Payback’s a gift
|By Joe Torok|
New restaurateur aims to offer positive atmosphereJulie Sangster, owner of Julie Joe’s, prides herself on many things — opening a new restaurant, buying Michigan-made products, helping those in need and providing excellent customer service. But it’s the hogs around her south Lansing Italian and Mexican restaurant that first get your attention.
Decked out in Harley-Davidson paraphernalia and colors — orange paint dominates, checkered with white squares on the floor and set off against black nearly everywhere else — Julie Joe’s has the air of a good-spirited bike rally.
“It’s all made fresh here in the store. I make dough everyday — there’s my dough machine right there," she says, pointing to a giant orange-painted mixer in the back of the kitchen. "I make pizza sauce about three times a week." She even grates her own cheese.
Pizza dough is tossed by hand, and the ensuing pie ($11.20 for a 16-inch) can be topped with a choice of more than 15 items ($2.50 each on a large). Specialty pizzas abound, and a taco pizza embodies the fusion that is Julie Joe’s.
On the day of our interview, local food supplier salesmen made themselves at home in the kitchen, whipping samples, taking supply orders and chatting with Sangster about everything from vintage streamline trailers to hot rod magazines.
Securing funds proved difficult, but a friend offered to loan Sangster, then unemployed, the seed money she needed, and she leapt headfirst into the project, opening her business Jan. 19. Friends and strangers helped her secure equipment, provided the labor to renovate the building and offered the companionship that kept her sane as she navigated bumpy terrain. Now she wants to pay everybody back. "I want them to absorb the atmosphere, the positive atmosphere that’s here," she says,
It’s hard not to.
Julie Joe’s, 2515 E. Jolly Road, Lansing. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. (517) 977-9415.
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Beat the crowds on Valentine’s Day by taking your sweetie out to eat a few days early. Carrabba’s restaurant, in Delta Township, offers Dal Cuore (from the heart) nights tonight and Thursday, when canoodling couples can choose from a fixed-price menu that consists of an appetizer, main dish and dessert for under $20. Select wines will also be for sale at $10 off the regular price. Dal Cuore diners will also be eligible to win any number of prizes, including an Italian holiday for two. 6540 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. (517) 323-8055 - Joe Torok