Beaver leaves it

By Allan I. Ross

After a raucous two-year run in downtown Lansing’s thriving bar district, the Wild Beaver Saloon has swapped its Coyote Ugly-meets-Hooters sensibilities — and eyebrow-raising name and dress code — for a more cosmopolitan look and feel. Meet the new bar on the booming 200 block of south. Washington Square: Eden Rock.

The Beav featured female bartenders and waitstaff in barely-there cutoff jeans and lingerie slinging drinks and turning heads in a rustic mountain lodge setting. It had a male-centric, rowdy-ish vibe that was packed on the usual bar nights, but owner/operator Jerome Abood said a desire to be more “accessible” spurred him to drop that motif last month and create something new.

Some of the changes include trading out the picnic tables and carved wood tables for plush sofas and wrought iron patio furniture, and creating a softer color scheme. The upgrade also includes new uniforms, so yes, the servers will now be fully clothed. Other changes include the construction of a new tiki bar next to the roll-up garage-style door and splitting the bar into separate sides, allowing the right half to transform into a nightclub — complete with a new DJ booth — on weekends while the left side can remain laid-back. Abood says a bigger emphasis will be put on the kitchen, which had previously failed to catch on with downtown diners. If things go well at dinner, he may even enter the competitive downtown lunch fray. His new kitchen manager allowed me to try some of her homemade thin-crust pizza, tacos, and chips and salsa, which was quite tasty and seemed very promising.

“There are a lot more people coming downtown now,” says Abood. “And I think the direction we’re moving in will fit in a lot better with the crowds.”

Famous falafel

The Downtown Lansing facelift continues with the addition of Aladdin’s Express, a Middle Eastern lunch spot that opened last week at 208 S. Washington. After enjoying success with his Frandor location, owner Ali Elbast has opened a second location in the former location of Geno’s Pizzeria.

“We would have customers ask us why we didn’t come downtown closer to where they worked,” says Ali’s sister Deena Elbast, who works at the new location. “We found this store and it worked perfectly.”

Word on the street is Aladdin’s is a solid hit, filling the void left by Byblos, which shuttered three years ago, and giving the nearby Sultan’s Express a run for its hummus and tabouili.

“Our falafel is the best in town,” says Elbast. “No question.”

Fresh eats

A new Subway restaurant opened this week at the corner Michigan Avenue and Marshall Street in Lansing near Sparrow Hospital. The popular fast food franchise is nestled into the ground floor of The Gillespie Co’s $1.4 million mixed use project, which will have about a dozen apartments overhead. About 2,000 square feet of additional commercial space is still available on the first floor.

Raising some dough

In the wake of my report two weeks ago about the legal woes for Korner Krust (formerly Great Harvest Bread Co.), the handwritten note from former owner Drew Klovens is down and a notice of public auction has been taped in the window. According to the post, next Monday, June 4, representatives for Ingham County “will sell at Public Auction all of the right, title and interest in and to” the bakery. It was signed by Gene Wriggelsworth, Ingham County sheriff.