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Posted on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Aubree's franchise plans to hire 78 workers as Dexter restaurant renovations continue

By Laura Blodgett


An artist's rendering shows what the Aubree's franchise in Dexter will look like the new location opens this summer.

Photo courtesy of Aubree's

Aubree’s Pizzeria & Tavern hopes to open its new Dexter location by mid-summer and plans to host a job fair to hire new workers sometime after July 4.

The franchised restaurant, which has already started renovations, is taking over the former North Point Seafood & Steak House space at 8031 N. Main in Dexter.

Co-owned by Pinckney resident Amy Bulszewicz and Ron Evangelista, who formerly worked together in the construction industry, the new restaurant came together quickly when North Point closed suddenly in February.

The owners said they plan to hire about 78 people workers to staff the restaurant and that hiring should begin within a few weeks.

The Dexter franchise is an outgrowth of an idea cultivated by Aubree’s owner Bill French and Andy French, his son, who are developing plans for several new locations.

“I developed a strong relationship with the French family when I did the renovation on the Aubree’s in Northville for them,” said Evangelista, who served as project manager at that location. “Bill French asked me if I might be interested in assembling a team to start opening these restaurants.”

They started looking at the demographic for areas that had higher-end restaurants that had failed. When North Point left and the space became available, the team moved quickly to secure the location.

“It was the right opportunity at the right time,” said Evangelista. “We felt Aubree’s could do very well in the Dexter area.”

The Aubree’s concept offers something for everyone, says Bulszewicz.

“I love to cook so I know what goes into pulling off flavor and quality and they had me from the first bite of everything," Bulszewicz said. "Dexter is such a family community, so we thought between the pizza for kids or sports teams and the nicer pasta dishes and entrees for adults, there is enough variety for everybody.”

Bulszewicz said that though North Point was a wonderful restaurant, it might have been a little out of the typical price range for the lunch crowd and families.

“North Point might have been more special occasion. With a more moderate price point, you can fit Aubree’s into the budget," Bulszewicz said.

This location will be the first franchised locations for Aubree’s. The Frenchs' partnership, called Dexter Capital LLC, is leasing the space from A.R. Brouwer of Dexter, which owns the building.

One unexpected disruption occurred last week when representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252 picketed outside the building to protest that Evangelista had hired contractors from outside the area, including J.B. Electric from Sterling Heights, to do the renovation work on the restaurant. “The owner of the restaurant is a general contractor from Detroit and he has brought in his own contractors to do various work from the trades,” said union spokesperson Jim Burns, who organized the protest. “What it really comes down to is that we are being undercut by contractors who come into this area, don’t pay local taxes, don’t support our apprenticeship program, and the money earned by these workers gets taken to their home communities to be spent on infrastructure and schools there.”

For his part, Evangelista said they did obtain bids from two local union electrical companies but their estimates came in too high for their budget.

“They were so far out of the ballpark that we couldn’t afford it,” said Evangelista, who says they were 25 percent and 100 percent higher. “I practice fair bidding and we gave everyone a fair opportunity. We are making every effort possible to integrate local people, but there is a budget.”

Other than J.B Electric in Sterling Heights and a plumber from the Brighton/Howell area, every contractor is local, said Evangelista. Dexter contractors include Doors & Drawers for millwork, PPR Solutions for flooring and Wolverine Moore Glass. In addition, work is being done by a local Dexter resident who is a stainless steel contractor and the reps from Miller Brewing and Gordon Foodservice both live in Dexter.

Ann Arbor companies involved in the project include Fuller Heating and Cooling and Metro Group Architects.

“Their signs — honk if you support hiring local people — are grossly misrepresenting the situation, “said Evangelista.

Upgrades include a reconfigured U-shaped bar, a new pizza-and-salad bar and additional seating. Nearly 20 flat-screen TVs will be added to the dining room and bar, including within individual booths.

In addition to indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant will also have delivery and carryout.

The restaurant should be open at the end of July, with a grand opening tentatively planned during the Dexter Daze event in August.

Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill was approved by the state of Michigan to begin franchising in March 2011 with the goal of opening several regional locations by year-end. The French family is currently exploring possible options in the Kalamazoo area.

Laura Blodgett is a freelance reporter.



Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

Fair. Aubrees may be a resturant in Dexter,but not one that I plan on patronizing.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Almost every city has a buy local campaign, this should also include construction companies and local workers. These local workers are our neighbors, they have families, they pay taxes,support our schools,they shop locally and they are major donators to this areas charities.(ask Mott Hospital or Food Gatherers about the IBEW) The IBEW and other Building trades have provided thousands of jobs and apprenticeship opprortunities to this areas graduates. These training programs produce the most highly skilled craftsman available in the industry today.Workers have improved productivity, taken wage concessions, changed work rules, such as coffee breaks, overtime, shift work and have drastically increased worker payment on health care costs. Long term unemployment remains high.Unlike the other Aubrees owners, this owner hired out of town workers for the Electrical work, Carpentry, Plumbing,and Painting, the majority of the work.As Burns stated the money earned on this job leaves the Dexter community.Our local unemployed workers have the right to inform the community (especially other unemployed construction workers) that this owner wants local customers,but supporting local apprenticeship programs and paying area standard wages to local workers dosesn't meet his budget criteria. Why would these workers support a business that wouldn't employ them. Without providing good jobs I fail to see any long term benefit to the community, only to this owner.Will he be bringing his wait staff, dishwashers, and cooks from Detroit because they are hungry and will work for less.My family and I will spend our money at the local business' and restaurants that hire this areas craftsman.I urge others to do the same. .


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

@Fair, let me ask you a question: If my city has a buy local campaign and I keep buying local, but the products are inferior to what I can get from another city how will my local store know they have a crappy product if I keep buying from them? This is precisely why buy local campaigns do not work. The best way to let a "local company" know they are doing a terrible job or making a bad product is to quit buying their product! With that said, other Aubree owners have hired non union workers. Every business owner has a budget that they can afford. If they don't stick to their budget(s) then they go out of business. So, if the owner was to take the union bids would have the project gone forward? Nope. The union bidders have every right to bid on project based on what the marketplace dictates. If they are too high, then they don't get the job. It's funny how unions complain when they don't get the job because their bids are too high, but yet their own president when building a house uses all non union employees. Even their own president recognizes that to use union members costs too much!


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

For all of you that like to bash the unions. Just remember that unions are what created the Middle Class. What the Middle Class has come to expect and enjoy is a direct result of the efforts of Unions, and don't forget it. Along with the demise of unions will be the demise of the Middle Class. The Middle Class is rapidly eroding, as are the Unions. It will not be long before a slice of pizza and a beer at Aubree's will be a big night out on the town.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

I am so sick of hearing that the unions created the middle class. You mean there was no middle class before the unions? People were poor and that's it? In every society, there are and were 3 classes. Rich, middle class, and poor. These classes existed before unions ever did. The Romans had them, the Egyptians had them, United States had them and all before unions ever existed. So please stop with the nonsense that unions created the middle class.

Buster W.

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

Patti, 1. "Stop making this private workers vs. unionized workers..." But it's okay for union workers to attack other union workers??? 2. "Thank...the little man who lives in your pants..." Huh??? 3. "...let these gentlemen exercise their right to free speech and peaceful assembly." Did someone deny someone their right to speech and peaceful assembly? Didn't think so.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

Patti, You would have been correct 100 years ago. At that time workers rights were non-existant Times have changed, but unions haven't. We live in a global, forward thinking world - time to move forward.

Patti Smith

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

Jesus Christ people! I've had it with the union bashing. If it weren't for unions, all you all would be working for $3/hour in some crappy pit while your kids (if, God forbid, some of you have bred) slave away 60 hours a week in coal mines or mills. Get over it. Stop making this private workers vs. unionized workers...we're fighting over scraps here and it's pathetic. Thank whatever God you believe in/ the Sun/ the little man who lives in your pants for unions and workers' rights and let these gentlemen exercise their right to free speech and peaceful assembly.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

We ARE letting, "these gentlemen exercise their right to free speech and peaceful assembly." We're just exercising our First Amendment right and expressing how ridiculous we think the IBEW members are acting. Nobody's stopping them from picketing.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

Swearing, vulgarity and insults are a classy way to make a point. BTY, what do you mean by "the little man who lives in your pants"?


