Heard on the Street June 2019 – Water Taxi Anchored in Red Tape

Plans for a water taxi service operating along the Windsor and Detroit riverfronts may not be completed until the fall because of issues related to government approvals on both sides of the border. Anthony Ranallo, Chief Executive Officer of Windsor River Cruises, believes a stop on the Detroit side of the border is essential to the project’s success and that has required approvals from governments on both sides of the border. “Sheer numbers,” declares Ranallo when asked why Detroit is important. “About 6,600 people cross the border every day and we believe a great many would use our service for various reasons.” Other planned stops along the route would include Amherstburg, LaSalle, downtown Windsor, Lakeview Marina and possibly, Lakeshore. “We are essentially ready to go,” Ranallo explains. “Right now, it’s a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

Construction of Bluewater Pools & Spas new showroom and garden centre at 2531 Dougall Avenue (adjacent lot to their 2541 Dougall location) is expected to be completed by late summer. The Windsor company, owned by Mike Shanahan and Margaret Ketler, has been in business for over 50 years and is now working in conjunction with The Great Outdoors, a pool and landscaping company previously based in Lakeshore. The new building is about triple the size of its previous retail store and is being built at a cost of $1 million, according to the City of Windsor’s building department. Bluewater, meanwhile, is continuing to support Family Respite Services Windsor-Essex and its annual fundraising campaign by donating a $5,000 gift card and a fire pit. And Plantscape Windsor is donating a $1,000 gift voucher. The main prize in the “Raffle 4 Respite” is a backyard makeover. “We are always extremely grateful to the companies that donate and support us every year,” says Alexandria Fischer, Community Relations Officer for Family Respite Services. The organization provides respite programs and community-based activities for families and children with disabilities at municipal community centres across Essex County. “We believe it’s extremely important to provide children with activities and their families with a much-need respite,” adds Fischer. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10. 

Seeking to keep Ilona Wojdylo’s memory alive, her sons Christian and Patrick are continuing to operate K. Michael’s Flowers & Gifts where their mother was the creative force. Ilona passed away on March 26 and while the shop at 4974 Tecumseh Road East was closed for a month, her sons soon decided to re-open. “We were inspired by our mom’s legacy to continue operating the business,” says Christian. The shop re-opened just before Mother’s Day and Christian adds the fact that “we were busy with deliveries and orders brought life back to the shop and we believe it was the right decision.” Christian operates the store on a full time basis while Patrick, who is hoping to become a police officer, helps out most days. The family bought the business, which was established in 2005, in 2010. “It wasn’t doing that well at the time and we made some changes by doing more with social media and online orders, as well as adding a wider range of gift baskets and other items,” explains Christian. “My mom had the motivation and energy to run this business even when she was ill and if there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t always fully appreciate what you have until it’s gone.”

Windsor’s diverse population, particularly on the city’s west side near the University of Windsor, is driving the hospitality industry into launching new franchises focusing largely on Asian and East Indian cuisine. Anthony Pipolo of NuFusion & Associates (1179 Lauzon Road), a company that works with the hospitality industry in developing new restaurants, says it’s an exciting time for the industry and there’s a great deal of interest in investing in Windsor. Among the new franchises are Hot Star, a Taiwan-based deep-fried chicken chain, open at 1794 University Avenue West; Migu Forest, which specializes in Chinese crepes, is opening on Wyandotte Street West; and Dagu Rice Noodles is also preparing to open on Wyandotte Street West. Elsewhere in Windsor, Mumma’s Burritos is opening its fourth Windsor-area location at 1451 Lauzon Road on the city’s east side, and NuFusion has just finished working with Pepitos Grilled Subs, which focuses on Venezuelan grilled subs, in the food court at Devonshire Mall.

Billiards Plus, which had occupied a building at 1222 Lesperance Road in Tecumseh for the past 13 years, may not be relocating as quickly as had been anticipated. In April, a notice on the store’s website indicated the store was moving, but offered no further details. In May, a notice on the same website stated the business currently does not have a retail store and that orders would be accepted either by phone or email. The store sells pool tables, cues, cue racks, table covers, bar stools, air hockey games, table tennis tables and accessories, as well as darts, dartboards and poker tables. Store owners couldn’t be reached for comment before press time.

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