Hannah Renken stands behind the counter at Saline’s newest cafe and gracefully demonstrates how to prepare the perfect cup of jasmine tea for her coworker, Kimberly Conn. “Mrs. Chang says to pour the water from high above the teapot. The sound of the water is pleasing,” explains Renken. “Mrs. Chang says it’s all about tranquility.” Mrs. Chang is O.J. Chang, the owner of Ceci Café, which opened May 1 in the old Caffé Dolce spot in Country Creek Plaza. It’s right next to Chang’s other business, Top Notch Cleaners.
Ceci Café (named for the two Cs in Country Creek) is freshly painted in a warm bright green with wood trim. The space offers a classic Asian feel infused with clean lines, light, and peace. Soft, recorded music plays. One white orchid arches on the countertop; another sits on the cabinet that displays part of Chang’s extensive teapot collection. There are a handful of café tables, a low black leather couch, and stools at the counter by the windows.
Ceci’s serves familiar coffeeshop drinks like lattes, cappuccino, espresso shots, and hot chocolate. But the Asian teas are unique. You can get a twelve-ounce cup for only $1.35, and if you plan to linger, an entire pot for $2.99 is enough for two or three people.
Chang’s longtime family friend, Soon Ja Lee, is the manager and cook. She bakes fresh muffins daily and prepares a variety of sandwiches, including a deliciously light chicken salad with thinly sliced tomato and cucumber and fresh, crisp lettuce on toasted bread. Chang also carries a selection of Zingerman’s baked goods.
Chang is eager to share her love of tea and explains how different teas look best when served in cups that complement their color. The light, delicate jasmine tea, for instance, should be served in a white cup.
Chang is an artist as well as a businesswoman. One of her intricate landscape embroideries hangs over a china cabinet at Top Notch. Her family owns an extensive collection of Asian antiques. In fact, they recently donated several pieces to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, including a nineteenth-century Korean chest and ceramic pieces dating back to the sixth and seventh centuries.
Chang looks too young to have three daughters who’ve all finished college (two are fashion designers and one is a TV news reporter in New York). How does she maintain such a youthful appearance? “Happiness,” Chang answers with a smile, before sipping her jasmine tea.
Ceci Café, 7025 E. Michigan (Country Creek Plaza), Saline. 944–4455. Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Gold exchanges are popping up all over the country. “Maybe it has something to do with the economy,” says Jim Black, manager of the Gold Vault. “People decide they don’t want old or broken pieces. We give cash for whatever it’s worth that day, according to the value of gold.” He stands behind the counter of the tiny shop that his cousin, Robert Black, opened in early April. Glass cases display jewelry, candlesticks, coins, and other collectibles. If items don’t sell within a month or two, Black takes them to another business to be melted down.
A customer checks out the men’s wedding bands on display. Her husband has lost his for the third time in six years of marriage. Just for fun, I ask Black how much I can get for my wedding band. Turns out it’s worth a whopping $29.13—far below its sentimental value!
The Gold Vault buys, sells, trades, and offers in-home appraisals.
The Gold Vault, 199 W. Michigan, Saline. (517) 260–6166. Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Closed Sun.
Aroma Diner in the Country Creek Plaza closed in March. The owners could not be reached for comment.
Cold Stone Creamery in the Country Market Mall also closed when its lease expired.