Batter Up Bistro is a new breakfast-and-lunch spot opening today in downtown Lansing inside the former home of 621. The menu features house-made pastries and specialty coffee drinks.
Cari DeLamielleure split most of her adult life between working the 9-to-5 grind and being a stay-at-home mom. She says she’s always been an entrepreneur at heart, though, and this week one of the talents she honed in her domestic engineering career has taken on a life of its own at Batter Up Bistro, a new breakfast/lunch spot opening today in downtown Lansing. “Years ago, I had an idea to open a coffee shop with sweets on the side, so I started experimenting with pastries at home,” DeLamielleure said. “Word started getting around, and I ended up catering a few school functions and family things. When I found out my kids were selling my cookies to their friends at school, I knew something was happening.” Those cookies, which quickly became known as “Crack Cookies” in her kids’ social circles for their addictive nature, were a sign that DeLamielleure’s cooking was fated for the masses. The cookies will grace the first version of her menu, which also features five types of house-made breads that are baked fresh daily. Also appearing are croissants, cookies, bars and torts, supported by the real heavy lifters: quichesof-the-day, buttermilk waffles and graband-go sandwiches that can be paired with salads and soups du jour. “They’re all things I’ve either learned to make myself or things I plan on getting good at,” DeLamielleure said. “And the menu’s only going to get bigger. This is just to start things off. I’ve been working on this place long enough — I decided it was finally time to just open and see what happens.” DeLamielleure moved to Lansing six years ago after she reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Jerry Jodloski, who owns Jammin’ DJs and is a co-founder of the annual How-To Halloween event. The two are now engaged and live in the upstairs loft in the building next door to Batter Up, which takes over 621’s old digs at 621 E. Michigan Ave. She had an opportunity to launch her concept in 2012 shortly after she arrived in Lansing when Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee closed in the Stadium District. Developer Pat Gillespie, whose company owns that building, had heard about DeLamielleure and that she was looking for a location for a new concept. “It didn’t work out, but two weeks later, another developer offered me this location,” DeLamielleure said. “I had another full time job, but I always kept that in the back of my head. Then last year we moved in. It’s taken a while of chipping away at my idea, but I’ve been able to take my time to perfect my recipes and get this space looking like how I had always envisioned it.” DeLamielleure and Jodloski handled the renovation work themselves, which she says was “mostly cosmetic.” Perhaps, the most striking feature is the newly restored tin ceilings, which were dry ice-blasted and hand-painted to replicate their original look from when the building was built in 1908. The couple also tweaked the bar, installed fine dining tables and furnishings and decorated the space with leaded glass and new lighting. It’s unrecognizable from its former life as a nightclub, which once also took up the space next door, now Capital City Homebrew Supply. A door now joins both businesses. “And that door will always be open,” DeLamielleure said. “They helped me set up my nitro [coffee] system and they’ve been such amazing neighbors, I want to make sure people can enjoy both places. I’m not sure how much business will go back and forth, but I think it’s nice.” The drink menu will feature a roster of hot and cold tea selections and a full line of coffee drinks. As a sign of her eccentricity, DeLamielleure plans to freeze some of the coffee into cubes to add to iced coffee drinks, which she does at home to keep her coffee from getting watered down. She said she’s working on obtaining a tavern license so she can sell wine and beer, which will feed into her second phase concept. As she gets it off the ground, Batter Up Bistro will only be open breakfast and lunch hours on weekdays, making it available nights and weekends for party and event rentals. But with craft beer and wine in tow, she plans to creep into Friday night and Saturday morning before possibly expanding to full restaurant hours. “I want to do it all now, but I have to slow myself down if I want to be solid down the line,” DeLamielleure said. “I love this city and I want to create something timeless. The key for longevity is to love what you do, so at least I’ve got that part covered.”
Chop on the block Well, the former Knight Cap won’t remain closed for long. Bowdie’s Chophouse, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Saugatuck, will open a second location at the site of the longtime Lansing eatery next month. Father-and-son team Scott and Tyler Bowdish will spend the next four weeks preparing the space for their concept. They’ll take advantage of the massive interior renovation performed by the last tenants, Leo and Gregory Farhat, another father-son partnership who closed their version of the 48-year-old Knight Cap after only two years. The Bowdie’s menu will be tight: just a shortlisted set of steak-and-seafood items and a few classic appetizers. But Tyler Bowdish, who will serve as the front-ofhouse manager, says they plan to do a lot with a little. “People drive for hours to come to our Saugatuck restaurant, and we want to bring that same level of destination dining to Lansing,” Bowdish said. “I think Lansing has been missing that.”
Batter Up Bistro 621 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday (517) 575-6717, batterupbistro.com