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Super Car Wash: Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977

Super Car Wash: Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977

Super Car Wash:
Keeping Metro Detroit Cars Sparkling Since 1977
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

With apologies to William Shakespeare, if you prick Ryan Gesund, he might not bleed.

After more than two decades in the family car wash business, he may simply leak cleaning solvents.

Gesund, with his father and brother, is part of a family owned operation – Super Car Wash – that has run car washes around the metro Detroit area since 1977.


After spending a year after graduating with a degree in political science from Eastern Michigan University trying out other avenues, Ryan joined his dad and brother in the family business.

It’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.

“It was natural that we’d go into business with our father,” Ryan said. “I love the car wash business. It’s part of our blood. We’ve got wax and salt running through our veins.”

It’s been that way since 1977, when George Gesund went looking for another investment opportunity when he lost his previous business, Lucky Strike Lanes in Detroit, to a fire. According to Ryan, George had some friends in the car wash business and “he got started that way, with one car wash.”

That car was was at 11 Mile Road and Dequindre in Madison Heights. The business is still there, but the Gesunds sold it”in 1983 or 1984,” according to Ryan.

Since then, the family has bought and sold various car wash businesses, peaking out when they owned 10 at one time. Now, the Gesunds have nine Super Car Wash locations, including two in Commerce, two in Walled Lake and individual stores in Royal Oak, Eastpointe, Farmington Hills, Warren and Southfield.

CEO George Gesund is the “big picture” branch of the ownership tree. It was George’s idea, according to Ryan, to add the newest feature at the car wash: free self-serve vacuums at every location.

The other addition to the business – a $12 per month “unlimited club” that allows customers to purchase two washes a day for every day of a month – has become one of the biggest of its kind in the state, according to Ryan Gesund.

“It’s great … They take special care of you here. Unlike some places that are automatic where you get a mirror hit or some damage, these guys take great care of you.”
It’s similar to the company’s corporate/fleet service, a savings program for any business owner with a fleet of cars, trucks, or vans. Ryan sad the fleet program counts for some 20 percent of Super Car Wash’s business.

Todd Gesund, who serves as the company’s president, handles the operations aspect of the business. Todd came into the business about a year after earning a degree in finance from Grand Valley State University.

It was Todd, according to Ryan, who doubled the car washes in the business from two to four shortly after he joined his dad.

The fourth owner is Heath Stack, who handles the company’s east-side operations.

The addition of the brothers in the mid-1990s was no surprise.

“It was something my brother and I were always interested in,” Ryan said. “We worked up, as kids, every position in the car wash up until ownership. We learned it front-to-back and back-to-front.”

Ryan said he finds the daily challenges – from dealing with employee scheduling to handling individual customer issues – exciting.

“There’s always something for both of us,” Ryan said. “It’s fast-paced. We love our customers and we just love the business. We worked every position at the car wash, and now we’re owners.”

Unlike the Gesund brothers, the car wash hasn’t been a lifelong career for Phillip Officer. Now the manager of the Royal Oak location, Officer is a couple of years retired from General Motors.

He’s been at what he calls his “retirement job” for about 18 months now. And he’s having a good time.

“I like it,” said Officer. “My granddad told me, ‘You always have to keep moving.’ He always said ‘hard work never killed anybody.'”


After last week’s first big storm of the year, Officer and the owners are presiding over one of Super Car Wash’s busiest seasons. Winters, Ryan Gesund said, usually have drivers bringing their cars for cleaning at a brisk pace.

According to Ryan, the car wash sees anywhere from 300 to 1,400 cars in a typical winter day, particularly after a storm.

The business’ dependence on the weather, he said, can be a frustrating thing.

“That’s the one thing I don’t like about the business,” Ryan said with a smile. “It depends on something you can’t really depend on (the weather).”

Customers feel like they can depend on Super Car Wash though. Bloomfield resident Bob Storen said he’s a frequent customer because the staff does the one thing he counts on.

