Dining :Development News

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New restaurant to bring old style charm to downtown

Tyler Bowdish worked in a steakhouse in downtown Chicago. His dad was a connoisseur of steak. So when the family relocated to their long-time vacation town of Saugatuck, the father and son set out to bring their favorite style of dining to west Michigan.

In October, Bowdish announced they will be opening a second location Bowdie's Chophouse in Lansing's Riverfront District at 320 E. Michigan Ave. The concept will mirror their two-year-old steakhouse in Saugatuck, and offer a similar menu of high quality steaks, seafood, generous sides, cocktails and wine to Mid-Michigan diners.

Bowdish says he and his dad decided on Lansing after a regular at their Saugatuck venue tipped them off about the available commercial real estate that had once housed the Knightcap.

"We heard that the Knightcap had been there forever, and that it had a similar vibe to us," says Bowdish. "We came here, looked around Lansing, and saw an opportunity to bring something to this part of the state."

Bowdish is targeting a Nov. 1 opening for the 58-seat restaurant, complimented by a 25-seat outdoor patio. He says the previous property owners already set the basic ambience, which means any renovations will be minor.

"We're not going to recreate the wheel," says Bowdish. "We're painting, changing the bar around a bit, and upgrading the light fixtures. That's about it."

The vision, Bowdish says, is to create an early- to mid-20th-century steakhouse, similar to a type where Frank Sinatra, the "Rat Pack" and others may have hung out over candlelight dinners. The chophouse will feature a small menu, but Bowdish says it hits all the key points, including USDA prime and dry-aged steak, lobster mac and cheese, New Orleans style beignets, and signature cocktails.

Bowdie's Chophouse will create 16 to 20 jobs, and will be managed and operated by Bowdish and Chef Jason Campbell.

"We want to give people a reason to come downtown and have a great dinner and walk around," Bowdish says. "I like what I see up and down the street with new bars and distilleries. It's a growing area and I see this place expanding. We just want to be part of it."

Source: Tyler Bowdish, Operator, Bowdie's Chophouse
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

EnVie brings a French twist to dining in downtown Lansing

James Cheskaty is a connoisseur. He loves food. He loves fine dining. And he loves the culture that surrounds it.
After working as a chef on Lansing's fine dining scene since 2010, Cheskaty joined restaurant colleague and friend Lance Davis in creating their own casual, upscale venue with a twist on French cuisine. EnVie is slated to open before the end of 2016. The new restaurant will be located downtown at 210 S. Washington Square in the previous Brannigan Brothers.
"We both worked together for about five or six years," says Cheskaty. "He was the general manager and I was the sous chef. We had the chance to open our own place, and since I know the back-of-the-house and he knows all about service and dining, it all fit together."
EnVie will showcase dining in the French bistro style—complete with white table clothes, full service and a full bar. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a grab-and-go menu with pre-made sandwiches and soups for busy lunch hours.
Dishes will be prepped from scratch and include classic dishes like filet mignon and ratatouille. The menu will feature just 21 items and rotate daily to ensure guests can sample a different French dish with every visit. Desserts made in-house, European style, locally roasted coffee, and high-end French wines round out the experience.
"French cuisine has always been fascinating to me," says Cheskaty. "It focuses on flavors and techniques, which means you can apply it to any other cuisine you want. If you know French cuisine, you have a deep understanding of food."
EnVie will accommodate 80 guests in the main restaurant, with French doors leading to patio seating for about 15 people. The restaurant will feature two semi-private dining rooms, as well as an area to enjoy a glass of wine next to a fireplace. Cheskaty says he and Davis have done a full renovation of the former Brannigan Brothers, resulting in clean lines within a black and white décor accented by Edison bulbs.
EnVie will create 15 to 20 jobs with Cheskaty as executive chef and Davis as general manager.
"It's a fairly high-end concept," says Cheskaty. "Lansing has an upper echelon palate for food. There's a bunch of foodies here. That's where the idea and need for EnVie came from."
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
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Saddleback Barbecue pulls into REO Town

Matthew Gillett believes in the power of barbecue to bring people together. That, and the strength of a great neighborhood.
So when the vacated Vintage Café came up for lease, Gillett and his business partner Travis Stoliker were there, putting things in place to open Saddleback Barbecue in REO Town.
"It all happened so quick," says Gillett. "I couldn't be happier with the decision. Everyone is so supportive and welcoming. We hope to bring as much to the table as we can and help grow the area."
By the end of May, Gillett and Stoliker plan to open an authentic smoked southern barbecue venue at 1147 S. Washington Ave. The 1,200-foot restaurant will serve barbecue ribs, brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken, and will offer a small selection of beverages and made-from-scratch sides like baked beans, mac-and-cheese, coleslaw, potato salad and fries.
"Mostly, we just want to focus on the meat," says Gillett. "That's our game."
Gillett will draw on 15 years of experience in the restaurant businesses and a "food sabbatical" that took him to Georgia to learn from a professional barbecue team. After observing competitions, studying recipes, and trying things out with a smoker, he was ready to bring it on home to Lansing.
Gillett began a small weekend catering venture that he balanced with his full-time job. He supplied meats for sporting events and fundraisers, and built a following for his savory fare.
When he heard of the spot in REO Town, Gillett decided it was time to start smoking on his own turf. His smoker, he says, will run 24-hours-a-day, allowing him to serve meats that are smoked to perfection over two days.
"Our love of the product will show through our smoking style and attention to detail," he says. "I want people to see what they're getting is above and beyond."
Although technically southern cuisine, Gillette says barbecue is a perfect fit for northern climes and for Lansing.
"Most people have some sort-of tie-in—be it tailgating, camping, the backyard patio and the grill," says Gillett. "Growing up in Michigan, we suffer through winters, and enjoy our summers. Barbecue is part of that."
The Saddleback Barbecue will seat 31 people and employ up to eight people—including the "night-shift" smoker. For starters, the restaurant will be open for lunch and early dinners, Monday through Saturday.
Source: Matt Gillett,  Owner and Operator, Saddleback Barbecue
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

New downtown restaurant and market pays tribute to Lansing fast-food icon

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

Meat expands, offers carnivores more options for comfort food and drink

Sean Johnson hasn't had any trouble building a following for his signature southern barbeque and comfort foods he plates up through his Old Town restaurant. So when a larger space became available next door to Meat Southern B.B.Q. & Carnivore Cuisine, he didn't think twice about making the move to become even meatier.
In mid-February, Johnson opened the doors to his new, expanded  restaurant at 1224 Turner St. At 2,000 square feet, the space nearly triples the size of his original restaurant and provides more seating—both inside and out. Even more, the new digs enable Johnson to feature a bigger menu and a full bar, something that wasn't possible in his previous 800-square foot space.
"I had always hoped the restaurant would take off," says Johnson. "My wife and I thought it would be a hole in the wall place—just something we would have for several years. But when we starting seeing people lined up at the door all the time, we knew it was time to take the next step."
Johnson and his wife, Lynette, opened Meat in the summer of 2012 after taking a hobby for barbecuing to the next level. Since then, Meat has been met with a healthy reception to carnivorous offerings that include smoked brisket, pulled pork, turkey and an assortment of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese.
The move into a larger storefront, Johnson says, allows Meat to add additional sandwich and meat selections, as well an some appetizers and sides. Many menu items will rotate, with meats prepared daily through two industrial smokers.
Johnson and his family did the majority of the remodeling themselves over seven months, including the tables made from hardwood flooring. The new restaurant will seat up to 90 people, with 40 additional on a covered, outdoor patio—weather permitting.
The new Meat will feature a full bar with 18 beers on tap, including Michigan beers and other domestic favorites. Johnson says he added five staff, including a couple bartenders, and a host and hostess to help with workflow and expanded hours, bringing his staff up to 23.
"We work very hard to make sure the quality of food is the best we can provide," says Johnson. "And now, we're working hard to develop a bar following. People know we've expanded. But I don't think they really think of us as a place where they can go to enjoy a drink and snack, too."
Source: Sean Johnson, Manager, Meat   
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

The Cosmos brings out-of-this-world menu and sci-fi vibe to Old Town

Sam Short has been a science fiction fan since he was a kid.
Now he's created his own universe called The Cosmos.
In late January, Short opened a new pizzeria in Old Town that radiates sci-fi nostalgia. What's more, the restaurant plates up cuisine that propels pizzeria fare beyond the stratosphere.
"Science fiction gives us the most wondrous possibilities for progress," says Short. "And pairing it with wonderful and good food just made a lot of sense."
The 1,000-square foot restaurant at 611 E. Grand River is the previous home to Poppa Leo's and is attached to Zoobies Old Town Tavern via a short hallway addition. The Cosmos is the second of three ventures undertaken by the Potent Potables Project—a restaurant group Short operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. The first was Zoobies. And the third will be The Creole, slated to open in early April.
"We're rehabbing part of Lansing's history and joining it with another historic part," says Short of connecting The Cosmos to Zoobies. "There's no sense in destroying an old building when you can repurpose it."
The Cosmos seats 48 people and when the weather warms up, will provide access to another 120 or so seats at an outdoor bar and roasting pit. Patrons can dine at old video consoles. Other tables and walls are decorated with sci-fi images of the 30s, 40s and 50s. Reproductions of nostalgic movie posters join phantasmal renditions of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon painted by Detroit artist Jeremy Harvey, further satiating Lansing's appetite for unique dining and drinking venues.
Head Chef Dan Konopnick is the force behind the menu, applying his Johnson & Wales training to out-of-this-world variations on wood-fired pizza that feature Bosc pears, caramelized apples, onions, pancetta, and gorgonzola, arugula and house-made mozzarella cheeses. Konopnick will also continue to perfect his famous duck fat fries and sweet treats like homemade ice cream and donut bites.?
"I like the 'Trust Me,' pizza," says Short. "It's literally a special that Dan comes up with. You come in, say 'Trust Me' and Dan will bring out a pie that's his special of the day. His pizza is just fantastically good."
About 40 full- and part-time people work at both Zoobies and The Cosmos—nearly double the staff from six months ago.
Source: Sam Short, Co-Owner, The Cosmos
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Popular Asian chef brings New Thai Kitchen to Okemos

Connoisseurs of Asian cuisine welcomed a popular local chef to Okemos when New Thai Kitchen opened in the former Sip N' Snack in December.
While Ying Xiong had intended to retired after closing the long-time Thai Kitchen in East Lansing two years ago, he couldn't resist the allure of serving up food in the previous space of the iconic Okemos diner.
"It's close to everything," says Xiong who lives in Okemos. "It's close to local shopping, and to residential places. And it's at the center of town."
Xiong and his wife, Chou, acquired the space at 4960 Okemos Road last June and undertook several months of renovations before the official ribbon cutting in January. He estimates he spent upward of $80,000 to knock down walls, upgrade fixtures and systems, outfit the kitchen with new equipment, and set the stage for dining through an inviting, modern décor.
"It's roomy but cozy," says Xiong. "We may expand, too, depending on how well it goes."
New Thai has attracted former customers from Xiong's East Lansing location, and has sparked the curiosity of suburban residents. The restaurant comfortably seats 48 people, with a capacity for 50.
Xiong employs a staff of six and serves lunch and dinner. The menu features traditional Thai fare including three types of Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao and Panang. Eventually, Xiong hopes to add a beer and wine license.
"We have a lot of different flavors and a different style of cooking than other Thai places," says Xiong. "I do a lot of the cooking myself, and learned over the years from my friends."
Source: Ying Xiong, Owner, New Thai Kitchen
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Traditional baker and Mexican chef opens new restaurant on Lansing's West Side

Ofilia Diaz checked out locations on the south, central and eastern edge of Lansing but decided on a tiny space on the West Side for her new restaurant serving authentic Mexican food and pastries.
El Burrito Mexicano opened the week of Thanksgiving for breakfast, lunch, dinner and occasional catering services at 801 W. Thomas L. Parkway. Big enough to seat 18 diners but small enough to feel cozy and warm, the 1,060-square foot space allows her to offer an expansive menu with familiar fares like burritos, tacos and enchiladas, as well as specialty egg and meat dishes. Customers can also satisfy their cravings for sodas and sweets tooth through a variety of Mexican sodas, dessert cookies and traditional pastries.
"I do all the cooking," says Diaz. "Lots of people like my enchiladas and wet burritos. I also make specialty beefs here, as well as tamales, barbacoa, menudo and soups. I'm excited."
Diaz has been baking and cooking as long as she can remember, and often worked as a part-time baker while holding a full-time job as a hospital tech. Diaz said her hospital co-workers had always encouraged her to open up her own restaurant, but she wanted to wait until she retired and could give the enterprise her full attention.
"My mom was an excellent cook, and I think I must have learned from her," says Diaz. "I was always calling her to ask how to make something. She would simply tell me over the phone because she doesn't have any recipes. Neither do I. It's just a little of this and a little of that."
In addition to stints baking cakes, cookies and pastries, Diaz also prepped, served and catered food through small locations at the Lansing City Market and the Lansing Mega Mall. None, she says, provided the space or accommodations she was looking for—until now.
Diaz has three staff, including her grown children and grandchildren who help around the kitchen.
"I used to help my mom bake," says Diaz. "And she would show me how to make sugar and butter cookies. I basically got all my recipes from her."

Source: Ofilia Diaz, Owner, El Burrito Mexicano
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Sweet Lorraine's serves up classic comfort food in arty setting

Satisfying the insatiable yen for the queen of comfort foods just got possible as a Detroit-based restaurateur opens the doors in downtown East Lansing this fall.
At 547 E. Grand River just across from the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez will offer 14 made-to-order varieties of the famed culinary duo. Hungry or discerning appetites can also dine on salads, grilled sandwiches stuffed with macaroni and cheese, and end with a sweet treat of fresh-baked cookies or a salted caramel rice crispy bar.
"We've tried to give people an idea of our brand through our logo," says Lorraine Platman who owns the restaurant with her husband Gary Sussman. "The artwork is like something between The Flintstones and The Jetsons—showing that macaroni and cheese has been around forever, but we can also get it out to you fast and fabulous. In other words, it's not your mama's mac and cheese."
Platman and Sussman met at Michigan State University in the mid '70s, and are ecstatic about bringing the concept to East Lansing. The new location becomes the fifth in the Sweet Lorraine family that consists of two full-service deli and café concepts and three mac-and-cheese focused eateries. Other locations are in the works outside Michigan.
As an alumna of MSU's fine art program, Platman takes an interest not just in the food, but in the décor of her enterprises. The East Lansing location, she says, will feature industrial-style chairs with flexible backs, eye-popping veneer, and a terrazzo floor. A variety of pop-art posters and sayings will adorn the different colored walls, including a reproduction of a Sweet Lorraine's menu signed by Andy Warhol.
"I still get tongue-tied talking about how Andy Warhol came to my restaurant 30 years ago and signed my menu," says Platman of the influential artist who was in Detroit for a book signing. "He loved the different colored walls and had a sandwich."
The 2000-square-foot Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez seats 65 people and will be serviced by 32 staff.
Source: Lorraine Platman, Owner, Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac 'n Cheez
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Beer garden brands Midtown Brewing as Euro-destination

Although he grew up and lives in the city, Marc Wolbert has always integrated nature into everyday life.
Today, the Lansing business owner is bringing more green space to downtown by building a European style beer garden outside the Midtown Brewing Company.
"Nature is important to us as people," says Wolbert who manages the nano-brewery along with brewer Brandon Cook. "And while beer gardens are prevalent in Europe, it's not something you usually get in an urban area.
The Flint native drew on his collegiate education in landscape architecture to create a 400-square foot space ringed by planters and shaded by umbrellas. Since the early June ribbon cutting, Wolbert has worked with Old Town's Plant Professionals to nurture a colorful blend of pansies, sweet potato vines, herbs, ornamental cabbages and hops for leafy and fragrant patio where up to 40 patrons to enjoy a craft beer or meal.
"It's a full-service beer garden," says Wolbert. "You'll have your complimentary peanuts, and in line with my love of nature, we feature a casual and natural-style menu."
Wolbert says he sources ingredients from farmer's markets and the restaurant's off-site vegetable garden whenever possible. He says he just added a new kitchen staff member to help carry forward the farm-to-table style food, bringing the total new staff hired for the summer to six.
Midtown Brewing employs 25 people and spun off two years ago from the shuttered Michigan Brewing Company. The 4,000-square foot restaurant has been in the space at 402 S. Washington for five years. The new beer garden, Wolbert says, helps brand downtown as a beer destination, and creates a unique urban beer drinking vibe characteristic of European cities.  
"One of my next projects is a rooftop garden," says Wolbert. "We have lots of beautiful flat roofs here in Lansing. Covering them in green helps our environment. And it helps make things prettier."
Source: Marc Wolbert, General Manager, Midtown Brewing Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New tenant to transform legendary Creole Gallery into dining, drinking and music venue

Although the real estate has changed hands, the new tenant coming into the space of the 15-year-old Creole Gallery plans to carry forward the cultural vibe that made the space a symbol of Old Town's renaissance.
Zoobie's Old Town Tavern co-owners Sam Short, Aaron Matthews and Al Hooper signed a lease the first week of June with new building owner Jamie Schriner-Hooper to open The Creole—a combination restaurant, cocktail bar and "listening room" in the 2,250-square foot space at 1218 Turner St. The new establishment, Short says, will pay homage to Creole Gallery founder Robert Busby by retaining the name, artistic sensibilities, and character and aesthetics of the interior.
"There's just a fantastic southern feel about the place," says Short. "It has that Louisiana, French-revival feel, and the sound and acoustics are great."
The Creole, Short says, will be a place to go to enjoy cocktails, beer and wine, and 50s-style punches, as well as gumbo-style cuisine. Live jazz, blues, funk, and roots rock acts will perform on the original built-in stage from Busby's gallery. Open space will be transformed into a dining area with a 100-person capacity. Other new features will include a full-service bar and a behind-the-scenes kitchenette, overseen by Johnson & Wales trained chef Dan Konopnicki.
Short says The Creole is slated to open in mid-August with a staff of 15 people. In addition to live music, he says the venue will also feature rotations of art by local and regional artists.
"We want to continue to build this unique dining and drinking culture to compliment the already spectacular art and bohemian vibe," says Short. "We're driven to make Old Town the progressive core of dining and drinking in the Lansing area."
Source: Sam Short, Co-Owner, The Creole
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Group of friends decant dreams for new Portland microbrewery

What was a downtown theater in one life and a pottery shop in another will become what owners say is the only microbrewery between Lansing and Grand Rapids when The Gallery Brewery opens this June in Portland.
The Gallery, says operations manager Hannah Green, will be a warm, comfortable place where friends can gather to enjoy seasonal craft beers, wine, and non-alcoholic brews like cream soda and root beer—all made onsite. Patrons, too, can enjoy a healthy version of bar food including flat bread pizza, baked chicken, hummus, salads, and baked cauliflower with buffalo sauce.
"We want everything to be and feel local," says Green. "We're in a farming community and we want to draw from that. It's something we're really working on."
Green, her husband Jared, friends Joe, Neil and Al Mathesin, and building owner Rush Clement reflected on their hopes and aspirations one night and came up with the idea for Portland's new brewpub.
"We've all been brewing for a couple years now and have a real passion for it," says Green. "We just got to talking and liked the whole concept of The Gallery."
The Gallery takes it name from the local artists the brewpub will feature each month. Green says they already have eight months worth of artists lined up, and are working to secure musicians to play once or twice a week on a built-in stage.
Green says all club owners have been pitching in to renovate the 2,500-square-foot-space that will retain its high-ceilinged, industrial feel. Seating areas will feature couches, coffee tables and a bar for a total capacity of 80.
"I have a big family, so between all of us we are handling the renovations ourselves," says Green. "It's been a lot of fun."
The Gallery will employ six people for starters with more added as business grows.
"This is right up my alley," says Green who works in the hospitality field. "I like meeting new people. I like serving food and drinks. It's fun to be able to create an experience for a customer coming in. That's what we plan to do."
Source: Hannah Green, Operations Manager, The Gallery Brewery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mid-Michigan native applies brew master credentials to new Williamston microbrewery

Something's brewing in Williamston.
Starting in April, a developer with local roots will begin transforming the former home of the Williamston police and public works departments into a microbrewery and brewpub. When opened this fall, the soon-to-be-named venue will brew, sell and bottle more than a dozen types of beer on-site using equipment and ingredients sourced from Michigan.
"This will be the largest project we've worked on," says Travis Fritts, developer and partner in the Detroit Beer Company. "I've been trying to get back to Mid-Michigan for years. It feels like a good fit for Williamston and a good fit for me and my family."
Fritts grew up in Dimondale and followed his wanderlust to Germany. He knocked around taking food science courses at the Technical University of Berlin, and then began training at the university's institute for brewing: The VLB. Returning home with master brewing credentials, Fritts went to work for Webberville's Michigan Brewing Company before relocating to Detroit.
Fritts has longed to bring his stouts, pilsners, lagers and other inspired craft beers to Williamston. When he heard talk of the two-story industrial facility being up for sale, he made plans and presented his vision for an old world style pub and brewery to city leaders.
"It's a brewery, but we're concerned about good food, too," says Fritts. "The word 'pub' infers a meeting place for family and friends. We want to go for the café sort-of-feel."
The 25,00-square foot facility at 1500 W. Grand River will accommodate a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with 85 indoor seats and up to 15 on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the space will become production facilities and offices.  
Fritts will be acquiring brew tanks and related production equipment from Craftwerk Brewing Systems, an equipment manufacturer in Clarkson, Mich. He is also rebuilding a bottling line from a plant in Inkster that will be moved up to the Williamston facility come summer. The facility, he says, will create about 20 jobs between the restaurant, production and administration.
Source: Travis Fritts, Developer and Owner, upcoming Williamston microbrewery and pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Construction underway for area's first Toby Keith bar and grill

