New in town
|By Allan I. Ross|
P Squared Wine BarDowntown Lansing already seems to have a little bit of everything: high-end dining, casual dining, Mexican, Middle Eastern, a brewpub — man, you can even get sushi down there now. The market, you’d think, has reached critical mass. But then again, you’re not one of the two guys named Paul who still saw something missing.
“Last September, we were doing the wine country trails in West Michigan, and we realized that there wasn’t a wine bar in Lansing,” says Paul Bussard, 30, one of the owners of P Squared Wine Bar, which opened Monday. “So we started with that thought, did some research and started putting ideas together. The business grew naturally out of that.”
Bussard’s partner is his longtime friend Paul Fox, 30, a restaurant man who honed his chops as a manager at the Cracker Barrel. Bussard’s background is in business, so between the two of them, opening a restaurant seemed like a no-brainer.
“As we’ve seen downtown Lansing develop, we’ve always known that we wanted to be a part of it,” Bussard says. “We believe in downtown and think this will be a great addition to it.”
The name, he says, is derived from a nickname the duo earned years ago (“P-squared” is easier — and more fun — to say than “Paul and Paul.”) Both of them love wine and had a very specific goal in mind as they created P Squared.
“We just want to make people comfortable around wine,” Bussard says. “The more you learn, the more you enjoy. We’re here to teach people about wine and continue to learn ourselves. We’re bringing it down to street level.”
But please don’t confuse that with “dumbing down.” Bussard and Fox have developed an iPad app that allows diners to enter the types of wine they like and what kind of food they’ll order, which will be paired with an appropriate bottle or glass. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process, which in this case could be intimidating for a wine newbie: P Squared features 100 different wines (ranging from $13 to $115 a bottle), half of which are available by the glass (in the $5-$14 range). Included in that are 20 Michigan wines, but there was lots of room on the menu for popular labels as well.
“We didn’t want a wine list of all new stuff,” Bussard said. “We made sure to include some familiar faces.”
And fear not, wine-phobes. P Squared also features 16 bottled beers, 14 of which are Michigan craft beers. There’s also Divine, a Michigan-based vodka distilled from wine grapes that is used to create some interesting wine-infused cocktails, including a unique creation that’s blended with Michigan cranberry wine. Both Pauls created the menu, based on Fox’s restaurant experience, which features a full lunch menu including pressed sandwiches, salads, small plates and soups. There’s also some lighter fare for happy hour, such as spinach-artichoke dip and cheese-and-meat plates.
“We spent a lot of time finding food to highlight the wine,” Brussard said. “We basically created the kind of place we would want to go to: relaxed, comfortable, and laser-focused on wine.”
P Squared Wine Bar