A Match Made in Junk-Food Heaven; McClure's Pickles and Better Made's Potato Chips

Nathan Skid
Crain's Detroit

Sometimes, a seemingly meaningless post on Twitter can be more significant than the author ever intended.

That is exactly what happened when Erin Rose, founder of Positive Detroit, tweeted that all she wanted was a jar of McClure's Pickles and a bag of Better Made potato chips. Heck, she said, they should just make McClure's-flavored Better Made potato chips.
As Joe McClure, co-founder of Troy-based McClure's Pickles put it, 'That piqued the interest of Better Made who contacted me about creating a line of McClure's flavored potato chips'.

The two companies have been meeting regularly over the last month to create the right spice mix and have even made several batches of prototype chips. (I tried the garlic-dill flavored chips and they were delicious.)

"The guys from Better Made came here and tried our pickles and chatted. They told me that this is the same way Sam Cipriano (founder of Better Made) started."

There is no set timetable as to when the chips will hit stores, if they ever do, but Mark Winkelman, president of Better Made, said he is excited about the possibility.

As if creating its own line of potato chips isn't cool enough, McClure's has also found a niche customer base for its line of pickle brine — in an unlikely place as part of a drinking trend that started about a year ago.

Joe McClure says the Pickelback, a chaser of pickle brine taken after a shot of Irish whiskey, started when a girl at a bar in Brooklyn asked for a shot of whiskey and some pickle juice. McClure said the bar had McClure's and served it.

But The New York Post says the shot was created by a bartender at the The Bushwick Club in Brooklyn.

According to legend, McClure's was using the basement of the bar as a storage area for its pickles and one of the bartenders chased a shot of whiskey with the pickle brine.

Whatever the case, McClure said he was contacted by a representative from Jameson Irish Whiskey who asked him to send some of the pickle brine to Ireland so its board of directors could try it.

"We sent them a case and got word back that they liked it. So we sent more. I don't know if they are just drinking it or what," McClure said.

Miami-based liquor distributor Southern Wine and Spirits bought 1,000 jars of McClure's pickle brine to test the Pickelback at Penn State.

Revenue has more than doubled for the company over the last year. In 2009, it generated revenue of about $500,000. Last year, it hit $1.1 million. McClure is expecting revenue to hit $1.75 in 2011.

"We have increased production by 30 percent from the end of summer," he said. "We were making between 60 and 70 cases of pickles a week, now we are making 100. That's like… 1,200-1,500 jars a day."

Judy Frankel Antiques Centre of Troy Owner Judy Frankel has earned a reputation locally and nationally for offering an eclectic mix of antiques and quality service at a fair price. Specializing in French, Belgian and English antiques, Frankel understands her clientele and caters to their needs, as both antiques dealer and designer.

The Troy-based gallery will unveil the new Bespoke Collection, Frankel's own line of European handcrafted, custom furniture inspired by both mid-century and the art deco movement. The classic pieces are at once timeless and modern.

She began designing as a way to fill the need for transitional pieces she could not find in the antique world. Her pieces are so authentic 1930's, the Bespoke Collection has caught the eye of Hollywood filmmakers. The quality, workmanship and design reflects Judy Frankel Antiques Centre of Troy reputation of top-notch.

In the burgeoning film business across Michigan, the Judy Frankel Antiques Centre of Troy rented out more than 200 of its pieces for use in such movies as Clint Eastwood's much-heralded Gran Torino and Wes Craven's upcoming, anticipated sequel, Scream 4, including pieces from the Bespoke Collection has been among them.

From set decorators to designers, photographers to individuals seeking that special item for their home or office, Judy Frankel Antiques Centre of Troy caters to a diverse clientele. The gallery kicked off 2011 with a fresh look. Frankel has expanded the already vast space to fill a total of 9,000 square feet with her carefully curated selection of fine European antiques.

The new space includes new architectural elements, flooring and an expanded selection of antiques from which designers, collectors ­- and yes, film set decorators - can choose.

"I could not be happier with the results," said Frankel, who travels extensively to personally select the items she carries at Antiques Centre of Troy. "Our future shipments will be larger and reflect the many trends in design that clients desire. We believe there is no gallery comparable to ours in Michigan and, perhaps, in the Midwest."
 A new wave of job market improvements is shaping a fresh set of career opportunities for technology professionals – every major metropolitan market has more opportunities this year than last, as measured by the number of jobs posted on Dice.

While Silicon Valley or New York may hold an irresistible allure for some, technology professionals can find interesting opportunities in cities as diverse as Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati. Here is the list of fastest growing metropolitan areas for technology jobs:

    * Detroit tops the list with more than 800 available tech positions on any given day – that's double the number posted last year. Let's extend those two minutes of Detroit super bowl advertising goodness, by highlighting that technology professionals make on average $71,445 per year in the Motor City, up two percent from a year ago.

