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Caffeine lover brews up coffee cocktails in DeWitt

Justin Hartig didn't know a lot about the coffee he was drinking until he realized how much he loved it. So three years ago, he began his studies, visiting as many coffee venues as he could to learn about the power of caffeinated brews.

In February, Hartig's thirst for knowledge culminated in his newest adventure: a 1950s-themed coffee shop with creative coffee drinks in downtown DeWitt. Located at 116 N. Bridge St., The Crafted Bean serves up a half-a-dozen non-alcoholic coffee cocktails that mirror the momentum of the craft brew pub scene.

Customers entering Hartig's shop won't find staff serving up lattes and cappuccinos, but instead a selection of seven coffee drinks that fall on the sweet to savory spectrum. The popular drinks bear monikers like "Bliss," "Chubby Checker" and "Smoking Gun" with blends of ingredients like coconut cream, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract, or infusions of smoke chips and cherry oil.

"We're the third wave of coffee," says Hartig. "We put our own stamp on things. We're creating a culture. There's a process to what goes on here."

The Crafted Bean carries and uses bean from Caveman Coffee, Lucky Duck Premium Coffee, Fresso Coffee Company, and Craft and Mason, and features Blue Owl nitro on tap. Groovy Donuts supplies carbs for dunking.

While coffee cocktails and cold brew are the main attraction, customers are also drawn to the "outlaw" décor. A mural of Johnny Cash provides a focal point within an interior that combines wood beams and rough-cut paneling, runs of aluminum piping, and a black-and-white vinyl floor. A life-sized stand-up of Elvis behind bars doing the "jailhouse rock" evokes memories of when the space was once a bank.

Customers can enjoy an occasional live performance on a small stage. A record exchange invites music lovers to spin vinyl provided by the Record Lounge, as well as to take home a vinyl album from the donated bin.

"We've had a packed house since we've opened," says Hartig. "Once you step in here, you say, 'oh, I get it,' and come back."

Hartig is currently developing his concept for an outside coffee garden that will feature a performance stage. He also purchased a food trailer, and sets his sites on going mobile with a coffee bar and craft waffles to select destinations.

"I love the way this town is going," says Hartig, who also owns the training studio the Human Performance Institute down the block. "Places like Bridge Street Social and the upcoming Looking Glass Brewing Company are making this place a cultural hub. We fit in well. We're friendly outlaws. I think everyone likes us."

The Crafted Bean can seat about 42 people, and created six jobs—three full-time.

Source: Justin Hartig, Owner, The Crafted Bean
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Redevelopment targets two blighted properties downtown Lansing

The former home of Belen Floral is back in bloom as a developer joins the City of Lansing and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership in envisioning a renovation of the once blighted properties.


The Belen Buildings project will involve the complete rehabilitation of the functionally obsolete buildings at 513 and 519 W. Ionia St. The two 1920s era buildings were the longtime home of Lucile Belen's flower shop—and once anchored the downtown neighborhood a few blocks west of the Capitol building. Belen was former Lansing City Council member, businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and member of the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. She passed away at age 97 in 2010.


Vesta Builders has proposed redeveloping the two, two-story buildings into 4,500- square feet of office and retail space on the first floor. The second floor will offer six market-rate residential units.


"The improvements we'll be making will hold true to the historical standards of the 1920s," says Project Developer Scott Schmidt of Vesta Builders. "We'll be enhancing the site with seating areas and rain gardens to increase community green space in the neighborhood."


Schmidt has asked the City of Lansing for a brownfield incentive which would reimburse the developer about $220,420 over the next 19 years. Vesta Builders will fund the costs up front as part of the overall project cost, with reimbursement coming from future increases in property taxes. Developers expect to complete the project by June 2018 once approved by the Lansing City Council and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


"LEAP is excited to be working with Vesta Builders and the City of Lansing to refresh the economic impact of a blight area right in the heart of the State—downtown Lansing," says Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. "The Belen Buildings project will re-activate a space in the downtown neighborhood with new jobs, new residential options, and new retail to be enjoyed by the neighborhood and visitors alike."


The Belen Buildings project will cost about $1.3 million and will create 15 to 20 temporary construction jobs and four to six new permanent jobs.


