April 10 2013 12:00 AM

Old Town General Store


Old Town’s going old school in a few weeks when the Old Town General Store gets up and running. Owner/operator Maria Van Atta will soon launch her debut solo enterprise next to Preuss Pets, near the corner of Grand River Avenue and Cedar Street.

The Old Town General Store moved into the slot previously occupied by Redhead Design Studio, which slid down the block last year into Gene Townsend’s Walker Building. The 1,400-square-foot store was in pretty good shape, but Van Atta still did a little sprucing up, including refinishing the wood floors, upgrading the windows, converting the cabinet area into open-air retail space and leveling the courtyard out back.

“That’s going to be such a cool area when I’m done with it.” Van Atta said. “We’re going to put crushed limestone down in the middle, build a stage in the back for live performances and doing some planting around the perimeter.”

The space will also be used to display outdoor art in the summertime as part of the First Sunday Gallery Walk. There’s no room inside for art, with most of the wall space taken up with, you know, retail stuff. Van Atta will soon begin stocking a full supply of Michigan-based goods, including Eden Foods, Zingerman’s breads and gelatos, and a variety of Michigan beers, wines and ciders.

“It’s been a lot of fun finding these small vendors who are passionate about what they do,” she said. “I’m really excited to help them get their products in front of more people.”

The centerpiece of the front area is a register counter made from wormy maple, which Van Atta had commissioned specifically for the store.

“This is definitely my favorite part,” she said, running her hand across the top. “Everything has come together so well here. The building was a good deal, it was in good shape and the timing’s been right for everything. I’m really looking forward to this.”

New Okemos restaurant coming

Also later this month, fledgling restaurateur Chris Roelofs and his partner will unveil their concept Italian restaurant, Tannin, in the former Coffee and Friends Café location, 5100 Marsh Rd. Suite C in Okemos. Roelofs, who helped launch Gracie’s Place in Williamston five years ago, said that Tannin will feature “inspired twists on Italian favorites,” a “contemporary atmosphere” and “creative cocktails.”

“And we’re going to make own sangria,” he said. “It’s going to be an incredible casual fine dining concept. It’s really going to add a lot to the local dining scene.”

For up-to-date information, look for them on Facebook or go to tanninofokemos.com.

Local business looking for new owner

Gellocake owner Lilian Chavira is looking for someone to take over her 5-year-old dessert business. Chavira and her husband are moving later this year, and they’re selling their home, which is where she runs Gellocake. Chavira installed a $20,000 commercial-grade kitchen into the Okemos home so she could work from home.

Gellocake, as the name implies, is dedicated to gelatin-based specialty “cakes,” perfect for anyone looking for alternative to grain-based desserts.

Enterprising confectionary moguls can contact Chavira at (517) 402-1462 or (517) 381-5054.

Old Town General Store
408 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing
9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
(517) 487-6847