From left to right, Teresa Gale, Sandie Maynard and Alex Maynard stand behind the counter at Unplug & Paint Resale in downtown Clawson Nov. 16.

From left to right, Teresa Gale, Sandie Maynard and Alex Maynard stand behind the counter at Unplug & Paint Resale in downtown Clawson Nov. 16.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Royal Oak, Clawson shops prepare for Small Business Saturday

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 22, 2021

 Ann Al-Amara, of Kal’s Lunch Bowl, holds a house salad — which consists of lettuce topped with cucumber, tomato, parsley, dried apricot, walnuts and a homemade pomegranate vinaigrette dressing — in front of the order window inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market Nov. 16.

Ann Al-Amara, of Kal’s Lunch Bowl, holds a house salad — which consists of lettuce topped with cucumber, tomato, parsley, dried apricot, walnuts and a homemade pomegranate vinaigrette dressing — in front of the order window inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market Nov. 16.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Three Mediterranean fusion dishes at Kal’s Lunch Bowl, which is located inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market, include the house salad, left; the shawarma fries, pictured with beef shawarma; and the loaded falafel, center.

Three Mediterranean fusion dishes at Kal’s Lunch Bowl, which is located inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market, include the house salad, left; the shawarma fries, pictured with beef shawarma; and the loaded falafel, center.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Unplug & Paint Resale, located in downtown Clawson, is an open concept artisan market and boutique that also offers maker space and classes.

Unplug & Paint Resale, located in downtown Clawson, is an open concept artisan market and boutique that also offers maker space and classes.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK/CLAWSON — If municipalities had vascular systems, their lifeblood would be small businesses.

The exchange of money within communities, especially at mom and pop shops, is vital for job creation, boosting local economies and preserving neighborhoods.

This year is a critical time for small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all businesses, regardless of industry, plan of operation or size. Problems include shipping delays, staffing shortages and increased prices of goods.

Many innovative entrepreneurs are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, a nationwide campaign launched by American Express in 2010 to increase patronage at locally owned shops and restaurants.

This year, Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 27.

In preparation, the Royal Oak Review talked to two local independent businesses that opened this year — Kal’s Lunch Bowl in Royal Oak and Unplug & Paint Resale in Clawson.
 

Kal’s Lunch Bowl serves made-to-order Mediterranean fusion
On June 11, Kal’s Lunch Bowl launched its unique concept. Located in the northeast corner of the Royal Oak Farmers Market, the restaurant is a family affair that celebrates the positive impact of fresh, healthy food and the power of community.

The name stems from the initials of Kal Al-Amara, his wife Ann, their 5-year-old daughter Lorelai, and their business partner, attorney Seymour Schwartz, Ann said.

“My big thing is food is a universal language. It always brings people together,” Ann said. “We’re a hidden gem. We just want to introduce people and have them come and try (our food).”

The Mediterranean fusion idea came from a blend of Kal and Ann’s backgrounds. They not only craft authentic dishes that nod to their Iraqi heritage, but also fuse in regional specialties from other Mediterranean countries.

The easily customizable menu includes options for vegan and vegetarian diets, and all of the meat is halal and top grade.

Kal is an experienced executive chef and restaurant manager. Many of the dishes at Kal’s Lunch Bowl come from his creative process, and he said watching customers enjoy the food brings him joy.

“It just comes up in my mind. I taste it before I even cook it,” he said, and added that he can count on his daughter Lorelai to be an honest taster, as well as a helpful hand in the kitchen. “I can always rely on her.”

Ann is a culinary chef who graduated from Oakland Community College’s culinary arts program. While Kal thinks about flavors and how they blend to make the perfect bite, Ann’s forte is technique, cooking and presentation.

She said she had an interest in cooking before attending culinary school, and that her mother, a talented chef who learned to cook at a young age, traveled to different regions and prepared a variety of Middle Eastern cuisines for her children as they grew up, even acquiescing to their requests to Americanize some meals.

