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Rita O’Brien Design Group: Inspirational Interiors

Rita O’Brien Design Group: Inspirational Interiors

Rita O’Brien Design Group:
Inspirational Interiors




LBN Community Series

It’s a jam-packed day for Rita O’Brien.

The interior designer spent the morning at her client’s house in Clarkston, overseeing a demo of the kitchen, and now they’re back at O’Brien’s office and showroom in Troy’s Michigan Design Center, selecting pieces that will go in the room. Later on, O’Brien will board a bus with a bunch of her designer pals to check out the Junior League of Detroit’s Designer Showcase at the Fisher Mansion in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood.



Then it’s back to work on the kitchen renovation the next day with her client, Karrie DeLuca, who sings nothing but praises for O’Brien, from her ever-sunny disposition to her insightful ideas for transforming spaces.

“She did our pool house,” says DeLuca. “”We had lived in Asia and wanted a Balinese look. I met with Rita, and she was able to take what was in my head and make it happen. It was exactly as I hoped it would be.”

DeLuca loved O’Brien’s work so much that she asked O’Brien to do her kitchen. That project should be completed by Christmas.


As head of O’Brien Design Group, the designer has racked up a slew of awards, numerous magazine articles, and has earned a reputation as “The Color Whisperer” for her expertise at choosing perfect shades.

O’Brien has always had a flair for design—she recalls helping her mother rearrange things as a young girl—but she hasn’t always been an interior designer. Her first job in her hometown of Cleveland was a reservationist for United Airlines, moving up as a gate agent at the Cleveland Airport, then a manager of the airline’s Red Carpet Club, then training and development of the travel-agency industry for UA’s Chicago office, and after that, she opened her own travel-incentive company, Target Travel.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”

Her transition into interior design began while she was living in Chicago. Her first client there wanted an entire home redone. “It was trial by fire,” she recalls, but luckily she had the massive Merchandise Mart at her disposal, and she availed herself of many sales reps who helped her learn the business.

Ten years ago, after moving to Michigan, she started her design business in her basement in Birmingham, then moved to a studio at Cole and Hazel in the same city. Two and a half years ago, she moved to the design center, a vast complex of showrooms for high-end home furnishings, lighting, flooring and all things interior.

“This is heaven,” she smiles. “The design center is open to the public and there is no other resource like this in the state. Everything is here for the client as well, so when the client meets me here, we tour the design center.”

O’Brien is one of five interior designers with studios at the MDC. “I don’t have any one style — it depends on my clients’ needs and their tastes. I would say I’m a chameleon. I can do contemporary, eclectic, traditional, over the top, just whatever genre my client wants, that’s what we do.” To stay on top of trends and styles, she goes to High Point, NC, twice a year to see what’s new.

Her design philosophy: “To help the client get the look they’re after but educating them through the process so they can understand scale and color, and if they like a certain style, what can mix with it. I make suggestions and generally people follow them.”

That gives O’Brien, who does loads of renovations from the studs up, a lot of joy. “It’s so rewarding to take a room and transform it completely.”

Some of her suggestions include where to place electrical outlets, where to put light bulbs, what drywall to use, where not to enlarge a space. Scale—too big or too small—is a big issue when people buy something like a sectional, coffee table or dining room set, get it home, and it looks terrible in the room.

“So many times people will say after they hire me: ‘If only I’d met you before I bought this piece,’ because it’s not to scale,” says O’Brien, who either has to work around the piece or it has to go. Her clients have told her “I’m saving money by using you.”

For new clients, she offers a complimentary 30-minute in-studio consultation, and her fees are by the hour or by the project. If you want to change colors in your home, she can schedule a two-hour visit. She also acts as the point person between the client and tradespeople for complete renovations, and has developed a fine network of people she recommends. “I work with many trades that I know are topnotch. You gravitate toward people you can trust—who have your back and you have theirs.”

It’s clear O’Brien has found her perfect niche. She not only loves her challenging work, she loves the people. “It’s a very personal job, because most of my projects are five to six months, and then you do the next room and the next one, and you get to know these people well. They develop a trust with you, and once you’ve done one room, it’s “Oh, I know you get me, you understand what I want.”