Southern home-cooked fare, a country music atmosphere and live music from area bands set the stage for one of Lansing's newest dining attractions as Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill comes to Delta Township this fall.
The Lansing Mall announced March 18th that the venue named for the 2003 hit single "I Love This Bar" will occupy an 18,000-square foot space now under construction near the Regal Cinemas.
Vice President of Marketing Melissa Heanue of Rouse Properties, which owns the Lansing Mall, believes the energetic and entertaining blend of music and food will make for a great lunch or night out. She says the Toby Keith's "new home" will add to the already high-profile lineup of Lansing Mall dining options that include the newly opened Longhorn Steakhouse and the upcoming Nestle Toll House Café.
"This is a unique destination tenant that enhances both our dining and entertainment offering," says Heanue in a prepared statement. "We believe it will serve as major attraction within the Greater Lansing area."
The restaurant will feature an 85-foot full-service bar in the shape of guitar, a stage for live entertainment, a dance floor, a glass-enclosed VIP room, two indoor 'barns" for private parties and corporate events. Notable menu items include pulled-pork sandwiches, meatloaf, fried bologna sandwiches and Southern fried Twinkies.
Toby Keith's boasts 15 U.S. locations, with five coming soon. The Lansing location will be the second in Michigan behind Auburn Hills.
Source: Melissa Heanue, Vice President of Marketing, Rouse Properties
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Red's Smokehouse to bring BBQ artistry to Lansing City Market

Carol Smith has perfected her artistry for years. Now she's ready to share her barbecue and smoking finesse with Greater Lansing through Red's Smokehouse in the Lansing City Market.
Located directly across from the Waterfront Bar & Grille, Red's Smokehouse will offer briskets, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and portabella mushrooms and vegetables come early- to mid-April. The idea, Smith says, is to provide easy take-out food that can be enjoyed at home or outside on a warm day. She even has plans to serve chili and soup with a smoky flavor once she gets up and running in her 425-square foot booth.
"We're a barbecue restaurant that does things a little bit different," says Smith. "I do more dry rubs than wet, and use more spice than others. One of my rubs has 20 spices, so it's a little more complex."
Smith earned her chef hat after attending culinary school and worked for a variety of restaurants in Michigan and other states. She's been a server, chef, butcher and manager, and has prepared meals for weddings, graduations and other special events through her catering services.
Smith and her assistant, Jacke Randall, say they will focus on bringing a Michigan flavor to Red's Smokehouse as much as possible.
"Right now I have a friend who does tree trimming and we're on the hunt for hickory, cherry and apple so we can use local woods to smoke," says Smith.
Smith and Randall say Red's Smokehouse signature items will be the pulled pork sandwich, followed by pulled pork nachos with black beans and cheese. The versatile features of a Chinese-made smoker will also allow Red's to diversify the menu and to cold smoke vegetables, cheese and seafood.
"This is a really great opportunity for us," says Randall. "The City Market is a great place to start out small and grow big."
Source: Carol Smith and Jacke Randall, Owners, Red's Smokehouse
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Avant-garde food court at LCC inspires downtown dining

Diners hungry for downtown ambiance will find an abundance of satisfying and trendy selections when Lansing Community College opens its new food court this fall.
Now under construction, the food court in the Gannon Building will feature a smorgasbord of specialty areas for a customized, culinary experience as well as nationally branded vendors including Einstein Bagels, Pizza Hut and Subway.
Food stations managed by the Michigan-based Continental Services will feature handcrafted Angus burgers, hand-cut French Fries, breakfast burrito and sandwiches, and other specialty grill items. Diners can create fresh, custom salads at a Wild Greens station, while time-pressed or snack seekers will find grab-and-go options such as frozen yogurt, fresh popcorn, pretzels and cherry and cola-flavored ices through the Retail Market Outtakes. An EVO circular grill in a global cuisine area allows adventurous palates to experience foods from around the world.
"The community is welcome to come in, dine and see the new LCC," says Director of Public Affairs Ellen Jones. "The food options are fantastic and will awe you as much as the incredibly designed space."
The food court and student commons area are part of LCC's $18.3 million renovation to the Gannon Building that includes a curving glass wall on the building's eastern side.
"The beautiful glass wall will make the building an instant landmark and help make Grand Avenue truly grand again," says Jones. "On a nice day, downtown workers may want to walk the avenue past the Accident Fund to enjoy the wonderful view as well as a spectacular lunch."
Lansing's Granger Construction will manage the construction, while Lansing Glass will install the curving glass wall. Viracon, a company that made the glass for the Spertus Building in Chicago, will manufacture the actual glass, with framing provided by Innovation Glass. 

HiTea bring traditional Asian tea, eight jobs to East Lansing

Yao Xiao believes in the art of tea preparation. And as the co-owner and partner of a new teahouse in East Lansing, he wants to show his customers how to get the most from a cup of tea.
"A lot of people don't know how to prepare tea and boil the tea leaves," says Xiao, also known as "Angus." "We'll show you the instruments to use and how to make tea the right way."
Angus is steeped in preparations to open HiTea, a 1,064 square foot teashop in the East Lansing Marriott at University Place. The shop, Angus says, will bring a contemporary edge to a traditional teashop, and feature 26 bubble tea flavors, Asian drinks, and a selection of breads, croissants, European style sandwiches, brownies, muffins, cheesecake and salads.
"The raw materials for our teas is directly imported from China," Angus says. "Our taste is much more traditional, and we will have toppings like bubbles and jellies to add into the cup."
Since January, Angus has been building a relaxing teashop by installing comfortable seating, decorative wood structures, and storage and preparation areas. He's also brought in more than 13 different pieces of equipment deemed essential for preparing high-end teas, including a water heater, boiler, icemaker, water filtration system, and a filling and shaking machine. When completed, the shop will seat 34 customers inside and six to eight outside.
The East Lansing HiTea, Angus says, is part of a growing chain of teashops that originated in China, and is the fourth U.S. location behind Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Angus plans to open HiTea March 10 and to have a grand opening toward the end of the month. HiTea will employ eight people, with more staff added in the coming year.
Source: Yao Xiao ("Angus"), co-owner and partner, HiTea
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Aggie Mae's brings artisan baked goods, new jobs to Grand Ledge

Since changing careers in 2009, Neva Austin starts her day in the kitchen at 3 a.m.
"I was in sales and wanted to do something I had a passion for," says Austin, the owner of the growing line of Aggie Mae's bakeries in Greater Lansing. "I decided I would make breads and pastries for the farmer's market, and it just exploded from there."
Austin opened her newest bakery in Grand Ledge in mid-January after closing her shop at the Lansing City Market. The 2,100-square foot store at 914 Charlevoix Street is her second brick-and-mortar store in addition to her bakery in Lansing's Old Town.
Austin uses fresh ingredients for her breads, pastries, cakes and pies. She sources organic flour from Ferris Organic Farms in her hometown of Eaton Rapids, and Lansing's LorAnn Oils for flavorings. Downtown's Paramount Coffee supplies the beans for her frequently requested cups of brew.
Austin seems destined to knead the dough. Her grandmother, Elaine Maynard, was a restaurateur in Higgins Lake, and her great grandmother, Bertie Mae, had a bakery in Breckenridge. 
"My mother taught me how to bake from a very young age," says Austin of the store's namesake, Aggie Mae. "Some of my fondest memories are baking bread with my mom."
Austin makes her baked goods from scratch, including her 12 artisan breads, pastries, specialty cupcakes, pies and cheesecake. She also claims 15 made-to-order sandwiches, a signature granola, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast items.
Austin's Grand Ledge bakery employs seven staff. She adapted the space in the newer strip mall by painting, knocking out a wall, and replacing floor tile. She also brought in her own display cabinets, coolers and bakery equipment, and put in seating for up to 15 dine-in customers. She's held off doing a grand opening, but is planning one for late March or April, once the weather turns.
"My mother absolutely loves to come in," says Austin. "Her favorite thing, of course, is the 'Aggie Mae,' our signature chicken salad sandwich that is made in-house."
Source: Neva Austin, owner, Aggie Mae's Bakery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

East Cafe cooks up home-style meals for lovers of Chinese cuisine

A group of friends from China who met in Michigan are cooking up meals reminiscent of the old country at the newly opened East Cafe in East Lansing.
Husband and wife Vicki Wong and Heg Hei Lee joined friends Gin soo Cheung, Sing Yui Cheung and Zi Kang Liu in creating an extensive Asian menu that's appealing to the casual epicurean.
"Our food is very unique," says Wong, who envisions the restaurant at 1001 E. Grand River as being a go-to place for the Chinese community and for lovers of Chinese food. "You remember your old country and city and how you ate there. Some of our foods are similar to home-style cooking."
The extensive menu written in both English and Chinese includes popular dishes such as General Tsao and sesame chicken, as well as such appetizers as homemade scallion pancakes and beef burrito. Hearty appetites will enjoy selections like sausage claypot rice and country style bucket rice. Freshly made drinks include bubble teas and fruit smoothies, and diners can satisfy their desert cravings with sweet soups, puddings and mini-cakes.
"Anyone who doesn't know what to pick can ask one of our staff to help you," says Wong. "Warm, nice great food and service is our main goal."
Wong says the owners drew on their decades of experience managing restaurants in both Lansing and metro Detroit, and teamed up to bring a new look to the 2,000 square-foot facility that opened in late 2013. Improvements included installing new chairs, tables, and flooring, and remodeling the kitchen. Fresh paint, signage and a new door put the finishing touches on the restaurant that can seat about 18 dine-in customers.
Wong says she and the owners plan to change up the menu from time-to-time. Delivery is also in the works, with orders being taken on-line or by phone. The restaurant currently employs six people.
"We also plans to have room for people to eat outside when it gets warmer," Wong says.

Firehouse Subs brings 30 jobs and fundraising flair to downtown Lansing

Sam Shango took his family on a Florida vacation and came back with more than T-shirts. He came back with a concept for a hot franchise.
The first week of January, Shango opened the doors to Firehouse Subs at 200 S. Washington Square in downtown Lansing. Founded by firefighters, the "fast casual" Florida chain gained fame and popularity by serving piping hot meats and cheeses on toasted rolls while raising dollars for first responders.
"I've been watching the brand and was taken by their unique business model," says Shango of the eatery that merges food and fundraising. "Not only is the food great, but they have a foundation that benefits local fire stations and the community."
Shango laid the groundwork for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation while preparing to open his first franchise. Now in full operation, Lansing's Firehouse Subs commits a percentage of sub sales to support local first responders and public safety organizations. Other foundation venues include spare change canisters, rounding up sales, and selling empty five-gallon pickets buckets for $2 each.
"I've never done anything so complete," says Shango of joining a franchise that boasts 700 units across 38 states. "From the quality of the food to giving back to the community – it just makes you feel good to be part of it, and to eat lunch here."
Shango invested about $400,000 to transform the 2,500-square foot state office facility to a sit-down restaurant. Renovations included upgrades to HVAC, water and electrical systems, as well as an extensive corporate makeover to simulate a firehouse interior. Red, white and black dominate the floor plan, while a Lansing-centric mural commands attention.
Shango hired 30 people to staff the first of three Firehouse Subs he plans to co-own and manage with his brother Eddy Shango.
Source: Sam Shango, Co-Owner and Manager, Firehouse Subs
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

A new Asian cuisine option opens on Michigan Ave.

Restauranteur Frank Lin knows an opportunity when he sees one. When he recognized the lack of a neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Lansing's east side, he decided to become the solution. His new Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant opened about a month ago on Michigan Ave. 
"The response has been good, and we haven't even done any advertising yet," says Lin. "Many people are coming right from this neighborhood. It's a very nice neighborhood here."
Location was key in Lin's decision to open Asian Gourmet. With large employers in close proximity, such as Michigan State University and Sparrow, he plans to attract a good lunch crowd. While Chinese fare is at the heart of the restaurant's offerings, Lin says Thai and other Asian cuisine is offered as well.
"We don't use MSG, and we mostly use fresh vegetables," says Lin. "It's very healthy with no extra fat or oils." 
The 1,500 square foot restaurant currently seats about 15 diners and has relied on carry out for much of their business. In the future Lin hopes to expand his in-house dining. Currently, Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant employs a staff of three. 

Source: Frank Lin, Asian Gourmet Chinese Restaurant 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Downtown Lansing to be among the first homes of "Shark Tank"-backed Tom+Chee restaurant

Next month Downtown Lansing will be among the first places to open a restaurant that is set to start spreading across the country. After appearing on ABC’s "Shark Tank" in May, the small, Cincinnati-based restaurant Tom+Chee earned $600,000 in investment funds, followed by more than 9,000 franchise requests from around the world. 
Fortunately for Lansing, franchisee Mark Wibel was in on the grilled cheese and tomato soup-themed restaurant concept early. Prior to appearing on the show, owners Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush met with Wibel, and the result will be Tom+Chee's seventh location opening in Lansing on Dec. 10. 
"He has a pretty extensive franchising history," Corey Ward says of Wibel. "We were identifying the best candidates to open our first stores, and he just has tons of experience with multiple brands."
The 1,700 square foot restaurant will feature unique, affordable twists on grilled cheese, such as "Hippy+Chee" with hummus and vegetables, "Pep+Chee" featuring pepperoni and "Flying Pig" with turkey, bacon and pickles. Ward hopes the Lansing lunch crowd will receive the grilled cheese concept just as well as the crowds at their original restaurant.
"The buildign actually reminded us a lot of our first location in Cincinnati," he says. "The architecture looks familiar, and it's a nice location - an awesome lunch location." 
Tom+Chee will open with 10 to 15 employees. The restaurant will soon be joined by three additional franchise locations outside of Michigan, and a boom of 30 to 40 Tom+Chee restaurants is expected in 2014. Wibel plans to open at least two more locations in Michigan. Ward and Quackenbush will be featured this Friday in an update episode of "Shark Tank."

Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Zaytoon Grill to bring well-known family recipes with an American fusion twist to the Westside

With the long-running Sultan's Restaurant and new Saffron Grill in East Lansing, the local market's love of the Samy Aburashed's family businesses has been tried and tested. This week, fans of Mediterranean cuisine will have another option with Aburashed's Zaytoon Grill opening on Elmwood Rd. near the Lansing Mall. 
"I've been looking for the last two years on the west side," says owner Samy Aburashed, who is nephew to the owner of Sultan's Restaurant. "There really isn't anything authentic out there."
Zaytoon Grill will begin with a soft opening this Saturday and will be fully open by Monday. Aburashed says the menu will have similar recipes to his family's well- known cuisine, but with a twist. 
"There will be a little modern touch to mine," he says. "I'm not scared to use a little more spice. It'll be a little different, with an American fusion to it." 
The 2,800 square foot restaurant will open with seating for 50 and about 10 employees. Aburashed says he hopes to expand in the future, looking to increase the size of the restaurant, and perhaps add a banquet facility and bakery to the business. 

Source: Samy Aburashed, Zaytoon Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New Leaf Salad Bar offers fast and fresh food to Frandor area diners

Leaf Salad Bar may be the newest addition to the Frandor shopping area, but the restaurant has been a long time coming. In fact, local entrepreneur and owner of East Lansing's Showroom Shine, Mark Sprinkel first came up with the concept in 1991. 
"I wanted to do it then," he says. "I never got around to it because the other business kept me pretty busy. When this location presented itself, I knew if I didn't do it now, I'd never do it." 
And did he ever. Within a month and a half, Sprinkel grabbed the 1,000 square foot location, partnered with local restaurateur Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran and opened the doors of his new food concept: a gourmet salad bar for fast and healthy meals. 
In addition to offering 100 gourmet salad toppings for patrons to help themselves, weigh and pay by the pound, Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies. The response, says Sprinkel, has been nearly overwhelming. 
"The concept got around fast. We're crazy busy. We've only be open three weeks and we have regular clientele," he says. "We're profitable in our first month."
Leaf now has a staff of ten. The restaurant seats 15 inside, six outside, offering take out service. Sprinkel is already thinking of adding an Okemos location next year and hopes to franchise the business. 

Source: Mark Sprinkel, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Longtime Lansing restaurant becomes Fireside Grill, expands footprint and staff

Fireside Grill is set to open in Dimondale in a couple of weeks, and area diners can expect to the restaurant to offer something new, as well as something familiar. After 17 years in business, Lansing's Barley's American Grill closed a few months ago, only to reopen under the new name in a new location and with a different style of food. 
"We're adding pasta dishes, fresh seafood and prime rib," says owner Ed Hall. "If you want fries, we'll have an Idaho potato right in front of us, we'll cut it up and fry it on the spot. Things will be more fresh." 
Hall intends for the emphasis to be on the food itself. While Barley's American Grill operated on about 50 percent alcohol sales, he hopes to see the food at Fireside Grill become front and center. The restaurant will have both a dining area as well as a pub area with different menus.
Fireside Grill will open in a 12,000 square foot location that is more than twice the size of Hall's former bar and restaurant. Hall hopes to capitalize on his new, Dimondale location as well. 
"There's nothing in this area," Hall says. "People are always driving through here to get to a restaurant somewhere else. I want to offer those people something on this side of town."
Hall will retain his Barley's American Grill staff, but will add about 25 new jobs to staff the new restaurant. Fireside Grill will open in two phases, first with a smaller dining area and abbreviated menu before the entire restaurant is open for business.

Source: Ed Hall, Fireside Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Okemos to be home to third Sugar Berry location

There's no denying it. Lansing loves Sugar Berry. Affection for the frozen yogurt shop is only growing, as is the business itself. Less than three years after opening the first Sugar Berry in Frandor, a third location is set to open soon in Okemos. 
After opening her second Sugar Berry on West Saginaw last year, owner Ann Nguyen could tell that demand for yet another location was still high. 
"A lot of people are coming from all sorts of directions for Sugar Berry," she says, "so I thought another one would make it easier for people. Okemos seems to be a really fun place for one." 
Work on the 1,500 square foot location near the corner of Okemos Road and Grand River is now underway. Nguyen says everything will be built new, including bathrooms, countertops and topping stations.
"I love the four-way traffic that is right there," she says. "The location is pretty good, and it's nice and bright." 
Nguyen hopes to open the store with April with about eight employees. The Okemos store will feature Sugar Berry's newest offering, bubble tea, which will soon be available across all three locations. 
Nguyen intends to open more Lansing-area businesses, but plans to expand beyond frozen yogurt in her next venture. Though not ready to release specific plans yet, she promises the new business will, just as Sugar Berry did, bring a new business concept to the area.

Source: Ann Nguyen, Sugar Berry
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Asian Express to join Okemos Dairy for carryout and dine-in

Okemos Dairy has been a longtime neighborhood favorite on Okemos Road. Starting next week, in addition to delicious ice creams, visitors to the location will be able to enjoy a meal along with their dessert at Asian Express. 
Ginny Cheung isn't new to the restaurant business. She and her husband owned Golden Wok restaurants, first in Adrian and then in East Lansing. But when the couple's children graduated from college and moved away, they were looking for a smaller operation to simplify their lives. 
"I want to have a small family restaurant with my husband," Cheung says. "I want to have a day or off or vacation when we want to" 
The 1,200 square foot location adjacent to the Okemos Dairy will feature carryout and a small amount of seating for dine-in customers, with seats for about 16 inside, and, when the weather improves, additional patio seating. The menu will be similar to Cheung's Golden Wok entrees. 
"Everything is fresh," says Cheung. "All of the vegetables are chopped here, and nothing cooked ahead."
Cheung chose the Okemos location because of her fondness for the neighborhood where here kids attended high school. Cheung and her husband will open Asian Express with a staff of four. 

Source: Ginny Cheung, Asian Express
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Bulgogi Korean Cuisine opens in East Lansing with 20 jobs

When Kevin Choi owned and operated Korean restaurants in both Novi and Ann Arbor, he noticed a similar thing happening in both locations. 
"There are many MSU students and that, during the weekend are going an hour away to go to the restaurant," says Choi. "There are many Asian students here, but they go to Ann Arbor and Novi because they couldn't find the right Korean food in East Lansing." 
Choi decided it was time to open an authentic Korean restaurant right where he knew there was demand: in East Lansing He opened the doors of his Bulgogi Korean Cuisine on Albert Avenue last week with 20 employees and room for 80 diners. 
Though other small Korean restaurants to exist in the area, Choi's offers something new to the scene. Not only is the 3,400 square foot Bulgogi Korean Cuisine larger than the others, it also features Korean barbeque grills at each table. 
" We bring out the customer scan too,' says Seoyoung Choi of Bulgogi Korean Cuisine. "A lot of customers don't know about Korean barbeque grills, so we want to make it a fun and enjoyable way to get the word out about Korean food."
In addition to Korean barbeque, Bulgogi offers other traditional Korean dishes, hot pots and noodle dishes. The restaurant is currently working to secure a liquor license, and Choi plans to add delivery as an option in the future. 

