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Newby Teas bases North American operations in East Lansing

Raji Singh never thought she would discover her calling through tealeaves. Today, the 2014 graduate of Michigan State University is a brand ambassador for an international tea company that recently selected East Lansing as its base for breaking in to the North American market.
 
With 15 offices in Europe and Asia, Newby Teas of London was looking to expand across the Atlantic. And Singh—a Newby team member with roots in Mid-Michigan—stepped up to make it happen.
 
After earning a degree in political science from MSU's James Madison College, Singh worked in international trade and moved to London. Once there, she heard about Newby Teas and landed a job with the company's sales, marketing and tea tasting team in late 2015.
 
"I fell in love with the brand and the mission," says Singh. "When they told me they didn't have a presence in North America, we decided it might be an opportunity for me to bring the tea back here."
 
Having grown up in Okemos, Singh felt at home in mid-Michigan, and sought out the support and resources through the MSU Product Center, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, the City of East Lansing, and the Small Business Development Center. By March 2016, she was able to open an office in the East Lansing Marriott Center, and slate a grand opening for August.
 
Newby Teas sells tea and gifts inside luxury hotels, and is available to individuals through an online boutique. As a brand ambassador, Singh plans to expand the product's availability in hotels across the U.S., starting in big city markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
 
As well as supplying teas sourced from Nepal, India, Kenya, China, Japan and Taiwan, Newby Teas advances educational and charity-based causes. Singh points out that the Marriott office features an educational room that can accommodate up to 20 people for demonstrations and seminars. The company recently participated as a sponsor and vendor at Kaleidoscope--a health and education event for women through the Sparrow Foundation.
 
"This is an organization based on passion, education and cause," says Singh. "I'm really enjoying it, and believe in what we're doing."
 
The North American Office of Newby Teas of London employs four staff and is located inside the East Lansing Marriott at 333 Albert Ave., Suite 633.
 
 
Source: Raji Singh, Brand Ambassador, Newby Teas of London
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

M3 Group puts plans in motion to reinvent 19th century church for new headquarters

A full-service branding and publication agency that started out 14 years ago from an in-home office is making a move that will provide more space to a growing staff.
 
In July, the M3 Group purchased a landmark church building on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Saginaw Street with plans to renovate and make the 19th century structure their 21st century home. The group's CEO and Founder Tiffany Dowling budgeted $625,000 to reinvent the church's interior, and envisions an open, airy atmosphere that fosters collaboration and creative thinking.
 
"Lots of people might say we could have people work at home and we don't need this adjustment," says Dowling. "But we're a creative group and the type of organization that likes to collaborate and brainstorm. You want people together to make that happen easier."
 
The M3 Group is currently lodged in two offices, located side-by-side in the 600 block of Seymour Avenue. Dowling says she has always had a crush on the 1892 church, and imagined making the structure their next home when the time came.
 
Dowling will expand the 6,800-square foot property by about 1,200-square feet by adding a mezzanine and upgrading the garden level. She is working with REO Town's Studio Intrigue to pull together ideas, including glass walls, modern furnishing, work stations or "pods," a sound booth, photography studio, and event space for clients.
 
Dowling estimates staff will be in their new spaces by March 1. The reinvented interior, Dowling says, provides the company the flexibility to grow from 25 up to 50 employees.
 
"That's aggressive," she acknowledges. "But I want this to be our forever office."
 
Originally founded in 2002 as Motion Marketing and Media, the M3Group offers clients a full array of services that include public relations, communications, brand creation and assessments, graphic design, website development, social media management, video production, audio production, event planning and management, and media planning and buying. The company is also the publisher of three area magazines: Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, Greater Lansing Business Monthly and ing Magazine.
 
Source: Tiffany Dowling, Founder and CEO, M3 Group
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Ozone's Brewhouse captures spirit of Old Town in little more than a month

Although their business has been open for just about six weeks, their relationship has been brewing for a lifetime.
 