    * Ohio has state bragging rights with three cities on the list, Cincinnati (#2), Cleveland (#3) and Columbus (#4). Technology professionals can find opportunities with financial services companies, retailers, manufactures and retailers in the region.

    * Job openings in Seattle are up 54 percent year/year to more than 2,200 which makes it the fastest growing large market on the list. That demand is translating into slightly more pay as Seattle-based technology professionals earn on average $86,168 per year, an increase of two percent from last year.

    * Pittsburgh technology professionals can expect to take home more than $65,000 a year with job opportunities in the area up 45 percent year/year. Technology and engineering professionals can find opportunities in specialty metals, healthcare and financial services.

    * Two Florida cities make the list, with Miami at number seven (job postings at 533, up 43% yr/yr) and Jacksonville at number eight (job postings at 380, up 41% yr/yr). Technology professionals in these cities can expect to make at least $68,000 per year – and those in defense with security clearance much more.

    * Job opportunities in Chicago (#9) and Silicon Valley (#10) are up 40 percent year/year – with more than 3,200 and nearly 4,800 jobs posted respectively. For these two major markets to be growing this fast a year into the recovery, only bodes well for new career opportunities and increasing wages.

With demand improving in more metropolitan areas, the recovery starts to cement for technology professionals across the country. The task for tech talent is to take advantage of the new opportunities.

Enjoy this month's issue of The Dice Report.

Tom Silver
SVP, North America
The Dice Report

MSU Set To Play CMU at Comerica Park in April

Jeremy Warnemuende
The State News

The MSU and Central Michigan baseball teams will renew their in-state rivalry this spring by playing the first ever college baseball game at Detroit’s Comerica Park on April 20, CMU said in a press release Monday.

A press conference officially announcing the game with representatives from both schools will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Tiger Club at Comerica Park.

Located in downtown Detroit, Comerica Park replaced Tiger Stadium in 2000. Along with housing MLB’s Detroit Tigers, the ballpark has hosted concerts featuring acts such as Dave Matthews Band, the Rolling Stones and, most recently, Eminem and Jay-Z last summer.

The Chippewas possess a 62-46 lead in the all-time series, however, the Spartans won two of three games between the two last season on the way to a 10-2 record against in-state opponents.

MSU finished last season with a 34-19 overall record, including an 11-13 mark in Big Ten play. Meanwhile, CMU amassed a 36-22 overall record and won the Mid-American Conference championship by finishing 20-7 in the conference.

Making Millions From Cupcakes
Josh Hyatt
Money Magazine

Pam Turkin, 49, left her job as marketing VP for a merchandising firm to start a cupcake store chain.

As VP of marketing for a merchandising firm, Pam Turkin traveled extensively.

Around 2008 she noticed cupcake shops popping up on the coasts and wondered about bringing the concept home to the Detroit area.

Not only was her husband, Todd, recently out of work, but her employer was pressuring her to move to its Florida office.

"I baked for fun, so I started experimenting," says Turkin. She spent weekends devising flavors like S'mores and Fat Elvis (banana cake with peanut butter buttercream, dipped in chocolate), using her five kids as testers.

By late 2008 she'd rented a commercial kitchen and had placed her pastries in a dozen stores. Early the next year, she quit her day job to open a retail shop. In 2010, Just Baked opened its fifth store, and turned its first profit on $1.6 million in sales.

"The business has never slowed down," says Turkin, who has 40 full-time employees -- including Todd, who is manager of operations -- and 25 part-timers. "It's a lot of fun, and more than a little crazy."

How she's doing it:

1. By reinvesting

With business lending tight, Turkin figured she wouldn't get a loan. So, after using $10,000 from her mom to start up, she put early revenue to use. "If we had a big weekend, we bought a mixer," she says.

2. By tapping savings

In 2010, Pam and Todd paid themselves $60,000, just 30% of their old income. To help cover living expenses, they also drew $40,000 from savings. Expected 2011 salary: $100,000.

3. By growing on the cheap

The Turkins recently began licensing their brand. They own just 20% of their fifth store. Plus, a new deal with Faygo, which is distributing soda-flavored cupcakes, could double sales.

Jackie Willis
Entertainment Tonight

Audrina Patridge is looking to make Detroit, Michigan the new "it" city as she packs her bags and heads for Motor City!

The reality star is making a new web series called "Dream Maker" that will feature her "as a new, up-and-coming talent manager from Hollywood who moves to Detroit to start her own firm."