Source: Kevin Choi, Bulgogi Korean Cuisine
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Portable Feast re-opens in Old Town

The Portable Feast fed Old Towners from 2002 through 2009, and after a few years of trying something new, owner Sharon Hind decided it was time to revive her old business, in the exact same space. 
"I wanted to get back to doing my own thing and my creativeness instead of working for somebody else," says Hind. "And this area is a cool area. I have a lot of friends here who have been really supportive." 
Just like the former Portable Feast, the new business, serves light breakfast and lunch fare for dine-in or take away. Hind's reopening took place last week with salads, soups, wraps and more. 
"The menu is similar," Hind says. "There are some old favorites and new items. I'm still doing breakfast, lunch and casual catering. I'm thinking of opening into evening as well." 

Source: Sharon Hind, Portable Feast
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

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Local owners open area's third Culver's in Eastwood Towne Center

Lansing just can’t seem to get enough of Culver’s, the fast food franchise famous for its frozen custard. Holt residents Jay Laing and Scott Berman have now opened their first, but the area’s third Culver’s restaurant in Eastwood Towne Center.
“We looked at a variety of concepts, and Culver’s was the best fit for us,” says Laing. “It’s really proven to be successful over the past several years.”
The 4,300 square foot restaurant is one of the first few Culver’s in the nation with an updated floor plan that gives customers and employees more room. The restaurant holds 108 diners, and currently employs about 60 workers. Even more diners will be welcome when the weather allows them to open their patio. 
“We went to great lengths to make the patio an appealing place,” Laing says.
The new Culver’s opened last week after breaking ground in July. Laing says the business plans to be active in the community, including events and partnerships within Eastwood Towne Center. 

Opie's Pizza to open, create 11 jobs on Chandler Road

Paul De Leon could be opening an authentic Mexican restaurant in Wisconsin right now, but thanks to a chance meeting while shopping for a truck to take him there, his plans changed. 
“The sales guy had a long experience with pizza,” says De Leon. “He had a really good pizza recipe, and he asked me if I was interested in opening a restaurant with him.”
That’s how De Leon and Bill Grantham began their working relationship, which will result in the opening of Opie’s Pizza on Chandler Road in Bath Township later this month. 
“We’re about 96 percent ready,” De Leon says. “We had to make a pizza place out of a room with just four walls. We had to make the kitchen and dining room and bathrooms. It was a lot of work.”
De Leon and Grantham hope all that work will be worthwhile when they open their doors on January 23. The 1,800 square foot restaurant will include a full bar and will employ 11 workers upon opening.  
The business partners hope to expand Opie’s Pizza into a franchise, beginning with future locations in Old Town and Grand Ledge. 

Brickhouse Grille to open in Portland, create 35 jobs

A new fine dining experience is coming to Downtown Portland with the Brickhouse Grille. The new restaurant is expected to open December 29 with a focus on steak and fresh seafood. 
“Everything is going to be fresh,” says owner Mike Hoorman. “This fish will literally be swimming 24 hours before I get it. We’ll also have pasta, chicken, and will be smoking our own meats in-house.” 
The 2,200 square foot restaurant is now taking shape in a former furniture store in Downtown Portland. Hoorman and his team has been hard at work since November, stripping the floors, replacing windows and installing the kitchen. 
“It was a perfect opportunity here in Portland,” Hoorman says. “There’s great parking, 125-year-old brick, 100-year-old wood flooring. It was just perfect.” 
The Brickhouse Grille will seat about 70 diners and will employ a staff of 35. Hoorman says the restaurant will place an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. 

Famous Taco expands into REO Town, adds four jobs

Famous Taco is now never too far from wherever you are in Lansing. 
“I think we’re going to be able to cover pretty much all of Lansing, east, west, south and north,” says Frank Delacruz, former owner and husband of current owner of Famous Taco. 
The third location, which opened in November in REO Town, has special meaning to the family, as the Washington Street storefront was the home of the very first restaurant Delacruz owned with his father in 1968, called “Acapulco.” 
Like the other two Famous Taco locations, the new restaurant offers sit-down, takeout, delivery and catering. Though they are still working on building up their delivery business on the Southside, Delacruz is impressed with how quickly they developed a lunch crowd. 
“It’s going good,” he says. “With all the people who work for the City and the Board of Water and Light and the GM plant, we have a super lunch.” 
The new Famous Taco currently employs a staff of four. Delacruz says his wife Peggy is looking to continue their expansion with possible locations in Dewitt, Holt and Eaton Rapids. 

New sushi restaurant brings healthy lunch options, four jobs to Frandor

Fans of Frandor’s Xiao, rejoice. There’s now a new Asian food restaurant by the same owner in the same neighborhood, but with a new twist. 
“Basically,” says Frank Cheng, owner of both Xiao and the new Tamaki Custom Sushi and Wraps, “I knew there was a need for more sushi in the area, especially in Frandor.”
According to Cheng, the format of the sushi spot will offer something brand new to the market. Tamaki uses a variety of Asian ingredients, such as Korean kimchi, to make a variety of fast, healthy and affordable dishes. 
“And it is build your own sushi,” says Chengs. “That’s what’s so fun about it.”
Tamaki opened in November in a 1,500 square foot Frandor location near Panera Bread. The restaurant offers sit-down and carryout dining, and currently employs a staff of four. 

Family Restaurant opens on Southside, creates 11 jobs

The Family Restaurant on South Cedar lives up to its name in two ways. Not only is the new business owned by three siblings, but it offers a menu comparable to any traditional American family dinner table. 
“We’re probably the only ones doing this style of home-style cooking,” says part-owner Dennis Jasman. “We have meatloaf, liver and onions, and we usually have four or five types of meat on the buffet.”
For Jasman and his sisters Linda Huett and Sandra Pitchford, the restaurant business has been the family business since their mother owned restaurants in Cheboygan and Flint. 
“My two sisters and me have always wanted to run a restaurant together,” says Jasman.
The 135-seat restaurant opened in August after some significant clean up and renovation of the existing building, which had been vacant for some time prior. The siblings chose the location because of its high traffic and proximity to their home on Lansing's Southside. The business, Jasman says, is about serving the public as much as it’s about business.
“We don’t’ want to get rich,” he says. “I guess basically we like meeting people. If you’re not satisfied with your meal, we’ll do what we can to make you satisfied. If you want something we don’t have and you’ve got an extra ten minutes, I’ll run down the store and get it for you.” 
The Family Restaurant currently employs a staff of eleven. Jasman says the large selection of hot buffet items is the eatery’s specialty.

Hibachi House offers fresh fast food, creates four jobs

Qiuyan Chen and her husband Mou Li aren’t new to the Asian food business, but their latest restaurant, Hibachi House, is something new for the Lansing area. 
“We decided to add a totally new thing to the Lansing area,” says Chen. “We cook the food right on the hibachi grill. It’s hot and fresh.”
It’s also fast. The 3,000 square foot, Delta Township restaurant seats sit-down diners inside, but also includes a drive-thru window for diners on the go. 
“A lot people who work don’t have a lot of time,” Chen says. “We can provide fast food that is a real meal during their lunch time.” 
Chen adds that the Hibachi House food is also healthy, using no MSG, little oil and low-sugar fried rice.
Hibachi House opened at 4021 W. Saginaw on October 15. The restaurant currently employs four workers. Chen hopes to expand the concept into additional Lansing-area locations in the future. 

Holt-based Tacos E Mas opens Delta Twp location, adds six jobs

The Delacruzes opened Tacos E Mas in Holt four years ago with authentic family recipes. Lansing area diners approved, and demand for their specialty Mexican food has led to a second location in Delta Township.
The second Tacos E Mas opened in early October on W. Thomas L Parkway, just off of West Saginaw. The 1,000 square foot location offers carry out, delivery, as well as dine-in accommodations for up to 30 diners. 
The food at Tacos E Mas comes directly from General Manager David Delacruz Jr.’s grandmother’s recipes. The menu includes some unique items diners may not find at other Mexican restaurants, such as hot burros, a meat-filled tortilla covered in a spicy cheese sauce and beans.
“It’s all her recipes,” says Delacruz. “She passed away and left them to us. There are some ingredients that are a little more expensive in some things, but we stand by them, because it makes the food taste that much better.”
The new location currently employs six workers. Delacruz expects the business to eventually grow to a staff of ten. His family hopes to open a third Lansing location in the next one to three years. 

Gibson's Books opens 1,500 sq ft Gibby's Grinders, adds 4 jobs

Fans of Gibson’s Books and Beans in Downtown Lansing have even more to enjoy now that the bookstore has expanded into an adjacent 1,500 square foot space to open Gibby’s Grinders
“When they closed the cafeteria down at the school, which generated a lot ore people come over looking for places to eat,” says Dave Poquette, manager Gibson’s.” We did some brainstorming and thought a sub shop would be the best solution.” 
The location had been vacant for several years before Gibson’s began developing the idea of Gibby’s earlier this year. The new sub shop opened last week, offering both hot and cold sandwiches. 
“So far, so good,” says Poquette. “We’re just getting it going.” 
Gibby’s currently employs about four new workers, and Poquette plans to add additional varieties of grinders and soup to the menu soon.

East Lansing's new China Tong introduces Cantonese cuisine, adds four jobs

After taking a break from more than 20 years in the restaurant business, Jim Guo recently decided it was time to jump back into the industry with the new China Tong in East Lansing. 
Located at 1105 East Grand River, the new 1,500 square foot restaurant features original Cantonese cuisine. 
“We are the only place doing that in town right now,” says Guo. “If people want to try original Cantonese cuisine, they can find it here.”
The restaurant has six tables for in-house dining and currently employs four workers. Guo hopes the restaurant will continue to grow and he can hire up to three more. China Tong opened last week.

Los Tres Amigos to open in 3,800 sq ft downtown location, add up to 12 jobs

Ten years ago, Arnulfo Ramirez worked in the kitchen of a Los Tres Amigos restaurant. Today, he owns 12 restaurants, including the newest Los Tres Amigos location set to open soon in Downtown Lansing
“People know Los Tres Amigos, and really appreciate us in Lansing,” says Ramirez. “I decided to come downtown, and I’ve been working for a couple of years to find the right spot.” 
The new, 3,800 square foot downtown eatery will employ 10 to 12 workers. Ramirez says he plans to create an authentic Mexican atmosphere in the restaurant to give downtown workers and students a fun escape during the lunch breaks or after work. 
“I want people to feel like they are in a spot in Mexico,” Ramirez says. “All the furniture is coming from Mexico, and we’ll try to make it feel tropical.”
Ramirez hopes to open the doors to the new Los Tres Amigos in late August. 

Purple Carrot owners to open Red Haven restaurant, add up to 20 jobs

Nina Santucci and Anthony Maiale have always intended to open a restaurant; they just weren’t sure how their particular style of food would be received by the community. One year, a food truck and two national recognitions later, the owners of The Purple Carrot can rest assured that their food is indeed loved by the community. The pair is therefore opening up their first non-mobile restaurant called Red Haven this fall.
“I think of a peach as a little more sophisticated,” says Santucci of naming the new restaurant. “And the Red Haven peach was developed at MSU and is known as the most delicious, and now most popular in the world.” 
The 2,284 square foot restaurant will be located near the corner of Hagadorn and Mt. Hope in Okemos. The location is perfect, explains Santucci, for the atmosphere they’re trying to create.
“We really wanted to have the farm-to-table feel in the décor,” she says. “The windows look out at a bunch of MSU farm land, so that is kind of a nice little bonus.” 
Though the Purple Carrot and Red Haven will both serve food made from seasonal, local ingredients, the menu at the new restaurant will be entirely different from that of the food truck. Red Haven will serve tapas-style food items, as well as locally made alcoholic beverages. 
Red Haven is expected to open in mid-September and will employ 15 to 20 workers.

Maru Sushi to open second, 2,800 sq ft location, adding 35 jobs

When Robert M. Song first opened Maru Sushi & Grill in 2009, he did so with the intention of eventually opening a second location in the Lansing area. He’s now doing that and more as Song has announced his second local spot is in the works just as the new Grand Rapids location is set to open. 
“My restaurant here is small, and I like small restaurants,” says Song. “I’ve had my eyes on that location for a number of years. Eastwood has grown and is still growing as we speak. It’s an even bigger market now than it has ever been.” 
The third Maru Sushi location is now under development on Lake Lansing Road in the former Ali Baba Mediterranean Cuisine location near Coolidge Road. The 2,800 square foot location will undergo a total redesign and will seat about 90 diners. 
“We have the initial drawings now,” says Song. “It will look clean, contemporary, progressive and will have the Japanese food that area lacks. I’m excited to be a part of East Lansing.” 
Song hopes the new Maru Sushi & Grill will be open early in 2013. He expects the restaurant to employ up to 35 full- and part-time workers. 
“Customers who live farther away in the northwest part of Lansing will be happy to hear the news that they won’t have to drive as far to get to Maru,” Song says. 

Local family to open 1,800 sq ft sub shop near Frandor, add 20 jobs

A Lansing-area family will soon launch a delicious new venture. Penn Station East Coast Subs is a well-known name south of the Michigan border. And beginning this month, Lansing will get the chance to become familiar with it as well.

“It’s a quick-casual restaurant with 14 different kinds of subs,” says Cheryl Kellogg, who is partnering with family members Mark, Jeff and Chris Kellogg on the business. “It’s an open kitchen concept, so you order the sub and you can watch it being cooked. We do fresh cut fries that we cut in the morning form potatoes, and will have fresh-squeezed lemonade.”

A focus on fresh ingredients, Kellogg says, is the hallmark of Penn Station East Coast Subs' success. The new Lansing shop will open in a 1,800-square foot storefront at 3020 East Saginaw this month. The Frandor-area location is the first of four Greater Lansing shops the Kelloggs intend to open in the near future.
“We were looking for certain demographics,” says Kellogg. “This place happened to come up and was right near Frandor. I feel very fortunate we got that spot.”
Kellogg says the first Penn Station East Coast Subs will employ 20 workers. The family is looking to open future locations near Meridian Mall, in East Lansing and near the Lansing Mall. They also plan to open locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. 

A new look comes to downtown with 3,800 square foot Eden Rock

A highly visible change came to the 200-block of Washington Square in Downtown Lansing earlier this spring when the Wild Beaver Saloon transformed into a whole new kind of bar. 
“It was operated and very successful for two years, almost to the date,” says Jerome Abood of Wild Beaver Saloon. “We closed it and remodeled the interior and exterior, and created an entirely new concept called Eden Rock. Our decision to close the Wild Beaver and convert to Eden Rock was all positive.”
The physical renovations include a cool white and blue exterior, classy outdoor seating and retractable glass doors.
“Like most of these buildings, being over 100 years old, they all offer so much charisma and charm,” says Abood. “From the beginning, our designs always wanted these bold architectural traits to be included as much as possible into the design to enhance the effect and feel of the casual diner or late night entertainment energy.  
Eden Rock first opened over Memorial Day with weekend hours, and the 3,800 square foot bar and restaurant is now open six days a week. The new menu features organic, homemade recipes such as pizza, pasta dishes, nachos, tacos, fresh-made salsa, bean and cheese dips.
“The menu is to complement the interior,” says Abood, “fresh and eclectic, yet comfortable and familiar.”
Eden Rock currently employs 20 workers. Abood plans to allow Eden Rock to continue to grow and evolve while serving the Downtown Lansing market. 

Old Town gets a taste of the South with Meat restaurant, 10 new jobs

Old Town is getting some southern flavor with the new Meat Southern BBQ & Carnivore Cuisine on Turner Street. The new 1,900 square foot restaurant is celebrating its grand opening at the end of June. 
“I’ve always liked the Old Town area,” says co-owner Sean Johnson. “I’ve lived here most of my life and I’ve seen the Old Town area grow and progress from what it used to be. It seemed like the right fit for what we are doing.”
What he and co-owner Tim McPharlin are doing is making authentic southern barbeque. Both men have lived in the South during their lives, and McPharlin attended culinary school in Georgia. 
“He learned a lot of about barbeque and southern food,” says Johnson. “We were just enamored with the southern style, the slow smoking, pork and different types of ribs. We want to bring that southern type of cooking up to the northern area.”
Meat offers catering in addition to dining for up to 40 patrons. The restaurant currently employs about ten workers. Down the road Johnson would like to get the community involved in barbeque competitions and possibly expand into food truck service. 
“Everything we do is house made,” says Johnson. “We don’t buy anything out of a bucket and nothing is frozen. We’re just trying to make a fun, comfortable place for people in the neighborhood to come have a fun meal.”

New Delta Twp brewery to bring craft beer, eight jobs to Westside

Lansing’s Westside will soon have a new place to relax and enjoy locally-brewed beer and wine. Former state employee Daniel Buonodono and his wife Sonia will open Eagle Monk Pub and Brewery on West Mount Hope in Delta Township in late June or early July. 
“Delta Township is very business friendly,” Buonodono says. “We bought it in August and I’ve been there almost every day working on the facility.”
Buonodono has been brewing his own beers for nearly 30 years while working for the state in IT. Though brewing beer and maintaining technology might not seem to have a lot in common, Bounodono says both utilize a similar set of skills.
“In the IT world you have to be really good with process control, doing the same things over and over correctly and beer is the same way,” says Buonodono. “To make consistent, good tasting beer you have to do the same thing.”
Buonodono’s consistent, good-tasting beer will be front and center at the new 2,600-square foot brewery and restaurant. In addition to his craft beers, including his signature beer called Red Eye Rye, Eagle Monk Pub and Brewery will serve gourmet pizzas, salads, sandwiches and homemade sodas.
“It’s going to be a family–friendly, mellow environment,” says Buonodono. “It’s not going to be like a bar in atmosphere.”
Buonodono estimates he is investing $250,000 into the new business and expects to hire eight part-time employees upon opening. 

Carlos and Jorge's to bring Latin dishes to Eastwood Towne Center, add 50 jobs

This fall, the diversity of food options available in the Eastwood Towne Center will expand into Latin America and beyond with Carlos and Jorge’s. The new restaurant is one of four underway by developer Chuck Senatore.
“It will be a truly Latin concept with food from around Latin America and Europe,” says Senatore. “Most are just Mexican, or just tapas, but we’ll roll it all into one.”
The 5,000 square foot Carlos and Jorge’s will have a menu that is about 40 percent Mexican food, as well as Spanish, Cuban and more. 
“Everything will be made from scratch,” says Senatore. “That’s something that really sets us apart.”
Sentatore expects to hire about 50 new employees to staff Carlos and Jorge’s. The restaurant is slated to open in September or October. 

Blue Gill Grill adds retractable glass walls, 12 new staff members

There’s always something new going on at Haslett’s Blue Gill Grill. Two years ago, it was the addition of an upstairs patio; this year, it’s making the entire bar feel like a patio. The bar recently tore down its three outside walls and replaced them with glass garage doors.
“We added this to make it more of a Floridian, Caribbean flavor,” says owner Denise Warner. “We’re always keeping up with the times, constantly changing. We need to have people go, ‘Oh!’ when they come in.”
The new atmosphere at the Blue Gill Grill is certainly with the exclamation. With the glass doors retracted, the entire bar is now open and breezy. "Even with the doors closed," says Warner, "the added sunlight makes for an entirely new experience." In addition to the new doors, Blue Gill Grill also added a new restaurant in the bar as well as a new wall to separate the dining and bar areas. 
In addition to the physical growth, the bar and restaurant has recently added 12 new staff members. Warner also adds that they employed all Michigan contractors to complete the work. 
“We buy Michigan and local as often as we can,” says Warner. “If we can find anything in Michigan, we’ll get it here.”

Moe's Southwestern Grill to open in East Lansing, add 25 jobs

A new kind of burrito experience is coming to Grand River in East Lansing. Moe’s Southwest Grill will open a new, 2,013 square foot location across from MSU’s campus in late May. According to Lauren McGowen Barash, Director of PR/Corp Communication for Moe's Southwest Grill, the new fast casual restaurant won’t be like anything downtown East Lansing has seen before. 
“The experience at Moe’s from start to finish is entirely unique,” she says. “The vibe is irreverent, laid-back and cool with menu names like the Homewrecker burrito, Close Talker salad and Billy Barou nachos and the music that is played is exclusively dead artists.” 
Prior to opening, the company invested in adding windows to the alley side of the building and adding new, branded storefront. A patio area will be soon added as well. Moe’s will employ 20 to 25 workers at the new restaurant. 
According to Barash, East Lansing’s business mix was a natural fit for the national food chain.
“We believe there is a great retail and restaurant synergy in that area, and as an added bonus it’s near Michigan State,” she says. "Moe’s offers generous portions, speedy service, a fun atmosphere and great prices making it extremely attractive to college students.”
Moe’s Southwest Grill plans to open a second location on the west side of the Lansing, and the company is currently in the process of looking for viable real estate.    