The father-son duo behind one of Lansing's newest brew pubs and taprooms admit that their interest in brewing beer is a habit run amok. Dan Malone started brewing 24 years ago, Kyle Malone about 6. But it's a passion they've poured into the well-received Ozone's Brewhouse—a place that brings brewing back to Old Town after Lansing Brewing Co. closed in 1914.
 
In mid-August, Dan and Kyle Malone opened the doors at 305 Beaver Street to an instant following. Many customers within walking distance became regulars, with some becoming mug club members—a privilege that comes with a customized mug stored on site and discounts on single beers and growlers. Others come in from around town to enjoy five mainstay brews and up to an eventual seven selections on a rotating tap.
 
"Beyond just a fantastic location, we talked to some of the people in Old Town and had conversations about how Old Town supports neighborhood businesses," says Dan, the dad-side of the business. "We found that to be true, and used a local designer and construction crew. It's just a very collegial environment."
 
The 3,600-square foot brewhouse seats 55 inside, with space for 35 more customers outside on the open-air patio. The Malones invested more than $400,000 to get the business started, with $200,000 applied toward transforming what Dan calls a "butt ugly warehouse and shack."
 
"At one point, this place had zero plumbing, no studs, no insulation, and just one little light source," says Kyle, the son half of the Malone equation. "We made it into a space where people could come in and have a beer, and added the drainage, plumbing and equipment for a brewing area, too."
 
The Malones worked hard to create a cozy feel, complete with reclaimed barn wood, Edison lighting, and the back bar from the Mustang Bar—a neighborhood haunt that shuttered in 1986. Long-time Old Town entrepreneur and supporter Terry Terry had preserved the bar after converting the Mustang into the UrbanBeat Events Center, and donated it to the Malones.
 
"It's a fantastic piece and has such character," says Kyle. "One of Terry's comments was 'it's a piece of Old Town that stayed in Old Town.' We were very, very pleased to have it."
 
Ozone's Brewhouse employs six staff, with Kyle running the day-to-day operations and serving as brew master. While the taproom doesn't serve food, customers can grab a bite to bring inside from Good Trucking' Diner, which parks its food truck on the premises.
 
Source: Dan and Kyle Malone, Owner, Ozone's Brew House
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 

Growing realtor finds new home in REO Town

Exit Realty Home Partners just made its entrance in REO Town.
 
In mid-August, the independent realty franchise made its new home in the refurbished Krentel Building at 1000 S. Washington Ave. It was a move, says co-owner Jonathan Lum, that signified the broker's commitment to Lansing's renaissance and helping to building community through buying and selling homes.
 
"It's great to be in the center of the whole region," says Lum, co-owner of Exit Realty Home Partners. "One of the defining things of being in REO Town is being part of this city's revitalization. It's one of the cool things we've wanted to tap into."
 
Lum formed Exit Realty Home Partners about two years ago with Heather Driscoll, another independent agent focused on residential real estate. He says the two want to propel their franchise into growth mode as they guide homebuyers and sellers through the real estate process.
 
"We very much realize that with real estate, it's a lot more than buying and selling homes," says Lum. "Lots of times people who are moving have other stressors in their lives—like a death in the family, divorce, growing families or jobs. It takes a lot of coordinated efforts and we have a deep sense of empathy and understanding."
 
Lum says both he and Driscoll were born and raised in Greater Lansing and leverage their knowledge of the area. Part of their philosophy, he says, is to go above and beyond the customer's expectations, and to help connect clients with resources and service providers outside the realm of real estate if asked.
 
Exit Realty Home Partners closed 89 transactions in 2015, and are on track to exceed that number in 2016. Seven staff—including two owner/agents, two agents and three administers—currently work out of the REO Town office. Lum says he anticipates adding up six agents in the next 12 months.
 
The franchise's new 1,248-square foot space shares common areas with other occupants of the 1918 Krentel Building including the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Change Media and AKT Peerless.
 
Source: Jonathan Lum, Owner, Exit Realty Home Partners
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

 

Mahabir Wellness provides skincare procedures and products in boutique atmosphere

Gita Mahabir believes the best way to improve self-esteem is to adopt both and inside and outside approach.
 
