July 10, 2013 - Clarkston now has another top notch creation from local restaurateurs Curt Catallo and Ann Stevenson.
Together the married duo own the Union and Union Woodshop restaurants as well as the Union General Shop in Clarkston-which together are dubbed the "Union Joints". The couple also own Vinsetta Garage, a restaurant in Berkley, and will soon open a new restaurant in Fenton called the Fenton Fire Hall.
Their newest endeavor includes purchasing and redecorating 90 N. Main, the former Town Hall on Main Street in downtown Clarkston. Built by Henry Ford, the structure has seen a lot of action and has housed factories, artisans and many more types of business ventures.
Catallo, who grew up in Clarkston, said he sees 90 N. Main as a beautiful part of Clarkston history. "The Town Hall to me has always been an incredible building," he said. "I'm thankful we have had the opportunity to reprise and restore the location."
Reprise and restore is an understatement for what the location has become. Some call it a work of art-hand crafted by Stevenson-and her obvious eye for design. "We wanted to take a traditional building and make it non-traditional," said Stevenson, who designs every establishment the couple owns.
There are three buildings on the 90 N. Main parcel, which together house 75 employees. One building houses Union Joints accountants and staff, and the other two buildings house AdWorks.
All of the buildings have an open floor plan, are full of color and have in Stevenson's words, "A mix of sleek, raw and industrial style." She added that open floor plans were once a common feature of workspaces. "There is a reason people used to work like that," said Stevenson.
Stevenson and Catallo said they have been lucky to acquire such beautiful buildings and they have learned from the restaurant business that people flock to beautiful spaces. Catallo said it's his wife's eye for design that puts the magic in each establishment. "She has talents that make all the difference," he said.
Both appreciate the personality of each building, and consider it during the design process. "The space always leads the dance," Catallo confessed.
Stevenson revamped 90 N. Main with features like unique lighting fixtures and wallpaper. Original woodworks had been all refurbished by Washington Management, a Clarkston company that owned the building before Stevenson and Catallo.
Peg Roth and her husband Bob, owners of Washington Management, said when they had purchased the building it was a mess at first. "We filled dumpsters and dumpsters full of stuff and cleaned out the building," said Peg. Washington Management restored the old woodwork throughout the building, which Stevenson said really adds to its character.
Stevenson said the character-filled buildings were like an open canvas. "They have a very serendipitous feel."
Stevenson and Catallo agree that open space and color is an environment that fosters employee creativity.
"People work better in beautiful scenery, and natural light," said Stevenson. "I also wanted to make it so it felt like there was no indoor-outdoor separation. We wanted it bright and colorful for employees and wanted every day in this building to be a joy."
Employees can dine in a modern bright red kitchen with a fridge stocked with a variety of snacks like ice cream and cupcakes-lunch is often provided by Catallo and Stevenson. Other amenities include employee showers and a fun area in rear of the building near the lake.
Catallo said the creative environment will show itself in an employees work.
"We are asking our employees to create world class work, and it only helps if they are inspired by the setting they are in. Our employees are working hard and putting in long hours. They are giving us their time and talent, so it's the least we can do for them," he said.
AdWorks is home a variety of staff from editors, writers, accountants, programmers, multi-media specialists, art buyers to art directors. Catallo said AdWorks started out with 35 employees that marketed the restaurants, and later gained the Chrysler Group as a client.
"It really grew into its own in 2009," he said. The client list has grown to include Kid's Rock's beer line, Coup Eagle Aviation, Alpine Electronics, Scott Shuptrine Interiors and the largest vehicle transport company in the world, Reliable Carriers.
Both Catallo and Stevenson often express in conversation how thankful they are people have been receptive to their work. Catallo said Clarkston is full of great people and places. "It's a great little town," he expressed.
Catallo has received recognition for his endeavors. In 2012, he was nominated Clarkston's Business Person of the year. In 2011, Kid Rock and TV personality Guy Fieri visited the Union General to showcase the restaurants famous Mac n' Cheese on a Food Network show. AdWorks grand opening gala is being planned for the location on Aug. 8.