Aladdin's to add Downtown Lansing location, 12 jobs

In his 15 years of owning Aladdin’s Restaurant in Frandor, Ali Elbast noticed a pattern in his lunch crowd. 
“Most of our customers for lunch come from downtown,” he says. “So we decided we’ll come to them.”
That’s exactly what the new Aladdin’s Express on Washington Square will do when it opens in mid-May. The 2,400-square foot restaurant will serve fast, fresh meals to downtown diners, including soups, salads and both chicken and beef on a shawarma grill. 
“We are going to have a big variety of vegetarian options on the menu,” says Elbast, “and also a meat menu.” 
Aladdin’s Express will also serve fresh breads and pies in their bakery, utilizing the ovens from the pizza business formerly at that location. The restaurant will seat 88 diners and offer take out. Elbast will hire 12 employees to open the new restaurant. After opening Aladdin’s Express with his sister, Elbast hopes to next open a Lansing-area bakery.

East Lansing Chopstix offers authentic Asian cuisine, creates seven jobs

East Lansing’s Chopstix restaurant may be new, but owner Dave Chou brings a lifetime of experience creating high-quality, unique Asian food for American diners to the business.

Though he arrived in the U.S. from Taiwan with a degree in Marine Engineering, Dave Chou quickly immersed himself in the family business – high-end Asian food – and hasn’t looked back since. After working in his father’s business for years, Chou brought his expertise into his own restaurant in Northville – with a few changes. 
“I tweaked it a bit and added some modern twist to the existing menu by incorporating cuisines form other southeastern Asian cuisines,” he says.
Chou took some time off from running his own restaurant to spend more time with his kids. Now, however, East Lansing is the benefactor of his return to the restaurant business. 
“I believe my restaurant can offer a niche to the Asian dining scene as the cuisine is more Hunan and Szechuan in style, while others offer more of a Cantonese flavor,” says Chou. “I have confidence in the unique recipes and the careful selection of ingredients that go into preparation of the food.”
Chopstix currently seats 70 diners in its 2,000 square foot, Grand River location. Chou currently employs seven workers, and anticipates increasing that number as the business grows.
“Chopstix does not only appeal to American palate, but carefully designed our menu with the large Chinese and other Asian population in mind,” he says. “Our ultimate goal is to turn Chopstix into a local dining fixture where people who truly enjoy delicious and high quality Asian food would consider us as their home.”

11 Prime to open in 6,700 sq ft Lansing Twp location, add 50 jobs

Dining options near Eastwood Towne Center will continue to expand throughout the year. In addition to his Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza and Bar 30, East Lansing native Chuck Senatore will open 11 Prime, a new steakhouse in the same building. 
“It’s going to be a hip, happening steakhouse,” says Senatore. Most of the steakhouses out there are a throwback to plush carpeting and wood panels. We’re going to be very modern looking.”
The new 11 Prime is set to open in the fall of 2012 and will features seafood and a wine bar lounge as well as steak. The 6,700 square foot restaurant will include two private dining rooms and will employ about 50 workers. 

Bar 30 to open in 8,000 sq ft Eastwood location, add 100 jobs

Nightlife at Eastwood Towne Center is about to change. Chuck Senatore, the part-owner of the forthcoming Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza will also soon open Bar 30, a dining and entertainment option like no other in the neighborhood.  
“We’ll have a live band on an elevated stage behind the main bar,” Senatore says. “We’ll have the live band until 9:30, and then it will turn into a full-on dance club with state-of-the-art sounds and light equipment”
The 8,000 square foot Bar 30 will accommodate 260 patrons in the bar and patio. The bar will also include a full menu and will be open for lunch. Drop down flat screen televisions will descend from the ceiling during popular sporting events.
“We have the ability to turn into a sports bar at the touch of a button,” says Senatore. 
Bar 30 will employ about 100 employees when it opens. Senatore expects the bar will open its doors about six weeks after Tony Sacco’s, which is scheduled to open within the next month. 

Tony Sacco's to bring coal-fired dining to Lansing Twp, add 30 jobs

Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza is a rapidly growing franchise started by East Lansing native Chuck Senatore in Florida that will open its second Michigan location near Senatore’s old stomping grounds in Lansing Township.
The new 4,200 square foot restaurant is set to open near Eastwood Towne Center and will be one of four restaurants part-owned by Senatore that will open there soon. Six additional Michigan locations are currently in the works. The secret to Tony Sacco’s has been the restaurant’s commitment to an unusual cooking method.
“It’s a traditional pizzeria,” says Senatore, “the way things used to be made. We make our own sauce, our own dough, everything. We have no microwaves, no stove. Everything we do is done in the coal burning oven.”
And he means everything. Senatore explains that everything is heated in the coal-burning ovens originally used by the first pizza places operated by Italian immigrants at the beginning of the last century. The method cooks the pizza in four minutes, creating a unique texture to the crust, as well as tastier toppings.
“We cook at extremely high temperatures,” says Senatore, “near 1000 degrees. Because it only takes four minutes to cook, the toppings don’t get murdered with all that heat.”
About 30 employees will be hired to staff the new Tony Sacco’s, which will seat approximately 120. The restaurant will feature a full bar and 40-person capacity heated patio.
Senatore plans to open Tony Sacco’s within the next month.

Twisters Soft Serve adds an East Lansing location, 12 jobs

What  started as the purchase of a small Perry ice cream shop 13 years ago has grown into big business for Joe Spadafore and his family. They enjoyed operating the King Cone so much that they are now opening their eighth soft serve ice cream shop in East Lansing. 
Twisters Soft Serve Ice Cream is set to open in about a week on Grand River near Coral Gables. The 1,000 square foot location will have walk-up windows for outside ordering and an assortment of picnic tables for diners. 
“We wanted to be on that side of town,” says Spadafore, “and that building used to be an ice cream store, so it made sense."
Spadafore and his family own Twister locations throughout Michigan, and are now growing the business into a franchise. Franchise locations are now underway in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
Spadafore credits the success of the growing soft serve business to Twisters’ commitment to quality. 
“We don’t skimp out,” he says. “We only use the best stuff and give the best service at the best price.”
The new Twisters will employ 12 workers. 

Sultan's to open 2,700 square foot location in Downtown East Lansing, adds seven jobs

Fans of Sultan’s Restaurant in the Hannah Plaza in East Lansing and Sultan’s Express in Downtown Lansing have a whole new reason to get excited. The makers of fresh Mediterranean cuisine are bringing their winning formula to Ann Street in Downtown East Lansing, with Sultan’s Delight.
“I like this part of East Lansing,” says Bassam Mahmoud, part owner of Sultan’s Delight, as well as the other area Sultan’s restaurants. “I wanted to target the students because I think there is a need for healthier food here. My food is good, healthy and fresh.”
Mahmoud expects the new restaurant to open in early April. Until then, he and his staff are busy building out the 2,700 square foot space. The leased space began as a blank slate, allowing Mahmoud and his staff to build and design the kitchen and every other aspect of the restaurant to their liking. 
Mahmoud has been in the restaurant business for 20 years and believes the key to his success has been offering the freshest food options around. Nothing from his kitchens is ever frozen, canned or boxed. Even the fruit smoothies are fresh-squeezed to order. 
“We are going to serve gelato,” says Mahmoud, “and our smoothies will also be fresh prepared, with no chemicals or mixes. It will always be 100 percent fresh fruit."
Seven employees will be hired to open Sultan’s Delight, which will seat 85-90 diners. 

Real Sicilian pizza & pasta come to Trowbridge Plaza

When the owners of the Woody’s Oasis, Chuck and Delista Raad, moved their original East Lansing location to a larger building down the road on Trowbridge, they hung on to their original space in Trowbridge Plaza. Last August, they launched a new restaurant, Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta in its place. 
Pizza places may be plentiful in East Lansing, but Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta is setting itself apart with something rare in the biz: authenticity. A local Sicilian couple partnered with the business to develop the recipes.
“Everything here is homemade,” says restaurant manager Rita Haidamous. “We make all of the sauces, shred our own cheese, and all the dough is made by hand.”
In addition to delivery options, the new restaurant offers dine-in eating for 60-70 guests, who can chose from ordering the made-to-order menu options or pizza by the slice from a selection of seven types of pizza each day.
Trowbridge Pizza & Pasta employs ten workers and is currently open until 10 pm. According to Haidamous, the business hopes to expand their delivery hours in the future. 

Community-minded BBQ comes to 1,300-sq ft N. Grand River location

Fred Mendoza knows how to barbeque. His interest in the culinary art began as a kid at Lansing’s Holy Cross School ox roast, and it has been a life pursuit ever since. He spent ten years learning from a barbeque master in Clute, Texas before coming back to his hometown.
“I had some success down there with cookoffs,” says Mendoza. “In Texas, barbeque is on every corner. So when you’re placing in the top five there, that’s something special.”
Now he’s brought that something special back to North Grand River in the Lansing with as the owner of the new King of the Grill restaurant.
“There’s a great history there,” says Mendoza of his restaurant’s location. “It’s a blue collar area, and people who are there are there work hard and do good work. They’ve lost their jobs, got new ones and they’re still in the fight, and they come to support us on a daily basis.”
The 1,300-square foot, 78-seat restaurant portion of King of the Grill has been open for about 10 weeks, but is only the beginning of the Mendoza’s business plan. His next phases include selling his unique smoked meat wholesale, franchising his business and a program to feed the homeless.
“We’re going to help feed the world,” says Mendoza. “That’s been our mission from the beginning.”

Thai Village brings 2,000-sq ft of fresh ingredients Downtown

The Yang family opened their first Thai restaurant in Farmington Hills about five years ago. When they decided to expand, they took their time looking around Michigan for the perfect location.

"We felt Downtown Lansing had a homey feeling, a community feeling," said Lisa Yang. "With it being the state capitol and having so any businesses downtown, we knew it would be the right place."

Thai Village opened on the 400-block of Washington Square on Monday with a ribbon cutting. The 2,000 square foot restaurant will feature dine-in for about 50 customers, as well as catering and carry out. According to Yang, customers will first note the freshness of the food at Thai Village.

"My parents shop for food and vegetables daily," says Yang. "All of our food is really fresh."

Yang's parents, Steve and Marie Yang are the owners of both family businesses. They will employ approximately 10 local employees.

"We're just excited," says Yang. "I think overall, this is the best place we could be."

Bagger Dave's to create 55 jobs, invest $900,000 in 4,500 sq ft East Lansing location

When a new Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern opened in Downtown Brighton recently, the eager crowd waited in a line around the block to get in. When the company’s fifth location opens in East Lansing’s Brookfield Plaza in September, the influx of excited students and residents are bound to have a similar reaction.

Bagger Dave’s got its start in Berkley, Michigan in 2006 by Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. It quickly spread to Ann Arbor, Novi and Brighton, and the quirky burger and beer restaurant now continues its eastward expansion into East Lansing.

“We started to look into East Lansing because of draw that Michigan State University provides,” says Michael Ansley, President and CEO of DRH. “Each one of our locations is decorated with historical murals and pictures of the local community, so the rich history of Michigan State and E. Lansing will offer us great opportunities.”

The appeal of Bagger Dave’s in other communities can be attributed to its unique environment and offering of Michigan craft beer and burgers known to turn out positive reviews.

“The concept revolves around ‘customizable’ hand-crafted burgers,” says Ansley, which he notes includes a ground turkey and black bean option. “We also offer hand-cut double fried french fries, signature sauces, [and more.]”

The new 4,500 square foot restaurant is expected to create 55 jobs. Work will begin on the $900,000 project in about a month, and the restaurant is slated to open in September.

Source: Michael Ansley, Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc.

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

University Club of MSU invests $1 million in new bar, restaurant

The first thing one should know about the University Club of MSU’s recent renovation project is that the word “renovation” doesn’t quite cut it.

“It’s a total transformation,” says Karen L. Grannemann, University Club of MSU Chief Operating Officer. “I don’t even like to use the word ‘renovation.’”

The $1 million transformation took the 6,000 square foot area on the club’s upper level that was previously a cocktail area and the vacant Shibui Room and turned it into an upscale, modern restaurant and bar.

“It looks like a hip restaurant in New York,” Grannemann says. “It has stunning glass features, colored LED lighting, wifi and more.”

The restaurant, called Mingle, and the bar, called Mixx, were updates made in accordance with the University Club’s regular rotation of renovations.

“Every few years we tackle a new section of the club,” say Grannemann. “We like to keep things fresh for our members.”

The project was funded entirely with University Club reserves and voluntary donations made by some of the club’s nearly 1,600 member families. To date, members have donated $100,000 toward the updated spaces. The project was completed with nearly a dozen Michigan-based contractors, from architecture to logo design.

A new look and place to dine aren’t the only benefits of Mingle and Mixx. The upgrades allowed the University Club to expand their programming and add approximately 20 staff members. Between this growth and regular seasonal staff, the club has recently hired 40 new workers.

Source: Karen L. Grannemann, University Club of MSU

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

What Up Dawg? sells Michigan-made hotdogs and beer in new 1,300 East Lansing location

Really, all Seth Tompkins and Jared Lawton wanted to do was sell hotdogs to college kids at bar close.

“You know, we’re guys in our thirties,” says Tompkins, “and we wanted to pretend we were still in our twenties. We figured the best place to do that would be East Lansing.”

So Tompkins, a Michigan State graduate, looked into obtaining a concessioner's license from the city. When the business hours allowed by the permit wouldn’t allow for their dream of two am hotdogs to come to fruition, they improvised.

The result was What Up Dawg?, East Lansing’s newest eatery on M.A.C. that pairs “dawgs” and beer - most of which are Michigan-made.

“And hotdogs and beer go together really well,” says Tompkins “They re the Oreos and milk of sausages.” The goal was to keep the concept simple and the food high quality, so the Dawg partners began with stocking such regional favorites as Koegel sausages, Faygo, Better Made chips and locally-grown potatoes and toppings.

Those toppings vary from relish to bacon to barbeque sauce. The ordering process in the 1,300 square-foot restaurant is deli-style, with the customer’s pick of ingredients.

What Up Dawg? opened in mid-February with 12 employees and has already gotten involved in community events. The eatery has partnered with local fraternities and non-profits on events and fundraisers.

Source: Seth Tompkins, What Up Dawg?

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

American-inspired Chinese restaurant hires 35-40, joins Frandor in 4,300 location

Frank Cheng grew up surrounded by the family business of Chinese dining. He also grew up in New Jersey. It’s therefore only appropriate that his own restaurant would reflect a blend of both cultures.

“We are ‘American-inspired Chinese,’” Cheng says of his new Frandor eatery, Xiao.

That translates to such inventive dishes as Peking Duck Sliders, Philly Egg Rolls - that’s an egg roll with roast beef and jack cheese - and a take on egg foo young that is served on a hamburger bun with lettuce and tomato.

“It’s not your typical Chinese takeout,” says Cheng.

And Cheng knows his Chinese dining. His family has owned the Asian Buffet on Marsh Road for 13 years and the China Garden restaurant on Mt. Hope for 17. His innovative alternative opened last week in a 4,300-square foot Frandor location.

“I liked the proximity to East Lansing and Okemos,” says Cheng, “and it’s close off the highway with plenty of parking.”

Cheng worked with the local creative agency, Traction for their branding, including Xiao’s logo, menu, storefront and billboards.

If all goes well for the new restaurant, which now employs 35-40 full- and part-time workers, Cheng is already eyeing the 1,200-square foot space next door for a possible expansion. A grand opening event is tentatively planned for this week.

Source: Frank Cheng, Xiao

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New bar to bring 20 jobs to 3,600 square foot Downtown Lansing location

A new restaurant and bar is coming to Downtown Lansing, with an eye on a very specific goal: being a friendly place.

“I want it to be the Cheers of Lansing,” says owner of the newly opened The Board Room, Dan Korrey. “I want the staff to build a relationship with our customer base, and to what they like to eat and drink when they come in the door.”

The Board Room, which is planning a soft open this week with a limited menu, is in the 3,600 square foot location formally occupied by the Downtown Doghouse.

“We completely remodeled the whole place,” said Korrey. “There is an all new design, all new kitchen, floor and a new bar.”

A grand opening is likely to happen some time in April. Korrey want to concentrate first on build and train a staff to meet his high standards for customer service.

“I think the quality of staff will reflect a lot in how our customers view us,” he says. “We want to create the kind of place where people want to start their night and then come back to end their night.”

Korrey anticipates hiring around 20 employees to fully staff The Board Room. Interested applicants may visit the bar's website. Updates regarding the grand opening event will also be posted on the website and The Board Room’s Facebook page.

Source: Dan Korrey, The Board Room

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New Thai 102 Degrees brings authentic heat to Downtown East Lansing

Apparently, most people only think they know what spicy food is like. Pamela Yang recalls many visitors to her new East Lansing Thai restaurant learning this very quickly.

“Right when we first opened people were ordering the meals hot and extra hot,” Yang says. “They didn’t think it was going to be that hot. It’s been pretty interesting.”

Yang says it didn’t take long after the opening of Thai 102 Degrees in January for diners to start requesting gentler use of their signature Thai peppers. The authentic Thai food offered by her business, which she owns with her father, Michael Yang, is based on the cooking she grew up with in her Hmong home.

Thai 102 Degrees is the Yang family’s second restaurant. Downtown Plymouth’s Little Bangkok Cuisine is owned by Yang’s father and managed by her brother.

“This is a change of pace from the other restaurant that we have,” says Yang.
“We trying something new with an express location rather than full services.”

The walk-up and order services at the new East Lansing restaurant are ideal for carryout, though the 1,800 square foot location does include tables for dining in. Thai 102 Degrees currently employs seven part time workers.

Source: Pamela Yang, Thai 102 Degrees

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

$800,000 historic renovation brings Michigan Brewing Company, housing and 9.5 jobs to Williamston

Steve Eyke has been waiting for two-and-a-half years for his vision of bringing a brewpub and downtown living to the Second Empire-style historic building in Downtown Williamston. This summer, the developer’s hard-earned dream will become a reality.

Eyke’s LaFollette Kitchen and Design partnered with Michigan Brewing Company, the City of Williamston, MSHDA, the MEDC and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office to bring the three-story, 9,900 square-foot, 1874 building back to life.

“I had the vision that this grand old building which is on our four corners downtown could be something great,” Eyke says. “I wanted to bring in a restaurant to the first floor, and with the 14-foot ceilings it was perfect for a brew pub.“

The combined public investment from the various government grants and tax credits will contribute $400,000 of the $800,000 project.

“The building had no economic life without the input of public funding,” says Eyke, who specializes in historic restoration. “What the community is getting in return is a revitalized building and great business that will make downtown more vibrant and active.”

In addition to the Michigan Brewing Company, which is expected to open in June or July and employ at least 9.5 workers, the building will contain six rental housing units.

Source: Steve Eyke, LaFollette Kitchen and Design

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

The Tin Can 2 coming to 3,000-square foot Westside location

Lansing’s Westside is about to get a triple dose of cheap chic. The folks who brought The Tin Can to Downtown are preparing to open a second location on Saginaw and Migaldi Lane.

“The Tin Can 2,” says owner Doug Johns. “It’ll still be the same concept, but bigger.”

That means the cans of beer will still be $1.75, the drink options will include the original Tin Can’s instant classics of Faygo Bombs and pudding shots, but both the size of the venue and its offerings will expand.

The 3,000 square foot space near Menards on the Westside is three times the size of the original. Johns has owned the building for some time, but recently invested $50,000 into renovations. The business, which will hire 10 employees, will offer more food options, as well as shuffleboard and DJ entertainment on the weekends.

“There wasn’t anything like this between Lansing and Grand Ledge,” says Johns. “There are a lot of businesses and housing, but it’s kind of a void out there as far as bars go. I think this fills that void.”

The Tin Can 2 is located at Migaldi Lane and is scheduled to open in the next couple of weeks. Updates can be found on the original Tin Can website or Facebook page.

Source: Doug Johns, The Tin Can

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Famous Taco to open a second location in Haslett

After 42 years of serving up his infamous Mexican delicacies at Lansing’s Famous Taco, Frank Delacruz is happy to have a wife who is ready to take the reigns.

“I’m retired and she took over the business,” Delacruz says of his wife Peggy. “I just tag along now. She’s got all these ideas and she’s going to put them to work.”

What he’s been tagging along to lately is the opening of a second Famous Taco in the Haslett Village Square. Work on the 1,500 square foot property is now underway. The Delacruz’s plan to employ 15-20 new workers at the location and hope to open mid-April in time for possible Cinco de Mayo celebration.

“[Peggy] has been looking at Haslett since the ‘90s,” said Delacruz, “We’ve had a lot of people asking us to come there.”

The second location will feature dine-in and carry-out and expand the Famous Taco delivery into Williamston.

In addition to the new restaurant, Delacruz explains that Peggy also has plans to expand the company’s catering capabilities. Customers will soon be able to have a catered Famous Taco meal prepared and served on site under a forthcoming taco bar tent.

“This is one of the best ideas she’s come up with so far,” Delacruz says.

Source: Frank Delacruz, Famous Taco

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Gracie's Place bakery doubles in size and staff in Williamston

What recession?

Gracie’s Place in Williamston opened in April of 2008 as a small downtown bakery and café. In three years since, when many businesses have struggled, Gracie’s has done nothing but grow. What began as a small bakery became an occasional dinner spot and now has transformed into a full-scale restaurant.

“The kitchen alone went from 80 to 100 square feet to 900 square feet,” says Gracie’s General Manager Ben Donnelly. “The seating area doubled and we added a full horseshoe bar with a marble counter top.”

The renovations began after the growing business purchased their neighboring building. The project began in July of 2010 and underwent major construction between August and October when the restaurant was temporarily closed.