Source: Victoria Meadows, Marketing and Communications, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Flipping Redheads brings upcycled chic to Charlotte main street

Two friends who shared a love for finding and refinishing discarded furniture are transforming their hobby into a small business in downtown Charlotte.

Jill Felice and Colleen Mandeville are putting all the pieces in place to open Flipping Redheads at 141A S. Cochran at the end of April. The shop, they say, is unlike other furniture or vintage stores since each chair, table, dresser or other functional finds on display has been upcycled with a "red headed twist."

"We're the garage sale queens," says Mandeville.

"We're into upcycling," says Felice.

"We enjoyed it as a hobby and making things for our family," says Mandeville. "We just thought it would be a great opportunity to share what we make with Charlotte."

Felice and Mandeville said their shop will be populated with furniture, knick-knacks and Dixie Bell paint—a specialty chalk-paint line. Customers can browse and purchase pieces from the shop floor or pick a piece to take home and paint it themselves. The two redheads say they are on hand to offer guidance on technique, as well as to paint pieces for creative reuse on demand when asked.

"We tell people to go with their creativity," says Felice. "We learned it all on our own from dabbling. You never know where it will lead you, and you play around until you get something really special."

The redheaded business partners say they take pieces on consignment, and hope to begin offering classes once they get settled into the 9-by-53-foot shop.

"We're hoping to grow and hoping the community likes our creativity," says Felice. "In the meantime, we're enjoying this journey. We're very good friends and have been for about 10 years. It's just relaxing."

Source: Jill Felice and Colleen Mandeville, Co-owners, Flipping Redheads
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Love of sentimental objects drives opening of Vintage Marketplace in Old Town

Jill Rinner started collecting when her grandmother gave her a piece of milk glass at the age of 14. From then on, she was hooked.

As the owner of a new vintage and upcycled goods store in Lansing's Old Town, Rinner has created a business that invites people to experience the depth and breadth of objects from previous times. Her appreciation of vintage and antique goods permeates her life—including everything from her approach to travel to decorating her home to advising others on creating warm, inviting spaces.

"I think people should live with sentimental objects," says Rinner. "Things they have a connection to. People matter the most, but things matter, too. They have the power to remind us of the people and times that have gone before."

In early 2017, Rinner decided to attach a presence to her six-month-old blog "The Life That's Lived There" by opening The Life That's Lived There Vintage Marketplace. She arrived at the juncture after learning that her friend Carol Lamb was retiring and closing Lambs' Gates Antiques at 1219 Turner St. Rinner had been longing to return to curating and running a brick-and-mortar shop. In July 2016, her previous enterprise Bungalow 47 had gone to a distribution-only model to focus on the shop's signature chalk and clay paint line.

"I just had this nagging feeling that I wanted to get a booth somewhere," she says. "So when Carol told me she was retiring and said I should consider taking over the shop and adding my own flair, I did."

The Vintage Marketplace opened March 18 after a couple months of moderate reconfiguring. The shop will continue to feature objects from pickers who supplied Lambs' Gates, as well as Rinner's vintage finds and merchandise like T-shirts, jewelry, leather bags and soap. The shop's footprint includes the main floor plus a refinished basement with seven display rooms—each decked out with themes like rustic, retro, farmhouse, cottage and music. Eventually, she hopes to hold classes in design and upcycling.

Right before opening, Rinner announced an additional element she is bringing to the 2,800 square foot market: an area featuring baked goods from the popular Sweetie-licious. Rinner says the baked good space consists of a counter and case created from picked and salvaged pieces, as well as vintage chairs she found on a recent trip with her daughter.

"This store is a reflection of my passion for vintage décor," says Rinner. "I've always said that my home is the scrapbook of my life. It's filled with the pebbles you've picked up in life—through trips or from loved ones or through collecting. Older items have that pretty patina and history. That's why I love it so much."

The Life That's Lived There Vintage Marketplace will retain the five staff who worked at Lambs' Gate and create two new jobs.

