Tim Ellis returned to Lansing from the East Coast to be part of the downtown renaissance.
Around St. Patrick's Day, Ellis opened a combination restaurant, market and special events space at 229 S. Washington Square. Henry's on the Square,
Ellis says, will bring excitement to downtown through top-notch customer service, big city amenities, and dining and entertainment delivered through a multi-use venue.
"I haven't seen this many people downtown in years," says Ellis who grew up in Waverly. "My goal is to help fill a void and provide people with more options."
Located in the storefront that once housed The Firm and the legendary Parthenon Restaurant, the blended business starts with a 400-square foot market stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine, cheeses and party supplies.
Further inside, an American bistro with an Italian flare provides intimate seating for up to 70 people. Patrons can enjoy cocktails or craft beers at a glass-tiled bar, while a special events suite for 45 to 60 people rounds out the 4,000-square-foot interior.
Wall space is reserved for local artists, as well as for the "wall of fame" dedicated to the late Leroy and Lois Henry, owners of H and H restaurants. The Henrys, Ellis explains, owned several area Burger King restaurants, including one on South Cedar where he worked as a teen in the early 1980s.
"I was a 15-year-old kid on my fourth day of my very first job," says Ellis. "And this gentleman in his 40s comes in and teaches me how to do the drink station. He was so kind and genuine and generous with his time. I never got over that, especially when I found out it was Leroy."
Ellis worked his way through the ranks at Lansing Burger Kings for more than 7 years. He drew from those experiences to launch WOW Hospitality—a restaurant consulting company based in Traverse City.
"Leroy shaped my whole career," says Ellis. " I decided that if I had an opportunity I would honor him by opening a restaurant."
Ellis took his tribute a step further and involved one of the Henry's daughters as a business partner. Henry's on the Square created 40 jobs, with 23 currently on board—some with family connections to the Burger Kings owned by Leroy and Lois.
"It's all part of bringing back a little tradition," says Ellis. "And that Lansing neighborhood feel."
Source: Tim Ellis, Manager, Henry's on the Square
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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