janice Stevenson moved her five-year-old business from across the street last summer. She also bought the vacant industrial building next door, combined the two, and got it all rezoned to commercial.
Stevenson, fifty-eight, still carries the same eclectic mix of gardening materials, handcrafted furniture, iron works, and fresh produce. There's also an art gallery featuring prints, paintings, and sculptures-plus blown glass birdbaths, globes, and yardarms-and a full-service floral department. The new location gives her room for lots more of everything. "We easily tripled the size," she says.
That allows Stevenson to sell ten times the fresh produce. It's piled high on an ancient buckboard wagon that sits just inside an enormous garage door in the old industrial building. Each morning she heads out to a local farm to buy her produce.
The gallery and floral department are in the station. The two-story red brick building was built in the early 1910s for passengers traveling on electric streetcars to Jackson from Ann Arbor and points east. The line stopped running in the late 1920s. Since then the station has served as both a market and a residence.
Stevenson refurbished everything from the carpeting to the interior tongue-and-groove plank walls to the original wooden floor, which she stripped and refinished herself. She even found six of the station's original art deco wall sconces and mounted them on the walls. "You just really get the sense the trolley could pull up at any minute. It's a fun place."
Wackenhut Gartens, 11506 Jackson Rd. 475-9088. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
If you liked the exposed brick and wooden beam look of Bistro Renaissance, you'll be glad to know that Peter Landrum left the decor alone when he opened the Red Brick Kitchen and
Bar in the same space just before Labor Day, and his pub fare's easier on the wallet. "We're definitely gearing toward families," Landrum says. "[We're] also hoping to get some of the young professionals who are looking for some good drinks and more than just a typical bar atmosphere." The same goes for the menu. "Our dishes may come across as typical bar food, but they're going to be done a little bit nicer [with] a little kick to them."
Landrum, thirty-one, co-owns the Red Brick with his wife, Megan, thirty. She grew up in Dexter and moved back to town last year, husband in tow. He gave up a thirteen-year, part-ownership stake in Ann Arbor's Café Felix to open the Red Brick. "We live here now and always wanted to open our own place, and it seemed like a perfect fit."
Red Brick Kitchen & Bar, 8093 Main Street. 424-0420. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Closed Sun.
After eight years in the Dexter Crossing shopping center, Amber Sears packed up her funky gift shop Frivolities and moved the business to Brighton in August.
[Originally published in January, 2011.]