Source: Jill Rinner, Owner, The Life That's Lived There Vintage Marketplace
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Photographer rebrands, opens first official studio in Charlotte

While she's sometimes known around town as "the chicken lady," Amanda Lipsey is probably best known as the self-described "funky little chick who loves her community and her camera."
In January, Lipsey opened the doors to Henwood Studio at 344 N. Cochran in the evolving downtown district of Charlotte, Mich. The 500-square foot studio—her first-ever brick-and-mortar—developed from a photography business she started from her home nine years ago.
And the name?
"That came from my love of chickens," she laughs. "And for helping to get the chicken ordinance passed a few years ago that allows people to own chickens within the Charlotte city limits."
Lipsey found her passion for pictures when her first child was born in 2007. She says she wanted to have his picture taken but had trouble finding someone who could photograph him the way she saw him.
"I'd take him to big box stores where they would have him sit on a stool," she says. "I'd get the pictures back, and I'd think, 'that's not my child. It looks like him, but he's not a sit-and-smile kind of kid."
So Lipsey started snapping pictures on her own using a point-and-shoot Fuji she bought for $100. Friends said they loved what they saw, and encouraged her to take her skills to the next level. She did, fine-tuning her technique through Lansing Community College courses and applying them through her first professional-grade Nikon camera.
"It just grew and my business took off before I was even ready," she says. "I had tried to work other places and do other things, but I kept going back to this. It's what I love and what I love doing full-time."
Lipsey initially launched her business as Amanda Marie Photography in 2007, then rebranded in 2016. She says Henwood Studio will remain true to her specialty of photographing children—from newborns to high school seniors—as well as doing a select number of weddings and other events throughout the year. She also hopes to build her services in social media marketing and design with the help of one or two part-time staff.
"I love photographing kids," says Lipsey, as she circles back to that first "sit-and-smile" experience with her son. "As parents, we know those pictures don't show their real smile. I try to get that real smile you see when you close your eyes and thinking about your child. I set up my sessions so it's fun time where kids can go wild and have fun."
And the parents?
"They can just sit back and relax," she says.
Source: Amanda Lipsey, Owner, Henwood Studio
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Yarn Garden celebrates 10th anniversary, preps for move to bigger space

Lindsay Potter has never been afraid of needles.
In fact, she's made a career based on knitting and other yarn crafts involving sticks and string.
"My husband likes to play video games," says Potter. "While you might get a virtual graphic or reward at the end, with my hobby, I have something I can wrap my family in and keep warm. You spend time creating something that's functional, beautiful and fun to touch."
In 2007, Potter purchased The Yarn Garden, a small, craft-based business in downtown Charlotte across from the Eaton County Courthouse. Potter had worked for the founder Kim Torkko who opened the specialty yarn shop in 2003, and fell in love with the business.
In 10 years, Potter has continued to grow the shop into a small business based on service and helping people learn and refine their talent for knitting and crocheting. With a focus on natural fibers, she carries a variety of yarns and products not typically found in bigger craft stores. She also networks with related independent small businesses, carrying locally dyed yarns, notions and hand-made items like project bags.
As a one-woman shop, Potter coordinates retail as well as the events, classes and social groups, some in cooperation with customers. "Knit alongs," for instance, invite people to drop in and bring their projects, or to work on a shared project together.
"There's a huge social aspect to what we do," says Potter. "People of all ages and professions get together because we have this common thing we enjoy. It's a sense of community, and we've all gone through hard times or experiences. I know I can always count on my knitters."
The popularity of The Yarn Garden inspired Potter to take the next step during her 10th anniversary year and move to a larger space. Coming this spring or early summer, she'll turn the key on the new store just around the corner at 131 S. Cochran Street. At 1,400-square feet, the location is about 400-square feet larger with more usable space for retail and classes.
"And since we'll be right on the main street, the new location will bring me more visibility," says Potter. "That means I'll be able to invite more people in to enjoy the craft."
Source: Lindsay Potter, Owner, The Yarn Garden
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Lansing's LorAnn Oils to expand in South Lansing, create nine jobs

