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Wednesday, June 11,2014

New in town

CRAVING´S GOURMET POPCORN - OKEMOS/MICHAEL O´S FOOD TRUCK

by Allan I. Ross
Food specialists in Lansing range from cupcake engineers to loaded hot dog vendors to wood-fired pizza chefs, but Chad Jordan lays claim to the city’s most lighthearted food title: He’s the No. 1 “popcorn connoisseur” (and owner/ operator) of Cravings Gourmet Popcorn.

“Popcorn is about community, fun and happiness,” he said. “It’s about sharing with friends and family. Our company culture is that we want to be where fun things happen.”

Jordan’s Old Town specialty store opened in 2010 after a successful threeyear run in the old Lansing City Market. And late last month, Jordan opened a second store in Okemos, a 4,600-square-foot space near Dusty’s Cellar. The new site eclipses the 977-square-foot Old Town location, but he said it’s still going to be business as usual.

“It was important for me that there was a continuity between stores,” Jordan said. “We’re staying true to our Old Town roots. It’s not going to be a case of the original location taking a back seat to the new place.”

Since opening, Cravings has created over 100 specialty flavors, with 25 flavors available at any time. Recent additions include coconut cream and pina colada; upcoming flavors include a new apple crisp and mojito. One of the features of the new location will be a visible production kitchen where the flavors get added.

“We’ve got it set up literally 6 feet from the front door — you can’t miss it,” Jordan said.

All of Cravings’ popcorn kernels come from a farm in southern Michigan. Jordan said all the sugars that are used come from Michigan farms, and he tries to source as many local ingredients as possible. Additionally, he said “about 95 percent of the flavors” are gluten free, and nuts are never used in the store.

“We know that many people are conscious about allergies lately,” Jordan said. “We’re very respectful of that.”

Cravings also specializes in gourmet glass bottle soda pops, with anywhere from 125 to 250 varieties available. Other products include popcorn poppers, oils, popcorn sees and seasonings.

The new location will allow Jordan to take on five to 10 new workers. He said he’d like to throw a grand opening party soon, but nothing is planned yet. And Okemos may not be the last stop in the Cravings´ expansion.

“I’d definitely love to open another store on the west or the south side, maybe other cities,” Jordan said. “Who knows — Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Traverse City? We’ll see where the wind takes us.”

Old Town grows (a little)

In other Old Town news, the barbecue food truck Michael O’s, formerly on the corner of Oakland Avenue and Cedar Street, has moved to the historic north Lansing neighborhood. The new location is in the parking lot of Grand River Bait and Tackle Shop, 536 E. Grand River Ave. Owner Donald O’Polski said this is the first step toward opening his own restaurant.

“The goal is to open a (brick-and-mortar) store within the next six months to a year,” O’Polski said. “We’re trying to settle ourselves in Old Town. I like the feel here and the community sense. I think it needs some more businesses that will help it continue it to grow.”

Cravings Gourmet Popcorn 1875 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday (517) 252-4786, cravingspopcorn.com

Michael O’s Food Truck 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday 536 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing (517) 930-6333, facebook. com/mobqfoodtruck

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