Mindy and Rob D’Oria opened Bits and Pizzas on Dexter’s Main Street in June. It is something like the seventh pizza restaurant in village, depending on your definition.
“I think we make a better pizza than any of the other pizza places,” says Mindy. A recent graduate of the WCC culinary arts program, Mindy holds the chef title, but it’s her husband, Rob, who makes the pizza. When he moved here from New Jersey twenty years ago, Rob was appalled by the quality of Michigan pizza. “It’s all crap!” is how he puts it, with what we Midwesterners might view as Soprano-esque relish for the direct confrontation. That’s probably why gentle Mindy was doing the interview and Rob was whirling pizza dough in the air. “It comes naturally to him,” she says fondly.
Mindy calls the pizza “New York style. It’s not made on a conveyor belt, not cooked on a pan. It’s cooked directly on a stone in a hot oven” (550 degrees, to be exact). She says the pizza, as well as the rest of the menu, is “wholesome, home-made, chef-produced food. For instance, we don’t buy bags of precut veg. We buy all our vegetables fresh from Frog Holler.” She makes the “bits” that round out the menu—spaghetti and meatballs, baked ziti, garlic knots, and three classic Italian desserts: tiramisu, cannoli, and cheesecake.
The D’Orias bought the classic brick building, which formerly held law offices, and may eventually expand the restaurant into the upstairs, which they’re now renting out as an apartment. Like the other pizza places in town, they’ll package pizza, or anything else, for takeout (no delivery), but are hoping people will come on down—they worked hard to get that liquor license. The restaurant seats about thirty inside and more on the deck out back.
After briefly experimenting, they’ve scaled back to concentrate on dinner and happy hour.
Bits and Pizzas, 8099 Main. 388– 4100. Mon.–Sat. 3–11 p.m. Closed Sun. bitsandpizzas.com
Signs for the new Dexter address of Kids Fashion Jungle are planted at major intersections from Chelsea to Ann Arbor. Tamara Douglas is the owner of the resale shop, which opened last year in Manchester and recently moved to Dexter.
Douglas describes her merchandise as “upscale.” For instance, she accepts Carter’s and Oshkosh, but her brochure lists unaccepted brands like Xhilaration and Route 66 sold at Target and K-Mart. “I buy outright,” she adds, “not on consignment. And I don’t buy anything with a stain. Even the smallest stain is a huge turnoff.”
In addition to resale clothes, she sells high-quality used toys, as well as some new ones—like the Melissa & Doug line of classic wooden trains. Her latest brainstorm is craft kits that children can take home or complete on site in the back of the store, where she has set up a work space. She and Doug have five kids—year-old Chandler is often asleep in the back. “It’s really important for kids to give us hand-made gifts—they’re the best gifts in the world.” She promises the craft kits all cost less than $10 and “are not junky.”
Kids Fashion Jungle, 7073 Dexter–Ann Arbor Rd. (Dexter Crossing). 426–7001. Mon.–Fri. 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. kidsfashionjungle.com
“We’ve been on a month-to-month lease for a year and a half,” says Jim Seta, explaining why he closed Stucchi’s in Busch’s shopping center. Does that timing ring a bell? “Our five-year lease came up [for renewal] exactly when the Dexter tornado hit. A lot of people who walked over for ice cream lost their homes.” Jim and his wife, Sarah, stuck it out for two more summers, but in the end, they closed Stucchi’s and two other brands that shared its space, Mr. Pita and Bearclaw Coffee.
“We had to make a business decision,” says Jim. “It was difficult. We live here, our kids go to school here.” Last year, they bought another Stucchi’s, on State Street in Ann Arbor, and have now decided to focus their efforts there. They are using their newer Dexter equipment to renovate it, and adding Bearclaw (though not Mr. Pita) to that store.
Janice Stevenson and her husband, Paul Wackenhut, had a sale last spring at Wackenhut Gartens and sold off not only her flowers and antiques, but his excavating equipment. They moved “out west somewhere. Montana?” says one of the regulars at the Stivers informal morning coffee klatch. The aging brick building with the looming tower on the corner of Lima Center and Jackson Road hints at some sort of retail or transportation node from decades ago, and indeed it was once a stop on the interurban railroad, an electric trolley that ran from Detroit to Chicago. The tower housed a generator that used alternating current from a station in Ypsilanti to produce direct current to power the trains. Owner Robert Vanschoick says the building is for rent.