Jan. 16 2013 12:00 AM

Secrets Nightclub & The House of Eden Rock


Over the last couple months, downtown Lansing bars J’s Pub (formerly Brannigan Brothers), Secrets Nightclub (formerly Club X-Cel) and The House of Eden Rock (formerly the Wild Beaver Saloon) have made changes ranging from complete internal renovations to a simple change of signage. I told you about J’s Club’s transformation last month; now let’s take a look at those other two.

Tom Donell bought Club Paradise 10 years ago and transformed it into Club X-Cel. At the time, Donell — who also owns Spiral Dance and Video Bar in Old Town — said he wanted it to be a “New York- or Miami-caliber club,” but that idea never took off. Last June, Donell sold the business to Darrin Sutton, who used to do promotions for him. Donnel still owns the building; Sutton will lease the space.

“I’ve never owned a club before, and I thought this would be good practice,” says Sutton, who soon plans to open a nightclub in Chicago, where he lives. “But just because I’m a ‘black business owner,’ this isn’t going to be a ‘black nightclub.’ We’re definitely going to keep it multi-cultural and make sure everyone — blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians — gets to enjoy themselves in this beautiful space.”

Sutton is a Lansing native and graduated from Michigan State University, but says he found success in Chicago promoting parties and bars, hence the move. His brother, co-owner Ryan Woods, manages the day-to-day activities.

He said Secrets will only be open Thursday through Sunday and music will range from hip-hop to Top 40. In a neat bit of synergy, this Sunday, Secrets will provide the after show to The Loft’s comedy showcase, Chocolate Haha, and will double as a pre-party of sorts for President Obama’s inauguration the next day.

Sutton says he plans on installing new flooring in the next couple weeks in preparation for a grand opening, which he thinks will happen in early February.

Meanwhile, just down the street, the House of Eden Rock has made its third (and presumably final) name change and has settled on a subdued color scheme — darker and richer than the powder blue tiki motif it had going last year. Owner/operator Jerome Abood also recently lured chef Sean Farney from the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso to assemble an expansive new menu, allowing the former party bar to make the leap to full-time restaurant.

“We definitely want to keep the nightclub aspect, but by adding this menu, we’re able to give downtown Lansing what it really needs — another quality restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Abood said.

The menu includes a full selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées. All of them have playful names — an Asian-themed salmon burger is called Oppa Gangnam Style — and nothing on the menu is over $14. There’s also a full selection of children’s food and a $5 brunch menu, including house-made salmon gravlax (lox).

“We added the ‘House of’ to the name last month to cement the House of Blues feel we’re trying to cultivate,” says manager Andy Adamson. “We’ve changed gears big-time from when it was the Beaver. Now we’re going with a less-is-more mentality.”

Coming soon: An Old Town favorite returns and a downtown Lansing bar changes hands. Stay tuned.

Secrets Nightclub
224 S. Washington Square
10 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday
(517) 281-9502

The House of Eden Rock
205 S. Washington Square
11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday (kitchen closes at 9 p.m.)
9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (brunch ends at 5 p.m.)
(517) 374-1300