Mahabir is a licensed esthetician who has been practicing since 2001. She is also a licensed counselor. Her focus, she says, is to help people gain a sense of control and inner happiness, as well as to provide skincare solutions for women and men.
 
"I work in a very direct manner," says Mahabir. "I'm very goal and action oriented."
 
Mahabir opened the Mahabir Wellness Center in Haslett in late July where she offers each of her services separately. Some clients receive one-on-one therapy by appointment. Others receive recommendations con skincare procedures that promote lasting results.
 
Along the skincare line, Mahabir offers dermaplaning and peel packages, micro-needling or collagen induction therapy, hair removal, and semi-permanent makeup and eyelash extensions. She's one of the few, she says, to offer semi-permanent makeup services in Greater Lansing. Clients typically opt for semi-permanent solutions for eyeliner or for color to eyebrows and lips. The results, she says, is similar to a tattoo, but more subtle, with the "permanence" lasting about three years as facial features and skin changes.
 
Mahabir carries a medical grade skincare line that is concentrated and 99 percent free of bacteria and preservatives. She customizes each product to suit the needs of each client, which often includes formulating a blend of specific collagen boosting ingredients.
 
"I work in a very customized fashion," says Mahabir. "If you're looking to get results and tell me what you're looing for, we will work together to achieve that."
 
Mahabir donates a portion of her earnings to social causes in the community including the Humane Society and EVE. Mahabir Wellness is located at 1640 Haslett Road, Suite 1. The 755-square foot space features two private suites, a waiting area and a boutique atmosphere.
 
Source: Gita Mahabir, Owner, Esthetician and Counselor; Mahabir Spa and Wellness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

 

Kincaid Henry continues upward trajectory with addition of key staff member

A development and construction company founded more than a decade ago in Lansing is upping its commitment to the area by adding a new staff member focused on leading development services.
 
Marilyn Crowley joined Kincaid Henry in mid-August. She holds a bachelor's in community relations from Michigan State University, is a certified economic development finance professional, and worked at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Company co-owner Ryan Henry says that Crowley will lead project teams in strategizing financial packaging; facilitating city, county, state and federal real estate development and redevelopment incentives; producing real estate standard documents; and engaging with financial institutions.
 
"One of our main focused as a service provider is to lead our clients," says Henry. "Marilyn will take that to another level, particularly through the real estate development process."
 
Kincaid Henry was founded 11 years ago in Lansing, with an eye toward fostering projects that contribute to the development and redevelopment of Greater Lansing and Lansing's urban core.
 
The company's commitment is reflected through a spate of recent projects that include Doggy Daycare and Spa in Okemos; The Element 903 in East Lansing; Ash Street Redevelopment in Mason; Lansing locations like The Beer Grotto, CO-Space, Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and The Marshall Street Armory; as well as projects in communities like Owosso, Jackson and Adrian.
 
Henry says the company's commitment to Lansing is reflected itself in the company's headquarters: an office space they renovated on the edge of Old Town. Kincaid-Henry co-occupies the building with NEO Center—a shared working space for start-up companies, entrepreneurs and the self-employed.
 
"We made the conscious decision to place our company in the urban core and to help create a space for business to grow," says Henry. "The building we own and operate from represents our double-down commitment to Greater Lansing and to help strengthen a community's urban core that can attract and retain talent."
 
Source: Ryan Henry, Owner, Kincaid Henry
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Beagle's Café and Bakery celebrates one year of providing sweet treats to Greater Lansing

Charles Beagle gets up at 4:30 a.m., his mind filled with ideas. Thirty minutes later, he's bringing his dreams to life as owner of Beagle's Café and Bakery.
 
At the age of 21, Beagle is already a seasoned business owner. A year ago in September, he opened Beagle's Cafe and Bakery  in Grand Ledge. Customers walking into the café, he says, are immediately greeted by the sights and smells of cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, pies and Beagle's specialties: homemade bagels and scones. And for those not seeking sweet treats, Beagle's Café also offers a full breakfast and lunch menu including sandwiches, quiche, salads, wraps and a selection of specialty coffee and beverages.
 
