Mix owners to open new local foods market in downtown Ypsilanti
Bonnie Penet and Leslie Leland, who own Mix and the Mix Production Studio in downtown Ypsilanti, are opening a new market featuring goods from local food vendors and artists. It will be located across the street from their current ventures in the space formerly occupied by J Neil’s Mongolian Grille.
Although the project is still early in the planning stages and Penet couldn’t offer many details on the permanent plan, two "Mix Holiday Pop Up Markets” are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 16 and Dec. 14.
During the pop up market, local vendors will rent out 6-foot spaces and set up tables from which to sell their products. Penet said the goal is to provide new and exciting food-oriented space that people have asked for in downtown Ypsilanti.
A variety of vendors are already on board, including Detroit’s Corridor Sausage Co.; Sansonettie Sauces, which makes mustards, salsas and other sauces; Zingerman’s, which will sell its breads and cheeses; Rosemary’s Blues, which offers hand-made flatbreads and crackers; Matt’s Mix, a seasoning company featuring spice mixes; Hand Sown Farm, which sells hoophouse-grown vegetables; A New Leaf, a fresh flower and seasonal decor company; JKM Soy Candles, which makes aromatherapy products and handmade soaps; Jam By Hand homemade jams; T-Cakes gluten free deserts; OMGoodness pastries and baked goods; Emily Brent Fruit and Cheese Boards, which are made from trees chopped down in Detroit; Autumn Rae's Sweet Treats and Street Meats, which sells a bacon maple cupcake.
The idea for a specialty food market gained momentum after a class from Eastern Michigan University's College of Business class visited the Mix Production Studio to speak with Penet and Leland about running successful small businesses.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
The professor asked what Mix’s owners would do if they had all the money in the world. Penet responded that they would open a food market in the former J Neil’s.
And that put the idea in motion.
“We are in the space right across the street and we sit there looking at (J Neil’s),” Penet said. “So we listen to what people say about what they want down here. We’ve been talking to people and trying to get ideas flowing for what should be in the Mongolian space, and we have see nothing much happening and our landlords being frustrated.”
As for what the space and market will look like after the holidays, plans are being worked out but will likely include a market and restaurant.
J Neil’s was owned by Dave Curtis until it closed last November amid a dispute between DTE Energy and Curtis over the electric bill. Curtis also owned the Keystone Underground Lounge downstairs from J Neil's, and lost it along with the neighboring Pub 13 and Savoy nightclubs over the same issue.
All the properties remain vacant.
Mix has continued to grow and expand since opening two years ago, and Penet and Leland most recently opened the Mix Production Studio over the summer.
“Obviously people look at the (J Neil's) space and have come and go, and then we get frustrated that nothing's happening, so that's why we decided to jump in," Leland said. "The momentum we have is incredible. We can't believe it.”
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.