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

Creating a new business from one that no longer exists is good. Employing 78 new workers is good. Using recognized business practices, competitive bidding, using licensed & competent contractors , etc. is good. An Aubree's is the community of Dexter is good. Ignoring disgruntled workers who have priced themselves out of the market and trash talk this new business is probably not a bad idea.

Potato Chip

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

I am looking forward to visiting Aubree's and sure I will be a regular. I've had enough bad service and dirty vegetables (literally--dirt on the plate!) from the Dexter Pub. Give 'em a run for the money!!!!!


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Deep, deep pockets needed for a restauarant with all this space in Dexter.

Sandy Castle

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 6:14 p.m.

I like the Aubrees in Depot Town, but to imply that they have anything other than bar food is misleading. They have great beer on tap, the best BBQ wings around, and their feta bread is awesome! When we want to eat in that area and want something "more" than bar food, we go to Sidetrack. Their menu is much more diverse.

Dr. Vag

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Is this why the food at the Depot Town location is basically inedible now? Get back to making good food, we miss it here in Ypsi!!

Bob Martel

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

I doubt that the unions had much to do with the bids from the two "local" contractors who apparently were the high bidders. Bidding a construction project is the responsibility of the contractor, not the unions, and is as much of an art as a science and many factors come into play such as the labor rates, the material costs, the contractor's estimate of how much labor and material he/she needs and the profit he/she wants to make. Sometimes a contractor will bid high if they are busy figuring that if they get the job with a fat profit margin they'll figure out a way to make it work. On the other hand, a contractor with little work might cut the profit to zero just to keep his or her best people working through tough times. It is silly for a local union to make an issue of non-local unions working on a job since the tables are turned just as often. The Ann Arbor unions have no problem working out of town if that's where the work happens to be.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

I wasn't aware that Detroit was overseas. He did hire MICHIGAN workers, though.

Jack Johnson

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

When Mr. Evangelista chose to "outsource jobs" from Detroit, what he essentially did is follow the destructive path of corporate America. Sending jobs overseas puts Americans out of work and unable to patronize or pruchase their products.

John B.

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

When did Brighton and Sterling Heights become parts of foreign countries?


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

I have to think unions are not winning support by acting like this. First offer your services at rates way beyond competitor's rates. Second, stage a protest about not getting your demands despite the fact it is your own fault.

Unemployed Electrician

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

At XMO, I wish everybody would hire locally too! They then would have some money to spend and support these local businessess!!


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

I wonder how many International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252 workers ACTUALLY live in Dexter. This is yet another proof that unions are anti-competition. Instead of realizing that they priced themselves out of business and learn from their mistakes, they resort to bullying the owners of a company. That's nice business practice that will surely get you more business! No wonder there is little sympathy for unions.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

"Their signs — honk if you support hiring local people I wish everybody hired local people Then I could get paid a lot more money than I am worth and do less work! I want to live in that Fantasy Land? How do I get there?

zip the cat

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

I'd say its pretty obvious why Mr Jim Burns and fellow local workers are not working. This is america and the tavern/pizza joint/bar whatever you want to call it,owners are FREE to hire anyone they damm well please. In todays economy you hire the most affordable qualified workers. They hired local workers so crawl back under the rock you came from and leave them be. Everyone else has taken a huge pay cut to keep working,But not Mr burns and friends

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Two things: They call it Aubrey's Pizzeria and Grill, not Tavern. And North Point was seldom open for lunch. Alas, it is still just another pizza and beer joint.

Top Cat

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Also, there is a lot of mediocre pizza around. Aubrey's pizza is very good...but not quite as good as New York Pizza Depot.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

Clearly, you haven't been to the Aubree's in Ypsi. They have an extensive menu, much more than pizza and beer. It should fill a niche in Dexter. I hope it succeeds.

Buster W.

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

@Mike D. I couldn't agree more!!

Mike D.

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 11:33 a.m.

The notion that someone is entitled to win business simply because they are local is astounding to me. If you're going to charge more, you have to educate your potential customers so they see the value in what you offer. I can't see myself hiring people who picketed other businesses because those businesses chose cheaper vendors. Imagine what they'd do in the case of a disagreement once they did have the job!