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Wednesday, February 19,2014

New In Town

Michigan Mart/Whipped/Artie´s Filling Station

by ALLAN I. ROSS
This week, Michigan Mart in Lansing’s East Side neighborhood moved into its new home with a vastly expanded 10,000-squarefoot floor plan and a slightly expanded name: Michigan Market. Since 1973 the building, 1908 E. Michigan intown Ave., was home to H.C.

Berger Co., a copy machine retailer that recently moved closer to Okemos. Michigan Market’s move returns the building to its roots: It was constructed in 1938 as an A&P Store.

Michigan Mart opened four years ago in its original location nearby, 1825 E. Michigan Ave. Owner Ed Zeineh said the expanded space will allow the business to have a stronger focus on Michigan-based brews, wines and food.

“We made some inquiries about what the East Side needs, and the word ‘grocer’ kept coming up,” Zeineh said. “We’ve seen a substantial demand for local products. People want to support the local economy.”

He said that Michigan Market would utilize about 4,500 square feet inside the building, and hoped to add a meat counter and a hot and cold deli. Zeineh declined to say what the rest of the building would be used for, and added there are no plans to repurpose the former location. He said that he wants to position Michigan Market to be the go-to spot on Michigan Avenue for food and beverages.

“The goal is to find a balance between liquor and convenience store, and still have all the necessities,” he said. “We’re expanding (our) horizons to meet the needs of the neighborhood.”

Whip it Last week, Randy Umfleet relocated his 2-year-old

bakery Whipped to Old Town. Since September 2012, he’d operated from a shopping plaza in DeWitt, but said the move to the historic Lansing district will give him a higher profile.

“Old Town is where people are,” he said. “The products I offer will benefit from an increased flow of grab-and-go traffic. And my positioning between Cravings (Popcorn) and Meat (Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine) gives me a prime location. I love the diversity here — there’s a real conglomeration of cultures.”

Whipped takes over the former location of Portable Feast & Friends, which closed in December. Whipped’s tagline — “decadent desserts for all occasions” — fits his fare perfectly.

“Our specialty is customized cakes, but we have a full line every day of cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and cheesecakes. We keep the prices for all our individual items between $1 and $2. We’re very costefficient.”

Whipped also bakes fresh muffins and danishes. Before going in the bakery biz, Umfleet ran a catering business in Chicago, which morphed into a cheesecake shop. He moved to Michigan in 1990 and did freelance catering for about 20 years before he took over the DeWitt bakery that became Whipped.

The cake decoration, Umfleet said, is done by art students who work in both butter cream and fondant.

“And they’re fantastic — we did one last year of a turkey that looked like it had just come out of the oven,” Umfleet said. “It’s all about the customer. I try to recreate dreams.”

Umfleet also said he’d like to expand his coffee offerings once he’s all settled in.

“It’s a natural pairing, muffins and coffee, but first I need to catch my breath from the move,” he said. “And

business has been good right from the start. (Old Town shoppers) have made me feel very welcome so far.”

Running on empty Whipped’s foray into coffee service has fortuitous timing. After two years of slinging gourmet coffee drinks from the historically restored Sinclair Oil station in the western fringe of Old Town, Artie’s Filling Station will close for good on Feb. 28. Owner John Miller said an “unfortunate series of events” (upon which he declined to elaborate) is forcing him to move out-of-state.

“It’s been impressive to me how many people have shown us such incredible support over the last two years,” Miller said. “I wish I didn’t have to close, but I have no choice.”

In 2011, property owner Dale Schrader completed a two-year, $140,000 renovation of the 1925 building. Artie’s opened in February 2012. Miller said he’d consider selling the business to an interested party; otherwise, he’ll sell off his business equipment individually, including a smoker and an espresso maker.

Michigan Mart 1908 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing 9 a.m.-midnight Monday- Saturday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday (517) 316-1100

Whipped 1216 Turner St. Lansing 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday (517) 483-2653, whippedbakery.org

Artie’s Filling Station 127 W. Grand River Ave., Lansing 7:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Monday- Friday (517) 797-5582, artiesfillingstation.com

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