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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2004

Walbridge: 4 businesses take up old dealership

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Grounded Gourmet Coffee House owner Chris Umbaugh checks on customers, from left: Nick Timmons, Cody Adler, and Nick Jankowski. Grounded Gourmet Coffee House owner Chris Umbaugh checks on customers, from left: Nick Timmons, Cody Adler, and Nick Jankowski.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

It might be nice to have a cup of coffee in one hand and ice cream in the other after having therapy and perusing the newest video releases - all without leaving the building.

People can take advantage of these services from the four businesses housed in the newly renovated, divided building at 112 and 114 North Main St.

It's the latest development that village officals hope will bring more people to stroll, shop and enjoy the downtown area.

Village Manager Karen Verbryke said village officials have always worked to promote Main Street, and hopes the new businesses will inspire others to open businesses to bulk up the area.

"Just having someone interested enough to start a small business will give others ideas," she said. "I think it might start us in that direction."

One of Mayor Dan Wilczynski's goals is to start a business advocacy board, which would work to bring new businesses like the ones at 112 and 114 North Main St. into the village for residents to benefit, she said.

"It's a start, and I think it's going to be good for the community," Ms. Verbryke said. "We don't want to forget those who have always been here, but new business is always good."

Mayor Wilczynski said he is pleased that Dr. Matt Spiers is branching out his business in Walbridge because he believes it - along with the other three businesses in the building - will help the village grow and develop.

Dr. Spiers, who works out of the Walbridge Wellness Center in the 114 North Main St. section of the building, also has an office in Swanton.

"He has an existing business and he's looking at growing his business and he selected Walbridge as a place to do it," the mayor said. "The fact that we have people that have moved or opened their businesses in Walbridge proves Walbridge is moving forward and doing great things."

Chris Umbaugh, 30, who owns the Grounded Gourmet Coffee House at 112 North Main St. with his wife, Heather, said he thinks it's great to have a single building used for so many services, and hopes they will draw more patrons into the village.

"I really think the businesses will make a great use of the building," he said.

The 7,580-square-foot building was built in the early 1950s as a car dealership, and had been vacant for several years before Oregon resident Patricia Zill bought it in May. She is considering renting the 3,000 square feet of garage space to Walbridge residents, but the rest of the space is home to the new businesses.

Ms. Zill owns Walbridge's Video and Game Store at 112 North Main St., and the old-fashioned Choo Choo Sweet Tooth Cafe.

She's thinking of complementing her businesses by offering a free movie rental with her hand-dipped ice cream.

She shares her space with Mr. Umbaugh, a Walbridge resident, whose dream to own a coffee house came true when he opened Sept. 10.

"I've loved coffee for some time and the last couple of years, I've been dreaming about owning a coffeehouse," said Mr. Umbaugh, a computer programmer. "I just saw not only the potential for a good, successful business, but also to help to bring a sense of community to the town."



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