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Wednesday, March 19,2014

New In Town

ZOOBIE´S OLD TOWN TAVERN/THE COSMOS WOOD-FIRED PIZZA

by ALLAN I. ROSS
This week, the owners of Zoobie’s Old Town Bar announced that the north Lansing hotspot plans a massive exterior renovation that will more than double the size of the building’s footprint. 

They unveiled plans for the next phase of development that will be launched this spring, and no, your eyes aren’t fooling you — they include what appears to be a faux rocket ship. (At least we think it’s not real.)

Since it opened last June, Zoobie’s, 611 Grand Ave., Lansing, has become a destination watering hole, attracting an interesting cross-section of Lansing’s nightlife, but it lacked one key ingredient — it had no food. But that’s about to change: Co-owner Sam Short said he and his partners bought the adjacent lot to the west, which includes the building that formerly housed Poppa Leo’s Pizza. That building is being transformed into a lunch/ dinner spot, tentatively called The Cosmos Wood-Fired Pizza, which will be connected to Zoobie’s by an addition.

“We’re going to get started as soon as ground thaws,” Short said. “We also bought the property (to the north) that we’re going to pave into a parking lot. It’s just a mess right now.”

The addition will include new bathrooms and a hallway that will conjoin the buildings. Zoobie’s will more than double in size, from 1,200 square feet to roughly 3,000 square feet, not including a proposed expansion for the beer garden. He said that an outdoor bar is also planned, but the desire to be open by summer may keep that from happening until next year.

“We don’t want to always be under construction,” he said. The 55-seat beer garden in back will also possibly double in size, with some “fun stuff planned” for that area later this year. Short estimated all the work, including exterior work to the Zoobie’s building, will total about $500,000. The Cosmos will seat 25 to 30, and will be operated as a separate business; Short said it will open for lunch, while Zoobie’s will maintain evening-only hours. You will be able to order Cosmos food from the bar at Zoobie’s, he said. He said there’s a specially designed wood oven coming in from California in a couple weeks that will be able to make “true, traditional thin crust pizza.”

“We’ve got a chef, Dan Konopnicki, who created an entire menu for us,” Short said. “Everything will be made from scratch. We’ve got some great appetizers and small plates planned. We have our sights set on creating a dining destination area in Old Town that’s chef driven, progressive, smart and fun, Lansing’s begun to see snippets of this, like Red Haven and Fork in the Road. We want to build on that.”

Short said curiosity seekers can follow the progress at the recently revamped website, zoobiesoldtowntavern. com , as well as at the bar’s Facebook page. He added more good news is on the way as well. “In the next month and a half, we will be announcing a third location somewhere in Old Town,” he said. “It’s in the works.”

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