Last week, Justin Hartig opened the second location for his DeWitt-based coffeehouse, the Crafted Bean, near downtown Lansing. The new café will have a food truck parked outside a couple days a week, serving up inventive waffle creations.
One year after opening his rockabilly-themed specialty café, the Crafted Bean Coffee Co. in DeWitt, Justin Hartig’s second location had its debut just outside downtown Lansing last Friday. Hartig spent the last five months building out the ground floor of developer Pat Gillespie’s Willis Building. Work included putting in a bar, adding a giant bench to one wall, and giving the walls a cinema-themed urban punk aesthetic.
“Lansing has more of a connection to movies, so I wanted to express that with the look,” Hartig said. “There’s a different vibe there than in DeWitt, and I wanted to make sure that this location stands on its own.”
Visitors can now stare down the barrel of “Dirty Harry” Calhoun’s gun, wondering if they do indeed want to make his day, as they place their orders at the counter. On the far wall, Walter from “The Big Lebowski” proudly declares he’s going to finish his coffee. And a mural of coffee tree limbs subtly ties the room together with a red, green and brown color scheme.
Hartig introduced the Lansing area to the idea of coffee cocktails, non-alcoholic coffeebased drinks utilizing creative mixers such as grass-fed butter, raw honey and organic peanut butter. That tradition will continue at the new location, with several Lansing-only creations. Hartig will also park his street waffle food truck, Press, outside two days a week, providing specialty food options.
Meanwhile, just down the street, Cara Nader permanently closed her first Strange Matter Coffee Co. location on Sunday, in preparation for a big move across the street. She’ll expand her 3 ½-year-old specialty café in the ground floor of the recently completed Venue at East Town mixed-use development. Besides the ability to accommodate more customers, the new space will allow Nader to follow through on a dream she’s had for a while: making doughnuts.
“This is something I’ve thought about even before the opening of the original location,” Nader said. “Many places I’ve worked at and managed prior to Strange Matter have run successful bakery operations, and I’ve always enjoyed baking as a hobby in my spare time.”
Nader hired a pastry chef, Victoria Bailey, to develop a line of vegan offerings, and Nader will complement those items with non-vegan selections, including selections that use kid’s breakfast cereal and Space Doughnuts, which look like tiny toroid-shaped chunks of the cosmos. And as for the proximity to the Crafted Bean, Nader said she welcomes Hartig.
“I wouldn’t consider our relationship as a ‘rivalry,’ friendly or otherwise,” Nader said. “I feel 100 percent like we could drink beer together, and have a good time as humans, which is usually my decider for people. I think there is enough of a difference for us both to thrive in the area.”
The flagship restaurant of the local Tabooli micro-chain closed last week. In 2014, the fast casual Mediterranean restaurant took over the digs of a former KFC at 1620 E. Michigan Ave., and inspired two subsequent locations, in East Lansing and on Lansing’s west side. An employee at the East Lansing restaurant confirmed the Michigan Avenue location was closed for good, but neither of the co-owners, Fathy and Mohamed Shetiah, could be reached for comment.
The Crafted Bean
800 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday- Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (517) 977-0550, craftedbeanvip.com
Strange Matter Coffee Co. (opens Monday, Jan. 15) 2010 E. Michigan Ave.
Ste. #103, Lansing 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday- Friday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday strangemattercoffee.com