In addition to being able to seat double the number of diners, Gracie’s expansion came with extended hours and staff. The restaurant went from 8-10 employees prior to construction to 29 today.

Gracie’s also features a unique chef bar where diners can overlook the kitchen and interact with the chefs as they cook.

“People were really shaky at first to give it a try,” Donnelly says, “but once they do, nine out 10 people will sit there again.”

Source: Ben Donnelly, Gracie’s Place

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

New Grand Ledge developments include 13,650 square foot Walgreens and Subway

The corner of East Saginaw and Hartel Road in Grand Ledge has been a busy place over the last year and a half. In that time, four buildings have been demolished, three new have been built in a nearby location and a third is now underway on the corner where the former buildings stood.

Among the demolished buildings were a Subway restaurant and a Baryames Cleaners, both of which have rebuilt in adjacent and across-the street properties, respectively. The big project now under construction will be a 13,650 square foot Walgreens Pharmacy, which will take over the footprint of all the former buildings.

“It’s been great,” says Grand Ledge Zoning Administrator Susan Stachowiak of the rash of development. “Subway is up and running, Baryames is up and running, and so is Carquest to the east.”

While Stachowiak isn’t aware of the projected opening date of the new Walgreens, she says it will likely be relatively soon.

“They’re making great progress over there,” she says of the builders.

The Walgreens property is owned by Anchor Properties, headquartered in Covington, KY.

Source: Susan Stachowiak, City of Grand Ledge

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Soup Spoon Cafe owner to purchase 6,000 sq ft Eastside Lansing building

The Soup Spoon Cafe on Lansing's Eastside has been churning out breakfast and lunch to their happily dedicated local customers for four and a half years now. Those fans were no doubt pleased with their recent addition of a dinner menu and adult beverages.

Now, Owner and Chef Nick Gavrilides has added more good news to the pot: he recently purchased his building at 1419 East Michigan.

"It’s always been in the plans," says Gavrilides. "We’ve staked our commitment to this location. If you’re going to spend your business career in one place, you might as well own your space."

The timing of the purchase — so close to the restaurant’s other changes — was no coincidence.

Gavrilides explains that they acquired their permit to serve alcohol through a redevelopment liquor license. This type of license requires the owner to invest in the development of their property — something Gavrilides says he and his former landlord were doing even before he purchased the property.

Besides The Soup Spoon, the approximately 6,000 square foot property also hosts Bancroft Flowers and one available storefront.

"Purchasing the real estate is our commitment to Eastside, Lansing," says Gavrilides, "and we intend on staying for very, very, very long time."

Source: Nick Gavrilides, The Soup Spoon Cafe

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Dimitri's and two other business find homes on Lansing's Westside

CB Richard Ellis/Martin is celebrating after three storefronts near the corner of Saginaw Hwy. and Creyts Road—vacant since 2008—have all been filled in the past several months.

The new businesses includes Bella Nails, Spa Time and a familiar name to Lansing-area diners, Dimitri's Restaurant. The three businesses all opened in October and November, bringing a combination of services and dining to West Lansing.

"Dimitri’s restaurant was a well-loved establishment for 30 years in Downtown Lansing," says Veronica LaBar with CB Richard Ellis/Martin.

"Many who frequented their downtown restaurant have already discovered them in West Lansing."

And, LaBar adds, "Unlike the downtown location, this new location offers sit-down service."

After their long run in Downtown, Dimitri's closed in June of 2010. The property vacated by the restaurant is now undergoing a $3.5 million renovation to become the Michigan State Federal Credit Union's first Downtown Lansing branch.

The 13,098-square foot Westside Lansing building, owned by Art C. Baryames, has been managed by CBRE since it was first constructed in 2002. The vacancies, however, weren't listed with the company until recently.

"The owner listed the building for lease with CBRE in June," says LaBar, "and within just four months we brought Bella Nails and Spa Time in as tenants."

Dimitri's, Spa Time and Bella Nails are all locally-owned, family-run businesses. It is estimated that three will bring a combined 5-20 jobs to West Lansing.

Source: Veronica LaBar, CB Richard Ellis/Martin

Writer: Natalie Burg, Interim News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

$200,000 mixed use project would add dining, residential options in East Lansing

When Andrew Abood was considering what to do about the extra office space in his 9,200-square foot building near the corner of Abbot Road and Saginaw Street in East Lansing, he noticed something missing in his neighborhood.

"There isn’t really a restaurant or bar on Saginaw in East Lansing," he says. "You have to go the McDonalds near Frandor before you can find something to eat or drink."

That notion got him thinking that perhaps the vacancy in his building, near Big Apple Bagel, had a greater purpose than just more office space.

On January 12, the East Lansing Planning Commission approved a special use permit to allow Abood to get creative with his property. His proposal included retaining his current space occupied by Abood Law Firm as office space while converting 2,200-sq ft of the building into a restaurant and bar and the final 1,700 sq-ft into a residential unit.

"The residential part is almost done,” says Abood. "It’s going one of the nicest places in East Lansing to live."

Abood anticipates he’ll invest approximately $200,000 in the project, and he’s eager to get work underway so that the search for the right restaurateur can be found for his space.

"It’s available to anybody who wants to come," he says. "The place will sit about 70 people. A restaurant like The Tap Room would work well in the space."

One of Abood’s goals with his upcoming project was to find a great use for the property while avoiding the long process of waiting for the right office tenant to come to him.

"I didn’t want to go another 18 months just to see what would happen," he says. With his residential unit close to completion and a great dining spot soon to be available to prospective businesses, it looks like he won’t have to.

Source: Andrew Abood, Abood Law Firm

Writer: Natalie Burg, Interim News Editor

Grand Traverse Pie Co. brings 30 jobs and $420,000 investment to Downtown

When the new Grand Traverse Pie Company opens its doors in Downtown Lansing on Jan. 31, it won’t just be another faceless chain setting up shop. Though Mike and Denise Busley opened the original store in Traverse City in 1996, the opening of their first urban location in Lansing is more like a family homecoming.

"My grandmother worked at Knapp’s and my grandfather worked at the Olds plant," says Busley. "My mom worked at Olds for awhile. They all lived Downtown."

Though the Busley’s newest location will be their third in the Greater Lansing area, it’s this family connection that makes the Downtown location extra special.

Their dedication to the area and the state will be apparent when the doors open, in everything from the furniture to the coolers to the butcher block tables — all of which were made in Michigan.

"We really wanted to try to find Michigan sources for the food as well as the build out of the store," says Busley. "We’ll make sure that’s clear to our guests and give credit where credit is due to these great companies."

One of those companies is Old Town’s ATG Concepts who made all of the furniture for the forthcoming pie shop from reclaimed Michigan barn wood.

Beyond a beautiful interior, the new Grand Traverse Pie Company will feature some special offerings exclusive to Downtown Lansing, including an express checkout with ready-made sandwiches and an outdoor café that is ready for a spring premier.

The new restaurant has created 30 new jobs already and represents a $420,000 investment in Downtown.

"Downtown Lansing is a great story, of how it’s being rebuilt," says Busley. "We’re really happy to be here."

Source: Mike Busley, Grand Traverse Pie Company

Writer: Natalie Burg, Interim News Editor

Urban Feast Opens New Restaurant, Edmund’s Pastime, in Downtown Lansing

Edmund’s Pastime is a new casual-dining restaurant located at 101 S. Washington Square in Downtown Lansing

Looking to fill this niche near Lansing’s Capitol, Urban Feast — the management company that also owns the Downtown restaurants Troppo and Tavern on The Square — opened the new location.

Edmund’s "is a great place that meets the needs of many within the Lansing demographic,” says Josh French, manager of Edmund’s. “Though it’s simple food, it’s very good food, and we do all our soups from scratch.”

Edmund’s is a “come as you are” combination restaurant: a family-friendly space that’s part restaurant, part diner and part sports bar, with 15 televisions.

“The restaurant has a 'mom and pop' feel, but can accommodate larger parties. There’s a pool table in the back, and we even have board games” adds French. "This is just a 'cater to everyone' kind of place."

The space seats 150 people, with standing room for more.

Source: Josh French, Urban Feast

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Favorites Café Opens in 1,200 Sq Ft Old Town Lansing Space

When John and Kim Robertson were looking to start a business, they discovered a neighborhood called Old Town, with the perfect space for them to start their family business: Favorites Café.

“When I saw this place, I came alone initially. I checked it out, talked to the owners and kind of fell in love with it,” says John Robertson, co-owner of Favorites Café. 

“The community was also very interesting. The people I talked to were open and friendly and they wanted someone to come into the area.”

But John (who was the one with the entrepreneurial spirit) still had to convince his wife, Kim, of the business venture.

“When I talked about the business in an abstract way, she didn’t want to do it," Robertson says. "But when she came here, she wanted to do it.”

Favorites Café now occupies the 1216 Turner St. space that was once the home of the Pastry Palette. The café serve soups, sandwiches, salads and pastries that are homemade by Kim.

"If you want a friendly place to get a nice meal at a decent speed in a relaxing atmosphere, Favorites Café is perfect,” says Robertson.

The café also takes large reservations for office meetings and groups.

Source: John Robertson, Favorites Café

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Downtown Favorite Dimitri’s Restaurant to Reopen On Lansing's Westside

After almost 40 years in business at their Downtown Lansing location, Dimitri’s Restaurant closed its doors in June. The move saddened many in the Capital region. Thankfully, they were just relocating, not closing their doors for good.

The next generation of the Stathopoulos family will be re-opening Dimitri’s at a new location at 6334 West Saginaw near Creyts Road.

“My father-in-law came to America at age 14 speaking only two English words: good morning.' He went on to build a successful business and, more importantly, tremendous relationships in the community,” says Dimitri’s co-owner, Angie Stathopoulos. “My husband will be taking over the business with help from his parents. We are hoping for another successful 36-plus years of business in Lansing.”

The new Dimitri’s location will offer all of the old favorites, plus some new menu items and dessert options, like lemon French toast with cream cheese filling and mixed berry topping. They will also be transitioning from cafeteria style to a full service restaurant.

Source: Angie Stathopoulos, Dimitri’s Restaurant

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Innovative Online “REO Town Eats” Diner Design Project Kicks Off in Lansing

Have you ever wanted to have input on the development a new eatery in the Capital region? Imagine being able to suggest what’s on the menu, the interior and exterior decorations and even help name the place.

Well, thanks to developer Pat Gillespie and a group of local entrepreneurs, you can do just that through the REO Eats Project.

The project, which will be located at the former Dalmatian’s Firehouse Grill at 1107 S. Washington Ave. in REO Town, will use social media as a vehicle for creative community involvement.

The project is asking for input and feedback to determine virtually everything about the diner — from menu and pricing, to the theme, name and interior design.
“REO Eats represents the spark of innovative, entrepreneurial, community thinking that is going to bring REO Town back to life," says REO Eats team member Josh Hovey, who is an account executive at The Rossman Group.

"Yes, the diner is a small space. Yes, it’s a challenged area," he says. "But by creating the opportunity for the entire community to have a hand in creating the new diner, we’re going to increase our chances of success and hopefully people will want to continue to be active in seeing all of REO Town succeed.”

Input isn’t just being left to residents; people all over the world are encouraged to share their ideas through social media. The REO Eats Project will last 90 days. As far as the group is aware, the REO Eats Project is the first of its kind.

Source: Josh Hovey, REO Eats Project

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Uncle John’s Offers Food and Wine Tasting at Lansing City Market

Uncle John’s Cider Mill just north of St. John’s is hailed as one of Michigan’s finest agricultural tourism destinations, with its cider mill, orchard, bakery and winery. Owner’s Mike and Dede Beck will now be showcasing their extensive selection of wine and hard cider at the Lansing City Market.

Alongside their wine and hard cider, Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery will also offer seasonal products like cider, blueberries and apples. It will also provide anyone with a hankering for Uncle John’s baked goods (cider donut, anyone?).

“The Lansing City Maket gives us the opportunity to connect with our customers when we are closed,” says Mike Beck, owner of Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery. “We're hoping that my customers can get [what they need there] and we're also hoping to find some new customers that would come out to the cider mill [who have never been]. It's kind of a two-way street for us.”

The Fruit House Winery also offers a tasting experience similar to that of the one at Uncle John’s Cider Mill.

Source: Amanda Snook, Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Lenny's Brings New 2,000 Sq Ft Sub Shop To Downtown Lansing

Downtown Lansing welcomes another new eatery, Lenny’s Sub Shop, to 212 S. Washington Square. Lenny's Sub Shop is a Philadelphia-style sub shop featuring sliced-to-order submarine sandwiches and authentic Philly cheese steaks.

This is the first Lansing area location for the national chain, which has four other Michigan locations in Jackson, Portage, Kalamazoo and Warren.

“We love Lansing and chose Downtown to appeal to the busy lunch crowd,” says David Bonofiglio, owner of Lenny’s Sub Shop. “We take pride in serving our customers well with authentic Philly Cheese steaks that are available both as dine-in and custom catering options. Our generously-sized, sliced-to-order deli sandwiches and made-from-scratch chicken salad also make convenient box lunch choices.”

Lenny’s Sub Shop will be ready to serve Downtowners this fall.

Source: David Bonofiglio, Lenny’s Sub Shop

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

New 700 Sq Ft Waterfront Bar and Grille Opens at the Lansing City Market

The Lansing City Market has long delivered wonderful local fare, and following tradition, now welcomes the Waterfront Bar and Grille, a casual dining experience with modern flair.

“While catching a quick lunch or enjoying one of our many microbrews or organic wines, customers are able to enjoy the City Market shops or a relaxing view of the Grand River on our patio,” says Robert Schleman of the Waterfront Bar and Grille.

The restaurant is housed in a 700 square foot space inside the market, with expansion plans for a second floor and dining overlooking the market. You can expect freshness and presentation, and the wares of many of the market vendors are used in the food prepared at the Waterfront.

“As we continue in this exciting vision of a new Lansing, we are cross marketing with various vendors to promote an awareness of local services and entertainment,” adds Schleman. “We are extremely honored to be a part of Downtown Lansing's rebirth in the new City Market.”

Source: Robert Schleman, The Waterfront Bar and Grille

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Outdoor Bar Opening Next To Tin Can In Downtown Lansing

It’s game day, and you’d like nothing better than to sit on a deck somewhere, dig into a steak and enjoy a cold beer.

Now you can.

Construction is nearly finished on a new 1,000-square-foot outdoor bar next to the Tin Can and Harem Urban Lounge on Michigan Avenue near The Stadium District.

Managers of The Big Deck Bar — who also are partners in the Tin Can and Harem — envision a spot where people can kick back and relax like they do in their own backyards.

“We’re going to have these buckets of beer from the Tin Can so you don't have to run in and out,” says Dave Sell, one of the managing partners. “We’ll have a grill out there for game days, and we’ll roll out a big screen so you can watch the games.”

Though the Deck will be accessible from both the Tin Can and Harem, Sell said they’re billing it as its own bar.

“We’ll have street-level access, as well,” he says.

The Deck will have seating for up to 55. Sell says they plan to be open for business by the weekend of Aug. 6.  Updates are available on the Tin Can’s Facebook fan page.

Source: Dave Sell

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

1,700 Sq Ft Expansion of Gracie's Place in Williamston Will Mean 20 New Hires

Dawn-Marie Joseph had a simple philosophy when she opened her restaurant and coffee shop, Gracie’s Place, in Williamston two years ago.

Let the customers dictate the future.

What they wanted out their most recent move: A massive expansion that would more than double the size of the restaurant, allow Joseph to be open for dinner every day and – perhaps most importantly – make room for an actual kitchen.

“Our current kitchen is so small that we don’t even have a stove,” Joseph says. “We have a Panini grill, two soup pots, four hot plates and an oven. That’s how our chefs have been cooking everything.”

Gracie’s Place is located in a renovated historic building at 151 S. Putnam. Joseph purchased the vacant 1,700-square-foot building attached to her current spot earlier this year.  

When finished in August, Gracie’s Place will feature 2,700 square feet of restaurant and bar space and will be able to accommodate 80 people – up from 24.  

They will also be able to finally make full use of their liquor license. Gracie’s currently serves wine and beer, but the expansion will allow space for an actual bar.

Joseph is currently interviewing for the roughly 20 more staff people she will have to hire to handle the larger space and dinner crowd.

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, Gracie’s Place

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Allen Neighborhood Center Introduces Eastside Summer Jazz Series

Get ready to jam on Lansing’s Eastside.

The Allen Neighborhood Center has received a $2,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to host a summer jazz series called, “JAM: Jazz on the Avenue and at the Market.”

The jazz series will feature young musicians from the area and provide performance opportunities for students in the jazz programs at Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.

But the broader mission of the program is to use music and the arts to spur further revitalization of Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood, according to Joan Nelson, center director.

“The Eastside is one of the truly walkable communities in our area,” Nelson said. “Michigan Avenue has more live music than any other street in town, but we were missing jazz.”

Upcoming performances include:
•    The Peter Nelson Band – 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., July 16, Gone Wired Café, 2021 E. Michigan Ave.
•    Jon Beshay and Ralph Tope – 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., July 21, Allen Street Farmers Market
•    Royce Phillips and Louis Rudnor – 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Aug. 4, Allen Street Farmers Market
•    The Marcus Miller Band – 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Gone Wired Café

Source: Joan Nelson

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

$3,000 Grant Boosts Eastside Efforts To Promote Healthy Eating, Exercise

Sometimes, people need a little incentive to get moving and eat right.

Which is exactly what the folks in Lansing’s Allen Neighborhood Center hope to provide more of thanks to a grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation.

The neighborhood center received a $2,890 grant to support Market Walk, a program that offers people tokens for the neighborhood farmer’s market in exchange for walking.

The more steps a person accumulates, the more tokens they receive to use on fresh, healthy foods.

The center piloted the program last year and had such great response that they had a waiting list of 35 people to enroll this year, said Joan Nelson, center director.

She said the grant will allow them to double their enrollment this year to as many as 80 people.

“This program is really meant for people who are not already walkers or joggers or in some kind of regular exercise program,” Nelson said. “We wanted to give people an incentive. We encourage people to exercise and eat well.”

The Allen Street Farmer’s Market is held every Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 27.

It’s one of several programs sponsored by the Allen Neighborhood Center, an organization that promotes revitalization and activities on Lansing’s Eastside.

Source: Joan Nelson

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Restaurant Mediteran Undergoes $60,000 Expansion, Adds Downtown Deli

A Downtown Lansing staple for authentic cuisine has expanded operations to include a new, full-service deli and extra dining room.

For the past five years, Restaurant Mediteran, 337 and 333 S. Washington Square, has been a popular sit-down restaurant featuring foods from multiple European countries. The 1,200 square-foot addition gives owner Igor Jurkovic two adjacent storefronts and a total 3,100 square foot establishment.

The deli and new dining portion used to be a shoe store, Jurkovic says, and required a complete renovation, from the floors to the duct work. The total cost of the renovation cost about $60,000, that, when all said and done, was split “pretty evenly” between Jurkovic and his landlord.

With a new sign coming soon and a steady flow of lunchtime customers, Jurkovic’s idea to expand is “so far, so good,” he says.

“We wanted to focus on people that are short on time and just need to bring something back to the office,” says Jurkovic, who hired three new employees to work the deli.

With ovens in the deli roasting chicken, lamb, beef and pork every morning, Jurkovic hopes to expand the deli menu over time.

“It is moving little by little every day,” he says.

Between the outdoor, deli, old and new dining room seating, Mediteran now has a capacity of 110 people.

Source: Igor Jurkovic

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Lansing Native Opens That Little Mexican Place Restaurant In Frandor

The former owner of Nina’s Taco House in Frandor decided to “give it a go again” at a new authentic Mexican restaurant with an unforgettable name: That Little Mexican Place, 310 North Clippert St.

The restaurant is owned by Lansing native Virginia Valdez, who spends six days a week, 11 hours per day at her restaurant, time she says is necessary to get each homemade recipe right. That includes made-to-order guacamole and enchilada sauce made from scratch.

Behind the cash register hangs dozens of fresh garlic cloves and dried chilies above a wicker basket full of avocados to back up her claim.  

“We make everything fresh here,” Valdez says as she serves up Wednesday’s wet burrito special. “No canned products. It costs a little more but the people keep coming back.”

For That Little Mexican Place, it’s a family affair. Two large paintings done by Valdez’s stepmother adorn the bright orange walls and one of the other two employees is Valdez’s daughter-in-law.

As a single mother with five children, Valdez concedes that the restaurant takes up most of her time. However, the consistency is paying off: Valdez says business is going great despite the economy.

Prices range from $1.50 for a taco to $6.99 for a burrito, and customers can dine in or take out.

Source: Virginia Valdez

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Lansing City Market Grand Opening Draws More Than 4,000 Visitors

The new Lansing City Market's official grand opening last week drew more than 4,000 people. The Downtown market is at full capacity and features a variety of goods ranging from hot prepared food to produce, fish to art.

Studio Intrigue Architects of REO Town designed the new building.

"SIA started working on the initial design sketches for the market in late 2007," says David VanderKlok of SIA. "We worked alongside architect Fidel Delgado from the USDA.  Fidel helps communities all over the United States with farmers' and city markets. His wealth of experience was key as he had observed the hurdles, the feasibility challenges, the struggles and the victories of others.”