Audrina is looking for people to help her in her quest, asking for audition tapes to be submitted to the YOBIAct contest. The winners will appear as Audrina's assistant and receptionist in the series.

YOBIAct's website describes the series, saying, "The world will watch and laugh as the new firm settles in, copes with interoffice dynamics, and goes through the trials of signing hot new talent before someone else gets them!"

I stumbled on this really great article (excerpt below) from the Canadian Edition of Reader's Digest today.  I love that our friendly neighbor to the north (er south, depends on where you are standing) is giving major kudos to Detroit, but are 9 reasons really enough?  No way!  So for those of you who yearn for more, check out the article I wrote with the lovely Ashley Catherine Woods for the Real Detroit Weekly 2010 Valentine's Day Edition. We give you 99 more (so that's a total of 108 for you math whizs!) reasons to love Detroit! It's amazing to re-read this article after a year knowing there are so many new items to add to the list, as I am sure you have quite a few as well!  Enjoy!

*Note click on the titles below to read the full articles since they are both pretty long and detailed

9 Surprising Reasons Detroit Rocks
Reader's Digest Canada 

1. The Heidelberg Project

2. The Cass Corridor

3. The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

4. Mexicantown’s Restaurants and Supermercados

5. The Eastern Market

6. Detroit on Wheels (or Feet)

7. Artists’ Studios

8. Motown (and Other Musical Attractions)

9. The Quest for the Perfect Coney

99 Reasons to Fall in Love with Detroit (In Case You Had Any Doubts)
By Erin Rose and Ashley Catherine Woods
Real Detroit Weekly

1. We have an NBA Hall of Famer as our Mayor. Cincinnati had Jerry Springer. Detroit: 1, Cincinnati: 0

2. Being able to basically set your GPS according to what you’re craving: Greek, Mexican, Polish, Soul, Arabic, Bengladeshi, you name it …

3. Catching shots of the Townsend Hotel, Gusoline Alley, Tiger Stadium, our “best and worst” stage props and other things that arouse our civic pride on HBO’s Hung.

4. We have our own version of a Russian Bath House at The Schvitz Health Club on Oakland Avenue in Detroit. Check three-piece inhibitions at the door.

5. Detroit supplied 75 percent of the nation's liquor during the Prohibition Era — na zdrowie!

6. A former Louis Vuitton model convinced his brother and parents to pack their gear, leave their Chicago digs and head to Detroit to open the greatest BBQ joint in the Midwest.

7. We’re listed as one of the five best cities to get a green job by Clean Edge.

8. Low Down Sound — a bass player’s wet dream.

9.Try and order the mystery cobra cognac at Cliff Bell’s. Neat.

10. A double feature at the Ford Wyoming drive-in .

11. Scoreboard proposals at Comerica Park. You blink, you miss it. Kind of like some of our relationships.

12. The entrance and exit ramps on the Dequindre Cut. And the fact that we’re (finally) celebrating graffiti.

13. Catching the occasional post-2 a.m. drag race on the I-75 service drive by the American Axle plant.

14. Ceiling beam signatures at the Scarab Club, including those from Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell and Diego Rivera.

15. Motor City Motors on the Discovery Channel.

16. (313) Texts From Last Night was born here (thanks for getting one past the goalie).

17. The way Jefferson Avenue and Belle Isle bump on a hot summer afternoon.

18. The complimentary fresh salsa and guacamole that’s available for snacking each and every time we visit Honey Bee Market La Colmena in Southwest Detroit.

19. Pewabic Pottery and the out-of-towners that house it from Chicago to Paris. Martha Stewart loves it, too.

20. There’s no backstage at St. Andrews. So you can hang with the band at the bar ... no “special favors” required.

Click Here for the other 79

Vocalist Nicole New, a 2006 Wayne State graduate, is the Jazz Café’s featured artist for its on-going Happy Hour series.

New, 26, along with Cliff Monear, New’s mentor and former professor, performs Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Music Hall located at 350 Madison in Detroit.

The pair has worked together since New was a music business major at Wayne State. Monear, a jazz pianist, encouraged New to pursue a singing career.

“As a student, I didn’t think I’d ever have a career as a singer,” said New, an artistic coordinator for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. “I was focused on the business side of music, but Professor Monear opened my eyes to my vocal ability and made me realize jazz was something organic to me, something that made musical sense to my soul.”

New’s eclectic style of singing draws from her early influences of performing jazz, pop, bluegrass and musical theatre. She has performed at venues such as The Jazz Café, Cliff Bells, Andiamo and the Steinway Jazz Café.

The free Happy Hour with Nicole New series includes a live jazz performance, complimentary appetizers and drink specials. For more information about the Jazz Café inside the Music Hall, visit www.jazzcafedetroit.com.