The Al-Amaras use fresh produce and ingredients from vendors at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, as well as eggplant, cucumber and tomatoes from their own garden. Ann said Schwartz smokes the eggplant for the baba ghanoush, which gives it a unique flavor profile.

The loaded falafel is unique in that each deep fried ball contains a curated spice blend from four Middle Eastern countries and is topped with garlic sauce, taboula and amba sauce, a traditional pickled mango puree. Another unique dish is the shawarma fries, in which seasoned fries are topped with beef or chicken shawarma, feta cheese and vinaigrette dressing.

Even the house salad is not basic. The lettuce comes topped with cucumber, tomato, parsley, dried apricot, walnuts and a homemade pomegranate vinaigrette dressing. The restaurant also offers ranch dressing to please the Midwestern palette.

“The good thing about (being in the farmers market) is we get to be a part of so many happenings in the market, and when events take place, sometimes we stay late,” Ann said, adding that some of the vendors have become like family. “The only downfall is that people, when they hear our location, assume we’re here on the weekends only.”

Kal’s Lunch Bowl is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and is closed on Monday. It also offers on- and off-site catering. For more information, call (248) 832-0044, email kal@kalslunchbowl.com or visit kalslunchbowl.com/about.

The Royal Oak Farmers Market is located at 316 E. 11 Mile Road, east of Troy Street. The building hosts an indoor farmers market on Saturday and an antiques market on Sunday year-round. For more information, call (248) 246-3276, email shellym@romi.gov or visit romi.gov/1533/Farmers-Market.
 

Unplug & Paint Resale offers maker space, retail and one-on-one classes
On May 22, Unplug & Paint Resale opened its doors to the public. The open concept artisan market and boutique is located in the 5,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Regeneration Clothing in downtown Clawson.

The family business started as a hobby for sisters Sandie Maynard and Teresa Gale, who scout estate sales and thrift stores for furniture and other items that they then transform into more modern, upcycled pieces.

“We were looking for a small space and we kind of stumbled on (the available space for lease) last Christmas. It had a lot of window space and was much larger than what we were looking for (initially),” Maynard said. “Besides just us upcycling furniture, we also carry the Dixie Belle line of chalk paint, and we open up the space to other vendors and artists.”

The business opened with three family crafters: Teresa’s Treasures, Sewn by Megan and That Girl Designs. It now has more than 30 vendors.

Maynard acknowledged that opening a business during the pandemic was scary and risky, but she said if they did not do it now, they would probably never do it.

“My daughter (Alex Maynard) is a major part,” Sandie said. “In the last five months, we’ve been learning a lot and trying to figure out the website and social media and getting the word out there. It’s difficult because people are not out shopping like they were.”

Sandie said there is still more space for another 30 vendors. Many of the current vendors, she added, are selling their wares for the first time. Items for sale include door signs, children’s clothes, baby blankets, upcycled pieces, tiles, unique jewelry, local photography in handmade frames, wooden bowls and vases, and leather goods.

“We rent out any size space, from a 2-by-2-foot area up to an 8-by-4-foot area, generally based on what they’re trying to sell, and we work with open floor space, space on the wall, (and what used to be) dressing rooms in the back,” she said. “We also can host birthday parties, get-togethers and make-and-take items.”

Unplug & Paint Resale hosts one-on-one lessons with Dixie Belle paint, an all-natural chalk-based paint that can be used on furniture, doors and now fabric. Customers can buy furniture to paint at the store or bring their own pieces to paint.

It also allows for vendors to teach classes.

“(The premise of our business) is to unplug from your electronic device and create something, paint something, socialize and converse,” Sandie said. “It’s so you get the customer service back instead of something showing up at the doorstep, so we can actually talk and see what they want and guide it out and then everybody helps each other, like we used to.”

Unplug & Paint Resale is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and is closed on Mondays. It is located at 126 E. 14 Mile Road, east of Main Street. For more information, call (248) 629-6022, email upprllc@gmail.com or visit www.unplugandpaintresale.com.

For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small.

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