“It’s great … They take special care of you here,” Stored said. “Unlike some places that are automatic where you get a mirror hit or some damage, these guys take great care of you.”

Twenty-two years after deciding to come into the family business, Ryan Gesund – who handles the accounting and is the business’ in-house legal mind – has no regrets.

“I eventually decided this was in my blood,” Ryan said. “I found an area of the business I love and that I’m good at. I love it.”

Super Car Wash
31295 Woodward
Royal Oak, Michigan














Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone

Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone

Lifetime ‘Love Affair’ with Comedy: Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle Celebrates 40-Year Milestone
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
Comedy Castle owner Mark Ridley settles into his office chair, chuckling at the sight of a sparkly 40th-anniversary banner someone snuck in and hung on a cabinet.

He and his staff are pulling out the stops to celebrate the milestone by bringing in big-name acts such as Louie Anderson and Preacher Lawson.


A club regular for 20 years, Derek Boczkowski, 47, of Rochester Hills will be seeing as many shows as he can this year.

“Mark books the best acts and he has a keen eye for talent,” says Boczkowski, who works in the sports and entertainment industry. “It’s a very enjoyable night out for me. And he has a well-run club so it’s a win-win situation.”

Boczkowski handles the “social coordinating” for his friends, he says. “We meet up at a (nearby) barbecue place and then walk over to the club. It’s easy to get to.”

The comedy club Ridley has nurtured over four decades began because of his own “love affair with the art of comedy,” he explains.

Ridley grew up in Walled Lake in a “showbizzy” family. “There was a cover charge to come to our family reunions,” he says, laughing.

He loved comedy even as a kid. “My parents used to give me a comedy album for birthdays, Christmas,” he says. “I had Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, quite a collection.”

Ridley graduated from Wayne State University with the idea of going into the film business.  He ventured out to Los Angeles hoping to “get in on the ground floor.”

At night he’d stop in at The Comedy Store and The Improv to catch rising comedians. “I got to see Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Robin Williams, all this fabulous live comedy,” he says.

“Mark books the best acts and he has a keen eye for talent. It’s a very enjoyable night out for me. And he has a well-run club so it’s a win-win situation.”
But the search for work didn’t pan out so he came back to the metro area and worked as a waiter. “But I kept that thought (about live comedy) in the back of my mind,” he says.

In 1979, he approached one of his restaurant connections with the idea of starting a club inside an existing restaurant, The Meating Place in Bloomfield Hills.

Ridley would get the door receipts, the owner would sell the food. “It was an immediate success,” he says.

The club moved six times over the years until landing a permanent 400-seat home in Royal Oak in 1991.

Tim Allen, one of Ridley’s early finds in comedy, was the headliner for that big night.

The club is open four nights for comedy, with Wednesdays devoted to newcomers trying out “Open Mic.”

Club regulars Steve and Patty Smith of Warren went to an Open Mic Night three years ago. “We fell in love with (the club),” Patty says. “It’s so much fun.”

Steve, a teacher, loves how affordable tickets are. “Mark does a remarkable job of getting talent there on a regular basis,” he says.

Patty, who handles purchasing for a small auto supplier, loves that tickets are easy to buy online and that she receives emails alerting her about upcoming comedians.

Comedy great Kathleen Madigan is one of Patty’s favorites. “I’ve seen her there six times,” she says. “Normally she plays larger venues but she is willing to come (to Ridley’s club). That tells you something about Mark as a person.”

The club offers comedy training, and also is the site of many charitable events. “We’ve got 25 events on the books already this year,” says Ridley.

Two walls in the club are covered with photos of the comedians who have stood onstage over the years. Everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Ellen Degeneres is up there.

Ridley, now 68, says he opened the club at “the right moment.” There wasn’t much competition and new young standup comics were just coming on the scene.

The club was remodeled a few years ago, and additional touches (carpeting, etc.)  are coming this year, says the boss.

Ridley is grooming his stepson Casey Cullen to take over one day, but not quite yet.

My wife Sara and I talked about who we’ll have here for the 50th anniversary,” he says. “I’m not quitting.”