Beagle set up shop in the space that was once home to the beloved Sweet Linda's at 214B Bridge Street. His goal, he says, is to revive the concept of the quaint hometown eatery, with his own personal twist.
 
"I want the café to feel like a second home for our customers," says Beagle. "Delicious food and affordable prices has always been the goal from the get go, but so has creating a comfortable environment and welcoming atmosphere that keeps customers coming back."
 
About 50 people can fit within the 1,300-square foot storefront decked out with what Beagle describes as "coffee colors"—or tans, browns and maroons. In addition to stocking his brick-and-mortar café, Beagle also sells goods to five different farmer's markets including DeWitt, Dimondale, Bath Township and East Lansing.
 
Beagle initially learned to bake from his mother and grandmother while growing up in Grand Ledge. He finished high school through an online program, started saving his earnings from his work at the Grand Ledge Farmers Market, and attended culinary school through an online program through Ashworth College.
 
"My mom is a real hard worker," says Beagle. "She taught me to be that way."
 
Beagle Café and Bakery employs three staff and is looking to add more as business grows.
 
Source: Charles Beagle, Owner, Beagle's Café and Bakery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Spartan Dance and Fit springs into new expanded studio

Tiffany Russell has been dancing all her life. And while she's traveled internationally, toured seven countries and 55 cities, and completed more than 100 shows, she finds her strongest performances in a space close to home.
 
Russell opened Spartan Dance and Fit in 2010, and has steadily grown the business from a handful of students to an astonishing 400 students and 200 adult members today. That growth, she says, has driven her expansion within the borders of East Lansing: from her original location on Ann Street to the northern tier on Lake Lansing Road, to a new space in Carriage Hills Shopping Center at 6075 N. Hagadorn Road.
 
"I'm super excited to have enough space to add new services and classes and to share them with the community," says Russell. "We've gotten big enough where we're a presence. We're eager to have more people come in the doors, check out what we're doing, and grow with us."
 
Spartan Dance and Fit teaches dance and fitness to kids and adults. Russell says her youngest dancer is 2 while her oldest is 60-something. She also has a 70-year-old member who takes fitness classes. The studio encompasses all the essentials like dance, fitness, wellness, healthy living and social well being, and offers a dance company for serious dancers.
 
Russell worked with DTN management to convert a former grocery store into a 13,000-square foot dance and fitness studio. The new location is four-times the previous size of Russell's former studio. In addition to rooms for dance instruction, the facility features a personal training room, cycling and small group training rooms, a smoothie bar, a two-room massage area, and a top-of-the line sauna and locker room.
 
"Our product speaks for itself," says Russell. "Our dance families and fit members are a community. We have members of the month, social mixers, and group camps. It's all about community involvement and building this strength in the heart of East Lansing—for all Spartans."
 
Spartan Dance and Fit operates with a management team of six full-time employees and 36 instructors.
 
Source: Tiffany Russell, Owner, Spartan Dance and Fit Center
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

FirstLight Home Care opens first office to serve Greater Lansing

Seniors, new moms and busy parents, people recovering from surgery, or other adults needing assistance will find a helping hand through a new-to-the-area provider of companion and personal care services.
 
Laingsburg resident Deb Moerland opened FirstLight Home Care in mid-July after she saw an increasing need for caregivers to step in and help with everything from household duties like cooking, cleaning and running errands; to mobility assistance and dementia care; to personal, companion and respite care. Non-medical care can be arranged for one day a week for two to four hours all the way up to around-the-clock. Services are provided at private residences, assisted living or retirement communities, or adult-family or group homes.
 
"We're also here to serve moms who need help around the house," says Moerland. "I've been a mom, so I know it can sometime get overwhelming."
 
Moerland decided to open a FirstLight franchise after working several years as an online college instructor following a career as a high school teacher. Thinking back to her years in the classroom, she realized she liked the personal interaction, and decided that her next step would be a business based on helping people.
 
"I just want to be able to help others," says Moerland. "People can get so overwhelmed sometimes and just need a little help. Also, I want to provide a way for older people to stay in their homes as long as they can."
 
