Cannelle is among the multiple businesses that are set to occupy space in downtown Farmington. Cannelle is a French-style patisserie that was set to open in downtown Farmington Sept. 5, after press time.

Cannelle is among the multiple businesses that are set to occupy space in downtown Farmington. Cannelle is a French-style patisserie that was set to open in downtown Farmington Sept. 5, after press time.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

‘A huge, positive impact on our local economy’

Farmington attracts new businesses to the area

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published September 1, 2023


FARMINGTON — Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kate Knight recently shared some “great” news: multiple businesses have opted to occupy space in the area.

Those who enjoy dining downtown now have even more options to choose from, with a variety of eateries having recently launched.

One such place to grab a bite to eat is La Pecora Nera, on Farmington Road.

“That’s very exciting,” Knight said. “It’s an Italian delicatessen sandwich shop. They do coffee, delicious sandwiches and salads.”

Kal Jaafar is one of the partners at the location.

He discussed what appealed to him about doing business at that location.

“The city is doing so much to bring walking traffic into the area,” Jaafar said. “The visibility’s very important — very visible spot. They’ve got this pocket park coming in next to us, (and) that’s a bonus. It’s a great location for us.”

Cannelle was set to open Sept. 5, after press time, on Grand River Avenue.

“That is a French-style patisserie, and the owner, Matt Knio, has been in the farmers market for several years,” Knight said. “He’ll maintain a presence in the farmers market. … This is his fourth store, and the previous stores are in Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Detroit and now Farmington.”

Knio said that he is “very, very excited” about the possibilities that could await.

“We love the city and the people around there. That’s what encouraged us to come to this city, and also, seeing the improvements,” Knio said. “You see things are getting improved. Businesses are opening. It’s like the new, upcoming city.”

Knight said that Taques Bar and Grill is set to open “any minute” on Grand River Avenue.

“That’s a Mexican full-service restaurant with a patio … and a beautiful interior,” she said. “That’s the downtown district; that’s a more remote location in the plaza at Village Commons that has Sidecar, right on Grand River, and this is at the opposite end of that development.”

Those who enjoy some tradition mixed with their dining experience may have been pleased to see a nostalgic mini Big Boy statue on Grand River, as Bob’s Big Boy recently occupied an existing building.

Knight said the restaurant has been “really busy” since opening.

“There’s so much nostalgia for that Big Boy brand, and it’s kind of a mini version,” she said. “It’s a drive-thru, which we would not allow, now, in 2023 downtown. We don’t allow anyone to build one in our walkable district, but if there’s one already there (it’s allowed). So Big Boy came in — Bob’s Big Boy.”

Options for visitors extend beyond dining, as Knight expects MassageLuXe to open at a location on Grand River sometime in September.

Knight is also anticipating another project on Farmington Road.

“We have a large project coming in with Salon Suites,” she said. “That’s going to fill the former Fitness 19, and that’s about 11,000 square feet right on the end cap next to Fresh Thyme. … It’s a market trend that we’re seeing everywhere right now. It’s hairdressers, beauty and wellness contractors who are independent proprietors, and then they lease small spaces that are all independent businesses within one larger facility.”

Knight was not aware of when that might come to fruition.

When there are vacancies downtown, Knight said, “nothing sits open too long.”

“It shows strong interest and a willingness for the private sector to invest in a walkable, historic downtown,” she said. “It compounds the positive effect elsewhere — other businesses benefit from additional foot traffic and trips into downtown. It’s a nice diversification of our business mix. … As we get more offerings, there’s more places to go, more things to do, and a huge, positive impact on our local economy.”