March 22 2017 02:31 PM

A look back at some Top of the Town winners who are no longer with us

Bonnie’s Place — In 2013, just one year after winning Best Burger award for the fourth year in a row, Bonnie’s Place called it quits. The menu featured more than two dozen burger options, including the Bonnie Burger (a halfpound burger topped with ham) and the Texas Burger (served open-faced and covered in chili and shredded cheese). Local cholesterol levels haven’t been the same since.

Gone Wired Café — Not so much gone as completely reimagined, this three-time Best Coffee Shop winner (2009, 2010, 2012) was transmogrified from a coffee-and-WiFi social hub into a raucous rock ‘n’ roll dive bar. Recently, the kitchen of this Eastside Neighborhood mainstay was turned over to Ruckus Ramen, specializing in authentic Japanese cuisine. Bet those crusty punks never saw that coming.

The Edge 94.1 — In 2015, Lansing radio listeners finally found out what “alternative” music was the alternative to: classic country! Despite winning Best Radio Station in 2014, The Edge was rebranded as Duke FM the following year, and the mosh pit was officially supplanted by line dancers. Following this reactionary theme, sometime around the year 2020, the station will turn into an all-Dixieland jazz format.

Emil’s Restaurant — One of Lansing’s longest-running eateries, Emil’s Restaurant took home the award for Best Italian Restaurant in 2010 and 2009, a testimony to the loyalty the restaurant enjoyed even after it was past its heyday. The bar and restaurant traced its roots back to 1921, when Emil DeMarco opened a fruit stand on Michigan Avenue that gradually evolved into an Italian restaurant of the old school, with maps of Italy on the wall, red vinyl booths and an endless supply of unfussy, pre-artisanal, meatball-centric pasta dishes. The (unproven) legend that Al Capone ate there while in hiding from the Feds at Lake Lansing in the 1930s made the chicken diablo taste even more diabolical. Emil’s closed in 2015. The building, along with most of the 2000 block of Michigan Avenue, was razed last year to make room for the Venue at East Town, an upcoming Gillespie Co. mixed-use development.

The Irish Pub — The Irish Pub was a St. Paddy’s Day staple for over 30 years, earning City Pulse’s Best Pub/Tavern award in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Alas, that goodwill wasn’t good enough to keep the business going, and the final hurrah for this west side hangout was (fittingly) on St. Patrick’s Day 2013. Shortly after it closed, it was bought by Grand Ledge resident Jeremy Werner, who had hoped to have it reopened within a few months. Obviously that never happened, but just this week he said progress was made to secure new financing. You can’t keep a good pub down.

Goodrich’s Shop-Rite — Known for its formidable wine and beer selection and meat counters, East Lansing grocer Goodrich’s Shop- Rite wasn't the glitziest market in town, but it may have been the most beloved. Staffers and customers stayed loyal for half a century or more. Mainstays like "Dr. Beef" (Dave Lindemann) and wine buyer/co-owner Steve Scheffel read customers' minds, packing their orders before they even walked in the door. Rising rents, the rise of upscale chain markets and changing tastes caught up with Goodrich's, but it lasted long enough to take home awards for Best Butcher and Best Local Grocery Store in 2008 and Best Wine Shop in 2009. The store closed its doors for good in 2014 after 76 years of business in the Lansing area. Midwest grocery chain Fresh Thyme moved into its old digs on Trowbridge Road in 2015.

BoarsHead Theatre — The BoarsHead lived up to its grand Shakespearean appellation by virtue of big-city ambition and largerthan-life players, none larger than its founder, actor/director John Peakes, and his brilliant successor, actor/director Kristine Thatcher. The leading force in Lansing’s theater scene for over 40 years and the region's only Actor's Equity theater, BoarsHead worked miracles in a converted car dealership in downtown Lansing, mounting new plays and venerated classics with gutsy professionalism. Actor John Hurt and several other movie and theater luminaries got their start at BoarsHead, but the glory of BoarsHead flowed from the many gifted players who stayed local, sharing their gifts with the community through a succession of hard financial times. BoarsHead took home the award for Best Local Theatre Group in 2008 and 2009, just before the company folded in 2009, citing financial hardships.