Moerland's FirstLight franchise created two office jobs in the 876-square foot office at 4125 Okemos Road. She also hired and trained seven local caregivers.
 
FirstLight Home Care is a non-medical in-home care provider with a network of offices that provides care for more than 2,500 clients in more than 30 states. Because of high demand, Moerland anticipates creating up to 100 caregiver jobs through the Okemos franchise in the upcoming year.
 
Source: Deb Moerland, Owner, FirstLight Home Care Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Recruitment Management Consultants meeting growth targets with four new hires

An IT recruitment and consulting company considered among the top 50 companies to watch by the creators of the 2016 Michigan Celebrates Small Business List recently gave Greater Lansing more reason to take notice.
 
In mid-summer, Recruitment Management Consultants added four new internal staff to its operations. Two staff will work at the East Lansing headquarters, while two will work in Detroit. The addition of the new team members increases RMC's ability to meet the growing demand for IT consulting and placement.
 
"IT talent is in high demand. We strive to help bridge the gap between local employers looking for IT resources for their teams, and IT professionals who are actively or passively looking for new employment," says Adrienne Waltz, RMC marketing and communications specialist. "We place emphasis on finding the right fit for the candidates as well as the hiring managers we work with."
 
In the last five years, RMC has grown from three full-time employees to 11. The company also added a second office location in Novi in 2014. RMC was founded in 2010 by Jim Beirmeister and Jamie Lytle and is headquartered at 321 W. Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing.
 
Waltz says the RMC's growth strategy is based on being involved in the local communities where they do business. The company supports several organizations in Lansing including the Capital Area IT Council, the Michigan Technology Network, and the Michigan Council for Women in Technology.
 
"We believe our commitment to home-grown efforts has contributed to our recent recognition as one of the top 50 Michigan companies to watch," says Waltz.
 
RMC is co-hosting and sponsoring its first Tech Talk Happy Hour in conjunction with Tech Tuesdays in Lansing. The event is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Crafty Palate, 333 S. Washington Square. More information can be found here.
 

BAD Brewing triples footprint, adds taps and staff

Brian Rasdale was tired of measuring the success of his brewery and tasting room by how many people peeked in then walked away because the place was too crowded. BAD Brewing Co. had only been open three years. But it was ready to expand. 
 
"It was getting crazy," says Rasdale who opened BAD Brewing in downtown Mason in July 2012. "There was no where to sit. Especially on certain nights of the week. This was the answer."
 
The answer Rasdale refers to is the expansion of his 1,600-square foot brewery at 448 Jefferson St. into an adjacent storefront and an outdoor patio space. While Rasdale had bought the building next door in 2015, he didn't get started knocking out the wall between the old and new spaces until March 2016. The additional 800-square feet of renovated and restored space includes a second bar, more seating, and an interior design that accentuates the exposed brick, wood and other characteristic of the nearly 150-year-old building.
 
"The atmosphere here is relaxing and inviting," says Rasdale. "People feel really comfortable here. Now there's room for more."
 
Rasdale also quickly got to work adding an L-shaped patio on the back. The 1,200-square foot space integrates natural shade from mature maple trees, canopy lighting, and a spot for Good Bites food truck to park from Tuesday through Saturday. And while seemingly seasonal, the patio will be open year-round, with a fire pit and heat warmers providing comfort on chillier days.
 
Between the addition and the patio, BAD Brewing upped capacity by 90 people. The expanded brewery is about triple the original size and can seat 140 people within 3,600-square feet of space.
 
The brewery also added 10 taps, bringing tap beer selection to 20 to 25 brews. Six people plus Rasdale currently work at BAD Brewing, with two to three part-time staff slated for hire as the expansion drives demand.
 
The acronym BAD, Rasdale explains, stands for "Brian After Dark" and came from a joke among friends. Before opening BAD Brewing, Rasdale had been home brewing for about 12 years and worked in law enforcement.
 
"I never really thought my life would be this way," says Rasdale, reflecting on his career change. "It's artistic. You have the ability to create what you think is good."
 