Open Mic Nights cost $5 and start 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
90-minute comedy shows run Thursday-Saturday
Thursdays show 7:30 p.m., tickets $10-30
Fridays shows 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., $18-35
Saturdays shows 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $18-35
Ample parking, menu includes burgers, fries, nachos, pretzel sticks, full bar. No smoking.

310 South Troy Street,
Royal Oak, MI 48067














Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers

Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers

Joe’s Army Navy: A Great Place for Stocking Stuffers




LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

Jeff Goldsmith has never met a gas mask he didn’t like. Good thing for him they fit right in at Joe’s Army Navy Surplus.

Jeff Goldsmith is now the owner of the store, which has been a Royal Oak mainstay since 1976.

“Dad bought the business with a partner in 1972 when it was in Pontiac,” said Goldsmith.



After Goldsmith’s dad, Herman, split with his business partner in the 1970s, he kept the Pontiac store, while the ex-partner opened a store in Royal Oak. Herman decided to move the store from Pontiac to Waterford, where they still do a brisk business.

Jeff Goldsmith joined his father in the business in 1985.

Three years later, Herman bought the inventory from the Royal Oak store in a bank auction from his ex-partner and re-opened Joe’s Army Navy in Royal Oak on Main Street. Then, in 2001, as parking became more and more of an issue, they moved the store north on Woodward Avenue.

Now, at 87, Herman is retired, but still comes in to the store every day. “He does the payables, but he’s not as active on the floor as he used to be,” said Jeff Goldsmith. “He makes my life easier.”

While the store carries family history for the Goldsmiths, it’s a virtual treasure trove for military enthusiasts, preppers, those who spend a lot of time outdoors and anyone who is serious about staying warm in the winter.

Joe’s carries all kinds of cold weather gear from authentic military pea coats, hats and gloves, to Carhartt brand apparel, boots that protect against the cold to minus 10 degrees and long johns.

Not what you’re looking for? Goldsmith said he has 200 kinds of pocket knives, 40 different tactical boots, 30 distinctive tent stakes, 12 brands of military and commercial blankets and a wall of bags.

“And year-round we sell thousands and thousands of socks,” said Goldsmith.

“If you’re looking for gear, they’ve got it from A to Z here.”

Not blind to the conveniences of online shopping, Goldsmith is proud to be able to offer those who need a break from the cold an excellent selection, without the wait for delivery.

Michael Stone, of Warren, is one of those people. “I was looking for a pair of boots,” he said. “I have construction boots on and sometimes they just don’t cut it. If you’re looking for gear, they’ve got it from A to Z here.”

Stone said that this purchase was his first at Joe’s Army Navy, but it won’t be his last. In fact, he plans on bringing his girlfriend to the store soon to do some shopping.

But Joe’s Army Navy has even more interesting things going for it. Take the military surplus items available. While the United States military no longer sells surplus items at auction, other countries still do. Shoppers can find coats from Germany, gas masks from Israel and blankets from Croatia. A wall of ammo cans in every size and camouflage tarping is at the back of the store. Military carry consignment items are also available, so those interested in U.S. military items can find a few gems, too.

“Army Navy stores have an aura of ‘You never know what you’ll find,’” said Goldsmith. “I don’t want them to find something they can get in a Dick’s or Dunham’s. We’re kind of a catch-all.”

Shoppers can also have personalized military dog tags made in the store for just one person, or a whole party. Morale patches, military pins, first aid supplies, flashlights and MREs—meals ready to eat—all make unique gift ideas.

“We’re like the kings of stocking stuffers,” said Goldsmith.

32302 Woodward Ave
Royal Oak, MI 48073

981 West Huron
Waterford, MI 48328








From a Family of Rock Collectors to a Royal Oak Staple

From a Family of Rock Collectors to a Royal Oak Staple

From a Family of Rock Collectors to a Royal Oak Staple
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
The Royal Oak jewelry staple, Miner’s Den, came about because Mike Schowalter’s mother had had enough.

