New in town
|By Allan I. Ross|
Jonna's 2 Go & Portable Feast and FriendsThe “gateway to East Lansing” is getting a little more welcoming this week with the opening of Jonna’s 2 Go, the western-most location for a series of southeast Michigan-based convenience stores. The building is the former site of 24/7, a party store that closed last year and had been sitting vacant. Owner E.J. Jonna bought it last month and promises a hybrid carryout food/upscale liquor store, the likes of which mid-Michigan has never seen before.
“We take a lot of pride in the look of our stores and the quality of the food we serve,” Jonna said. “This isn’t just going to be a party store — it’s going to be a gourmet market.”
Jonna’s 2 Go is located at the crossroads of Michigan and Grand River avenues across from Michigan State University. This will be the seventh location for Jonna, a proud member of a long-standing family business — his father started Jonna’s Market in Detroit in 1967. The building had slowly been collecting graffiti and parking lot litter during the year it was vacant, but Jonna said that by the time he’s done, it will be “a completely new building.”
“We’re adding high-end tiles inside, green polished cement counters and a brand new, full-service kitchen,” he said. Exterior renovations are planned for later this spring, consisting of a futuristic-looking brushed steel façade. He estimates that his improvements will run over $300,000.
“I’m excited about getting this eyesore out of here,” Jonna said. “I don’t think anyone put a penny into this place in 40 years. We’re going 100 mph to change the image that this place had.”
Jonna said this would be the smallest location he’s ever moved into (the building is about 2,500 square feet; his other stores are about double that size), but he plans to make the most of the space. The kitchen will make fresh homemade pizza, pasta, breadsticks, salads and hot and cold sandwiches every day, with catering services starting this spring.
Portable Feast and Friends recently added dinners to its program on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Owner/operator Sharon Hind had promised as much when she reopened the Old Town café in February, and last week she officially partnered with the appropriately named business, Isaac’s Dinners, to expand into evening hours.
Isaac’s Dinners is the brainchild of local personal chef John Benjamin (Isaac is his middle name), who will provide Portable Feast and friends with three entrees a night, ranging in price from $8.99 to $11.99. Hind said that there will always be a vegetarian option available, in addition to traditional meat and pasta fare. All entrees come with corn bread and house salad with Benjamin’s specialty house dressing.
Hind said she met Benjamin three years ago when she was thinking of selling her business, and they recently became reacquainted through a mutual friend.
On April 8, she said Benjamin will lead a pasta-making class in the store. But next on her agenda is getting a patio set up for outdoor evening dining, which obviously will require some assistance from Mother Nature.
“It’s just been so damned cold this year,” she said. “Once it warms up, though, and people see our tables set up outside, I can see us getting really busy.”
Jonna’s 2 Go (opening soon)
Portable Feast and Friends