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Wednesday, May 16,2012

A rising tide

by ALLAN I. ROSS

It’s simple math: restaurant patio = bigger crowds. In the past 10 years, well over a dozen bars throughout the Lansing area have either opened with al fresco seating areas or punched holes in their walls to expand into the outdoors. Now two adjacent Haslett bars are making sweeping changes to their layouts, angling for more customers. 

Bret Story, owner of the Mayfair Bar at 1585 Lake Lansing Road, is a few weeks away from launching his new rooftop patio. Story is the fifth owner of “Ingham County’s oldest neighborhood bar,” which opened in 1934, but the patio is the first major upgrade in the 17 years he’s been in charge. He’ll add 45 seats to the roof — enough room to accommodate about 200 people, he says — a full bar and a dumbwaiter for easy food delivery from below. All of this will be perched on top of cement planks that were installed by crane. The expansion inspired Story to broaden his menu as well, with veggie wraps, hummus and other lighter fare to entice new diners. The Mayfair Bar patio is expected to have a soft opening around June 1. 

Next door at the Blue Gill Grill, 1591 Lake Lansing, owner Tom Warner recently unveiled his new garage door-style walls in the bar, which can be rolled up on nice days. 

“You gotta keep it fresh or you’re going backwards,” says Warner — and he knows from experience. The bar, formerly known as Plum Crazy, burned down in 2003. He and his wife, Diane, rebuilt it in 2004, and have been tweaking the floor plan ever since. They’ve added a new front entrance, a reconfigured bar separated from the restaurant and a kids game room. The last major change was the 2010 addition of the Thirsty Perch, Blue Gill’s own rooftop patio that is immediately adjacent to the Mayfair patio — albeit about 4 feet shorter. Thirsty Perch patrons still look like they’ll have a mostly clear view of Lake Lansing. So between the Mayfair, the Blue Gill Grill, and the 2-year-old patio just west at the Watershed Tavern & Grill (5965 Marsh Road), Lake Lansing is on the verge of becoming a bona fide destination bar scene, giving East Lansing and Lansing watering holes a run for their money.

Korner Krust klosed

Last week, the following handwritten note was taped to the front window of downtown Lansing’s Korner Krust Bread, 123 S. Washington Square (others may remember it as a former Great Harvest Bread Co.):

“If or can anyone help me with this judegment (sic) against me. I would appreciate serious inquiries. Thank you, Drew.” The note is followed by owner/operator Drew Klovens’ personal cell phone number. 

Above the note was a notice from the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids naming Klovens as the defendant against Great Harvest Franchising Co. It turns out Klovens owes $71,526.78 for a judgment against him for copyright infringement, according to the more than 100-page complaint on file at the County Clerk’s Office.

Requests for comment placed with Klovens and Great Harvest Bread Co.’s corporate information center in Montana were not returned.


Two up, one down

Last week, two local businesses had ribbon cuttings honoring their recent expansions. But Michigan State University students have one fewer resource for picking up textbooks this fall.  

Agricultural supply store D&G Equipment Inc. in Williamston recently repurposed a 52,000-square-foot former dental supply building into their outdoor power equipment superstore, nearly tripling the size of their previous footprint. The new store, at 2 Industrial Park Drive, is the business’s seventh location. D&G opened in 1993 with two dealerships in Mason and Williamston, expanding throughout mid-Michigan between 2000 and 2004. Today they employ 130 people. 

Coterie Purlieu, 408 S. Washington Square, is a new 2,500-square-foot day spa attached to The Barberrettes, a downtown hair salon opened last summer by Felix Compos. The name roughly translates as “the clique that meets on the outskirts,” and shares the block with the Downtown Smoking Club, MBC Lansing and Thai Village. Coterie Purlieu offers massage, waxing, mani/pedis, and tanning services.

Meanwhile, The College Store in Hannah Plaza has closed. The massive textbook depot was a subsidiary of the Nebraska Book Co., a Lincoln-based company operating over 280 bookstores across the U.S. 

Brett Katz, manager of R&D Hannah Plaza, LLC — the owners of the space — said that the 23,100-square-foot location closed on March 31. According to the company’s website, there are two suites available in Hannah Plaza, with rent starting at $14 per square foot, though the site available for lease will probably go for less than that, Katz said.

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