Emil's building for sale -- or is it?

By Allan I. Ross

The oldest restaurant in Lansing may be on the bubble. According to a local real estate website, the building that is home to Emil’s Restaurant, 2012 E. Michigan Ave., is for sale. For a scant $450,000, you could be the new landlord of a landmark location, wood paneling and all.  

The website identified Musselman Realty Co. as the company representing the sale. A spokesman for Musselman, who asked that his name be withheld, says that the real estate firm is conducting a “discreet marketing program.”

He said that his firm is “targeting specific buyers” and was concerned that this story could “negatively impact business,” adding that “this is a very sensitive matter.” 

Presumably, selling the building would mean the end of Emil’s. But when contacted for comment, Paul Grescowle, the grandson of the original owners who runs the day-to-day operations at Emil’s, wouldn’t confirm anything. He said it is the building next door which is for sale, and that is owned by his mother, who also owns Emil’s itself. He also asked that we refrain from running this story, implying that it would stir up much ado about nothing. Can’t do that, but I will remind everyone about the awesome all-you-can-eat spaghetti-and-meatballs on Tuesdays. 

Fabiano’s building may be changing owners

Down the street, an owner of  another old-line Lansing business, Fabiano’s Candies, 1427 E. Michigan Ave., was surprised to learn the building it rents is for sale.

 “That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Steve Blair, when contacted for comment. “We have the first right of refusal on a new owner. We’re going to be the building owners if the building is indeed up for sale.”

David Barone, an agent for Coldwell Banker Hubbell Briarwood, confirmed the building is up for sale, and says that he is “working for the trustee” of former building owner Ralph Spagnuolo, who  passed away. 

Fabiano’s has been a Lansing sweets staple since 1935. It had several locations around town until Blair said everything was “condensed” into the Michigan Avenue location in 2007-‘08.

Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee closes in downtown Lansing

The following message appeared on the website of Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee, 500 E. Michigan Ave.: 

“We are sad to inform our Lansing customers that we are closing the Lansing location on Saturday, April 28. When we moved into Lansing we were expecting to be located with additional retailers. When the economy crashed the additional spaces filled up with offices. Although we have appreciated all our customers from the Stadium District building and Lansing we have never been able to attract the amount of traffic that we had projected for the location. It has become too expensive for us to remain, we must now move on with great sadness. We will miss you all and thank you for being a part of our lives these last few years.”

Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee opened in summer 2008 in the Stadium District. The company still maintains other Michigan locations in Ann Arbor and Sturgis, as well as Kimberly, Wis., and Angola, Ind. The owners did not return calls for further comment. 

Downtown MBC not part of Webberville closing 

Just to be clear: MBC Downtown Lansing is open for business — as well as I know, since I work there.

“My lips are chapped from repeating myself,” says Marc Wolbert, general manager of MBC Downtown Lansing, which has been open since August 2009. “I’ve had people showing up looking for [Michigan Brewing Co. owner] Bobby Mason and I just tell them this is a separate business and that he never comes down here. He’s out there.”

He pauses, then adds: “Well, there is no ‘out there’ anymore.”

Last week the Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville was evicted by the building’s owner. Immediately, attention turned to the downtown Lansing bar under the mistaken notion that its operators might be able to answer some questions. Who’s calling? 

“Media, concerned individuals, people who have parties booked out there,” says Wolbert. “Nobody’s bothered to tell them what’s going on.” 

Michigan Brewing Co., Wolbert says, is an umbrella company that includes Celis Brewing Co., American Badass Brewing Co. (which produces Kid Rock’s signature beer, Badass American Lager), and several Detroit-area breweries and liquor distilleries. He says that MBC Downtown Lansing is not one of those spokes (“It’s more like the crook of the handle.”), nor is it even a traditional brewpub, but what he calls an “annexed tasting room.” It operates under the similarly named MBC Lansing management company, which is owned by Ernie St. Pierre, who also owns the building (including the apartments above MBC, where Wolbert has his office). However, he is adamant that the Michigan Brewing Co. has no sway in what happens at MBC Downtown Lansing. 

“This is a symbiotic relationship the way we’re set up,” he says. “If we succeed, they succeed, because we’re constantly advertising. They don’t need us to survive, but it makes them better if we do.”

(Allan I. Ross is a contributing writer for City Pulse. His column will appear occasionally. He’s at allan@lansingcitypulse.com.)