New in town
|By ALLAN I. ROSS|
Lamai's Kitchen / I ScreamLansing diners are going to have to find a new place to find their pad thai next week — Lamai’s Thai Kitchen, 2033 E. Michigan Ave. closes Saturday. After an eight-year run in Old Town, owner/operator Lamai Feighner moved her restaurant to Lansing’s East Side in October 2004, but a combination of factors — including unpaid back rent — led to shattering the little restaurant.
“I love to cook, and I’m going to miss it,” Feighner said. “I don’t know anything else, but I’ll find something to do.”
Her son, Mike Feighner, a construction worker, has been helping out between projects. However, with the summer season heating up, he’ll be heading back to work soon.
“It’s just getting to be too much for her to do by herself, and I hate seeing her work that hard,” he said. “I just wish we could have figured something else out.”
One of the plans almost involved a newcomer who wanted to carry on Lamai’s mantle, without Lamai at the helm. Andon Grieve-McSweeney, 29, has worked at several mid-Michigan restaurants, including Soup Spoon Café, Dusty’s Cellar and the defunct Travelers Club. He approached Lamai Feighner last month about taking over and letting her stay on as an employee. But he said the landlord nixed that idea.
“I was originally going to buy Lamai’s equipment, take care of her back rent and slide into her lease, but it just got really complicated,” Grieve-McSweeney said. “There are issues about who owns the equipment and damages to the building that need to be taken care of, so the landlord is going to take care of that before I can move in.”
Grieve-McSweeney, who works in the kitchen at Mitchell’s Fish Market, said that his superiors are aware of his plans and are accommodating him. He said that if he does make the move, he plans to keep the menu Thai, incorporating farm-to-table methods and slowly expanding the kitchen over time. He said that the kitchen is set up with wok stations, and would require the purchase of a range if he wanted to incorporate non-Asian fare.
Lamai’s won for Best Asian Food in the City Pulse Top of the Town Awards in 2009 and was a runner-up two other times. Although things are ending on a bittersweet note for Feighner, she remained upbeat.
“The customers made it worth it,” she said. “I loved cooking for them and getting to know them. Who knows — this may not be the end.”
We’ve probably seen the last of the snow, which is good news for one of DeWitt’s newest businesses, I Scream. Max Dalman, 21, recently opened the little ice cream store, which he’s running in collaboration with his parents.
“My dad retired early, and we were thinking about dealing with investment properties,” Dalman said. “But it looks like ice cream was my calling.”
Dalman, who has been in the food service industry since he was 16, took the semester off from Lansing Community College to open the store. He said he and his parents were originally lined up to buy a local ice cream parlor, but then decided to build from the ground up instead.
I Scream serves Hudsonville and Homemade Brand ice cream and Energy Smoothie Boost, a brand from Albion. Dalman said they will soon be famous for their Screamers (I Scream’s version of a Blizzard) as well as the homemade ice cream sandwiches called, fittingly, Screamwiches.