“She started talking about retirement last summer,” said Scott Thomas, of his neighbor Theresa Bell, who owned Main St.’s Dexter Flowers for a number of years. Thomas owns the barbecue joint next store, Hotel Hickman. “And I said, ‘Well, if you’re retired, maybe I should think about moving into your space. Who owns it?’ She said ‘My parents.’ So pretty soon we had us a deal …”

Hotel Hickman–named for Thomas’s place on Hickman Rd. in Superior Twp.–opened three years ago in the tiny one-time public library that the city almost turned into public restrooms because no one could seem to make it work for anything else. “We’re doing what we like to do, and people seem to like everything, so we thought we’d like to have more space,” Thomas says. “It’s been one hell of a story from sittin’ on the side of the road doing barbecue to this.” He’s still a tenant of the city in the former library, but he now owns the Dexter Flowers building.

In late January, a fair amount of work had been done on it, but Thomas still had to punch a door through the wall facing the Hotel. He had just returned from out west with a trailer-load of timber posts, which he planned to use to build a pavilion between the two buildings for warmer weather. He says he couldn’t resist the deal–“it’s ponderosa pine–and if you remember Bonanza, the name of the ranch was the Ponderosa.”

The cooking will still be done at the Hotel; he’ll use the Dexter Flowers building for expanded seating. The Hotel claims to seat four but has no tables–“where you put your plate is up to you,” he quipped when he opened, and things haven’t changed.

Thomas hopes to occasionally have entertainment in the new building. He’s moved an upright piano in there and promises that on occasion musician Chelsea Fernstrum will play it while dressed in period costume, like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke.

Thomas says the menu might expand, too: “Maybe we’ll set up a permanent chuck wagon out back and add some steaks, both smoked and plain. … I’m gonna have me a nice mortgage next month, so we gotta generate some funds to pay it.”

In early March, the pavilion was done, and he was primed to open the new space on April 1. Look for extended hours, possibly including Wednesday, come summer.

Hotel Hickman, 8050 Main St., Dexter. 646-6261. Winter hours through Memorial Day: Thurs.-Sun. 6 a.m.-7 p.m. hotelhickman.com

“For several years, I’ve just wanted to move on,” says Doug Marrin, who closed Foggy Bottom Coffee House in January. He hadn’t intended to make a career of coffee when he opened twelve years ago, he says–his original plan was to turn it over to a manager as soon as he got it running–but he quickly discovered the only way to run a business is to run it yourself.

Lately, “sales have dropped.” And he realized that “when I would really light up wasn’t when people came in to talk about coffee roasting but to tell me about some trip they’d been on–hiking up Kilimanjaro or something.” Hence, his next gig: he and Frank Schramm have started a business called IntoTheWilderness.net Outdoor Adventure–adventures into rugged terrain, but designed for the tenderfoot.

Foggy Bottom’s closing leaves Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea as the only coffeehouse in Dexter, at least for the moment. Jack Savas, who won planning permission last year to build the Strawberry Alarm Clock Cafe at the end of Broad St., says it remains a work in progress: “I still have not nominated a builder, and I am exploring a partnership,” he said in mid-February. “I have a very ambitious design scheme, so I want to make sure I’m well capitalized.”

“It’s kind of a catch-22,” says Dexter city councilmember Ray Tell about the effort by Home Store owner Cathy Swan and some partners to turn the former Mill Creek Sport Center into a “destination boutique.” The property sits astride Webster and Scio townships, and, if Swan’s plans are realized, “presumably they’re going to need some kind of utility, sewer and water hook-ups,” says Tell. That would mean annexing the site to the city, and Scio and Webster would probably need to be compensated for the loss of the small amount of tax revenue the property generates.

Here’s the catch-22: The sale is contingent on the annexation, and “it’s incumbent on the petitioner to initiate the annexation.” That would be Swan. But she’s not going to buy the property unless it can be annexed. Tell says that all parties have met informally to explore a resolution, and things are going well. “We want to assist them, but we’re not in the place to take the lead on it.”

Swan apparently didn’t want to jinx the deal by talking about it. She didn’t return calls to the Home Store.

Don’t forget the Dexter Bakery

Dear Editor,
In your spring 2016 issue under Marketplace Changes you reported there was only one coffeehouse left in Dexter, Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea, after Foggy Bottom closed. However, there is another, the Dexter Bakery, which sells lots of different kinds of coffee, plus they have the best buns in town.

Wally Fusilier