The Showalters are a family of rock collectors and every vacation was spent in mines, on beaches or in the Upper Peninsula collecting rocks.

“Back in the early ‘70s our hobby had risen to the point where our garage was full, and my mother was getting perturbed,” said Mike Showalter. “So, my father rented a building on Rochester Road.”


It was a small store front—office space, really. The Miner’s Den soon became a Mecca for rock hounds—the Showalters would polish and cut the rocks and gems hobbyist geologists brought to them.

“Our business evolved from catering to the hobbyist for cutting rocks and cutting gems, then carrying the machines to make jewelry, then to making jewelry ourselves,” said Showalter. “For a long time, we were doing repairs and creations for other jewelers, but we do our own now.”

While still in the original location bought by Frank Showalter, Miner’s Den now covers five adjacent office spaces and is run by three siblings: Mike Showalter, Tom Showalter and Barbara Tourangeau. Their parents also worked at the store until they passed away.

“The name ‘Miner’s Den,’ came from miners in the family,” said Showalter. “Dad was a gold miner in Alaska and as kids it was our passion to mine and collect rocks.”

Laid out by price point, there’s something for every budget at Miner’s Den.

“There are fun gifts in jewelry and there’s important times in jewelry,” said Showalter.

At one end of the store, customers who enjoy geology can find rocks, gems, fossils and more.

Miner’s Den also has a large selection of polished rocks and gems that are indigenous to Michigan, with plenty of Petoskey stone, meteorite and even some fordite, which is taken from automotive plants. Fordite is layers and layers of paint that is removed from the robotic arms that paint cars. After fordite is set and polished, different wave patterns in various colors pop.

Jean Guccini of Royal Oak is a long-time customer of Miner’s Den.

“I have been coming here for Christmas gifts for at least 10 years,” Guccini said. “You get very personalized service.”

In fact, Guccini recently brought one of her mother’s rings to the store to be resized as a gift. Guccini’s granddaughter was graduating from college and she wanted to give her something special.

“It was important to me to have the confidence to leave the ring with people who will take care of it,” Guccini said.

The other side of the store is fine jewelry.

“It was important to me to have the confidence to leave the ring with people who will take care of it.”
Designers use the latest in CAD/CAM computer programs with a 3D printer and blue light scanning to ensure customers get the perfect creation.

“Our biggest product line is custom engagement rings created in house at a more favorable price than those that are mass produced,” said Showalter.

They also created a special-cut for a diamond to nearly double the facets making it even more radiant—The Big Bang Diamond.

“The normal diamond one encounters is the 58-facet what’s called the modern brilliant cut,” said Showalter. “We’ve taken it a step further and modified the 58-facet modern brilliant cut to what we call our Big Bang Diamond. With extra facets to the point where we have 89 facets.”

Miner’s Den also carries Excalibur diamonds—lab created, 100-percent real diamonds grown in the laboratory. Nothing distinguishes Excalibur diamonds from geologic diamonds except very specific lab testing. Those in the market for a larger diamond on a budget find these gems more affordable.

“The beauty of what we have going on here, is you can recognize how enthusiastic we are. It’s the team,” said Showalter. “They love working on the design, it’s just their passion. We’re really, really lucky. I just like to look at the success of the employees here. They’ve allowed me to step back a little bit and have less responsibility. They want to take projects on themselves and grow to their potential.”

The skill and talent of the jewelers is renowned.

“We are the people that are referred to if nobody else can repair it because we have a diverse group of experience. They have the ability to look at, and fix, damn near anything,” Showalter said of the jewelers on site.

“Our common cause here is making the customer happy. We just relish every day. What a great crew we have here,” said Showalter.

3417 S. Rochester Road,
Royal Oak, Michigan 48073









Sweet Treat: Mrs. Mason’s Co. Premium Brittle

Sweet Treat: Mrs. Mason’s Co. Premium Brittle

Sweet Treat: Mrs. Mason’s Co. Premium Brittle
LBN Community Series
Royal Oak
Vonnie Miller has been hooked on Mrs. Mason’s scrumptious brittles nearly 20 years.

