June 24 2015 12:00 AM

The Knight Cap

In the early ‘70s, a teenaged Leo Farhat was sitting in the dining room of the stillrelatively new Knight Cap in downtown Lansing when he looked around and told his date that he’d like to own the place someday. If a neighboring table of diners happened to overhear the conversation, they probably would have chalked it up to adolescent bravado, a boy just trying to impress a girl. More than 40 years later, that girl is a distant memory, but the restaurant is Farhat’s — lock, stock and sword-hilt door handle. Farhat reopened Knight Cap on Monday, effectively marking the fine dining staple’s second act.

“I’m the happiest guy in the world,” Farhat gushed, standing about 10 feet away from the site where he made that fateful proclamation. “This is the (culmination) of a lifelong dream. And it’s even better that I get to involve my son in this and work with him to create something special.”

The Farhats took the reins in March from previous owner Charlie Sinadinos, whose husband, George Sinadinos, opened the Knight Cap in 1969. She took over after he died in 1988 and kept it going through downtown Lansing’s downs and ups. Farhat, who also owns the nearby Brunch House diner, was the first in line when Sinadinos put the Knight Cap up for sale last fall.

“I have a (duty) to Charlie to maintain the great reputation she and George spent 45 years building,” Farhat said. “I’ve loved the Knight Cap for a very long time. I want to continue a proud tradition.”

The most notable difference since the ownership change is the interior renovation. The Farhats worked with Pace Howe Design to create a subdued blue-and-gray color scheme for the 1,100-square-foot dining room and added subtle touches, such as crown moulding and picture frame trim. Downtown consulting firm Traction cemented the visual changeover with a new logo and website.

“We want to keep the upscale atmosphere but give it a fresh new look,” said Gregory Farhat, who led the rebranding effort. “(This is) refining, not rebuilding. This will be our rendition of the ‘60s as done in 2015. We’re trying to make it look like a classic setting from 30 years ago.”

Also getting an upgrade was the kitchen, where returning Chef Carl Davis churns out a new menu he honed based on Farhat’s specifications. Only a few appetizers have rolled over — the mediciettes beef tips, oysters Rockefeller, lobster bisque — while the entrée items now include aged certified Angus beef, center-cut steaks and Scottish salmon imported from the Isle of Skye.

Incoming bar manager Kathy Foote assembled a wine list custom-designed to complement the new menu.

“Kathy is a genius,” Farhat said. “She was able to find wines that would appeal to people who knew their way around (wine lists) and people who just want a nice glass of something to go with their meal. It was important to me to be upscale but still accessible. ” Farhat said he’s excited to reintroduce — or introduce, as the case may be — downtown diners to a little bit of Lansing history, and keep “a proud tradition alive.”

“A new era has begun,” Farhat said. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do, it’s where I’ve always wanted to be and things couldn’t have gone smoother. Dreams do come true.”

Knight Cap 320 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday- Saturday (517) 484-7676, knightcap.com

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