O’Brien works on eight to 12 projects at a time for a plethora of clients. Her white board in the rear of her studio reflects a busy but organized schedule. She carries unique items such as customized leather “quote” books, home furnishings and private furniture lines. Her company also represents many Detroit artists, whose lively, mostly abstract works punctuate her showroom walls. Her husband, Tom O’Brien, reps the artists, who include Tony Roko, Darcel Deneau, Claudia Hershman, Laurel Pitynski, Mark Wolak, Michael O’Reilly, Sue Zinger and others.

So does Rita O’Brien, the designer with the unflappable spirit, ever get frustrated? Not really.

“Sometimes you know if they only removed the one piece, it would be better. But you have to honor the fact that that one piece is special to them. What I find exciting is that there’s this one piece that I have to use and surround it and make it look beautiful.”

Rita O’Brien Design Group
Michigan Design Center
1700 Stutz Dr., Suite 115
Troy, MI 48084













Troy’s I Love Juice Bar: Renew Energy and Health Deliciously with Fresh-Made Food and Drinks

Troy’s I Love Juice Bar: Renew Energy and Health Deliciously with Fresh-Made Food and Drinks

Troy’s I Love Juice Bar:
Renew Energy and Health Deliciously with Fresh-Made Food and Drinks
LBN Community Series
When Maggie Morgan’s babysitter began raving about I Love Juice Bar on Crooks Road near Big Beaver in Troy, Morgan began to have new hope for her family’s health and wellbeing.
“My husband is in medical school,” Morgan shares, “and, since I work full-time and have two pre-school children, sometimes it’s hard to make sure everyone eats right all the time.”

“But my babysitter recently brought me a bottle of I Love Juice Bar’s ‘Sweet Green Juice,’ an order of the most amazing spring rolls – in gluten-free rice paper! — and some of their vegan Pad Thai, and now I am hooked on their combo special: an entrée item and a sixteen-ounce bottle of juice for $9.95, packed with nutrition and so delicious! And my husband can drink all of their great juices instead of the horrible Mountain Dew he’d been living on….”



“The best thing,” Morgan adds, “is that after I first had some of the juice, my post-work brain fog and my mood lifted, and I had a wonderful feeling of energy. I happily started some laundry and then took the kids to the park for the evening. We even walked there instead of driving!”

“So many of our customers tell us about the almost-instant feeling of wellness they experience after having our all-natural juices, smoothies and ‘shots,’” says Gregg Warner who, with wife Hillary Warner (who is a nurse anesthetist), opened I Love Juice Bar in April.


“It’s amazing,” adds Hillary, whose favorite juice is We Got the Beet (beet, carrot, apple, ginger, and lemon). “My hair and nails are growing like crazy since we’ve been here – and I have the energy to maintain our wonderful, busy life of raising three young children, working at the hospital, and having the Juice Bar.”

Gregg and Hillary have always enjoyed a lifestyle of health and fitness maintenance.


“The company motto is ‘Have fun and be amazing,’” says Gregg. “We love what we do. We’re very glad to be here, catering to businesses, families and individuals, in this fun and amazing city of Troy.”

“After workouts, I’d visit a local smoothie place,” says Gregg. “One day, the customer in line ahead of me ordered his smoothie without sugar. I asked him, ‘You mean, they actually add sugar to their smoothies?’ That’s how I learned that many places’ smoothies and juices are not actually as healthy as we might think.”

That experience prompted Gregg and Hillary to research area juice and smoothie restaurants and, when they discovered the I Love Juice Bar franchise, the passion and product of that business resonated so strongly with them that they decided to open one in Troy.


The first I Love Juice Bar was opened in 2013 in Brentwood, Tennessee, by John and Vui Hunt.

On their company’s website, John describes a time when his corporate job was creating such stress in his life that he was eating poorly and had gained 50 pounds.

“One night around 11 p.m., I found myself on the couch, eating cookies and ice cream, looking for relief,” John relates.


“I stumbled on the documentary Fat, Sick and nearly Dead (about an overweight, unhealthy man who regains his health after going on a two-month juice cleanse), and it really inspired me.”

