June 12 2013 12:00 AM

Nationwide Gold and Silver Exchange / Zoobie's Old Town Tavern


Nationwide Gold and Silver Exchange, a new concept jewelry store, opens later this week at 500 E. Oakland Ave. in Lansing. Gary Ganakas is part of a management team that owns the building and co-creator of the Nationwide concept, which will focus on mid- to low-priced new and used jewelry. He said this is the first of what he hopes to be a chain of stores in Michigan and Florida.

“What we’re trying to do is bridge a gap between pawnshops and retail jewelers,” he said. “We found that there was an area in between where we could sell new and used jewelry for someone on a medium-sized or small budget.”

Ganakas’ team also owned the Augie’s Broasted Chicken and Arby’s restaurants that previously occupied the building. He said the team also owns two more Arby’s restaurants in the area. Augie’s opened in August 2011 and lasted seven months. He said about half of the 3,200-square-foot building will be used for Nationwide, with the rest being dedicated to online retail business.

“We like the neighborhood, we’ve been around for awhile, and we wanted to make a nice place for people to buy nice things and not have to pay the three to four times upcharge of high-end retail jewelers,” he said. “This corner is valuable in the community, and we had a lot of interested parties looking at it. I think Nationwide is going to be a great fit here.”

Newbies at Zoobie’s

After closing in 2009, Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, 611 E. Grand River Ave. in Lansing´s Old Town district, is set to re-open with new owners — and a new look — next Monday. The owners announced the grand re-opening date on the bar’s Facebook wall last week.

The 1,500-square-foot bar has been around since 1933 and has undergone a few name changes, but co-owner Sam Short said he and his management team wanted to keep the name bestowed on it by its most recent owner.

“We liked the name Zoobie’s, and we really love the space,” Short said. “It has such a historic feel, and it allowed us to do something we love to do — save a beautiful old building with a wonderful history. It would be a travesty if we didn’t keep buildings like these around.”

Short said he and his co-owners — Alan Hooper of Triterra Realty Group and Aaron Matthews of the Clark Hill Law Firm, both in Old Town — wanted to restore the building to its original state. This involved tearing away the plaster walls and tile floors to get back to the wood, which he estimated took about two months of work. Other changes included a new roof and HVAC system, updated windows and bathrooms, “significant” entryway work and the piece de resistance: the restoration of the bar’s vintage Sputnik-inspired neon sign.

“I really have to hand it to Mel at Falcon Signs (in Haslett),” Short said. “It looks phenomenal. It’s such an iconic symbol in Old Town, and it’s great to see it all lit up again.”

The grand opening will have drink specials — including the first drink only costing a penny — and will introduce the bar’s newly formed wine and beer clubs.