“It’s crunchier than other brittles,” says Miller, who is the community development director at Stagecrafters in Royal Oak.

“Hers is so natural.”



Brittle is candy generally created with embedded nuts. But don’t assume Mrs. Mason’s in Royal Oak is anything like the thin, hard version you find at holiday gatherings.

Hers comes in eight delectable varieties, many covered with chocolate. What’s so different?

“The texture is crisp, not hard,” Mason explains. “We have unique ingredients. Five of the varieties have a dried fruit in the middle.”

Rick Carmody has known Mason since they worked together in the 1990s.

“She would occasionally bring in her brittle (to work),” says Carmody of Detroit.

Carmody admits he isn’t a “sweets person,” but there is something about Mason’s candies.

“I have four boxes now to give as gifts and I walk into the kitchen and think, ‘Do I have to give one to so-and-so?’ Hers is just so correct, so great,” he says.

Carmody will buy a tray of Mrs. Mason’s brittle for dinner parties. “And the tray will be gone by the end of the evening. Maybe they’re putting (the brittle) in their purses?” he wonders.

Mason sells her brittle online and in her shop on South Washington Street.

The adventure started when a friend gave Mason a peanut brittle recipe years ago.

“I immediately changed it,” says Mason with a smile. “Why? Because I’m a creative person.”

She went to work upgrading the ingredients, substituting pure cane sugar for corn syrup. Creating the mouth-watering brittles in her home, she gave them away to friends and her children’s teachers as gifts.

“For years people said, ‘You should go into the business selling it,’” says Mason.

She took the leap in 1994 and began selling the brittles. In 2001 she opened a small shop on 11Mile in Royal Oak, selling a whopping 17 different varieties. That business closed in 2004. Then in September, 2017, Mason started cooking again, selling her brittles online.

In September 2018, she opened the current Royal Oak shop with eight brittles.

“You see it and you know somebody thought a lot about it.”
“People wanted to be able to pop in on their way to a party or to pick up some rather than have it shipped,” says Mason.

Inventory at the 500-square-foot store is kept low to ensure the product, created at a nearby commercial kitchen, is always fresh. “It’s very labor-intensive,” she says.

Even the brittle descriptions sound delicious. Take “Best Friends” brittle, made with white chocolate with a drizzle of dark chocolate and on the flipside, dark chocolate drizzled with white chocolate. Yum!

The eye-catching metallic gold boxes of brittle make gift-giving easy.

“We are known for our packaging,” says Mason. “We can change the ribbon or add any

Mason created the packaging.

“I tried to keep it classic so it would be relevant year after year.”

Inside her shop, Mason and her staff can create custom packages for weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate events or any special occasion. Recently boxes of Mrs. Mason’s brittles placed on the hotel beds of visiting shareholders attending a Birmingham meeting, she says.

Vonnie Miller believes the packages draw people into the store.

“You see it and you know somebody thought a lot about it,” says Miller.

Prices for the various package range from $3.95 up to $52.95, depending on weight. The brittles can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Mason’s company philosophy – Love, Kindness, Generosity, Abundance and Peace – guide her in her business.

“This is what I am about,” she says, pointing to the five philosophy signs on her shop wall.

She had an epiphany back before she began her business.

“I looked to see what I was committed to,” she says. “How do I express that? It came through the candy.”

Mrs. Mason’s Co.
619 S. Washington St.,
Royal Oak, MI 48067












At Scrubbers, Dogs and Cats are Groovin’ to the Grooming

At Scrubbers, Dogs and Cats are Groovin’ to the Grooming

At Scrubbers, Dogs and Cats Are Groovin’ to the Grooming



LBN Community Series
Royal Oak

Just off the corner of Webster and Woodward in Royal Oak, a steady parade of customers is streaming into Scrubbers, fur babies in tow, all of the latter in need of a good bath.