A longtime Lansing-based manufacturer and distributors of premium flavorings and essential oils is expanding for the third time to support the company's continued growth in the 21st century.
LorAnn Oils will stay close to home and add two, single-story additions to the existing building at Aurelius Road. The first structure will entail the construction of a 3,200- square foot addition to the northwest portion of the existing warehouse space. The second will entail the construction of a 3,784-square foot addition to the east portion of the existing office space. The company also acquired a .75-acre parcel to the west of their property to expand parking and construct a new storm-water retention basin.
Founded in 1962 by Okemos pharmacist O.K. Grettenberger, LorAnn Oils originally bottled and distributed about 10 core essential oils like peppermint and cloves to pharmacies. Over the years, the business expanded to sell to a variety of retailers, manufacturers, health practitioners and home consumers in nearly 40 countries.
The company has undergone two previous expansions in south Lansing. The expansions were first approved in 2005 by the City of Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and consisted of a brownfield plan to support the company's continued growth.
"We've simply outgrown our current facilities and this addition will allow us to continue to operate in Lansing without moving," says John Grettenberger, CEO of LorAnn Oils. "The brownfield support helps us justify the purchase and necessary improvements of additional property directly behind LorAnn. Moreover, moving much of our parking behind our building should significantly enhance the street-side appearance of our expanded building."
In early 2017, the City approved an 11-year extension of the original brownfield, which supports the newest expansion. The total project is estimated to cost $1,542,000 and will create about nine new full-time jobs.
"It's a great feeling to be able to help a family-owned Lansing business stay true to its roots, while improving on the region and south Lansing," says Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership. "LorAnn Oils is an internationally-respected producer and distributor of high-quality specialty flavorings, and this expansion emphasizes that the global mindset of our region is going strong."
Source: Victoria Meadow, Marketing, Communications and Talent Director, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Eaton Federal grows, gives back to the community it calls home

A full-service bank with local roots is adding a branch in its 80th year of business while continuing to support the community that makes it thrive.
Founded in 1937, Eaton Federal Savings Bank is headquartered in downtown Charlotte, Mich., with four branches in Eaton Rapids, Grand Ledge, Nashville and Olivet. In February, the community-owned branch opened a loan production office in Delta Township. The small office in a plaza on the corner of Saginaw and Creyts expands the company's reach and service area, and adds one additional staff to the 70 people employed across the now six branches.
Marketing Coordinator Grant Snyder says that although small in size and geography, Eaton Federal is a full-service bank serving individuals and small businesses throughout mid-Michigan. Chartered as Charlotte Federal Savings and Loan Association by two local businessmen, the bank originally provided local families with a safe place to invest their savings or finance the purchase or construction of a home. The bank was founded as a mutual association owned by its members, and retains that ownership structure today.
"The community supports us and we support them," says Grant Snyder, marketing coordinator of Eaton Federal Savings Bank. "It's full circle."
While the bank has always been focused on community, Snyder says that Eaton Federal has recently ramped up its pledge to support and be involved in Charlotte Rising—a community- and volunteer-driven organization focused on the economic revitalization of Charlotte. Eaton Federal recently announced it will contribute $50,000 in installments over the next five years to support the regional offshoot of Gov. Rick Snyder's larger Rising Tide initiative to advance economic prosperity in 10 Michigan communities.   
"Charlotte Rising and the related Michigan Mainstreet Initiative are really focused on the development of downtown," says Snyder. "And being downtown, that makes it important to us. It goes hand-in-hand with what we do."
Eaton Federal moved into its downtown Charlotte headquarters in 1986. The newer building consists of 7,000 square feet and sits across from the city's old movie theatre at 236 S. Cochran Ave.
Source: Grant Snyder, Marketing Coordinator, Eaton Federal Savings Bank
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Dimes Brewhouse on tap to open in downtown Dimondale

Two chemical engineers inspired by the art and science of a beer-making hobby are putting the finishing touches on a brewhouse in Dimondale.
Husband-wife entrepreneurs Michelle and Chad Rogers plan to open Dimes Brewhouse come April or May in a 1,000-square foot building that once housed a florist. Located at 145 N. Bridge St., the microbrewery will feature four to five craft beers and non-alcohol, locally sourced cider in a 600-square foot tap room decked out with a scientific theme. Customers can enjoy drinks served in beakers, and frequent guests can become members of the Mad Chemist Club.
"It gives us a fun focus," says Dimes Brewhouse Co-Owner Michelle Roger. "Dimes is also going to be cozy, filled with warm lighting and that small town vibe."
The Rogers had been tossing around the idea of starting a brewery after moving back to Greater Lansing from jobs and collegiate odysseys in Baton Rouge, La., and Detroit. The two bought Chad's grandparent's old farmhouse and continued to pursue a beer-making hobby inspired by a college class on beverage technology.
Rogers says the name for the microbrewery pays homage to Chad's hometown of Dimondale. A bar made from wood harvested from a old maple tree on the couple's property further reflects the commitment to make Dimes a comfortable place for locals and visitors.
"We want Dimes to be a gathering place for the community," says Rogers. "The fact that we're very close to the Grand River is exciting, too. We would like to sponsor some canoeing and kayaking events, as well as host occasional seminars."
Dimes Brewhouse will be open Thursday through Sunday for starters, with a total of four to six staff. The Rogers hope to brew up to 300 barrels a year through a 3.5 barrel steam-powered system.
Source: Michelle Rogers, Co-owner, Dimes Brewhouse
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Good Eats Diva brings legendary baked goods to Allen Market Place