He found a juicer in his garage that belonged to his wife, Vui, a vegetarian chef who had owned an Atlanta restaurant called Veggieland. After a two-week cleanse and with renewed health and vigor, the Hunts decided to purchase a Brentwood sandwich shop that was for sale and to sell healthy drinks – without sugar, ice or artificial ingredients of any kind — and vegetarian soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees.


According to Barron’s investment insight magazine, the juicing industry is $5 billion annually, with a growth rate of 4-5%. There are now more than 50 franchise I Love Juice Bar locations throughout the United States and Canada.

“We help people by providing a great product – quickly – that is tasty and good for them. Just because many people are in a hurry these days does not mean that we should still not be able to eat well,” John says. “People bring us thank-you cards, telling us how much weight they lost or how they were able to stop taking as many medications…That’s really what we want to do for our customers. That, and offer a great experience daily.”

And at Troy’s location, many customers are enjoying a great experience daily.

“We really love seeing the high school students and other kids who come in after hockey practice or on their way home to get their favorite drink,” says Gregg.

“And,” Hillary adds, “Many of the kids get a ‘smoothie bowl,’ which is like a healthy version of an ice cream sundae. The Dragon Fruit Bowl, with frozen mango, banana, strawberries, and dragon fruit; apple juice and local honey, topped with granola, is very popular.”

“So is the PBJ smoothie, which tastes just like a cool-and-creamy, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich,” Gregg smiles. “It happens to be my favorite!”

Local retiree, Patricia Caverly, comes in once a week.

“There is nothing better than stopping by I Love Juice Bar while I’m running errands,” Caverly says. “Yes, I could make a green smoothie at home. But I live alone, and would have to buy so many different greens and vegetables to make one this good. So, I treat myself here.”

“Our Super Greens Juice is one of our most popular,” says Hillary. “And the ounce of wheatgrass juice in it is equivalent to two pounds of greens! We’re very lucky to have our assistant manager, Jeremy Curry, to prepare everything and to prep the produce.”

“Jeremy has a great palate and a special knack for tweaking the juices with just the right amount of lemon, or mint, or ginger.” 

“The Warners are great to work for,” says Jeremy, as he creates a glass of Orange You Glad, a favorite of Gregg’s, with carrot, apple, pineapple, mint, ginger and lemon. “Gregg and Hillary care about you personally. It’s also fantastic to work where everything is so fresh.”

“I love how good it smells when you walk in,” Jeremy says. “We put a lot of love in these juices and into the care of all the produce, all the vegetables.”

“The company motto is ‘Have fun and be amazing,’” says Gregg. “We love what we do. We’re very glad to be here, catering to businesses, families and individuals, in this fun and amazing city of Troy.”


3115 Crooks Road
Troy, MI 48084













Bellagio Hair Studio in Troy Celebrates Fifth-Year Anniversary

Bellagio Hair Studio in Troy Celebrates Fifth-Year Anniversary

For Joan Grohar of Clarkston, driving 25 minutes to get her hair done at Bellagio Hair Studio is well worth it.

“It gives you the feeling of space, even though the square footage is not that large. Even when it’s crowded, you still feel like you’re getting personal attention and you get your spa moment,” Grohar stated. “We lived in Bloomfield for years, so I’m adjusting to driving long distances. This is worth it. That receptionist, when she greats you with that smile, it just makes your day.”

Owner Alissa Johnson

It’s what owner Alissa Johnson strives for in her business: calm, relaxing, welcoming.

“I originally opened the salon with a business partner, but now I’m the sole owner,” she recalled. “There’s a lot in a name, so we’d come up with something and look it up. ‘Bellagio,’ came up and I looked it up right away. It’s a place in Italy that represents ease and relaxation. It was like, ‘Oh! That’s exactly what we want.’”

Now, she’s celebrating the five-year anniversary of opening Bellagio.

The salon offers most hair care services including cuts, hair coloring, keratin and smoothing treatments as well as lash and brow tinting and facial waxing. Customers can also make an appointment for Lash Lift, which is a perm for your lashes.

“Clients sit reclined in a chair with their eyes closed,” explained Johnson. “A collagen patch is placed under the eye. Then, a silicone form goes on the lid and the stylist individually combs your lashes over the form. She puts a solution on and wipes it off. Another solution is put on the lashes, and she wipes it off again. Then she tints them. It’s much better than mascara.”

