Frank Cheng noticed something big missing on Lansing's eastern edge and decided to start small. So far, he's begun to fill the need for a gathering place on the busy stretch between East Lansing and Lansing.
Since early August, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub
has been serving up craft beers and high-end bar food in a cozy, low-key setting. Initially dubbed "The Barrel," the latest in Lansing's growing lineup of gastro pubs rebranded and kicked into gear right around the MSU Spartan's home opener.
"Everyone seemed to want a place like this in this area," says Owner and Manager Cheng. "We were always hearing that something like this was missing with all the housing and apartments in the neighborhood. It just seems like a great location."
Front 43 is well-poised to draw from the aura left by Jimmy's Pub—a Lansing landmark that relocated to Chandler Road when the site was razed for the Pointe North Retail Center in 2011. Cheng got first-hand insights into customers seeking places to enjoy food, drink and time with friends since he also owns and manages Xiao
—Front 43's next-door neighbor.
The 1,200-square foot interior seats 45 people, while a small outdoor patio seats 15 more. A long bar and wall-mounted beer taps mingle with pictures of neighborhood and local imagery. Fifteen big-screen TVs (two of which are 80-inchers) provide a panorama of visual entertainment.
"It's very cozy and comfortable and warm," says Cheng. "I want it to be a neighborhood place, where everybody will get to know everyone."
Front 43 has 20 beers on tap, with 18 brewed in Michigan. Beers include Bell's Oberon and Big Two Hearted Ales, New Holland Dragon's Milk, and Strawberry Brown Ale. Customers can also enjoy wine, with local spirits coming to the mix down the road.
In keeping with the gastro-pub concept, Cheng will offer up non-traditional bar foods including mussels, calamari and three-cheese macaroni and cheese. Red meat eaters can satisfy a hearty appetite with a half-pound Angus burger.
Cheng spends about 10 to 15 hours a day on-site between Xiao and his newest venture. He hopes to hire up to 15 staff for Front 43, including two full-timers.
Source: Frank Cheng, Owner, Front 43 Neighborhood Pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor