In recent years, a seemingly unending flow of bohemian spirits and entrepreneurial developers — and the occasional crossbreed of the two — have swept into Old Town and infused it with disparate elements. Rough-and-tumble shift bars. Upscale art galleries. Hair salons. Funky restaurants. Contemporary office spaces. And every time the neighborhood seems to settle into a groove, something else comes along and tweaks its personality again. Three new projects — one launched this week and two down the pipe — are aiming to supply the district’s next tweak.
“We like to think of our beers as liquid art,” said Kyle Malone, co-owner of Ozone’s Brewhouse. “We like to experiment with (traditional) beer styles and be creative. And we like where Old Town is headed. We want to be part of the future here.”
Malone will be opening the brewery with his father, Dan Malone. They’re moving their new venture into a former warehouse at 305 Beaver St., just north of the Old Town shopping district. The building is owned by a property development group headed by MessageMakers founder and president Terry Terry.
“This is going to expand Old Town’s footprint,” Terry said. “Dan and Kyle are bringing something new to the neighborhood.”
Kyle Malone, 26, was inspired to get into craft beer by his dad, who has been a home brewer for over 20 years. He gained his formal brewing knowledge at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and went on spend three and half years at Three Pints Brewing Co. in Indianapolis.
“It’s a hobby run amok, but opening a brewery is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now,” Malone said. “And going into business with my dad, where we agree on nine out of 10 things, it just makes sense.”
Between the two of them, they have created hundreds of beers, including a chocolaty house porter, a barrelaged Amarillo black IPA and a cherry-vanilla amber, which exemplifies the mix-and-match philosophy of Ozone’s.
“They used to call my dad ‘Ozone Malone’ because his head was always in the clouds,” Malone said. “He always liked trying something new. The beers we brew will be different from what’s being made right now locally, which are stylistically correct. We’re not necessarily going to be doing things that are stylistically correct. There will be a good yin and yang balance.”
The Malones are converting about 3,000 square feet of the 10,000-square-foot warehouse into the brewery, with the “shed” out front to be converted into the taproom. A section of bar from the old Mustang Bar (which closed in 1986) will be reused at Ozone’s, and an outdoor beer garden is planned. Malone estimates that between the site upgrades and infrastructure, they’re investing over $300,000. They’re aiming for a spring opening.
“What’s going on in Lansing right now is great — it reminds me of the recent revival of Grand Rapids,” said Malone, who grew up in West Michigan. “It’s exciting to be part of this.”
No urban legend
Meanwhile, the former home of the Mustang Bar, 1213 and 1215 Turner St., will soon reopen as UrbanBeat, a performance venue/event space. On this project, Terry is partnering with Joni and John Sztykiel, a couple who recently launched Created to C, a boutique marketing and branding company nearby.
UrbanBeat is set to open early next year. I’ll tell you more about that soon, as well as a glass art studio Terry is developing at 1125 N. Washington Ave.
Last month, Old Town got its first taste of fine dining when the Creole opened at 1218 Turner St. The building is the former home of the legendary Creole Gallery, an art gallery and performance space started by the late Robert Busby. The Creole was the latest addition to the fledgling Potent Potables Project ownership group, which also includes Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern and Cosmos. I say “was” because the Creole’s conjoined twin — Creole Coffee Co. — became the newest when it opened earlier this week.
“We’re trying to bring something special to Old Town, while still being respectful of what came before us,” said Sam Short, one-third of Potent Potables, along with developer Al Hooper and attorney Aaron Matthews. “Particularly to Robert. We’re trying to keep his vision alive.”
Half a dozen oversized tin signs from Busby’s private collection adorn the Creole Coffee Co.’s exposed brick walls.
They were found in the basement after Hooper moved into the loft above the Creole with his wife (and the building’s owner), Jamie Schriner-Hooper.
Executive chef Dan Konopnicki has crafted a menu heavy on Louisiana-inspired cuisine, including a variety of sweet and savory crêpes, quiches and tortes. There are also Southern standbys like shrimp and grits and the Frenchinfluenced pain perdu (a fancy name for French toast), which has a corn flake crust and is topped with orange zest. On the lunch side, there are salads, fried oyster sandwiches, po’ boys and an innovative take on the Parisian staple, croque monsieur.
And the Francophilia doesn’t end there: All the coffee at Creole Coffee Co. is brewed in a French press, which will sit on your table if you’re dining in. On the weekends, there is also be a mimosa option (made with fresh-pressed orange juice) and a New Orleans-style brunch buffet.
“Besides Golden Harvest and Blondie’s Barn, there just aren’t that many creative breakfast options around,” Short said. “We’re trying to stretch the concept of what breakfast can be.”
Creole Coffee Co. 1216 Turner St., Lansing 7 a.m. -2 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday- Sunday (517) 371-1361, thecreolelansing.com