She's a food snob and proud of it. But although she's particular about her palate, Kathleen Cannata Hanna isn't averse to sharing her legendary baked goods with the Lansing community.
In September 2016, Hanna set up a production kitchen in a 250-square foot incubator space in the Allen Market Place at 1629 E. Kalamazoo St. and began offering Italian brewed coffee with fresh muffins, scones, coffee cakes, breakfast bars, granola to-go, and her signature biscotti—all made with high quality, fresh ingredients. Good Eats Diva, Hanna says, offers a "Soho-style" experience within a 1940s renovated building with a open kitchen and stand-up bar. Early morning hours are seasonal and posted on the Good Easts Diva website, while on-line orders for pick-up are available by appointment or during the Wednesday 3-6:30 p.m. open hours of the Allen Market Place.
"There's a lot of uniqueness in Lansing, and the public is starving and tired of that in-the-box kind-of thing," says Hanna. "I like to think that I do fabulous things that local people want and appreciate."
Originally from the East Side of Cleveland, Hanna was schooled in cooking and baking by her grandparents who immigrated from Italy. In 1990, Hanna moved to Greater Lansing where she catered and baked for coffee houses in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Western Michigan. After 14 years, she took a break to concentrate on her family, then wrote and published two cookbooks. She's now back at it, and says she is looking to answer the demand for her signature baked goods.
In addition to her presence at Allen Market Place, Hanna also sells her goods through the Meridian Township Farmer's Market, East Lansing Farmer's Market and wholesale through Vine and Brew, Foods for Living, Dusty's, Mert's Specialty Meats, and various locations in Northern Michigan and Metro Detroit. Hanna says she is currently in the test phase of offering brown bag or boxed lunches for corporate functions. Small group cooking classes are also in the works.
"I'm extremely Type A and extremely organized," says Hanna. "I get up very early and go right to the kitchen. I basically eat, sleep and drink my work."
Source: Kathleen Hanna, Owner, Good Eats Divia
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Stone-fired, create-your-own pizza parlor joins East Lansing culinary choices

Pizza never goes out of style. Particularly in college towns.
Within a week of ringing in the New Year, a Maryland-based pizza company opened the doors on a fast-casual pizza restaurant at 115 E. Grand River Ave. in downtown East Lansing. Nested two-doors down from the corner of Albert and Grand River Avenues, LOTSA Stone Fired Pizza offers fast pizzas and salads that diners can customize from more than 40 fresh ingredients. Each pizza is ready to eat in just five minutes after being baked in a custom, stone-fired oven.
"What's also appealing is the taste," says Anthony DiGangi, chief operating officer, Colmont Restaurant Group. "We use higher quality ingredients like cheese from independent dairy farms and California tomatoes. We're not cutting corners."
Ingredients cover the pizza spectrum, ranging from pineapple to pepperoni to banana peppers to brown sugar bacon. Multiple sauces include traditional red, spicy buffalo red sauce, and Alfredo. Crusts are hand-tamped, with gluten-free options available. Signature salads are made from hand-cut ingredients, come in two sizes, and can be topped with one of five dressings.
East Lansing is the sixth location for the LOTSA Pizza and the first in Michigan. The restaurant chain launched in October 2015 in Morgantown, W.V., and quickly branched out to markets in Indiana, Maryland and Wisconsin. The company is headquartered in Glenwood, Md. Customers can enjoy sit-down, take-out or delivery, with online ordering available.
"East Lansing fit a lot of our checklist items," says Michael Hannon, chief financial officer of Colmont. "There's a large university here, there's great sports programs, and there was an awesome piece of real estate available. The stars just aligned."
LOTSA pizza created 30 jobs, can seat up to 70 diners and features a small party room. During warm weather, a large garage door can be opened for al fresco dining. The 5,000-square foot space is energized by a premium stereo system as well as sports programming on large flat screen TVs. A custom mural depicting campus landmarks adds local flair.
Source: Anthony DiGangi, Chief Operating Officer, Colmont Restaurant Group
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale to reopen in REO Town in early summer