Another specialized service Bellagio offers is threading. “Threading is more of a technique passed down from generation to generation in Middle Eastern cultures. It removes the brow hair with the follicle intact, so it’s less damaging to your skin,” said Johnson. “Threading is a little more uncomfortable, but it’s a smoother finish and it’s definitely an art form. But it’s a personal preference. Threading takes about 15 to 20 minutes for both brows.”

But Bellagio is more than a place to get beautified. “We really wanted to create a space where people feel connected,” shared Johnson.

After working and managing several salons, Johnson and her business partner tired of the chaos and drama that seemed to be part of the business. That’s why the name “Bellagio” was so important to get right. “Even when it’s very busy, it’s not chaotic. Our demeanors are very calm. We all help each other. It can be busy, but it stays fluid,” she said.

Grohar isn’t the only client who notices the warm, soothing difference at Bellagio.

Annemarie Eichberger of Rochester has been Johnson’s client for more than 20 years. She even brings her daughters to Bellagio to have their hair done. “I’ve known Alissa since she was an assistant in another salon and I’ve followed her. I just like how she does her cuts, colors and her demeanor,” explained Eichberger. “It’s a nice atmosphere. Some of the other salons are really loud and there’s a lot of chaos. This is just calm. Everyone’s very friendly. They greet you at the door.”

In addition to traditional salon services, one item not on the menu is client education, but everyone receives it. Stylist Katie Terranova explained, “We educate ourselves on the brands we carry and the techniques and trends in the industry. We were finding with big, brand name products, they started as smaller companies and were bought out. All these brand names have fallen under these big corporate names and they’ve been reformulated. In our recent education, we were reminded of the importance of good, quality ingredients and a good PH balance that comes with them.”

Terranova said now Bellagio carries products sourced within the United States, such as the Detroit Style Company and even Great Lakes Coffee Company.

With 13 stylists, a manager and two receptionists, the team at Bellagio Hair Studio knows Johnson’s mission and vision. “My main goal for everything I was doing behind the chair was servicing my clients,” Johnson said. “We really wanted to go back to what would be considered an old school style. Where people come in, we know their names, we build relationships with clients. It’s more than just hair that we do. It really is cultivating relationships with people.”


Bellagio Hair Studio
1945 W Maple Rd, Troy, MI 48084

Jax Kar Wash: Shining Your Machine for 65 Years

Jax Kar Wash: Shining Your Machine for 65 Years

A lot of crazy things can happen in a car wash. Just ask Bruce Milen or his son Jason Milen, second- and third-generation owners of Jax Kar Wash.

Jason & Bruce Milen, Owners of Jax Kar Wash

While they haven’t witnessed anything like the classic “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode — in which Larry David and Cheryl Hines get stuck in the malfunctioning car wash after she has just downed a dose of colon cleanser — the Milens have their own hilarious stories to laugh about.

Bruce recalls one woman who came in for full service.

“Our final guy put her in the car. She drove off and, unbeknownst to her, one of our guys was still in the back seat.”

Jason remembers one inebriated man who went through with his convertible top down.

They’ve also encountered bags of marijuana left in cars, interiors reeking of pot odor, the guy who laid a gun down on the counter when he was paying for his service (“the cashier freaked out,” he says), and another who left a loaded gun on the seat of the car (“we had to call the customer to get it out—we won’t touch them,” Jason says).

And then, says Bruce, there was the pet owner whose dog had just pooped on the floor, and she left the pile there for the attendants to deal with.

Just another day at Jax.

Effervescent cashier Rose Thompkins greets customers in Jax’s bustling waiting area in Birmingham with the big windows and the long racks that hold everything from candy bars to car mats. Air fresheners are big sellers. The most popular scent among the 25 or so types Jax sells, according to Thompkins, is Little Tree’s Black Ice.

“Definitely Black Ice,” a customer at the register agrees. “It’s good and neutral.”

Here you can also find cell phone accessories, auto wax, towels and cold drinks. Jason says the front stuff isn’t a big part of the business, it’s just for customer convenience.

