MARCH 3, 2004
Arbor’s famed Hippie Hash comes to Lansing
For those of you who wish Lansing had more great hangout joints like
Ann Arbor, this news is going to make you happy. The Fleetwood Diner,
serving “Hippie Hash” around the clock, has opened in Lansing.
And for those who don’t particularly like the Ann Arbor scene
— don’t worry. The Fleetwood, 2211 S. Cedar St. (the former
Great Lakes Diner), isn’t exactly a clone of the one in Ann Arbor,
except perhaps for the shiny stainless steel panels on the outside walls
of both restaurants.
Fleetwood comes to Lansing: George Fotiadis (center), and his business
partner, Steve Ramini, who own the legendary Fleetwood Diner in
Ann Arbor, and Fotiadis’ wife, Sonya Pake, have moved to Lansing
to launch a branch of the Fleetwood at 2211 S. Cedar St., former
home of the Great Lakes Diner. Like its namesake, Lansing’s
own Fleetwood is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2211 S. Cedar, (517) 267-7606
Open 24 hours, cash only; Fleetwood fan page, at http://jim.rees.org/fleet
of the Ann Arbor hippie restaurant goes back to the post-World War II
period, when a steel and porcelain diner “kit” was trucked
in from the Dagwood Diner Co. of Toledo, Ohio. Opened in 1949 as the
Dagwood Diner, and renamed the Fleetwood in 1971, the little downtown
diner was also Ann Arbor’s first sidewalk cafe.
Fleetwood co-owner George Fotiadis says with 3,000 square feet, the
Fleetwood Diner in Lansing, which opened Tuesday, is three times as
large as the diner on Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, where seating can
sometimes be cramped.
“Here we’re going to have more stuff than in any other place
we ever had, because we have a lot more room,” Fotiadis, said.
Fotiadis was born in Zimbabwe, where his parents had emigrated to from
Greece in the 1970s. At age 7, Fotiadis immigrated to Michigan with
He said the Lansing menu offers additional dinner and breakfast items,
milk shakes and chocolate malts that aren’t available in Ann Arbor
or at the only other Fleetwood, which is in Ypsilanti. “At the
other locations, our main thing is the breakfast and the Hippie Hash.
Sixty-five percent of our business there is associated with ordering
something like that.”
Hippie Hash is the Fleetwood’s fabled meal, a dizzying fry-up
of shredded potatoes, onions, tomatoes and broccoli all bound together
with feta cheese and some kind of meat if you want it.
The dish’s name alludes to the origins of the Fleetwood Diner
in 1971, when it was the hangout of prophets and bums, beatniks and
hippies (John Sinclair and Bob Seger ate there) and a host of Ann Arbor
But Fotiadis says he certainly doesn’t want to re-create the image
of the Fleetwood in Lansing, because a diner can only represent the
area it’s in. “The people from Lansing will create the atmosphere.”
Fotiadis, 30, has recently moved to Lansing with his wife, Sonya Pake,
24, and business partner Steve Ramani, 31, to get the project started.
“I think we’re going to make a big change to the area.”
He hopes the Lansing Fleetwood can draw a diverse crowd form across
the area, not only due to the reputation but as a result of its menu
and service. Fotiadis has 40 people on his Lansing staff, compared with
25 in Ann Arbor and eight in Ypsilanti.
Aside from classic home-style diner meals, such as Goulash, country-fried
steak, meatloaf, and roast beef, the Fleetwood offers meet cooked on
a charcoal boiler and flaming cheese. The diner also offers homemade
soups and homemade French fries, which Fotiadis said is a “big
job.” “I’m sure nobody around here has that.”
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