Jeremey Sprague won't give up. Particularly on something that has required a sizeable investment of time, money and heart.
So come early summer, Sprague plans to start serving up the signature and creative brews that placed him squarely in the mix of the craft beer boom in Greater Lansing. And if all goes well, Sprague will reopen and operate the microbrewery Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale out of 1101 S. Washington St. in REO Town.
"When it comes to Sleepwalker, I don't want to let it go," says Sprague. "I believe Sleepwalker is a very special place and business, and we have some products that have been well-received."
Sprague is determined to move forward, take chances and launch a sit-down microbrewery he first envisioned with a business partner about eight years ago. Sleepwalker opened its first home in a space incubator space in the Allen Market Place on Lansing's East Side 2014. The plan was always to expand, but when co-founder Matt Jason decided to opt out of the business in August, Sprague began exploring other options.
Timing was everything, Sprague said, and when the property in REO Town became a possibility, he jumped. The building, once home to a dental school, had been vacant for about three years before Ryan Wert, executive director of the REO Town Commercial Association, decided to invest. Sprague will lease the building form Wert and in the process, complement some of the interior's original industrial features like exposed brick and hardwood floors with a European aesthetic.
"I was born and raised in Lansing and East Lansing so I want to reflect some of our manufacturing roots," he says. "But we want to add a few European touches so it's not too cement and industrial."
Sprague has his sights set on a June or July opening. The 1,500-square foot space will accommodate about 50 to 55 people, and will create six to seven jobs. The ideal, he says, is to have 14 beers on tap, but he may start with a rotation of seven or eight—all brewed on site with a 2.5-barrel system. Specialty cheeses, meats, pizza and sandwiches will be available through a small deli—either to enjoy in-house or to go.
As a fourth generation musician and performer, Sprague says he has had the benefit of traveling and seeing what works and what doesn't as far as food and beverage places. He hopes to apply some of those insights to his venture, and to leverage his experience to produce killer product for his customers and community.
"I've been writing beer recipes and sharing them with people for a while now," he says. "It's the same kind of feeling you get when you make someone happy with music that you get when you make people happy by serving great food and beer."
Source: Jeremy Sprague, Owner, Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Conquest Fitness raises the bar with affordable, state-of-the-art facility

The health, fitness and performance-minded in Greater Lansing have a new option for the New Year as two fitness centers joined forces to create a new facility unlike any other in Michigan.
Conquest Fitness, say owners and operators, will take the gym experience to a whole new level with a fitness center, performance training center, and onsite medical partners. Developers broke ground on the 26,000-square foot mega fitness center in March 2016, and opened the doors the day after Christmas to accommodate those looking to up their fitness resolutions.
"Our goal was to build a new fitness center in the community, one very different than the standard," says Conquest Fitness Co-owner Andre Hutson who will run day-to-day operations. "We're providing an excellent weight training area, a robust cardio area, up to 35 fitness classes a week—all for individuals who like to get after it."
The new DeWitt facility will also feature a performance center geared toward athletes. The center will be operated through a franchise agreement with the California-based Velocity Sports Performance—a company that has trained hundreds of professional athletes in nearly every sport. Velocity also boasts a massive youth program—something Hutson says he is proud to bring to mid-Michigan and to student athletes in the K-12 community.
"My passion is for health and wellness and seeing kids grow and become better athletes," says Hutson, a former professional basketball player and member of the Michigan State University 2000 NCAA Championship team. "Mid-Michigan has been good to me, and this is where my life has led me—into health and wellness and giving more opportunity to people in our community."
To round out the comprehensive fitness programs, the new Conquest Fitness in DeWitt will house medical partners to support physical performance services. Physical therapy, athletic trainers and sports medicine services are on site. Other features include meeting and event space, a smoothie bar, and decked-out locker and steam rooms.
Conquest Fitness resulted from the merge of BStrong Fitness of DeWitt and Conquest Health & Fitness, and will serve members through two locations: the new facility at 13575 S. Airport Road and at Eagle Eye in Bath. Hutson and partners Dr. Pat Quain, David Mollitor and Scott Gillespie will oversee the growth and management of the two facilities by drawing on their varied backgrounds in athletics, medicine, business and development. 
Conquest Fitness will employ 20 to 30 people, serve up to 2,500 members, and accommodate training services for about 100 K-12 students a month.
Source: Andre Hutson, Co-owner/operator, Conquest Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Red's Smokehouse gets down to business on Lansing's east side