Marty Weissman watches the steam and suds through the window, waiting for his Mercedes SUV to emerge from the conveyor blower.

“I’ve been coming here for 10 years,” Weissman says, “and this place ranks better than most for the service and the way you can get in and out quickly.”

Weissman, who lives a few blocks from the car wash, is a member of Jax’s Unlimited Club Plan, for which he pays $35 a month. That gives him up to twice-daily full-service (inside and out) washings and discounts on special services, detailing and merchandise. Today, a radio frequency identification reader (RFID) scanned the FastPass sticker at the bottom of his rear windshield after he entered the car wash, without having to hand someone cash — moving things along even more swiftly.

Somewhere, Jack Milen, who founded Jax in 1953 at the corner of Six Mile and Meyers in Detroit, is smiling at the innovations his son Bruce, 70, and grandson Jason, 48, have implemented since his passing in 2003: The RFID scanner; the super-suds, eco-friendly detergents; the ability to use credit cards for monthly payments (Jax had a Club Plan starting in 1956, but because credit cards had not been invented, customers had to pay a yearly fee up front); and the addition of the exterior-only option, so customers can stay in their cars.

“It’s less expensive and appeals to a whole different market,” says Jason.

Over 65 years, the Jax motto, “always put the customer first,” has served the company well, although there was a short, regrettable period when that wasn’t the case: In 1998, the family sold the business to a national chain, which ignored the customer and tried but failed to take the company public. Bruce bought Jax back in 2001, and it has stayed on track ever since. Bruce and Jason both run it together. Bruce does day-to-day operations. Jason does marketing and is in charge of social media.

Jason remembers working for Bruce every Sunday when he was 8 or 9 years old.

“I’d have to clean all the shelves in the lobby — I got a dollar,” he recalls. Starting at age 14, he learned every aspect of the business and watched it grow. Jax currently boasts eight locations in Oakland County and another, the newest, in Macomb County. Bruce says further expansions are planned.

“I love the business,” Jason says. “I love our great customers and our great team members—some have been here 20 years.” In all, there are 300 full-time team members and 200 more part-timers.

The biggest challenge the Milens face are the bottlenecks: The days when nobody comes in, and then all of a sudden six cars are there at the same time for full service. Jax tries to make the experience 25 minutes or less, but when people have to wait, they get mad and post nasty reviews on social media.


“We’re not perfect, but we try to be,” says Jason. “We have a quality guarantee, so we ask that if somebody didn’t have a perfect experience to tell us about it and let us fix it instead of going away mad and posting a bad review on the Internet.”

He and his staff monitor all of the social media comments, good and bad, and he responds to any complaints within one working day. His attendants provide a checklist to every car to review after service, and he hopes people take a look before they leave.

“We’re in the people business,” he says. “We just happen to wash cars.”

Some Fun Jax Facts


  • Since 1953, Jax has washed millions of cars. At least.
  • All that water and dirt that rolls off your car is separated by a system that sends the water to a sewage treatment plant to be neutralized, while the dirt falls into a pit that gets carted away.
  • The soaps are eco-friendly, designed to break down before the blower hits the car at the end of the cycle.
  • Despite summer being a big season for car washing, winter is by far Jax’s busiest time because of all the road salt.
  • A full-service wash takes seven team members: two to vacuum, two to drive, and three to towel dry. When it’s busy, Jax employs up to 20 team members at a time.
  • The worst cleaning mess is vomit; biohazard suits and goggles have to be worn. That goes for blood, often present when cop cars are brought in.

34745 Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48009

27054 Woodward Ave.
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Phone: (248) 547-3450

2835 W. Maple Rd.
Troy, MI 48084

Other locations:

Rochester Hills, Southfield (Telegraph Rd., Southfield Rd.), West Bloomfield, Auburn Hills and Clinton Township

Franskoviak Tax Solutions in Troy: Advocates and Advisors for Every Accounting Need

Franskoviak Tax Solutions in Troy: Advocates and Advisors for Every Accounting Need

When master plumber Raymond Oatman, owner of A-OK Plumbing, Inc., in Plymouth, received his first letter from the IRS stating that he owed over $150,000 in back taxes, he sought help from three different tax professionals to resolve his problem.

