March 22 2017 02:31 PM
TimeOut Play Café is a new business model combining an activity space for preschool-age children and a social hub for parents. It is scheduled to open early next month in East Lansing.
Allan I. Ross/City Pulse

When Pete Counseller signed the lease recently on a second location for his downtown Lansing bakery, Glazed and Confused, he was presented with a distinct restriction: He couldn’t do lunch. The new store, located in the shopping plaza on the southwest corner of Coolidge and Lake Lansing roads in northwest East Lansing, would be too close to a new Jimmy John’s shop, so the building’s owner built a no-compete clause into the agreement. Counseller, a resourceful entrepreneur, took it in stride.

“So we’re doing breakfast instead,” he said. “It actually worked out great, because there’s a real need for a made-from-scratch breakfast restaurant in town. I don’t think people know what they’ve been missing.”

The new location, due to open April 3, will feature a menu loaded with breakfast staples such as biscuits and gravy, eggs benedict and French toast, albeit prepared with Glazed and Confused’s signature flair. The French toast will be done in the bananas Foster style and served with a house-made butter rum syrup. Counseller worked with a local butcher to create a special sausage blend that’s used in his sausage gravy. And all of the biscuits and English muffins will be made fresh when people order the dish.

“They only take three minutes to bake, so we’ll still be able to get everything out in under five minutes,” Counseller said. “At breakfast, you don’t want to be sitting around waiting for your meal. You just want to eat.”

Of course, all of Glazed and Confused’s regular pastries will make the move, including cake and yeast doughnuts, sticky buns, scones, muffins and cookies. The new location will also feature coffee from Old Town’s Bloom Coffee Roasters, as well as French press loose-leaf tea.

Another novelty will be the new drive-thru lane. For at least the first six months, an actual human being will stand outside, taking orders and processing payments remotely. This, Counseller said, should improve the flow.

“Those menu boards are so impersonal, and it’s hard to make up your mind when you have so many choices,” Counseller said. “And in time, I want the drive-thru to be as personable as if you’d just walked in, with the staff able to know what your order is and greeting you by name. Service is incredibly important to me.”

Hitting play

When Christine Burke moved to Michigan from Southern California five years ago, she switched career gears from corporate sales into stay-at-home mom mode. She made the decision without qualms, but soon found herself missing the company of, you know, other grownups.

“When you’re new in town, you usually meet other people at work, but I wasn’t leaving the house,” Burke said. “And my son wasn’t in daycare, so I wasn’t meeting other moms either. So purely out of frustration, I came up with this idea of a café that had a play area so that moms could get a time out from being a parent all day.”

That idea, which Burke mostly developed during a second pregnancy, will come to entrepreneurial life early next month when she opens TimeOut Play Café. It’s a new business model geared to foster the psychological well-being of both full-time parents and their children.

“Even the most loving, attentive parent in the world just needs a break every now and then to have a real adult conversation,” Burke said. “And it’s useful beyond just mental health. Sometimes you’re looking for a good pediatrician recommendation or a dance class for your daughter or just some advice. The goal is to make TimeOut into a central location for parents to meet and exchange that kind of information.”

Access to play area is $9 for the first child, $7 for each additional child. There’s a walled off area for crawlers for $4; no children over 6 are allowed in the 1,200-square-foot play area. Burke wants to avoid any kind of membership system, but might be open to some sort of rewards program somewhere down the line. She said she’s waiting to see how business goes, but based on the interest in Facebook mom groups and curious passerby, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

“I’ve got friends in California who have heard about this, waiting for me to do all the hard work to see how it turns out,” Burke said. “But yeah, if it works out, this might be the beginning of a new (franchise).”

The 1,200-square-foot café will feature coffee from Haslett-based Lucky Duck Premium Coffee, and pastries will be brought in fresh daily from Chapelure in East Lansing’s Hannah Plaza. There will also be an in-house masseuse performing neck and back massages twice a month. Both the play area and the café are shoe-free zones, and the wall-mounted hand sanitizers are there to keep germs from spreading.

TimeOut will be open weekdays only but available for birthday parties and other rental purposes on Saturdays. Burke hasn’t picked an opening date yet, but said it should be early next month.

“I can’t believe there’s not already something like this,” Burke said. “I’m just glad no one stole my idea all that time I was joking about how a place like this was needed.”

Sweet expansion

After expanding into Grand Rapids in 2014, DeWitt’s Sweetie-Licious Bakery Café is opening another location a little closer to home. Later this year, Linda Hundt will bring her famous pies to an as-yet undisclosed location in Old Town. The announcement was teased on the business’ Facebook page earlier this week, but Hundt did not return a call by press time. More details to come.

Glazed and Confused (tentatively opens April 3)
1595 W. Lake Lansing Road Suite 100, East Lansing
6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
(517) 253-7194,

TimeOut Play Café (opens early April)
2650 E. Grand River Ave. Unit A, East Lansing
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday (available Saturdays for private parties)
(517) 253-7194, timeoutplaycafe. com

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