When Igor Jurkovic told us last week that he was shutting down Iggy’s In Convenience, his grocery store inside Lansing City Market, to concentrate on “other projects,” he wasn’t quite ready to announce what those ventures might be. But just one week later, the downtown Lansing restaurateur/entrepreneur has already unveiled one of them: Big Daddy’s lil Donuts, a food truck serving freshly made mini-doughnuts, coffee and cider. The mobile donut shop started slinging its goods near the South Grand Parking Ramp Saturday. And now Jurkovic is ready to dish on his new café, Kavana Nitro Coffee House, which will be opening downtown just after the holidays.
“Honestly, they both happened a whole lot faster than I thought they would,” Jurkovic said. “I’d been waiting for approval from the health department for the food truck, and that happened very quickly. With the coffeehouse, we just need to finalize a few things as far as the location, and then that will be ready to go. Sometimes things just come together.”
The two new businesses will join the region’s growing number of high-end, fast-casual breakfast options. Pastry lovers already have two options in downtown Lansing — Whipped, 216 S. Washington Square and Glazed and Confused, 107 S. Washington Square — and Williamston residents can get their morning sugar fix at Groovy Donuts, 313 E. Grand River Ave., which also supplies sweets for Bloom Coffee Roasters, 1236 Turner St. in Old Town.
“The difference with our doughnuts is that they’re made to order, so you really get that freshness,” Jurkovic said. “And being a food truck gives us a lot more options of where we can be. One day we can set up downtown, the next day out on the west side. We plan to experiment to see where we’re most needed, and we’ll always be updating our Facebook page with our location.”
Craft coffee brewer Strange Matter Coffee Co., 2001 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing’s Eastside Neighborhood, also recently threw its hat in the confectionery ring. It crowdsourced over $40,000 to launch a scratch bakery for craft doughnuts when it moves into its new East Town digs across the street next year. Last summer, it introduced Lansing to the concept of nitro coffee — also featured on Blue Owl Coffee Co.’s coffee bike — an idea that Jurkovic is expanding into an entire café with Kavana.
“Nitro coffee is creamy and a little sweet, served cold out of a tap, just like beer,” Jurkovic said. “It’s also got a lot more caffeine in each serving from the way that the (nitrous oxide) interacts with the beans. When you pour it, it cascades, just like Guinness, and it has a foamy top. It’s incredible to see and has an amazing flavor.”
Jurkovic will get his beans from Old Town’s Rust Belt Roastery, which uses a vintage wood-fired roaster. When it opens early next year, Kavana — the name comes from the Croatian word for coffeehouse — will feature five coffee taps as well as a sixth tap for cold-brewed black tea. Jurkovic is still finalizing the location, but it will be within walking distance for downtown workers.
“I want it to be the kind of place where people can stop by on their way to work in the morning but also sit and hang around in the afternoon,” Jurkovic said. “This will be the only (downtown bar) where you won’t have to think about having a designated driver when you leave.”
Creating a Ruckus
Last year, Steve Swart was one of the co-organizers of Supu Sugoi, a series of sold-out pop-up ramen events hosted by restaurants around Metro Lansing. Next week at the Avenue Café, the longtime foodie goes solo with his new pop-up, Ruckus Ramen.
“I love ramen and find that it's a fun medium for lots of different ideas,” Swart said. “The levels of preparation that go into making all the components are a work of art.”
Swart is known to many local revelers as DJ Ruckus, a stage name he adopted in 1994. Last year, he attended some pop-up dinners in Detroit, which gave him the idea to start his own ramen-themed series here in Metro Lansing. After he put some feelers out, he found Lansing Public Media Center Director Dominic Cochran — who had worked with Swart on some local artsrelated projects— was already planning a ramen pop-up with his wife, Mai.
“(They) had a clear, traditional concept in mind of what they wanted to do,” Swart said. “We collaborated, and were overwhelmed with the response.”
Swart plans to keep the set-up similar to the Supu Sugoi events but will be introducing some new appetizer courses. He will also be adding a seafood course, under the guidance of new collaborator, Chef Jesse Sweet.
“(Jesse) has a strong seafood background and is seriously upping the presentation of our cooking,” Swart said. “We also have Chef Rico Carlos and Chef James Cheskaty assisting us. James was our secret weapon in the kitchen for all the Supu Sugoi pop-ups.”
The first Ruckus Ramen event will be held Nov. 20 at the Avenue Café, 2120 E. Michigan Avenue in Lansing. Tickets are $25 and are available through online service Brown Paper Tickets. The event features two seatings, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Dinner will consist of a bowl of seafood, pork or chicken ramen and three or four small plates. Swart said another pop-up next month will focus on vegetarian options, and he said he’s “working out the details” for a permanent restaurant, with an announcement expected early next year.
“The great thing about pop-ups is you don’t have to have much of a business plan,” Swart said. “I'm just someone who likes to cook.”