“None of those accountants came up with any solutions, and I was getting letters from the IRS saying they were going to seize my house, my vehicles, my business. My life was on hold. It was collapsed,” Oatman says.

The recession of the early 2000s had challenged the nature of small businesses, including Oatman’s.

“The industry changed,” Oatman says, “and I was losing money.”

“Tax problems can originate in many different forms. It could be a divorce, a bankruptcy, a loss of job, a failed business,” says Mike Franskoviak, certified public accountant, and president and chief executive officer of Franskoviak Tax Solutions in Troy.

“One out of twelve American taxpayers has serious tax problems,” he says, “and that includes anybody who owes the IRS over $20,000, has two or more years of unpaid taxes, is being audited or is facing the threat of property liens or seizures.”

“When Raymond Oatman came to see me, we found an offer in compromise and resolution with the IRS. Raymond owed about $150,000 in back payroll taxes, and we settled it for $8,500.  I thought that was a pretty good tax deal.”

Oatman says, “I have never been to an accountant before Franskoviak Tax Solutions who used direct phone contact for ongoing negotiation: true interaction! Then we didn’t have to wait weeks for each letter, etc. I’d been working with those previous three accountants for seven or eight years!”

“By the way,” Oatman adds, “I owed the state $110,000, and Mike settled that for $1,600.”

Oatman has been able to rebuild and expand his business, and it is flourishing.

“I’m paying

my taxes on time and I hope,” he says, chuckling, “to never have to deal with the IRS that way again!”

Franskoviak, who received his graduate degree at Eastern Michigan University and his master’s degree from Colorado State University, and has worked as a tax manager for several firms (including Deloitte Touche in Denver, PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, United Artists Communications in Denver, Volkswagen in Auburn Hills) says, “I was about five years into my CPA business when I noticed how many clients were getting tax notices.”

“It so happens,” he adds, “that I received a flyer for a seminar in Denver teaching CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents how to best solve tax issues, so I attended.”

“The first day of the seminar,” continues Franskoviak, “I was enthralled and ecstatic to learn more of how to solve clients’ problems – and I made the complete commitment and joined the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers.”

In 1996, he opened Franskoviak Tax Solutions in Troy.

“We are a small, hands-on firm,” Franskoviak explains. “Unlike firms who compete against us, we have no high employee turnover. We have consistency in service and are excellent with communication. “

“The biggest complaint against our competitors is from clients who feel like they are a number or are ignored. We return every phone call within 24 hours.”

In addition to specialty tax services, Franskoviak provides many other accounting and tax services for individuals and businesses, including: preparation of business and personal taxes, tax planning and consultation, tax-favored retirement and financial planning, financial statements for business budgeting and loans, bookkeeping and payroll services.

“For small businesses – those making under five million annually – we are a one-stop shop,” says Franskoviak.

One of the services he is offering to established and new clients is explanation of the impact of the new Tax Law of 2017.

“For small businesses, if you operate a C Corporation, your top tax rate will decrease from 35 to 21 percent. If you run an S Corporation, you are allowed to take a deduction equal to 20 percent of your business net profits from your taxable income,” he says.

“For regular taxpayers, there are changes, too,” he continues. “It’s wise to check your withholdings to make sure they’ve been adjusted properly. On their website, the IRS has a tax withholdings calculator.”

“It’s important for people to see their tax advisor.  Or, come to see us,” Franskoviak says. “Let’s not wait until next April, especially people who own a small business. Their changes will be dramatic.  Most of the time it will be favorable – but not always.”

Meanwhile, Franskoviak and his staff continue to bring “dramatic and favorable” solutions to their clients who are faced with serious tax problems.

“Sometimes I feel like a social worker,” Franskoviak shares. “People meet with me. We give them hope. We give them a roadmap to the resolution of their problem.”

“And,” he says, “what we always hear after our first consultation is, ‘I feel better already.’”

Have a tax question?  Email us

Franskoviak Tax Solutions
667 E. Big Beaver Road, Suite 107
Troy, MI  48083

855-TAX-FIXX (855-829-3499)

MOD Pizza Offers Chance to Have Pizza – and Career – “Made-On-Demand”

MOD Pizza Offers Chance to Have Pizza – and Career – “Made-On-Demand”

Kevin Hamilton, general manager of MOD Pizza on Big Beaver Road in Troy, smiles in awe as he stands in the midst of his restaurant’s frenzied, first-day activity.

