At the other end of Chelsea’s Main St., Mike Nelson opened The Brahma Haus in January. He says its niche is “fresh and fast” Mediterranean food. Everything from falafel to grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, and gyros is “designed to be made in five minutes or less,” he says. About half of his customers order carryout and half choose to eat in the renovated fifty-seat dining room. Nelson has recently added morning menu items, including made-to-order breakfast burritos and English muffins with eggs and toppings.
Nelson, thirty-eight, grew up in Ann Arbor and lives in Chelsea with his family. He worked in restaurants as a teen and college student and spent the last decade in tech sales. With Brahma Haus, he aims to put down roots and be home more with his two young kids. His interests in cars and music are on display in the hot-rod-themed dining room and classic-rock soundtrack.
Brahma Haus, 312 N. Main. (734) 719-3550. Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-1 p.m., brahmahaus.com
Husband-and-wife Kristen and Ryan Huynh (pronounced “win”) purchased the Chelsea Bakery from Ryan’s aunt and uncle, Kim and Saing Yam, in January. Kristen says Ryan learned to bake from Saing as a teen at the Dexter Bakery, and now he is “helping me fulfill my dream of owning a business.”
The Huynhs have been married almost two years. Kristen moved to Michigan from Australia (“It’s shockingly cold to the bone–I’m wearing lots and lots of layers!”), where she was a medical scientist; she also has an MBA. Ryan, who’s a full-time IT administrator in Novi by day, is baking from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily–logging just three hours’ sleep a night–until they feel comfortable enough to hire another baker.
“Fancies” remain the best sellers, Kristen says. Those include apple fritters–“crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside”–as well as cinnamon rolls and cream- and custard-filled long johns. She’s added red velvet cupcakes and doughnuts and hopes to offer birthday cakes soon. “I eat and taste everything,” she says, but she hasn’t gained a pound because “I work so hard that I’m burning four times the energy!”
The Yams still own the Pinckney Bakery and plan to open a bakery in Ann Arbor this year.
The Chelsea Bakery, 117 S. Main. Chelsea, (734) 562-2654. Mon.-Fri. 5:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
After introducing fair-trade products to the Chelsea area twenty years ago–first through an outreach program at his church and later at three downtown storefronts–Kevin Frahm closed his Global Marketplace on Main St. in February to “graduate to something new”–his definition of retirement. He’ll maintain his website at theglobalmarketplacechelsea.com and may sell at area festivals, but hopes that others will carry on the mission. “If we’re really committed to this,” he says, “we need every business that can to include fair trade in their business model.”
A new business that sells international items is set to open in Frahm’s former spot in late spring. Details weren’t available at press time.