Plunging market prices may seem like a weird thing to celebrate, but Lansing bar-hoppers are set to get an object lesson in economics through a set of tap handles and a nightly market crash — or five — that will be welcomed with air horns and high-fives. Jim Flora, owner/operator of the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, announced this week that he will localize his “ever-evolving happy hour” bar/restaurant concept in the downtown Lansing next year when he brings the Lansing Beer Exchange to the second floor of the Hurd Building.
“It’s fun, it’s different, and it’s something that really gets people’s adrenaline pumping,” said Matt Eyde, a principal at the Eyde Co., which owns the Hurd Building at the corner of Washtenaw Street and Washington Square. “Jim’s idea has been extremely popular in Kalamazoo, and he seems very excited to bring it to Lansing.”
Flora had initially eyed a spot inside the Knapp Centre across the street, also owned by the Eydes, but the bank of floor-to-ceiling windows and the exposed brick and I-beams inside the Hurd Building (also home to Domino’s Pizza, on the first floor) sold him on the space. The space will undergo a $1.5 million renovation to prepare for Flora’s vision, which features a 150-seat, 6,500-square-foot dining room, a 3,500-square-foot rooftop patio, two fireplaces, a bocce ball court made with real grass and an open kitchen kicking out “comfort food with a twist.” (Think upscale variations on burgers and mac and cheese.) Flora projects a spring 2017 opening, with many pieces — including the liquor license — already in place.
“Lansing is going to blow up soon, I can feel it in my bones,” Flora said. “I really think (this concept) is going to fit in perfectly with what’s there now, and bring lots more people back downtown.”
Flora opened the Kalamazoo version in 2010. He consistently draws customers from across the state thanks to the “beer exchange” concept, which works like a stock market. Low and high prices are set for each of the 28 beers on tap, and the customer price moves up and down depending on how many glasses of each beer are sold. The more that are sold, the higher the price. If a beer isn’t selling well, the price drops. Each beer also gets a special glass, so customers can keep an eye on what everyone is drinking. To make things more interesting, at random times through the night a “crash” will occur, sending all prices to their nadirs — and customers rushing to the bar, money in hand.
“Even if you already have a beer, you can’t not buy another one after a crash,” Flora explained. “And it’s completely random. Customers have come up to me telling me they’ve figured out our timing strategy, but I just tell them it’s all just luck.”
Craft beer has seen a surge in popularity nationally, and Lansing is finally catching the rising tide. Lansing Brewing Co., Ellison Brewery + Spirits, BAD Brewing Co., EagleMonk Pub & Brewery, Old Nation Brewing Co. and Ozone’s Brewhouse have all opened in the last few years, sating local beerhounds and keeping skeptics busy wondering how long the bubble will last. Even as local produces have increased, other bars — Crunchy’s, Midtown Brewing Co., HopCat, and Soup Spoon Café, to name only a few — have dedicated their taps almost exclusively to craft beer.
“I don’t think craft beer is going anywhere but up,” Flora said. “It’s very popular right now, and we try to match our food menu with that. People are very interested in high-quality, locally sourced ingredients lately, so we try to give them that.”
Flora has kept the same exeutive chef, William Kennedy, since he opened the Kalamazoo bar. He says both he and Kennedy will move to Lansing to faciliatate the opening. But it may not just be the proximity to his business he has in mind.
“I’ve spent the last year getting to know Lansing, and I’ve fallen in love with Golden Harvest,” Flora said. “And I just found out you can have a beer while you’re shopping at Horrocks (Farm Market). I can’t wait to try that.”
Arts open house
Pure Performance Arts is a new Lansing business dedicated to training children in the three main performing arts: singing, acting and dancing. From 1-3 p.m. Saturday, owner/instructor ChaDorea “Cha Cha” Robinson will host an open house at her new location in Lansing’s Eastside Neighborhood.
“I started (this business) one year ago out of my basement, and I’ve already outgrown it,” Robinson said. “This move will allow me to expand my class sizes and add new types of services.”
Saturday’s open house will include free dancing and tumbling workshops for new and prospective students, as well as a performance by Pure Perfomrance Arts’ company, made up of 10 young people between the ages of 7 and 15. There will also be free refreshments and giveaways, and registration fees will be waived for anyone who signs up that day.
“Our goal is to promote postive behaviors through artisitc outlets,” Robinson said. “There’s no limit to how far (a child) can go with performing arts if they have the right training. We’re trying to create a team of triple threats.”
Pure Performance Arts
1824 E. Michigan Ave., Ste. D, Lansing
Open House: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
Regular hours: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
(517) 489-7363, facebook.com/lansingpureperformancearts