Dennielle McIver, a Royal Oak MS LPC (Master of Science, Licensed Professional Counselor) just popped in with Happy, an adorable Pomsky puppy that she is training to be an emotional support dog. The Pomeranian/Husky mix, hugging McIver like a baby, is a ball of thick black fur. Today is his first grooming.

Ilza Berzins comes in just after McIver, toting her Cockapoo, Fifi, and her Havanese, Lula. The Beverly Hills dog owner says she’s been a Scrubbers customer for a year, for trims and other grooming. “They’re great here—always on time, and they do a good job,” she says, holding both dogs.



Buster—aka The Shop Dog—an 11-year-old terrier-mix rescued from the Michigan Humane Society, pads out near the front desk, sniffing the thrice-his-size Godendoodle that’s just come in. As each new dog enters, the barking amps up. Buster, who belongs to Scrubbers groomer Candace Jude, seems cool with that.

Amid all of this canine cacophony is Nikki Budaj-Chatfield, 32, herself an oasis of calm. The mother of two young children and co-owner of this and two other Scrubbers locations in Oakland County stands at the counter, fielding new customers, phone calls and questions. The barking doesn’t faze her. She knows once the dogs relax, they get into the groove and come out clean and manicured in the end.

Cats are welcome here, too, for professional nail and other trimming, shaving, bathing and brushing. “As long as owners are comfortable bathing their cats, they’re welcome for self-serve as well,” says Budaj-Chatfield.

While most clients are leaving their pets with the grooming staff for nail trims and other primping this morning, they’re welcome to do their own, seven days a week. Scrubbers offers five tubs with shampoo, face wash, combs, rakes, scrubbers and even mouthwash, plus fluffy towels and blow-dry stations to make Fluffy even fluffier.

“It’s great to build relationships with our customers and recognize them when they come in. The customers really appreciate that.”

The tubs are large enough to accommodate Scrubbers’ biggest canine customer, a 240- pound English Mastiff.

Budaj-Chatfield bought Scrubbers in May of 2012 as a turnkey business from its previous owner. “He was afraid the business was going to plateau, but we doubled the business within six months,” says Nikki. 

Scrubbers has been growing ever since, adding locations in West Bloomfield, where she grew up, and Rochester Hills, the newest, almost a year old. Now the Royal Oak location is expanding 1,200 more square feet to the suite next door, with four new grooming tables, two tubs and a blow-dry and crate area, all of which should be completed by November.

“We’ve just rebranded ourselves so we can to get into franchising,” says Budaj-Chatfield. She and her husband, co-owner Jim Chatfield, 50, plan to franchise locations starting in early 2019.

The couple met when she bought Scrubbers. “He was the previous owner’s best friend. He was helping out to teach me the business, we became good friends, and then things just happened. I always joke that I bought the husband and got a free business.”

Budaj-Chatfield has always loved animals. She rescued her first dog from a shelter when she was 18, and while attending Western Michigan University as a nursing student, she eventually fostered and adopted out 35 cats and dogs through the Kalamazoo County Animal Rescue.

That experience changed her career path. “I decided I didn’t like (taking care of) people,” she laughs. “I like animals way better.”

After college, she moved back home and immediately started training as a groomer for the now-defunct Aussie Pet Mobile. “The girl who trained me back in 2009 is now my grooming manager, Crystal Goldsmith,” says Budaj-Chatfield, whose employees number 15 to 20 during most months. “I love my employees—everybody is family here.”

While there are many challenges as a small business owner, Budaj-Chatfield says the joys outweigh the perils: “It’s always a fast-paced job, we’re not sitting behind a desk, rotting away. It’s a physical job, so we’re always up and moving.”

She says her favorite part of the job is that she gets to play with dogs all day, despite the janitorial duties that go along with it. “We’re constantly cleaning floors, doing laundry.”

Plus, she adds, “It’s great to build relationships with our customers and recognize them when they come in. The customers really appreciate that.”

Prices for professional grooming vary due to the dog type, coat and condition, from about $35 to $150 for double-coated breeds.

2713 W. Webster
Royal Oak, MI 48073