“Opening this store has been a wonderful, uphill roller coaster,” he says. “This team is amazing. Their personalities bring the MOD experience to life as we serve the freshest, fastest pizzas while also serving the community with employment opportunities and local philanthropy.”

MOD Pizza, with over 330 locations around the United States and Canada, was founded in Seattle in 2008 by Ally and Scott Svenson as they sought out places with healthy, quick and delicious food to eat with their own family of four children.

Having traveled to Italy and enjoyed the thin, crispy, freshly made individual pizzas of the street vendors, the Svensons decided to try the “individual pizza” concept in their hometown of Seattle.

They also wanted to develop a business that would provide special support to its workers and its neighborhood.

Opening at the start of the recession, the Svensons hoped to feed families affordably and to provide jobs for those having trouble finding work, including people with special needs and people rehabilitating from addictions or with past crime records.

“The last thing the world needed was another pizza place,” Ally says on the MOD Pizza website, “but maybe this one could be different…and everyone could get what they wanted, made fresh on demand, for as little as possible with employees paid as much as possible, with opportunities for real growth – and even second chances.”

And, as customers approach the counter to order their pizzas made assembly-line style, they can see and get exactly what they want from a choice of crust sizes, dough type, sauce, cheese and over 30 fresh meat and vegetable toppings, temptingly displayed.

“I’ve just come from a performance I gave at Rochester Schools,” says professional storyteller Barbara Ann Poelman (  “I don’t eat carbs, so all these toppings on my pizza are actually like a hot salad, and the crust is my plate.”

“I predict,” Barbara Ann adds, “that one day MOD Pizza will have an almond crust on the menu, for those of us who eat ketogenically.”  A ketogenic diet, sometimes referred to as “keto,” is very low in carbs and high in fat, producing ketones (broken-down fatty acids) instead of the glucose that would be produced from the metabolic breakdown of carbohydrates.

Bill Thompson stopped in on his way home from work and looks around at all the balloons and jovial staff members.

“I didn’t realize this was their grand opening today,” he says, waiting for a six-inch pizza to eat in the store and a nine-inch pizza to take home in a specially designed, recyclable box that keeps the pizza straight-from-the-oven fresh for twenty minutes.

“It’s my first time at a MOD Pizza,” he continues, “but it won’t be my last! It’s hard to believe that you can get as much of as many toppings as you like for one, set price. And I don’t think I waited even five minutes!”

The pizzas cook quickly in a large, 800-degree brick oven.

“I like my pizza a little more well-done, so that’s how they cook it for me,” says Maureen Neil, who usually goes to the Rochester Hills store with a daughter and grandkids. “And I love the chance to have very light cheese and lots of greens – or anything I’m in the mood for. The salads are fantastic, too. Made-to-order, and just like I’d do at home.”

The Mod Pizza locations in Troy and Rochester Hills are owned by TEAM Schostak ( They also own locations in Brighton, Canton, Chesterfield Township, Livonia, Northville, Shelby Township, Southgate and Woodhaven, and they have plans to have 25 Michigan locations within the next five years.

Paul Whitmore, general manager of Livonia’s MOD Pizza for three years and a Schostak team member for seventeen years, helped with the opening of Troy’s MOD Pizza.

“Our best asset is our team of workers,” Whitmore says. “We hire for personality and train for skill. One of our core values is ‘individuality with responsibility.’ And, we empower our staff to go above-and-beyond in their service.”

“I love working here,” says Jen Hayton, who has worked at the Rochester Hills store for almost two years and helped with Troy’s grand opening. “We have the best boss ever! I love the environment and the people. It’s incredibly fun making the food, and it’s like a second family here.”

“We offer the opportunity for workers to truly be themselves – like butterflies out of their cocoons,” says Hamilton. “And our staff really enjoys our giving-back efforts, when we have events and make donations and thousands of meals for the needy and homeless.”

“Every experience here is special in its own way,” Hamilton says. “And so is every pizza!”

MOD Pizza

770 Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI  48083