Source: Brian Rasdale, Owner, BAD Brewing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Up-and-coming Doberman Technologies recognized for growth and top-notch service

A local IT management firm is making national lists as a top service provider, economic driver, and developer of talent.
 
In late spring 2016, Doberman Technologies received accolades for its commitment to excellence in client service from MSPmentor.net and CRN.com—two organizations that showcase top service providers focused on small business support. The Warren-based Corp! Magazine also named Doberman as one of the state's "Economic Bright Spots" for the company's continued growth, expansion and hiring of Michigan talent. And in June, Doberman made ChannelE2E.com's first annual Top 100 Vertical Market IT Solution providers list for its work in healthcare.
 
"These lists and independent reviews by other folks in our industry say we're doing the right things," says Ian Richardson, founder of Doberman Technologies. "It's a great honor and a validation of what we're doing."
 
Richardson founded Doberman in late 2005 after having grown a steady base of clients through freelancing. He says he chose the name Doberman as a way to project the  core principles of reliability, continuity and security provided to clients by his third-party IT management firm.
 
Doberman boasts a combined 50 years experience in IT with a staff of 10—three of which were added since December 2015. The company plans to add two more employees by the end of 2016, as well as to continue building a robust intern program coordinated through Lansing Community College.
 
The company serves a growing list of 122 clients in Greater Lansing and Jackson through services such as purchasing, help desk support, vendor management, long-term IT planning, business consulting, equipment disposal, physical infrastructure, cloud services and compliance management. 
 
"We focus on the local region," says Richardson. "We really strive to make sure that we can respond rapidly, and are focused on the sincere best interest of the client in everything we do."
 
Doberman is based in a 5,000-square foot office at 205 N. Mason St. in Mason's antique district—just a few miles and a few neighborhoods away from where Richardson grew up in Okemos.
 
"Michigan is full of honest, genuine people who are invested in growing their communities and delivering value," says Richardson. "That's something I want to be part of. This area, too, is coming back. There's non-stop development. It's an honor to be a part of it."
 
Source: Ian Richardson, Founder, Doberman Technologies
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Bridge Street Social invites patrons to enjoy wine, fine dining in a homey setting

One worked as a wine salesman, the other as a chef. The two met and over time, began talking, coming up with an idea that furthers their passions in the hospitality industry and help builds community, too.
 
In April, Justin King—a certified sommelier—and Mike Luther—a long-time chef and owner of Williamston's Red Cedar Grill—opened Bridge Street Social in DeWitt. It's a place, says King, that combines the best of a wine bar with the best of fine dining. It's also a place that fosters the best of conversation by bringing friends, family and community together under one roof.
 
"This is a real homey place," says King. "We tried to make it feel natural and warm for conversations. We don't have a TV. Part of me is a touch sad about that, but I love the vibe of being able to enjoy a great meal and not be distracted."
 
Located at 107 S. Bridge Street, the 1,900-square foot restaurant seats 48 people in the dining room, 10 at the bar, and about 15 on an outdoor patio. Guests can enjoy up to 150 wines decanted by the glass, as well as a menu that features small plates and full dinners that combine elements of contemporary cuisine from all coasts and continents. Creative cocktails and craft beer—some sourced locally—are also happy hour and evening favorites.
 
King tapped his knowledge of the industry and imported a progressive idea that enables Bridge Street Social to offer more wine by the glass than any other local restaurant, and to rival top restaurants in Michigan. He explains that the restaurant will leverage the Coravin wine pouring system—a device that uses small needles to pierce the cork in a wine bottle and replaces it with argon cartridge. The system can increase the lifespan of a bottle of wine from three days to a year, and helps keep by-the-glass costs down by reducing spoilage or waste.  
 
Bridge Street Social created 13 jobs and is dedicated to keeping costs reasonable and within reach. Dinners start at about $15, or guests can enjoy a drink and a smaller selection for about $16. Wines range from value-driven to elegant, with some topping $175 a bottle.
 
"We take all kinds of guests into consideration," King says. "Sometimes you want to come in for an anniversary or sometimes you're just out for the night with a best friend."
 
