Rob Flanders at Urban Cup - Photo Dave Trumpie <span class='image-credits'></span>

Lansing in 2018: A nostalgic year in review for the Capital region

2018 has been an amazing year for the City of Lansing. From all the new businesses opening their doors and initiatives that have brought communities closer together, to the many placemaking efforts that have made the Capital more vibrant over the last twelve months, this past year has been an exceptional one for growth in community in the region.. 

Curious about what you may have missed? Feeling a little nostalgic as we head into 2019, and want a quick look back at a great year in the capital city? Well, here you go - a recap of some of Lansing's highlights from the past year.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

Food is a big deal here in Lansing, and every passing year brings fresh entrepreneurs to the city, with delicious new flavors to share. Old Town acquired two new Mexican restaurants, each with their own take on south-of-the-border cuisine. Lourdes Casilla opened Taqueria El Chaparrito, where she serves the dishes of her native Michoacán, Mexico, and Punk Taco threw opened their doors on Turner street, offering tacos that have earned hundreds of rave reviews already.

All over the Capital area, new restaurants, bakeries, and eateries have materialized. East Lansing welcomed Chichi & Papa, which offers a fresh take on Himalayan favorites, and AYCE Sushi, which has been making waves as one of the best all-you-can-eat sushi joints in town. And then there's Tacos Monterray, Siraj Bakery, the Urban Cup, and a host of other tasty venues. But none as sentimental to the city of Lansing as Art's Bar & Grill.

Nick Sinicropi, owner of REO Town's Good Truckin' Diner, partnered with his brother Greg Sinicropi, Donn Thomas, and Sedric Audas to reopen the iconic Art's Bar & Grill, under the new name Art's Pub. Offering a delicious array of staples with a unique twist (like breakfast pizza and upscale "hippy hash") Sinicropi says it was, and is, loads of hard work, but in the end it's been absolutely worth it. "We didn't rush it. We took our time and did it right. And it's exactly what we wanted!"

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet." - Abraham Lincoln

Another major change in Lansing this past year was made in our political landscape. Mayor Andy Schor was sworn in as the 52nd Mayor of Lansing on Jan. 1, and he has been working hard ever since to strengthen the communities in and around the Capital city. With a focus on increasing neighborhood engagement and placemaking efforts, Mayor Schor says he wants to make Lansing the place to be.

Since Mayor Schor took office, Lansing has seen more than $2 billion in new investments pour in. The new Tesla supplier contract with Norm Fasteners, and the multimillion dollar dairy processing plant that broke ground just outside of St. John's in September, are great examples of outside investors who will be part of Lansing's future growth.

But while foreign investment is exciting, and making Lansing desirable to visitors from all over is very important, one of Mayor Schor's most popular decisions so far this year was the creation of the Arts and Culture Commission. Tasked with supporting growth and development of the arts throughout the capital region, the Commission will have a big hand in strengthening Lansing's creative community. 

"The purpose of art is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls." - Pablo Picasso

2018 brought many new artistic ventures to the capital area. Cinnaire created Hope Park in REO Town to beautify a less-than-lovely spot, and brought it to life with the award-winning work of local metal artist, Andrew Sandstedt. The city of Mason beautified their alley ways with art grants provided by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and PNC Foundation's 2018 Public Art for Communities Grant

Another artistic endeavor started this year in Lansing was ARTpath. The result of a seasonal partnership between the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center and the City of Lansing, ARTpath funded the installation of 10 artworks by local artists along the riverfront, starting in Old Town and meandering for 3.5 interesting miles, before wrapping up in the heart of Downtown.

"Art is so important for the growth and development of a community," says Katrina Daniels, the Exhibitions & Gallery Sales Director at Lansing Art Gallery. "Which is why this was so exciting for us, and for all of Lansing." Although it was the first year for ARTpath, it created a welcoming buzz, and Daniels says there are high hopes that it will become something much bigger over time. "Who know what this could evolve into, but we're hoping it will be something significant that'll benefit all of Lansing."

"You can't be successful in business without taking risks." - Adena Friedman

2018 ushered in numerous new businesses in and around the Capital. Mother-daughter team Brittany Simmons and Lisa Demankowski opened their gorgeous floral design shop, Where the Wild Things Bloom in Old Town earlier this year, and Skoop, Inc. pedaled into East Lansing, determined to change the face of public transportation on campus. 

Another new addition to Lansing's businesses is Tony and Kristen Wilson’s Another Life Tees Printing Co. Although T-shirts certainly aren't the only thing the pair print. After opening their store in the REO Town Marketplace, they offer a myriad of their own funny and catchy designs on apparel, bags of all sizes, and just about anything else they can screen print a picture onto. The couple is working towards moving their printing studio and store down the road into a more permanent brick and mortar location between the REO Town Pub and Nail'd It - a beauty bar that also opened in 2018.

And while we're talking about new businesses that opened their doors in REO Town this year, you could hardly have missed the birth of WheelHouse Studio. Captained by seasoned potter Dan Nunez, the studio was several years in the making before finally opening its doors this year. Nunez offers wheel throwing classes to people of all skill levels, where he says the goal is to learn something new, and have fun while you do it. "I want people to come in here and have a unique experience," he says. "A chance to learn something they've always wanted to try, or get better at something they used to be good at long ago. And I want it to be fun!"

"There are only two real ways to get ahead today: sell liquor or drink it." - W. C. Fields

Michigan is widely known for its unique craft beer, and Lansing is no different. Two new breweries opened in the Lansing area in 2018, and the response so far has been electric. After three years in development, Arcadia Ales & Smokehouse opened their doors on the Eastside, where they offer 23 beers on tap, five of which they brew on site. Paired with tasty offerings like tender baby back ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, their brews are getting as much press as their kitchen faire.

But even before Arcadia, there was the Looking Glass Brewing Co. Located in Dewitt, the LGB.Co was the brainchild of Lansing natives Joel Dillingham and Lee Streeter. The pair brew all their own beer, as well as making several wines on site and even a selection of hard ciders and mead. "We really want to reach out to the craft beer lovers in the area," Dillingham says, "but we also know not everyone loves beer. So we want to have other options on hand, like our house wines, and craft ciders."

Located in a renovated historic church in Downtown Dewitt, Looking Glass Brewing Co. offers all your usual pub favorites, like brisket, slaw and burgers. But their menu has a number of unusual features, like smoked BBQ jackfruit, and vegan bratwurst. "We have great food here, and great brews. Lots of variety." Dillingham smiles, "So far we've had a great year, and we're looking forward to 2019."

'Nobody gets to live life backwards. Look ahead, that is where your future lies." - Ann Landers

It was a really good year for Lansing, but don't worry - the fun isn't over. In fact, we've only just begun. 2019 will see the completion of Fenner Nature Center's newest building, the opening of Ellison Brewery + Spirits' new location in REO Town, and the much anticipated Sportsman's Warehouse store in Lansing. So thank you, Lansing. It's been a wonderful 2018 of growth, development, and community. Here's to another spectacular year. Bring it on, 2019!


Sarah Hillman is the news editor for Capital Gains.


Photos © Dave Trumpie

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.

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