Input was also gathered at meetings with the community to find out what they wanted in a new market. "We found the vendor/community comfort with an airy, Basilican-profiled structure that was complimented by various site features."

VanderKlok had a few features he wanted to make sure made to the final version of the building. Circular customer flow and natural light were only a couple of them.

"The ability to take one step into the front door and be able to take in the entire market" and "interaction with the river trail," were others, according to VanderKlok.

Source: David VanderKlok

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Michigan State University's Case Hall Slated For a $16 Million Renovation

Changes are coming to Michigan State University's Case Hall, home to the James Madison College and to the Honors College. Upon completion, Case will handle the main food service options on the campus' south side. With the Skandalaris Football Center nearby, Case will be the main dining venue for athletes.

"We will be renovating [Case] extensively," says Mitch Watt, vice-president of Grand Rapids-based Triangle Associates, which will be providing construction management for the project. "There will be a focus on food service." Case Hall will feature a 30,000 sq. ft. refurbishment valued at $16 million.

Case Hall will receive an 8,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. addition in addition to a complete remodel. There will be six food service venues, including an all-you-can-eat buffet. Included in the plans are an 850-seat main seating area as well as a retail beverage outlet.

Triangle, in the role of construction manager, will oversee pre-construction, planning strategy and contracting duties.

"[We're] just finishing designs and they should be done by October," says Brent Gibson, a senior project manager.

This is not the first time MSU has hired Triangle for construction and renovation. “We did Owen Hall with success and they brought us back," says Gibson, and the Case Hall team is the same team that worked on that project.

Source: Anne Rothwell, Mitch Watt, Brent Gibson at Triangle

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

New $1.5 Million Lansing City Market Will Celebrate Grand Opening This Saturday

After months of building, moving and planning, the Lansing City Market is celebrating the grand opening of its new home this Saturday, April 24. The new 11,000 sq. ft. building had a soft opening on Jan. 9, which drew 1,500 to 2,000 people.

The total cost of the project was $1.59 million, and the new market building houses more than 30 local businesses. It features longer hours, staying open until 7:00 p.m. on weeknights, with longer weekday hours implemented in order to lure in customers on their way home from working Downtown. The weekly schedule was also overhauled, switching to a Tuesday through Saturday schedule.

The grand opening on Saturday will feature live music as well as cooking and gardening demonstrations. There will be activities to keep children entertained, including face-painting and pie-eating contests on the schedule.

The future holds even more for the new City Market, as a riverfront restaurant is in the works. The proposed restaurant would feature designated seating both inside and outside.

The new market is home to several new vendors, including Iorio Italian Ice, City Fish and Sgt's Soups and Sandwiches, to name only a few.

Source: Lansing City Market

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

For-Profit Organic Farm Coming to The Beaumont Development in East Lansing

An organic farm is coming to East Lansing. The farm would be located at The Beaumont, a property being developed by the Gillespie Group between Coolidge and Chandler Roads.

The farm "will start out small, with vegetables and flowers," says Darcy Schmitt, East Lansing's planning and zoning administrator. She describes it as a "franchise farming operation," and says the goal of the for-profit farm would be to sell its crop to local restaurants. Whatever produce is not sold will be donated to local food banks.

The farm would utilize about five acres of land near The Beaumont and "will be a great asset to the tenants," says Schmitt. The Beaumont features a mix of houses, condos and apartments.

Because the land was not originally zoned for agricultural use, Schmitt says the farm had to get the "go ahead from the [East Lansing] City Council," adding that the farm "will have the same restrictions as any agriculture practice in Michigan."

Schmitt says the farm wants to get going "as soon as possible" after the rezoning issue is resolved and "seeds have been purchased." School groups will be invited to the farm once it is up and running, for a hands-on learning experience.

Source: Darcy Schmitt

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

East Lansing's Beggar's Banquet Gets Face-lift Under New General Manager

Visitors to East Lansing's Beggar's Banquet may have noticed something was different since last August.

"We gave the place a face-lift," says Dana Kenney, general manager. "We repainted, knocked down a wall and updated the bar."

The crux of the renovation was knocking down the wall that divided up the main room by the bar. "We opened it up," says Kenney.

She compares entering the pre-renovation Beggar's to walking into a cave. Kenney says removing the wall allowed more space for patrons to mingle and made Beggar's "a better place to watch a game.

Kenney took over as general manager around the time of the renovation, a process that took less than two weeks. Since taking over, Kenney has brought in a new staff of over 30 people.

Reaction to the face-lift has been positive, even if it takes a minute or two for the change to sink in. "The funny thing is that people will walk in and say 'What's different?'"

"It does make [serving] easier," Kenney says of removed wall. "We're more efficient."

Beggar's recently added a brand new shuffleboard table and has more of a focus on craft beers, with 20 rotating beers on tap.

Source: Dana Kenney

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Geno's Pizzeria Brings Hand-Tossed, East Coast-Style Slices to Downtown

The pizza king of Lansing's REO Town, Geno Abbey, is back with a brand new location in Downtown Lansing: Geno's Pizzeria.

Abbey moved into the roughly 3,000 sq. ft. space at 208 S. Washington Square next to Tavern on the Square. The new space is three times the space Abbey had in REO Town.

"We looked at a location near Frandor," says Abbey "But when I walked in here, I felt this just feels right. With the business and foot traffic Downtown, it was a natural fit."

Geno's Pizzeria currently carries a staff of eight to ten people, including several recent new hires. Abbey moved to Michigan from New Jersey in 1994 and says his pizzeria is modeled after "a 1950s New York slice joint." Whole pies can be ordered at Geno's, but the two slices for $5 deal has made the humble pizzeria a lunchtime hot spot.

"We just exploded," says Abbey.

Most of the renovation work was done on the kitchen in order to open it up so customers can watch the hand tossed pizzas being made. Geno's had a soft opening with a limited menu on Mar. 17th and its grand opening with a full menu will be in April.

"I've got a passion for making pizza," says Abbey.

Source: Geno Abbey

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Eden's Juice To Bring Healthy Food Options to New Downtown Lansing Shop

An independent, locally owned healthy food option is coming to Downtown Lansing's Washington Square: Eden's Juice. The healthy juice bar moved into the building that used to host the salad buffet restaurant, Fresh.

Tameko Richard, vice-president of Eden's Juice, says the building has a whole new interior for the juice bar. "[It was] totally done over," she says. "We re-did everything."

Richard describes Eden's Juice as a "meal in a cup," and is hoping the new business catches on in Lansing. Eden's Juice will sell yogurt, smoothies and raw juices. The business focuses on selling healthy foods in a fast-food environment Downtown, which makes it unique.

"We did a lot of [market] research, and no one is doing that [in Lansing]," she says.

When asked why Downtown Lansing was chosen for the location, Richard says, "Lansing is on the rise."

Like other small, start-up companies around Lansing, Eden's Juice is planning to be very involved with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Richard says Eden's Juice's mission is "to serve our guest in a stylish, uplifting environment where the active, health-conscious guest can create their highest-quality smoothies, frozen yogurts, and raw juices in a clean, customer friendly atmosphere."

Eden's Juice will be opening soon.
Source: Tameko Richard

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Locally Supplied Fish Restaurant Expands with New Southside Lansing Location

Lansing's Southside has a new place for feeding your fish and chips craving—Scalawags Whitefish & Chips.

"I was always looking to open a new location and the opportunity came," says owner Stephen Joseph, who also owns the Westside Scalawags on Saginaw Highway.

The new restaurant is a 2,300 sq. ft. building at 6250 S. Cedar that used to be a Chinese restaurant. Joseph hired nine employees to run the new Scalawags, which opened this past December.

Switching the building over required a complete build out and plenty of cleaning. Joseph says he is considering a patio in the future.

For the time being, though, he is focused on updating Scalawags' menu. "Healthier, with more salads," explains Joseph, adding that grilled fish will soon be available. He is also experimenting with lower priced meals in hopes of luring in new customers.

Joseph has run the Westside Lansing Scalawags for five years and has been in the restaurant business since 1988.  "I like the business. It's fun," he says. Joseph also recently opened City Fish in the Lansing City Market. He says he may add a fresh fish cooler at the new Southside Scalawags.

Scalawags is unique in that its fish all come from local suppliers, and its trademark whitefish are caught by some of Michigan's Native American tribes.

Source: Stephen Joseph

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Popular Soup Spoon Cafe Expanding, Adding 20 to 30 Additional Seats

A popular Eastside Lansing eatery, the Soup Spoon Cafe, is expanding.

"We're moving into the suite to the east," says owner and head chef, Nick Gavrilides.

Business has been picking up lately and Gavrilides wants to seat as many as he can, "We're expanding the dining room and we'll be adding 20 to 30 new seats." The construction will nearly double the size of the Soup Spoon Cafe's dining room.

The expansion involves breaking down the wall between the Soup Spoon Cafe and its eastern neighbor. Gavrilides is optimistic the construction will be completed quickly, "We want to be serving by the last week of March."

Gavrilides is hoping to lure in large groups with the new expansion.

"We can better serve bigger tables of 15 to 20 people," he says. But the big groups are not his only focus; he see the expansion as a way to help handle the growing lunch crowd, "I want people to be able to get in and out quickly for lunch."

Space is not the only thing expanding at the Soup Spoon Cafe. Gavrilides says he will be adding an espresso bar, and will offer a "French press coffee of the day."

He also says the new space will allow for large lunch meetings with banquet tables.

Source: Nick Gavrilides

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Studio Intrigue Celebrates Seventh Anniversary, Series of Successful Projects

The REO Town-based architecture firm, Studio Intrigue, celebrated its seventh anniversary on March 3. The firm started in Okemos but moved to REO Town in 2006. The current location of Studio Intrigue is a building they were already working on. "[We were] already renovating, so it made the most sense to move in," explains David Vanderklok of Studio Intrigue.

Beautifying Michigan's Capital City was part of Studio Intrigue's plan from day one, says Vanderklok. "Urban revitalization was our A1 priority. We had our sights set dead on Lansing."

The firm has been a big part of Lansing's facelift in recent years, including work on the original Troppo restaurant Downtown and the Technology Innovation Center in East Lansing. They were also part of the design team for the Stadium District.

Recently, Studio Intrigue helped make Enso a reality. "[Enso was] the most fun one we've done on a small scale," Vanderklok says of the 6,000 sq. ft. restaurant and nightclub.

On March 10, Studio Intrigue, along with A&G Partnership LLC, unveiled plans for a eight story high-rise in East Lansing.

But no matter how successful Studio Intrigue becomes, Vanderklok says they are not going anywhere. "We will always be here," he says. "This is always where our headquarters will be."

Studio Intrigue is located at 1114 South Washington Ave.

Source: David Vanderklok

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Fabinelli's Handmade Candy Shoppe Opens in Downtown Williamston

A new candy shop opened its doors in Williamston last month: Fabinelli's Handmade Candy Shoppe.

"Business has been wonderful," says Nichole Stiffler, a co-owner of Fabinelli's along with her sister and husband. The new Fabinelli's moved into a pre-existing space in Keller's Plaza. "We get a lot of foot traffic because we are in a plaza with other businesses," explains Stiffler. "The hair salon next door brings us new customers every day."

Stiffler worked at a previous candy store in Williamston, owned by her family. "My father opened the [previous] store in 1996 and sold it a few years later to his mother and sister." After selling the old store, Stiffler and her father moved north to open another business while she attended school.

Eventually, Stiffler wanted to open her own store. "It was time to open up my own place with the help of my sister, husband and my mentor—my mentor being my father," she says. "This place wouldn't be together if it wasn't for him in my ear every day, saying you have to do this or that!"

Stiffler is a one-woman army when it comes to candy making, "I am the only employee," she says. "I believe you have to run your own business to make it work." And she is happy to be back in Williamston. "When I was given the opportunity to open a new store of my own, I knew it had to be in Williamston," says Stiffler. "The town is great, the people are great, and the business is in a great spot."

Fabinelli's Handmade Candy Shoppe is located at 107 S. Putnam St.

Source: Nichole Stiffler

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

New Vendor Features Great Lakes Fish and Special Orders in the New City Market

The Lansing City Market has added a new vendor, City Fish. "The opportunity was there," says co-owner Stephen Joseph. City Fish resides in a 17 ft by 14 ft space in the new City Market Building, located at 325 City Market Dr.

"We try to put emphasis on Great Lakes fish," Joseph says of City Fish's offerings. "Everything from the Great Lakes is available or can be ordered." A large cooler houses a cornucopia of fresh fish by the register, which is restocked every two days.

Joseph handles all of the duties himself. "We wanted someone full time," he says, adding that he hopes to add additional staff soon.

City Fish's offerings are not limited to the bounty of the Great Lakes either. "We will be adding beer and wine," says Joseph. City Fish also sells many all natural Michigan organic foodstuffs, including the Honey Boy Bob line of products. Specialty chip dips are also available, and are kept in the cooler along with the fish.

"Trout is pretty popular," Joseph says when asked which of his fish is the best seller, but he adds that whitefish is another favorite. City Fish can also special order fish for customers, Joseph explains as he points to a full red snapper in the cooler waiting to be picked up by a customer.
Source: Stephen Joseph

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

South Lansing Brunch House Offers Traditional Breakfast and a Lebanese Flair

Lansing citizens have a new restaurant to get breakfast or lunch: the Brunch House. Located at the corner of Hazel and Pennsylvania, the Brunch House used to be the Home Town Diner. "[The] space was available," says owner Leo Farhat, Jr.

There was not much downtime between the change over: the Home Town Diner closed for good on Dec. 24th and the Brunch House opened for business on Dec. 28th. "I've been here every day since we opened," says Farhat.

There has been no shortage of mouths to feed since the Brunch House opened its doors. Farhat says that business has been "better every week," adding that he has had to hire additional staff.

"[I've] hired four more since opening," he says.

The new hires include an additional cook and more waitresses.

The Brunch House is smoke free and has plenty of seating, allowing for large early morning meetings.

Farhat describes the clientele as "a blend of everybody." Construction workers, lobbyists, doctors—they all frequent the Brunch House.

The restaurant's hours are 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but Farhat wants to start opening at 6:00 a.m. soon, so he can lure in more early morning meetings.

What gives the Brunch House a unique edge over similar restaurants around town is its menu: it not only features standard breakfast and lunch offerings, but Lebanese food as well. Wednesday's special is homemade cabbage rolls, which Farhat helps make. Another favorite is Lebanese style seasoned beef with pine nuts, mixed with scrambled eggs.

The Brunch House is located at 1040 South Pennsylvania Ave.

Source: Leo Farhat, Jr.

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Log Jam in Grand Ledge Gets Renovation, Goes Smoke Free and Updates Menu

The Log Jam in Grand Ledge reopened last March with a new owner and a cleaned up interior. Chris Fata took over the popular Grand Ledge watering hole last year and made plenty of changes, including going smoke free.

"We have a new menu," says Fata, "and we cleaned everything."

The old Log Jam had a smokey reputation which Fata was quick to fix with a new bar, ceiling, lights, carpet and furniture. Looking to draw in more Michigan State University sports fans, Fata added a few more televisions around the bar and restaurant.

In addition to offering a new menu, Fata has expanded the Log Jam's liquid offerings as well, with ten microbrew and craftbrew beers on tap.

While the Log Jam is no longer open for breakfast, there was one thing Fata dared not to change: the pizza. The Log Jam's popular pizza recipe remains unchanged, as do the fish frys. "We go through tons [of fish]," says Fata.

Located in downtown Grand Ledge, just off the corner of Bride Street at 110 West Jefferson, the Log Jam offers a cozy, friendly atmosphere one can only find in a small town restaurant.

Source: Chris Fata, Log Jam

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

The Tin Can Opens in Downtown Lansing

A "world class dive bar" has come to downtown Lansing: The Tin Can.  The bar, according to its website, specializes in "cheap booze, cheap food and cheap friends."

As the name states, the Tin Can only offers beer in cans — no bottles or drafts allowed. Co-Owner Dave Sell says bars like the Tin Can are gaining popularity on the West Coast, and that he wanted to be on the "leading edge" in Lansing.

This cozy bar, which holds 60 to 80 people, also offers hard liquor and chili dogs that Sell says are "Detroit style."

Sell also  plans on bringing in Better Made Potato Chips, another Detroit favorite. Sell says he wants to "keep locally minded," by offering chip dips and the like from local delis and restaurants. He also plans on buying food from the nearby Lansing City Market.

The Tin Can opened Friday, February 12th at 414 E. Michigan Ave. next to Harem Urban Lounge.

The space was renovated for the new bar, which includes a new build out. Several stand-up coolers are on site to keep the Tin Can stocked with plenty of beer.  Microbrews and craft brews are available along side old standbys like Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The Tin Can is smoke free and may eventually include live music.

Source: Dave Sell, the Tin Can

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Cravings Popcorn Moves to Old Town

Things are popping for Chad Jordan's Cravings Popcorn, as he moved his business out of the Lansing City Market and into the storefront at 1220 Turner St. in Old Town.

The new, larger location offers more space for not only popcorn, but also staff.  Jordan says the store will have two-to-four employees. The expansion does not stop with the store or the staff as Jordan looks to expand his product line with "eight to 12 [new] flavors." Jordan is also looking to add more seeds, oil and seasoning at the new Cravings Popcorn shop.

Jordan plans to venture into organic and microwavable popcorn as well.  Jordan says there are many regional types of microwavable popcorn he would like to showcase at the new store.  His goal is to lure consumers away from the big name microwavable popcorn by offering a much wider variety of flavors.

Cravings Popcorn is open for business Feb. 22 and Jordan will have a week long celebration of the opening, featuring "sweet deals and sweet treats."

Source: Chad Jordan, Cravings Popcorn

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Portable Feast Changes to Pastry Palette With New Owners, Name and Menu

Old Town’s Portable Feast is now the Pastry Palette, a restaurant that offers a similar menu to Portable Feast, but with a sweeter twist.

“I do have a lot more pastries and baked goods,” says Pastry Palette's Vicky Morgan. The new sweet treats include brownies and gourmet cupcakes. “There are similarities, but also differences.”

Morgan and her husband William purchased the business at the end of 2009. Due to Old Town’s 2007 IKEA makeover, which added a new flair to many of Old Town’s businesses including the former Portable Feast, renovations were unnecessary.

“We’ve always wanted to own a place like this,” Morgan says. “When we saw this was for sale, we just jumped at it. It was a dream come true.”

Pastry Palette is a traditional family business. Morgan even recruited her nephew Travis Dominguez, who was living in Tennessee, to help out.

Morgan wants to expand the company’s catering sector,which she says has been going fairly well.

“We’re hoping that’s the part of the business that really starts picking up,” she says. “I think that will bring us through the slow time of the year.”

Pastry Palette is located at 1216 Turner St.

Source: Vicky Morgan, Pastry Palette

Writer: Ivy Hughes 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Restaurant Mediteran Adds 1,200 Sq Ft to Downtown Lansing Hotspot

Downtown Lansing dining staple Restaurant Mediteran is adding additional seating, a room for private parties and a European deli to its existing 333 Washington Sq. location.

Restaurant Mediteran is expanding into the former 1,200 square feet Contemporary Shoe Repair location. The shoe shop has moved from 337S. Washington to 109 W. Kalamazoo.

“We’re already working on cleaning up the space and basically have the drawings,” says Restaurant Mediteran's Igor Jurkovic. “We’re planning to finish everything in March.”

Jurkovic is completely renovating the former shoe store, adding additional dining space and a European deli that will serve fresh meat and quick meals for busy Downtown customers.

“Basically everything has to be totally redone and restored,” he says. “That space hasn’t been updated in the last 20 years so everything has to be taken out.”

Jurkovic estimates the additional dining space will increase business by approximately 15-20 percent.

Restaurant Mediteran has been in Downtown Lansing for five years.

Source: Igor Jurkovic, Restaurant Mediteran

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New 11,000 Sq Ft City Market Opens, Prepares for Riverfront Restaurant

The 11,000 square foot Lansing City Market is open to the public, nearly full and ready to welcome a springtime, waterfront restaurant.

“We had an absolutely incredibly turn out for our soft launch,” says City Market Manager John Hooper of the Jan. 9 event.

Hooper says 1,500 to 2,000 people showed up Jan. 9 to celebrate the opening and the 22 vendors located in the market. Hooper says he only has space for one more vendor and is locking in a deal with the Williamston-based RiverHouse Inn owners to open a restaurant in the space.

“They’ll have designated seating inside and outside,” Hooper says. “Maybe 500 square feet outside and 800 square feet inside.”

The 11,000 square foot market includes 7,000 square feet of indoor space and 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of outdoor space. Several vendors are seasonal and only utilize the market in the summer, fall and winter.

Hooper says the January opening is “just the beginning.” Landscaping needs to be added to the market and Hooper hopes that in a year, the market will also include a mezzanine level.

The former market is being demolished. Developer Pat Gillespie plans to build condos on the demolished site.

The market’s grand opening is tentatively scheduled for April 24. Project costs total $1.59 million.

Source: John Hooper, Lansing City Market

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

2010 Means Expansion for Successful Sweetie-licious Pie Pantry in DeWitt

Ever on the move, Sweetie-licious' Linda Hundt is ready to expand her business by building out her central kitchen.

The Dewitt bakery has been recognized locally and nationally for producing outstanding pies, but is growing so quickly its existing kitchen cannot meet demand.

“We’ve definitely profited this year,” Hundt says. “I’ve added two more people and we have one shop and we don’t have enough space for storage or enough space to do mail orders.”

Hundt is deciding between two locations for the build-out and is talking with a few Hollywood production companies about starting a reality show.

“It’s exciting and I feel really good about it, but I don’t know what will happen,” she says about the show. “I’m not in a big hurry.”

Hundt has 20 employees and hopes to have the central bakery ready for production in February.

Source: Linda Hundt, Sweetie-licious

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Sonic Drive-In Destined for Site of Vacant Southside Lansing Hotel

The 70,000 square foot Governor’s Inn hotel on Lansing's Southside will be demolished and is the future site of Lansing’s first Sonic, an old fashioned drive-in restaurant. 

Sonic will occupy roughly one acre of the four-acre site. Ken Szymusiak, director of south and outer Lansing for the Lansing Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), says the demolition of the hotel will make room for additional developments.

“It’s really exciting to develop a complete four acre site and bring in a brand that is a first in greater Lansing,” Szymusiak says. 

The hotel has been abandoned for about eight months and includes several buildings. The city hopes to capture brownfield funds for the estimated $720,000 site demolition and preparation.

“We think having an empty building brought back to life will have a huge ripple effect,” he says.

The site is right across from a new branch of NuUnion, which was also redeveloped on an old hotel site.

The city is shooting for a December demolition. Sonic is expected to open its doors in the spring of 2010. The site is located at 1000 Ramada Dr.

Source: Ken Szymusiak, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Mom-and-Son Team Opens New Ledges Corner Café in Grand Ledge

Grand Ledge native Michael Gillison Jr., and his mother, Teresa Ballance, recently opened Ledges Corner Café in Grand Ledge.

Ledges Corner Café is located at 101 E. Scott St. in a building that had been vacant for roughly four years.

“When people say they start their own business, they don’t really do it on their own because they rely on so many people,” Ballance says. Balance and Gillison renovated the entire building and opened for business Oct. 5.

“I have been cooking for 22 or 23 years,” Gillison says. “I’ve worked hard and pretty much got tired of making the dollar for someone else when I do all of the work.”

The Ledges Corner Café has a full breakfast and lunch menu and homemade soup. Gillison prides himself on serving homemade, rather than “frozen,” food.

“Word of mouth has been great,” Ballance says. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

Source: Michael Gillison Jr., Ledges Corner Café

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Well-Traveled Dewitt Native Brings Culinary Skills Back to New Lansing Bakery

After spending 16 years traveling around the world as a private chef for Hollywood stars, Darek Makhoul moved back to Lansing and invested his skills in a new business, the Sugar Shack.

“I was traveling around and living out of a suitcase,” says Makhoul, who moved back to Lansing four years ago. “I moved every six weeks. I thought I’d move back to Michigan and open something fun for the Lansing community.”

The Sugar Shack opened in August and features a whole host of homemade sweets, including 15 original-recipe cupcakes like malted milk ball, lemon meringue, chocolate covered cherry, caramel apple and peanut butter and jelly. He also sells cookies and brownies.

“My goal is to sell a quality product and have excellent customer service,” he says. “I want to keep improving the product and changing the menu.”

The Sugar Shack, which has five employees, is located in an 800 square foot space at 2315 E. Grand River Ave. in Lansing.

“Business has been getting a little better every day,” he says.

Source: Darek Makhoul, Sugar Shack

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

9,500 Sq Ft Restaurant and Nightclub Opens in Northern Tier of East Lansing

ENSO, the new 9,500 square foot restaurant and night club on the north side of East Lansing, definitely brings a little something the Capital region that’s been lacking. Not only is a reasonably priced, high-end restaurant, it’s also a nightclub.

“During all of my travels, especially in the Mediterranean, any restaurant that enters the area and is popular has the right location, the right owners and converts their restaurant to a nightclub,” says Dennis Branoff, ENSO principle. Harry Saites is the other principle.

Branoff grew up in Flint, has lived in East Lansing since1975, partnered on two Planet Hollywoods — one in D.C. and one in Hawaii — and owned Weight Watchers in Indiana, Italy, Greece and Sypris.

ENSO has a 3,000 square foot patio. It’s non-smoking indoors, but has a humidor to accommodate outside cigar smokers. ENSO also has its own in-house DJ and turns into a nightclub at 11 p.m. every evening.

 “We wanted to have a patio, and this had enough space for one,” Branoff says. “It’s a growing area with homes and neighborhoods and office buildings. The MSU Federal Credit Union has a huge facility here.”

One of ENSO’s most remarkable features is the 150 square foot waterfall in the dining and bar area. Branoff and Saites completely renovated the space to give it a New Age atmosphere.

ENSO opened Oct. 1. Branoff says business is doing very well.

“The response has been tremendous,” he says. “Even as we were in the build-out phase, we were booking Christmas party lunch reservations.”

Most of ENSO’s 60 employees live in the region, but chefs have been brought in from Las Vegas, New York City and Traverse City.

ENSO is in East Lansing’s Northern Tier area with an address of 16800 Chandler Rd., Suite 101.

Source: Dennis Branoff, ENSO

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Chicago Food Company Buys 50,486 Sq Ft Former GM Building in South Lansing

Best Food Services, Inc., a Chicago-based food services company, has purchased a 50,486 square foot industrial building in Lansing’s Midway Industrial Park.

Best Food Services, Inc. provides Asian food to restaurants. Due to an increasing Michigan-based customer base, company owners decided to purchase a warehouse in Lansing.

“They had quite a few accounts here in Michigan and this distribution center was centrally located, allowing them to do business in Chicago and Michigan,” says Blair Moore with CB Richard Ellis/Martin (CBRE).

The warehouse opened in September.

The building is located at 5615 Enterprise Dr. on Lansing’s Southside and was a former GM building. The building was vacant for six months before Best Food Services, Inc. moved in.

Source: Blair Moore, CBRE

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Popular East Lansing Pizza House Plans Expansion to New 10,000 Sq Ft Space

The Pizza House in East Lansing is in the middle of its second expansion. The popular restaurant is expanding its 6,400 square foot space into a 10,000 foot space.

“We’ve done it before and they’re hectic,” says Pizza House's Chris Tice. “We’ve gotten to that point again.”

The Pizza House, located in the Hagadorn shopping mall in East Lansing, opened in 2001 and added two dining rooms and a liquor license in 2003. Tice says business has once again reached a point where expansion is the only real option.

“We’ve kind of become the place around town where people know they can bring and big group and get good food and good services,” he says. “We want to be able to accommodate everybody.”

The expansion will include a new bar, sit-down area, new seats, a new design and expanded kitchen. The renovation will be done in phases so the Pizza House will not close during renovations.

“It will be hectic, but we hope the public will be patient with us,” Tice says. “We hope that everything will be completed in April.”

Tice says he’ll have to hire 25-30 more people when the renovation is complete. The Pizza House is located at 4790 S Hagadorn Rd.

The Pizza House Ann Arbor location has also undergone several expansions.

Source: Chris Tice, Pizza House

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

4,100 Sq Ft Michigan Brewing Company Serving 16 Brews and Food Downtown

The long-awaited opening of the Michigan Brewing Company (MBC) taproom in Downtown Lansing has finally occurred, an exciting moment for many of Lansing’s beer lovers.

The 4,100 square foot “MBC Lansing” has been open for a few weeks, but just started serving beer. Ernie Pierre, general manager of the new MBC locations and former owner of the popular Hobie’s restaurants, says the vibrancy of Downtown Lansing is a perfect site for MBC.

“Now with Cooley downtown, all of a sudden it’s becoming an area full of young people,” he says. “It’s just a really enlivened downtown. It’s just dynamic.”

The MCB Lansing has 16 MBC beers on tap. The renovated space, which used to be a coffee shop/deli, doesn’t have TVs or loud music.

“We wanted people to really focus their energy on the beer,” Pierre says.

The MBC also has a full kitchen and Chef Stephen Joseph builds his menus around whitefish and Michigan products.

“We’re trying to be as Michigan as possible,” he says.

They also have wi-fi, so if you’re a nomadic worker, head down to 402 S. Washington Sq. and swap those coffee shops for a little hops. Eventually, beer will be sold for take-home purposes at MBC Lansing.

“This is evolving, but there really is a desire to do more of this,” Pierre says about the MBC taproom. “This might be the first in 10 of these.”

The MBC recruited Melinda Carpenter from Grand Rapids to run the new taproom.

Source: Ernie St. Pierre, MBC

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Charlotte Eatery Gets Renovated, Rehabbed and Renamed

Within a year, Terry Davis and his family purchased, renovated and expanded the former Frontier Saloon in Charlotte.

The new Eaton Pub & Grill has an updated look, extensive patio space, a liquor license, a new menu and new kitchen.

“It’s more of a steakhouse than a bar,” says General Manager Terry Davis. “We are going for a nightlife atmosphere.”

The Davis family has owned the Eaton Place restaurant for 25 years. The restaurant is next door to the pub, so when Frontier Saloon went up for sale, the Davises were interested in rehabbing the property.

“It was just a new opportunity to offer people finer dining,” Davis says.

It was also an opportunity to attract a new clientele.

“We’ve had our growing pains, obviously, but we’ve never been in the liquor business before and that’s added a whole new customer base,” Davis says. “We’re seeing a lot of new faces. I would say things are going well.”

The Eaton Pub & Grill hosts large parties and employs 35-40 people. The Eaton Pub & Grill is located at 214 S. Cochran Ave. in Charlotte.

Source: Terry Davis, Eaton Pub & Grill

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

New 2,100 Sq Ft Maru Sushi and Grill Restaurant Opens in Okemos

Sushi is on the menu in the Capital region with the addition of Maru Sushi & Grill in Okemos. The new restaurant opened about four months ago, around the same time that another new sushi spot, Sushi Moto, opened in Delta Township.

The 2,100 square foot Maru Sushi & Grill in Okemos is owned by Robert M. Song, who graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) in 1994 and ran Japanese steakhouses in the tri-city area near Saginaw before moving back to East Lansing. His wife is an interior designer and helped Song start his business.

“I thought my time came to start something on my own so I came back to East Lansing,” Song says. “We started this concept here and my wife designed the space.”

Maru’s been opened for about four months. Song says business is going well.

“We put a lot of time into our food,” Song says. “We pay attention to detail in the selection of ingredients.”

Song just received his liquor license, which he says his customers have “eagerly been awaiting.”

Song and his wife completely renovated the former bank that is now Maru Sushi & Grill.

“I wanted to be loud in our food, but not in our outward appearance, so I found a very nice location,” he says of his 5100 Marsh Rd. location.

Source: Robert M. Song, Maru Sushi & Grill

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here


The Soy Joy roll at Maru Sushi & Grill

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Owners Invest $40,000 to Remodel 1,000 Sq Ft Udder Creamery on Westside

Westside Lansing ice cream shop, the Udder Creamery, has undergone $40,000 in renovations, which include a complete makeover of the interior of the 1,000 square foot space and new signage.

Two Lansing natives with more than 40 years of food service experience opened the Udder Creamery in November 2008.

The Udder Creamery is known for premium ice cream cakes, pies, ice cream and malts and shakes. The Udder Creamery also offers delivery services, which is unique among ice cream shops in the area.

The Udder Creamery, located at 4131, was a Baskin Robbins for 21 years. When it went out of business, a former employee and his partner opened up shop.

An Udder Creamery owner says the two partners are looking at opening two more Udder Creamery locations in the area. 

Source: Udder Creamery

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

National Coney Island Opens New 2,100 Sq Ft Location in Downtown East Lansing

After looking to put a new National Coney Island restaurant in Downtown Lansing, Roseville-based National Coney Island settled on East Lansing.

This month, National Coney Island will open its first Capital region coney island. The 2,100 square foot eatery is located on 565 E. Grand River in the former Taco Bell location.

“As we thought about it, we became more and more excited about opening on a college campus,” says National Coney Island Director of Business Development Bradford Egan. “This is our first college campus location and it’s our first quick service location.”

The 25 other National Coney Islands in the Metro-Detroit area have sit-down table service. The East Lasing location will have a counter and indoor seating, but no table service and will be considered a National Coney Station, not a National Coney Island.

“There’s a trend with everyone going to quick service,” Egan says. “This will be similar to a Panera or Potbelly.”

National Coney Island has made some renovations to the former Taco Bell, including exterior and interior painting, door replacement and a new roof.

Source: Bradford Egan, National Coney Island

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Owner Updates and Renovates Lake Lansing Area's Popular Watershed Tavern

In May, Michelle Fink took over the former Gus’s Watershed near Lake Lansing in Haslett and tore through renovations, reopening as The Watershed Tavern & Grill in June.

Fink repainted the building, repaired the floors and added new tables and high definition televisions. Fink’s brother owns the building, but she is the general manager. Fink hopes to add a new patio by the end of this month.

“He couldn’t run it anymore, so that’s when I jumped in,” she says. “I wanted to change everything so it didn’t have the old identity from the old owners.”

NuvaMarketing, an online business strategy and marketing company, created the new brand identity for the Watershed Tavern & Grill. 

Fink says business has “absolutely” increased since she took over.

“July is usually our slowest month and we really haven’t felt it this year,” she says. “It’s been consistent and that’s been really positive.”

The Watershed Tavern & Grill is located at 5965 MarshRd. in Haslett.

Source: Michelle Fink, The Watershed Tavern & Grill

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Couple Opens New 2,700 Sq Ft Sushi Moto Restaurant in Delta Township

Options for Capital region sushi lovers just expanded. In June, Sushi Moto opened in Delta Township.

Sushi Moto is a 2,700 square foot sushi restaurant located at 436 Elmwood Dr. It is open for both lunch and dinner.

“This is our first restaurant,” says Owner Haly Moto. Moto owns the business with her husband, Jimmy. “We wanted to open a sushi restaurant for a long time.”

The Motos renovated the entire restaurant before opening. They feature Japanese sushi, but the chefs are all Korean.

“We have a pretty good customer base,” says sushi Chef John Kim. “We have a lot of repeat customers.”

Though Sushi Moto specializes in authentic Japanese food, they will customize orders.

Source: John Kim, Sushi Moto

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Couple Finds Success in South Lansing Catering Market, Look at Expansion

Sharon and Randy Jackson started their catering company, As Good As It Gets Catering, in August 2007 and are already looking at expanding their catering services and expanding into banquet services.

“I would like to expand and would like to at some point, have our own banquet hall so we can supply that — sort of like a restaurant,” Sharon Jackson says.

The Jacksons cater for a variety of events and have nabbed some large corporate clients.

“We serve a variety of food and most of it's home cooked so it’s well seasoned,” she says. “We also cook soul food if requested.”

In August 2007, the Jackson’s opened As Good As It Gets Catering, which is located at 1105 River Street on Lansing’s Southside. This is the Jacksons’ first foray into the food and restaurant business. Sharon has always enjoyed cooking large meals and when she moved to Lansing from Detroit, she decided to try her hand at cooking for a living.

“I’m from Detroit and there is always something available to eat, no matter if it’s day or night,” she says. “We couldn’t find that here.”

Jackson says as the company continues to grow, she’ll continue looking at her banquet and expansion opportunities.

Source: Sharon Jackson, As Good As It Gets Catering

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Brother’s Grill Brings Homemade Sandwiches to Grand River's MSU Corridor

After living out of state for several years, Eric Gunn and his wife, Michelle Gunn, returned to East Lansing in 2004. Though they didn’t specifically reunite with their roots to start a sandwich shop, that’s what happened.

The Gunns opened Brother’s Grill in East Lansing at the end of 2008 and are prepping for what they hope to be a very successful fall 2009 semester.

“We’ve always been looking to do something like this,” Gunn says. “It just worked out.”

The Gunns wanted to get a spot right near the Michigan State University (MSU) campus. When BTB Burrito closed its doors, they jumped on the opportunity, purchasing the 1,800 square foot 403 E Grand River Ave spot before Christmas 2008.

“It’s probably a little ahead of our expectations,” Gunn says about business. “The price is right and I think we’ve found our niche.”

That niche being relatively cheap, homemade sandwiches.

“We may be quote unquote 'fast food,' but we’re not fast food because everything is cooked to order,” he says.

Source: Eric Gunn, Brother’s Grill

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Taqueria del Rey Brings Authentic Cuisine and Popular Prices to Eastside

Mexico To Go is no longer in business on Lansing’s Eastside, but it’s been replaced by another Mexican restaurant, Taqueria del Rey.

“This is my parents’ restaurant,” says restaurant Manager Olivia Cantu. “It had always been a dream of theirs to open something up. They love cooking for the families.”

Cantus parents, who are migrant workers, opened the authentic Mexican food eatery Feb. 16.

“This really is authentic,” Cantu says. “A lot of people try to say they’re authentic, but what we serve here is something you would eat in a Hispanic home.”

Cantu says her family’s goal is to provide good, affordable Mexican food to area residents. Taqueria Del Rey’s three tacos for $3 special is particularly popular among the college student crowd.

The family made moderate renovations to the building before moving in. They changed the décor to make the interior look more authentic. 

“Hopefully in the future we can expand or add employees,” Cantu says.

Taqueria Del Rey is located at 1825 E. Michigan Ave.

Source: Olivia Cantu, Taqueria Del Rey

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Favorite Old Town Ice Cream Spot Reopens After Five Year Hiatus

It’s the 105th anniversary of the banana split and, for the first time in five years, Old Town Lansing’s beloved ice cream shop is reopening.

Arctic Corner, which is the former Tate’s Freeze, opened a few days ago and is now ready to start dolling out banana splits and soft serve ice cream.

Like Tate’s, Arctic Corner will sell chocolate and vanilla and eventually add cherry and lemon soft serve ice cream. The new owners have also added nachos, sandwiches and hotdogs to the menu.

Arctic Corner is a family business. It’s owned by Sharon Lycos. Her daughter, Alissa Lycos is heavily involved in the operations and Mark Adkins, a family friend, is the manager. When Alissa was growing up, Sharon frequently took her to Tate’s in the summer.

“When they shut down, it left a real void,” Sharon Lycos says. “There was no soft serve. There’s so much going on down here—it’s a quaint area of town. It’s very diverse.”

Lycos nearly gutted the building to prep it for new customers. She plans to follow the Tate model and keep the business open during the warm months (roughly March through September) and close it during the cold ones.

Arctic Corner is located at 314 E. Grand River Ave. in Old Town.

Source: Sharon Lycos, Arctic Circle

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Old Town Celebrates Adding Seven New Businesses in Last Six Months

The Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA) recently hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for seven new Old Town businesses.

Mayor Virg Bernero, accompanied by new OTCA Executive Director, Brittney Hokskiw, cut ribbons in front of Franklin Energy, El Gallo Loco, The Old Town Barbershop, The Chrome Cat, Scavenger Hunt Eco, Hattie’s Kitchen and Capital City Scuba.

Mayor Bernero also enjoyed some food at the Chrome Cat and on the patio of Capital City Scuba, and had his hair cut at the Old Town Barbershop.

 “You know, having a ribbon cutting every six months in Old Town is pretty typical, but I think this was an atypical event because everybody has been so focused on the economy,” says Hoskiw.

“I think the real story for this ribbon cutting was the fact that we’ve had seven new businesses open in the past six months, when everybody was expecting everyone to do so poorly. And so we’re really happy to be able to continue that tradition of welcoming several new businesses to Old Town.”

Hoskiw adds, "They were all very progressive and unique businesses that were very fitting to Old Town and our character, so it was a nice way for the city and OTCA staff and volunteers and neighboring businesses to welcome them to the community."

Source: Brittney Hoskiw, Old Town Commercial Association

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here

Walnut Hills Golf Club Will See Expansion Under New Douglas J Partnership

Walnut Hills has been operating as a private golf course and country club in East Lansing since 1921. On April 1, a group of local businessmen purchased the club with plans for expansion and renovations.

 “Our goal is to create an experience for new and existing members that is chic, contemporary and inviting,” says Scott Weaver, owner of Douglas J—a majority owner in the Walnut Hills partnership. “This is the next evolution of the club experience.”

The focus of the business plan aims to create a year-round, community-oriented experience, offering affordable and flexible membership options to suit a multitude of lifestyles. Other plans include a building expansion for spa and fitness facilities, an enhanced pool, recreation and dining amenities and continued focus on championship-quality golf.

“We want to embrace the historic integrity and tradition of this landmark club, while moving towards a fresh, family-focused lifestyle community with an emphasis on expanded amenities and championship golf,” says Kip Miller, another majority owner of the partnership.

Making the most of the enhanced spa facility expansion, Walnut Hills has partnered with Douglas J, a regional salon and spa company.

“We are excited to become a part of this great club’s history as we lead it into this next era.” said Paul Vlahakis, also one of the new majority owners, who will focus on the Club’s restaurant development and building expansion.

Source: Emily Wenstrom, Motion Marketing & Media

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here.

Pastor Opens New Upscale Southern-Style Restaurant in South Lansing

Body and Soul, a new restaurant at 3015 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Lansing serves upscale, southern-style American cuisine.