Source: Justin King, Co-Owner, Bridge Street Social
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Tabooli opens new restaurant in Delta Township, creates up to 20 jobs

Residents and day-travelers west of downtown Lansing will find a fresh, healthy option to traditional fast food as Tabooli Mediterranean opened its second restaurant over the Memorial Day weekend.
 
Located at the corner of Waverly and St. Joseph Streets, the West Side Tabooli features the same on-the-go Mediterranean style food popularized by brothers and co-owners Fathy and Mohammed Shetiah at the first Tabooli location near Sparrow Hospital.
 
"Our menu is very simple," says Fathy. "We want to keep it that way and go after things that people enjoy."
 
Tabooli brings the make-your-own model of national restaurant chains to their local enterprise, allowing customers to build their own meal from Mediterranean staples. Customers decide whether they want a "bowl" or a "wrap" made with beef or chicken shawarma, falafel, eggplant or kofta, then choose toppings like hummus, pickled turnips or tabooli. All selections are made in-house, and draw on the influences of Lebanese, Greeks, Italian and Egyptian cuisines. Salads, paninis, desserts and beverages round out the menu.
 
"We want the community to see Mediterranean food in a different way," says Fathy. "We want our restaurants to look and feel different than anything else out there."
 
Like the original location that made its home in a renovated Kentucky Fried Chicken, the new Tabooli occupies the footprint of a repurposed gas station. An inviting layout allows customers to see staff making food, with sit-down seating accommodating 30 to 40 diners. An outdoor patio is in the works, upping capacity by a dozen or more customers.
 
The newest Tabooli created 15 to 20 jobs. A third location is slated to open in August in East Lansing in the previous location of Grand River Coffee on the city's western edge.
 
"We’re trying to go for good locations and want to go where people want us to be," says Fathy. "Our goal is be part of the community, and we're always looking for community engagement opportunities."
 
Source: Fathy Shetiah, Co-owner, Tabooli Mediterranean
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Family Tree Café celebrates one year of home-style cooking

When it comes to putting food on the table, there's no sibling rivalry among members of one of DeWitt's newest restaurant families.
 
Last summer, a team of two brothers and two sisters opened Family Tree Café in a renovated space in DeWitt's downtown district. Owners include brothers Tim and Steve Russell and their sisters Ann Williams and Sue Vlahakis. Parents Gene and Kay Russell also helped get the restaurant up and running, but are now sitting back and enjoying the food and serviced provided by their kids.
 
"It's been really good working with my siblings," says Co-owner Tim Russell. "Some of the spouses pitch in, too, and do what needs to be done."
 
In early 2015, the Russell siblings seized the opportunity to acquire the frontage that once housed the Heart and Soul Restaurant and Sam's Kitchen. After a few weeks of ripping out carpet, redoing electrical, painting, and laying new flooring, the hardworking family transformed the space into a cozy, family-style eatery.
 
Close to 140 people can sit in booths and tables in the 2,800-square foot space, enjoying the homey atmosphere evoked through picture windows, discreet lighting, ceiling fans, and non-obtrusive TVs. The restaurant's "nostalgic hallway" features historic pictures of DeWitt ad well as vintage signage and artifacts from bygone restaurants and businesses.
 
"One of our goals is to put the rest back in restaurant," says Russell. "We don't understand the need to hurry up all the time, and want Family Tree to be a relaxed, casual environment for folks to come in, sit down, and enjoy a meal."
 
The Family Tree Café features home-style comfort food and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The café also has a liquor license. Specialties include hearty breakfasts, 12 kinds of burgers, and weekly specials like prime rib, rosemary chicken, Greek style lamb and goulash. Grilled sandwiches, wraps, pastas and salads occupy a prominent part of the menu, as well as a wide selection of homemade appetizers like mac-and-cheese bits, spinach pie and jalapeño poppers.
 
"We're looking forward to being connected with the past while looking forward to the future," says Russell. "It's good to see more folks become regulars. It's all part of expanding our family tree out here in DeWitt."
 
The Family Tree Café celebrates on year of operation this June. About 20 people work at the café, including the owners.
 
Source: Tim Russell, Co-owner, Family Tree Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
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