Dec. 31 2014 12:00 AM
Coffee grounded
It was a good year for local java junkies. Strange Matter Coffee Co., 2001 E. Michigan Ave., opened in Lansing’s newly (re)named East Town neighborhood. And two new “micro-roasters” started cranking out bags of beans to local restaurants and specialty retail shops: Bloom Coffee Roasters and Rust Belt Roastery, both in Old Town.

That’s the spirit
The micro-distillery Sanctuary Spirits, 902 E. Saginaw Highway, opened inside Grand Ledge’s homebrew supply store, Red Salamander. (Its Spirit of the Maple liqueur is distilled from maple syrup — a mid- Michigan original and a musttry). And the tasting room for another micro-distillery, Red Cedar Spirits, 2000 Merritt Road in East Lansing, opened in the summer. There are two more micro-distilleries scheduled to open in Lansing in 2015. Stay tuned for more info on those.

Just for laughs
When Connxtions Comedy Club closed last spring, it left a hole in mid- Michigan for nationally touring standup comedians. But that hole ha been filled by two new comedy clubs: In Charlotte, the Stock Yard BBQ, 1820 Lansing Road, got an interior overhaul to become the Comedy Zone, a 160-seat club. And after a brief run with comedy hosting in the mid-‘00s, Tripper’s, 350 Frandor Ave. in Lansing Township’s Frandor Shopping Plaza, gets back into the funny business this weekend with its 3,000-square-foot Tripper’s Comedy Club.

New eats
Black Cat Bistro,
115 Albert Ave., is a scratch Nuevo Latino menu that’s continuing a recent movement to bring high-end sit-down dining back to downtown East Lansing. Tabooli, 1620 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, introduced a build-your-own concept, a la Chipotle or Subway, to Middle Eastern cuisine on Lansing’s east side. The fledgling Capital City Food Court at the corner of Oakland and Cedar streets launched three food truck businesses, two of which have since morphed into standalone eateries: Michael O’s Food Truck, a mobile food cart focusing on smoked meats and sandwiches relocated to Old Town; Good Truckin’ Food became Good Truckin’ Diner in REO Town, which serves scratchmade breakfast and lunch featuring many locally sourced ingredients; and Detroit Frankie’s Wood-Fired Pizza — the founder of the feast, featuring pizzas made from scratch and fired in a brick oven — became Tignanelli’s Pizza and Italian in the Lansing City Market, 325 Market Place Drive. Also new in Lansing City Market: For Crêpe Sake, which features four kinds of batters and offering distinct breakfast and lunch crêpe sandwiches). Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n´ Cheez, 547 E. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing, is the third location for this Detroit-based chain that offeres soups, salads, wraps and 14 styles of macaroni and cheese. Meanwhile, Tom Chee, 123 S. Washington Square, Lansing, kept the fast-casual comfort food supply coming. The Cincinnati-based chain features a menu of creative takes on grilled cheese sandwiches and soups. Down the street, The Black Rose, 206 S. Washington Ave., formerly connected to the defunct Edmund’s Pastime, opened, just in time for Silver Bells in the City. The space is the former location for Tavern on the Square, which became Tavern and Tap when it moved up to the corner, 101 S. Washington Square, former home of Edmund’s. Catch all that? Downtown Lansing lost two businesses with small but dedicated fan bases: Decker’s Coffee (aka Cup of Dessert) and Ted-Dee’s Sandwich Shop closed within months of each other — but those buildings didn’t stay empty for long. In July, the 21st location for the Lansingbased Jersey Giant sub shop, 220 S. Washington Square, opened in the former Decker’s location, and Lou & Harry’s, 119 S. Washington Square took over Ted- Dee’s’ old digs. On East Lansing’s north side, Lou & Harry’s Sports Bar closed, and the new owners moved in with the Chandler Taphouse, 16800 Chandler Road. They switched the concept from a high-energy sports bar to a family friendly restaurant with a full dinner menu, including steak, fish, chicken and pasta dishes. Front 43 Neighborhood Pub, 3415 E. Saginaw St., Lansing, features 20 draft beers. The 1,200-square-foot space accommodates 40 seats, not including the patio. The menu was a central conceit — the gastropub concept relies heavily on nontraditional bar snacks, including mussels, calamari and three-cheese mac and cheese. After 20 months and a $200,000 interior/exterior overhaul, East Lansing’s Best Steak House reopened as Steakhouse Philly Bar & Grill, 3020 E. Kalamazoo St. Lansing, under the same ownership. The new set-up includes a full bar and a new menu.

Back for seconds
Some businesses did so well they launched second locations this year. Old Town snack shop Cravings Popcorn opened its second location, 1871 W. Grand River Ave. “This is the result of buying local, shopping local,” owner/ operator Chad Jordan said. Mert’s Meats on the Avenue, 1629 E. Michigan Ave., opened in June as the satellite location for Mert’s Specialty Meats in Okemos.