Down but not out

Fire-ravaged Grand Bay Kite Co. in downtown Traverse City is slated to reopen by early spring. It’s the only business that hasn’t resumed operations since a November fire tore through Front Rowe Center.

It’s also the first time in 14 years that the Kite Co. hasn’t been open for the holiday season.

“I don’t want a pity party,” said owner and operator John Antaya. “We’ll get through this. I just want people to know we’re not closed for good and to think of us when spring rolls around.”

While the fire was contained to the fourth floor of the building, most of Antaya’s inventory was destroyed. The store’s broad array of displayed kites, windsocks, banners and toys had smoke and water damage. Fixtures and carpeting have been scrubbed down, but the walls will need to be repainted and the ceiling repaired.

Many usable items that can’t be sold, because their cellophane packaging is discolored or damaged, will be donated to children’s programs.

Grand Bay Kite Co. opened its first store in May of ’85 in Suttons Bay, and opened in downtown Traverse City later that year. The Traverse City location carries nearly 700 different line items on average in its 350 square feet of space.

Customers from as far away as South America have been repeat patrons of the retailer.

Audio book nook

You’ll find audio books for sale and rent at the new Talking Book World on South Airport Road in Traverse City.

Sue and Jon Wyckoff opened the store on Jan. 3. They sell and rent audio books on tape and CD, and sell accessories.

The seed for opening the franchise was planted by a family member, Sue explained.

“My husband and I for years had been talking about doing a business. Then, about six months ago, my sister, who’s a member of Talking Book World in Grand Rapids, said that it’s really popular there and that the store is always busy,” she said. “We checked into it and realized there was a need up here.”

The Wyckoff’s store is number 42 out of around 50 nationwide franchises in the Southfield-based system. Some of the stores are corporate-owned, she said.

Talking Book World covers a multitude of sections–bestsellers, mysteries, fiction, non-fiction, top 10. They also feature a large business section, including seminars by Stephen Covey (“Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) and Fred Pryor.

Prices are set up on a membership basis and customers can “come and go with as many as you can listen to.”

The Wyckoff’s venture marks a career change for Susan, who’s been an X-ray technician for the last 22 years at the Milliken Medical Building. Jon is the director of Northflight, which operates out of Munson Medical Center.

Now that their kids are teenagers, they decided it was “time to make a change.” They’re buoyed by the people who’ve told them how much they listen to audio tapes or know people who do.

Hours are daily, 10-9, Saturday, 10-6, and Sunday, 12-6.

Though the Wyckoff’s don’t have their own web site up at this point, you can learn more about the franchise at

Full circle

In late November, April and Scott Cameron opened a Big Apple Bagels franchise in the Glen’s north plaza in Petoskey.

They sell 18 different varieties of bagels made from scratch, homemade cream cheeses, muffins from the My Favorite Muffin line, as well as lunch, deli and gourmet-style sandwiches and a specialty line of coffee. Hours are daily 6-6, Saturday, 7-5 and Sunday, 8-3.

Big Apple Bagles is located on U.S. 31 north, just before M-119.

Closing time

After opening with great expectations merely eight months ago, Saucees Pizza, on Garfield Ave. across from Oleson’s, has closed its doors.

Dave Denison, who owns Saucees and downtown Traverse City’s La Cuisine Amical with Don and Judy Phillips, says negotiations are underway with someone who’s interested in buying the Saucees name and equipment.

He said the all-you-can-eat pizza bar did well in the summer, but that volume dwindled in the fall.

“As far as we’re concerned, the restaurant did fine until the last three months,” said Denison. “We have a certain model of performance and the last couple of months didn’t meet that model. We had to make a tough decision, and that was either operate it and roll the dice and do what we want to do, or close it.”

Keeping it open would have meant retooling some strategies, which would have diluted the entire concept.

“If we changed it, we wouldn’t be taking it down to Grand Rapids,” Denison said, adding, “A lot of people were sorry to see it go, like families and those holding birthday parties.”

The partners had paid for all of the improvements to the building, which formerly housed Brian’s Restaurant and Bonanza.

Sketchy details

A project completed by GBKB Architects Inc. has been profiled in an annual publication honoring educational design excellence.

The Traverse City firm’s design of AuSable Primary School in Grayling was among 202 projects in the November 1999 issue of American School & University magazine. This special issue reaches more than 68,000 facility planners, school and university administrators, school board members and architects.

A jury of AIA members and school administrators evaluated submissions from firms across the country. Primary consideration was given to the firm’s solution to the educational program requirements. Specific characteristics included environment, community use, durability, technology, site adaptation, flexibility, and quality of experience for the user. This is the 17th year the competition has been held.

Secret’s out

Linda and John Sisson of The Leelanau Country Inn have released their second book of “secret” recipes, called “Leelanau Country Inn Cookery…Continued.”

They have chosen recipes for the entire dining experience–from “Great Beginnings” and their famous “Soups, Salads & Side Dishes” to “Fresh Seafoods, Poultry & Meat Dishes” and “Perfect Endings.”

The Wine List features comments by Larry Mawby, a Suttons Bay vintner known for his award-winning methode champenoise sparkling wines.

The 240-page book retails for $21.95 and can be found at Horizon Books and Borders in Traverse City and at the Inn. The Sissons released their first book in 1994.