Carol Smith has been serving up her signature barbecue in mobile or market spaces for two years. In November, the owner and founder of Red's Smokehouse Burgers and BBQ decided to settle down in a space not too far from where she started.
For the past two months, Smith and her partner Jacke Randall have been transforming a 1,400-square foot space into a community-oriented smokehouse and restaurant. When finished, Smith's first brick-and-mortar eatery at 1619 Kalamazoo St. will seat up to 25 guests, employ six to eight staff, and serve up the signature barbecue items that have attracted a loyal and growing following in Greater Lansing.
"It was always the dream to have my own little space where I can enjoy making food, and sit and talk with people," says Smith. "It's so exciting. And it feels really good to come back."
Smith originally launched Red's Smokehouse in early 2014 through the incubator kitchen of the Allen Market Place—a food-based community organization behind the soon-to-be restaurant. Since then, Smith has been smoking at various locations, including the Lansing City Market and a food trailer, as well as participating in weekly farmer's markets through Allen Market Place.
In addition to her signature items that include pulled pork, deep-friend macaroni balls, nachos and tacos, Smith says the future restaurant will feature her signature items like pulled pork, deep-fried macaroni balls, tacos and burgers, as well as a deli with take-out meats, artisan cheeses and other items from Allen Market Place vendors. Deli customers can also opt for Smith's homemade salads and some of her smoked meats.
Smith says her goal is to build on the community that helped her get started in the business. She envisions a space decked out with reclaimed wood and bright colors.
"We have eclectic taste when it comes to decorating," she says. "It will be a little rustic with a modern twist."
During the build-out, Red's will be prepping and offering foods through the Avenue Café on the East Side, as well as through the Allen Market Place. She hopes to have the restaurant open by February or March.
Red's Smokehouse is currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to help offset the $80,000 renovation costs. To find out more or to contribute, visit the website here.

Gracie's Contemporary Bistro offers upscale dining in low-key, casual setting

Quality dining in a small-town atmosphere is no further than 15 to 20 minutes from downtown Lansing.
Open since July, Gracie's Contemporary Bistro offers upscale food in an informal atmosphere, building on the quaint, historic feel of downtown Williamston.
"We offer something a little different," says Manager Emily Gray. "We're not necessarily fine dining, and we don't want to be a bar. We simply want to be the spot where you can get out of the city and have a modern, dining experience."
Located at 151 N. Putnam, the bistro transitioned in mid-summer from the former Gracie's Place after being purchased by Nick Gavrilides, owner of the Soup Spoon Café on Lansing's east side. The restaurant retained the tin ceilings, wood floors and granite countertops, and added a flair of black and white to accentuate the contemporary offerings on the menu.
Gracie's serves fine food with an artistic presentation. In keeping with a farm to table concept, the menu leans toward comfort foods prepared with local ingredients. Selections rotate, with signature dishes featuring lamb shank, pan seared rainbow trout, filet mignon and pastas made with shrimp or scallops. A selection of salads, soups, vegetables and bread round out the menu, as well as specialty cakes and puddings for dessert.
A full apothecary style bar features six beers on tap, bottled beer and pre-prohibition style cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices and house ingredients. A broad selection of specialty wines from Michigan and around the world is available.
The restaurant seats up to 75 people, and can accommodate groups for parties or special occasions. When the weather permits, an outdoor patio seats about 30 diners. About 25 staff from servers to chefs work onsite, including three from the previous Gracie's and a few transfers from the Soup Spoon.
"We’re called a contemporary bistro for a reason," says Gray. "We want you to come here and have a fabulous dining experience, but we also want to stay loose enough so someone can come here in their shorts or jeans. We play contemporary music, dim the lights at night for a little more formal feel. But we don't want you to feel scared to come in if you're not formally dressed."
Gracie's Contemporary Bistro is open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner, with Monday hours on the horizon.
Source: Emily Gray, Manager, Gracie's Contemporary Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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