Head chef and owner, Rev. Freddie Thomas, who also preaches at New Direction Bible Ministries in South Lansing, opened Body and Soul to combine his passion for cooking with his ministry. “I decided to try to correlate these two entities together to birth this vision and place that I have called Body and Soul. Feeding the body and soul, that’s how the name came about,” says Rev. Thomas.

Rev. Thomas has been cooking most of his life. Originally from Mobile, Alabama, his recipes are part family tradition and part southern flare. Menu options include unusual combinations like chicken and waffles or spaghetti and wings, the way his momma makes it.

Although the restaurant serves food for the soul, it should not be mistaken for Soul Food. “Soul food is more of a northern entity,” Rev. Thomas explains. “In the south [they] take unusual combinations because they did a lot of leftover mixes. For instance, we have chicken and waffles, a breakfast and a dinner dish. The southern style of cooking was always to combine two entrées together as opposed to one meat and one side.”

Source: Rev. Freddie Thomas, Body and Soul Restaurant.

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Mayor Tosses Dough at Izzo’s Pizzeria Grand Opening in REO Town

On Friday, April 24, Izzo’s Pizzeria in REO Town hosted its official grand opening, celebrating with an all day, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, to give customers a taste of the many options the pizzeria offers.

Geno Abbey and Mary Izzo opened the 1,200 sq ft pizzeria right next door to Izzo’s Pub in December of last year, and have intended to have an official grand opening for some time.

The weather was perfect for the official grand opening, enabling the use of the pizzeria’s outdoor patio.

“The turnout was fabulous,” says Abbey. “The place was packed to the capacity, and [Mayor Virg Bernero] was here in the afternoon. I had the chance to teach him how to toss pizza dough which was really exciting, and very fun. He was very supportive.”

Before being cooked in a stone oven, Abbey impressively tosses and twirls the dough through the air. He has been making Neapolitan-style pizza since he was 18 and is passionate about his work.

“Our REO Town Board was here, too. They were also very supportive,” adds Abbey. “The patio was packed, the weather cooperated and it was an absolutely fantastic grand opening.”

Source: Geno Abbey, Izzo’s Pub & Pizzeria

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Daily Bagel Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Downtown Facade Update

On April 23 at 11:30 a.m., The New Daily Bagel will celebrate the completion of their building façade improvements with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

With the help of Marchelle Smith, Special Projects Manager of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Facade Design Sub-Committee of the EDC and the Principal Shopping District Design Committee, the building at 309 S. Washington Sq. received what they deemed a “face lift.”

Smith believes that when one business improves its façade, it encourages surrounding businesses to do the same. “It’s had a domino effect,” Smith says. “It’s been very positive.”

Owner Michael Mahdi spoke with Capital Gains in January, and at that time he was working with the City of Lansing to make sure his façade improvements would honor the historical integrity of the building.

The New Daily Bagel also took advantage of the Design Committee's Sign Grant Pilot Program that helps business owners with the design and implementation of creating a fresh, new look for their business.

Source: Mindy Biladeau, Principal Shopping District

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

3,000 Sq Ft Downtown Lansing Sandwich Shop a First for Menna’s Joint Owner

Menna’s Joint owner Hank Andries opened his first Lansing-based location Oct. 10, 2008. The new Washington Ave. sandwich shop is his fifth. He also has two in East Lansing, one in Kalamazoo and one in Mt. Pleasant.

The Downtown location is a bit different than Andries’ four other locations, which sit in the middle of or near major college campuses. The Downtown location hits a more business-oriented crowd, but also benefits from Cooley Law School and Lansing Community College (LCC) traffic.

“Here we have two campuses—Cooley and Lansing Community College. That’s been a pleasant surprise,” Andries says.

Andries considered opening the Lansing-based Menna’s Joint further south on Washington Ave., but wanted to be close to the Capitol. Business for the Downtown Lansing location started out slow—Andries says it’s because they opened in the winter —but is doing well.

“Oddly, our revenues (across the stores) have increased steadily by double digits every year,” he says. “The key is that everyone seems to love our unique sandwiches,” Andries says.

Menna’s Joint is known for it’s massive “dub” sandwich, and stays open until 3 or 4 a.m., a definite perk for the bar-crawling crowd. Andries employs 30-40 people per location.

Source: Hank Andries, Menna’s Joint

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New 500 Sq Ft Ice Cream and Treats Shop Gearing Up for Summer in St. Johns

After losing the Sugar Bowl ice cream parlor, St. Johns entrepreneur Jim Ortman and his wife, Cindy, opened Cindy’s Ice Cream and Treats.

The 500 square foot ice cream shop is in a renovated bank at 207 Spring St. The bank was empty for 10 years before the Ortmans took on the project.

“It was an eyesore,” Ortman says. “There were holes in the bulletproof windows and the landscape was overgrown.”

They renovated the entire building as well as the drive-up portion of the bank, which adds at least another 3,000 square feet to Cindy’s Ice Cream and Treats.

“We came up with the idea that, in the back of the parking lot, we could create a place for families to gather,” Ortman says. “It’s a safe place. We wanted to take the 1950s and 1960s theme and make it fun.”

The renovation was completed in April 2008. Cindy’s Ice Cream and Treats is open seasonally, April through October.

Source: Jim Ortman, Ortman Photography

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Southside Lansing Mexican Restaurant Reopens as Julie Joe’s

After managing Two Fer’s Pizza & Mexican for 16 years, Julie Sangster started her own restaurant in Southside Lansing, Julie Joe’s.

The closing of Two Fer’s in June 2008 put Sangster out of a job. In August, she took over the lease and remade the restaurant. She renovated the entire 2515 E. Jolly Rd. space and opened as Julie Joe’s in January 2009.

“I really wanted to create some ambiance and make it my own,” Sangster says about the renovation. “It really needed to be cleaned and updated.”

Sangster changed the menu when she took over the restaurant. Her pizza is already getting media attention. The City Pulse recently included Sangster’s pizza on it’s list of must-have pizza in Lansing.

“People do have to eat and we have really good food at a really good price,” she says about business. “We have a lot of repeat customers.”

Sangster says Julie Joe’s is a in a great location. She’s right between CATA, Dean Transportation and the post office.

“I plan on this restaurant being here for another 20 years, if not longer,” she says.

Source: Julie Sangster, Julie Joe’s

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New St. Johns Restaurant in Renovated Space is Banking on a Spring Opening

St. Johns entrepreneur Jim Ortman is getting ready to re-open an old bank in downtown St. Johns; but this time the vault will hold food, not money.

Ortman’s opening a high-end restaurant called the St. Johns Mint later this spring. Ortman is hopeful that the new venture will make St. Johns more of a destination spot.

“It’s got a theme to it, and we hope that people will want to come for a couple of reasons—the food and the atmosphere,” he says.

Ortman’s been working on the restaurant for a year. As part of his desire for ambiance, he’s kept as much of the 1865 bank’s unique characteristics. He’s kept the original bank door as well as the vault, which will be available for private dining and parties.

"Everything we’re trying to do is based on the money or currency or the bank itself,” he says.

Ortman’s planning on serving American cuisine. He hopes to open the St. Johns Mint this spring. The address of the new St. Johns Mint is 200 N. Clinton Ave.

Source: Jim Ortman, Ortman Photography

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

Local Favorite Reopens as Hattie’s Kitchen in Old Town

Pamela Gardner-Miller recently took over her aunt Vernadine’s soul food kitchen in Old Town.

Throwing a bit of her own personality into the space, Gardner-Miller renamed it Hattie’s Kitchen, a name derived from her grandmother who worked in a General Motors’ kitchen for 50 years.

Gardner-Miller and her aunt had talked about the transition for two years before Gardner-Miller actually took over.

“She gave me an opportunity I probably would not otherwise get,” Gardner-Miller says. Gardner-Miller officially took over in January.

Hattie’s Kitchen continues to serve the well-known soul food sold under Vernadine’s command, but Gardner-Miller’s also added new items, such as strawberry walnut salads and funky fries, to the menu.

“I love the diversity here,” Gardner-Miller says of Old Town. “There's a diversity of people, not just one type of person, it’s a rainbow of people.”

To cater to a diverse crowd, Gardner-Miller has also extended her hours. She closes at 7 p.m., but reopens on weekends from 1 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. to accommodate hungry people leaving the clubs.

Hattie’s Kitchen, which is located at 401 E. Grand River Ave., will have its grand opening celebration April 5.

Source: Pamela Gardner-Miller, Hattie’s Kitchen

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Spadafore Distributing Purchases 21,000 Sq Ft North Lansing Building

Wine distributor, Spadafore Distributing, has purchased a 21,000 square foot industrial building on Lansing’s north side.

“It’s a great location because it’s centrally located,” says Blair Moore, with CB Richard Ellis/Martin (CBRE).

Spadafore Distributing is leasing portions of the building to other companies. Of the 21,000 square feet, 12,000 feet is currently under lease.

“There’s 3,000 square feet that can be combined if needed,” Moore says. “It’s built out already, so the idea is to move someone in. We’ve already showed it several times.”

Spadafore Distributing Company is making minor cosmetic renovations to the building. The building is located at 810-812 Filley St.

Source: Blair Moore, CB Richard Ellis

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

Coffee and Chocolate Stop Sets Up Shop in 100,000 Sq Ft Stadium District

The Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Company has joined the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Diversified Title, Fifth Third Bank and Coldwell Banker Hubbell Briarwood Realty on the first floor of the 100,000 square foot Stadium District mixed-use development in Downtown Lansing.

Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Company is a Michigan-based company that has locations in Sturgis and Ann Arbor. The Lansing location also has a drive-thru window—a nice convenience for those frigid Michigan winter mornings.

“We are proud to be a part of Lansing’s downtown family and couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful building to set us up for a community homerun,” says Paul Smith, owner of Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Company. “We invite everyone to either stop in or use our drive-thru window.” 

Developer Pat Gillespie finished his $15 million Stadium District project in the spring of 2008. The second and third floors of the Stadium District include 30 apartments and 20 condos.

Source: Emily Wenstrom, MM3

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Jamaican Native Brings Island Flair and Food to Downtown Lansing

Downtown Lansing has a spicy new neighbor in the Palace of Jamaica, a small Jamaican restaurant on Washington Square near the Arbaugh building.

“Business is going good,” says Palace of Jamaica's owner, Eric Campbell. Campbell has lived in Lansing for years, but was born and raised in Jamaica. He met his American-born wife while working on a cruise ship. A Lansing native, she brought her husband back to the area.

Campbell worked in the food industry for years. When timing, opportunity and finances came together for Campbell, he was able to open his dream restaurant. He’s been open since spring.

“A lot of people from around the state come here,” Campbell says, noting that many of his Lansing customers have been to Jamaica and are familiar with the food. “They also come from Chicago. Lansing is catching on.”

Campbell goes to Chicago at least once a month to get his supplies. He serves traditional Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken, oxtail, stew beef, curry goat and ginger beer.

Campbell caters for several businesses and would eventually like to open another location.

Contact Campbell here.

Source: Eric Campbell, Palace of Jamaica

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Okemos Home-Based Bakery Tests Capacity of Capital Region Sweet Tooth

Lilian Chavira’s home-based bakery, Gellocake, is taking off in a major way. She’s already developed an industrial kitchen, had write-ups in two different area publications and gotten a jump start on a sweet treat Web site.

“If I see that people really like it and I get enough customers I will get a store,” she says. “That is my dream.”

Officially, Chavira has been opened since June. Unofficially, she’s been baking for friends and families for years. She offers a menu of gourmet gelatins, tortes, fruit tart pies and flans. She also offers low-calorie, sugar-free and organic sweets for those with special diets.

“Gellocake is not just a desert, it’s a concept,” she says. “They (customers) not only taste it, they see it and they enjoy it.”

Chavira has always loved to bake, but this is her first business.

“Now I’m doing it as a business nobody taught me how to do,” she says.

Chavira and her family moved to Michigan from Texas four years ago as a result of her husband’s job transfer.

Chavira can be contacted here.

Source: Lilian Chavira, Gellocake

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

Red Salamander Owner Opening Brew Pub in Grand Ledge

Red Salamander owner Karl Glarner is ready to start selling the beer he’s been perfecting for years.

Next June, Glarner will open a 10,000 square foot brew pub in Grand Ledge. The new brew pub (Glarner isn’t ready to unveil the name of it quite yet), will be in the former Trinity Covenant Church on 902 E. Saginaw Highway.

“I can’t think of another location that would serve us better,” Glarner says. “I think this will also be a destination. It’s right near M-100 and Saginaw, and for the people who work in Lansing but live in west Lansing, this will be a great place for them to stop off and have a beer after work.”

Glarner and his partner, Tolin Annis, have to renovate the church to make it suitable for a brew pub. In September, Glarner plans to move his Grand Ledge-based beer and wine making supply store, the Red Salamander, into the basement of the church. The 5,000 square feet of new space will allow Glarner to expand his wine selections and his other products.

“We don’t have our beer list yet, but we have our favorite recipes and we’ll probably start with those,” Glarner says. Glarner wants to have 25 beers on tap when the brew pub opens. “The theme will be all Michigan beer. We won’t have Bud and we won’t have Miller.”

Source: Karl Glarner, Red Salamander

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

New Knight Cap Patio Adds To Outdoor Dining in Downtown Lansing

Lansing's Knight Cap is joining the growing multitude of Downtown restaurants and bars that have added outdoor seating to accommodate the area's active nightlife.

The well-known, upscale steak and seafood restaurant recently opened a patio that faces Michigan Avenue. The barsits between Washington Square, the Lansing Lugnuts' Oldsmobile Park and the Grand River riverfront.

“We decided to put it up because of all the summer activities,” says Knight Cap owner, Charlie Sinadinos. “People enjoy dining outside. Our place is kind of dark and cozy, but we wanted to encourage people to have lunch at the Knight Cap and to be able to sit and relax in the evening now that they’ve opened up our beautiful Michigan Avenue.”

Creating a patio space also expands the restaurant seating area by about a third, Sinadinos says. The full service patio seats 16 to 25 people and the restaurant is constantly in need of more seating.

“Things are going on,” Sinadinos says. “The popular thing is to be outside.”

Sinadinos says she plans to keep the patio open as long as the weather stays nice. This is the first time the Knight Cap’s offered patio seating. Sinadinos says if it goes well, she’ll continue patio service next season.

Source: Charlie Sinadinos, Knight Cap

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

East Lansing’s Sansu Restaurant Adds Asian-Influenced Bakery

East Lansing’s popular sushi restaurant, Sansu, is adding a Japanese-style bakery to its repertoire.

Sansu is using its former 2,600 square foot building near the Michigan Athletic Club in East Lansing for the new bakery and coffee shop. In April, the Sansu restaurant expanded into a nearby 5,500-square foot space.

“We thought that East Lansing needed a pastry shop that has Asian influence,” says Rebecca Jeon, Sansu's owner and manager. “They’re all over big cities. With a big population of MSU students, we thought it might be a great opportunity, so we decided to open one up.”

As soon as the restaurant moved out of the old space, Jeon and her family got to work renovating the new bakery. Jeon’s sister, Soogee Ahn, is managing the bakery, which opened last week.

Ahn has been in the coffee business for several years. An experienced Japanese-trained baker will oversee the homemade baked goods.

“There are a lot of coffee shops in town, but there are not a lot of pastry and coffee shops,” Jeon says. “We have Asian pastries with red bean and sweet potatoes. It’s not just cakes and cupcakes—it’s a lot of fruit.”

Source: Rebecca Jeon, Sansu

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

High-End Wine Bar Commits to East Lansing

Naya Bistro & Wine Bar, a Grand Rapids-based upscale restaurant, has committed to move into the proposed City Center II project in East Lansing.

If the $120 million project is approved, Naya Bistro & Wine Bar will move into a space next to a new performance theater in downtown East Lansing.

“It’s a letter of intent,” says East Lansing City Manger Ted Staton, about the agreement between the Naya Bistro & Wine Bar and the Strathmore Development Company. “It’s a build it and they will come idea.”

Naya Bistro & Wine Bar serves upscale tapas that are made from local ingredients. It’s known in Grand Rapids as the place to go for dinner and great wine.

If approved, Naya would move into the City Center II project’s anchor building, a 10-story, mixed-use structure planned for the northwest corner of Grand River Avenue.

The entire proposed City Center II project is a 5.46-acre mixed-use development that would include town homes, restaurants, a museum and a new performance theater. The East Lansing Planning Commission is reviewing the proposal.

Source: Ted Staton, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

Green River Cafe Adds Lansing City Market Location

Jim Jabara, owner of the Green River Café in East Lansing, is opening a new location in the Lansing City Market. The Green River Café sells fair trade coffee and makes organic food made with local ingredients. Jabara says opening a location at the City Market will put him near other businesses that share his “local first” values.

“Being that we’re local, this allows us to be close to businesses like us that are local,” Jabara says.

The Downtown Lansing Green River Café will be on the northwest side of the City Market building. The new space has plenty of seating and a kitchen/counter area that’s twice the size of the East Lansing location.

The size of the kitchen and nearby access to the state’s 30,000 employees, legislators and lobbyists will allow Jabara to increase his catering business.

Jabara’s also excited about being close to Common Ground and the Downtown festivals, which he expects to boost his business.

The café will also have outdoor seating. Eventually, Jabara would like to add a brew pub.

“The Downtown will develop a lot in the next two years,” Jabara says, adding that he wants to be a part of the City Market’s pending move to the river.

The proposed $24 million City Market project would put the City Market closer to the riverfront and add two six-story, 120,000 square foot office buildings and two residential towers near the Lansing Lugnuts baseball stadium, Oldsmobile Park.

“It’s a pretty good second location in an area that’s growing and that really wants us to be here,” Jabara says.

Source: Jim Jabara, Green River Café

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Historic Mason Bank Rehabbed as High End Deli/Grocery

The old 1,100 square foot Dart Bank in Mason is now agourmet deli and grocery store. The aptly named Vault will soon have a largeselection of wine that will be stored in the bank former vault.

Jared Browers rehabbed the 368 S. Jefferson building,which has been a bank, a clothing store and a bridal shop. Browers also toredown the façade put on the front of the building in the 1970s, restored themarble floors and replaced the store front window.

“We pretty much gutted the inside of the store and foundold building materials that had been removed from the walls,” Browers says.“Old Dart Bank employees come in here and their jaws drop.”

The former teller counter is Browers’ check out and delicounter, where Browers sells homemade pasta salads, fresh baked bread andquality meats. Browers also uses local products whenever possible.

“My main mission is to improve people’s eating habits inMason,” Browers says. “We have a lot of fast food and fried places, and youcan’t get organic greens or breads.”

So far, says Browers, things have gone really well. When theyopened, he thought he’d sell 50 sandwiches a day, but he’s never sold less than90 sandwiches in a day.

“We opened up three weeks ago and my original predictionswere completely outmatched,” Browers says.

Source: Jared Browers, Vault

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

Brewery and Ice Cream Parlor Both Headed Downtown

The popular, Webberville-based Michigan Brewing Company is opening its first off-site location on Washington Square in Downtown Lansing, and is sharing space with MOO-ville, a Nashville, Mich.-based dairy company that sells ice cream, wedding cakes and other hormone free milk-based products.

“We’ve been trying to bring this company up here for years,” says developer Shawn Elliott, who is renovating the 4,000 square foot former Greenhouse Bistro for MOO-ville and Michigan Brewing Company. Elliott notes that this will be Downtown Lansing’s first ice cream parlor.

Elliott anticipates that MOO-ville’s ice cream will go extraordinarily well with Michigan Brewing Company’s homebrewed root beer. Root beer float anyone?

The ice cream element will attract families, but the Michigan Brewing Company element, which will include tap beer, kegs and take home six-packs, will also cater to Downtown’s older crowd.

“We needed something down here that was unique,” Elliott says.

The ice cream shop/bar is scheduled to open in mid-June.

Source: Shawn Elliott, developer

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

New 2,000 Sq. Ft. Sandwich Shop in Downtown Lansing

A new deli style sandwich shop is filling up state employees on their lunch break. Ted-Dee’s opened Dec. 21, 2007, after moving into the old Sara’s Lunchbox location on Washington Square in Downtown Lansing.

The 2,000 square foot eatery is owned by Ted Robison and his wife Dee, hence the name Ted-Dee’s.

The Robisons live in Ovid, but wanted to start their restaurant in a bustling area.

“I came in and looked at it and fell in love with the Downtown area,” says Robison about choosing his 119 S. Washington location.

Ted-Dees serves a variety of sandwiches, soups and salads. Robison plans on opening up outside seating in the spring and extending his spring and summer hours to include dinner and weekends.

Source: Ted Robison, Ted-Dees 

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Lansing-Based Cab Cuisine Expands in Old Town, Eyes Future Franchises

Cab Cuisine food delivery service recently expanded into a 1,000 square foot building in Old Town Lansing.

Cab Cuisine founder Bill Zerba started and operated Cab Cuisine from his home for more than two years before moving to the new Turner Street location.

Cab Cuisine is now run by Zerba’s daughter, Ashley Zerba, and has eight employees.

Zerba says he expects to open more Cab Cuisine locations in Michigan this year. He wants to create out-of-state franchises by 2009. 

Cab Cuisine delivers food from more than 60 local restaurants to organizations and individuals.

Source: Jamie Schriner-Hooper, Old Town Commercial Association

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

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