March 12 2014 12:00 AM

Steakhouse Philly Bar & Grill


Correction: Due to a reporting error, an inaccurate quote named the river adjacent to the Steakhouse Philly Bar & Grill as the Grand River. It is the Red Cedar River.

After 20 months and a $200,000 interior/exterior overhaul, Steakhouse Philly Bar & Grill opened this week on Lansing’s east side. Since 1967, the building was home to the Best Steak House, a diner that intown closed in summer 2012 for the massive revamp, which includes a full bar and a new menu.

“This was something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” said Demo Tassopoulos, who co-owns/ operates the business with his brother, Andy Tassopoulos. “Times had changed and people had different expectations. I think this is something that’s going to appeal to a wider range of people.”

The original layout included an open kitchen and a cafeteria-style set up, where you picked out your cut of steak, type of potato and built your salad as you slid your tray down a line. That’s all gone, replaced with hardwood half walls, a new bar with a full liquor selection, a new enclosed kitchen and a carryout area.

It looks completely different, but Tassopoulos said he had no idea the process would take that long.

“We ran into one problem after another,” he said. “This building was constructed in the late ’50s, so there were all kinds of surprises when we started digging in. We had issues installing our new (oven) hood, and when the (Red Cedar River) flooded last September it took out our brand new floor, so we had to start over there.”

The new look comes with a new menu as well. Most of the steaks are gone, except for the ribeye and sirloin, which he called “the foundation” of his customer base.

“Originally this was a factory town, so our menu was just meat and potatoes,” he said. “Beef prices are so high now, so our menu focuses on something we had come to be known for in recent years — our Philly cheesesteaks.”

The Steakhouse Philly comes with marinated steak, sauted onions, provolone on buttered bread, served with either hand-cut fries or the homemade potato skins. Variations on the theme include the Greek Philly (with gyro meat and tzatziki sauce), Windy City Philly (with spicy Italian sausage) and the self explanatory Bacon, Egg and Cheese Philly.

The new liquor license has enabled them to get creative on that front as well. The house drink is the Spartini, a green drink (just in time for St. Patrick’s Day) made with citrus vodka, Midori, sour mix and Sprite.

After being closed for nearly two years, Tassopoulos said pent-up demand has led to a rush of customers, causing some hiccups this week.

“We’ve had 47 years of loyal customers, and they’ve been patient as we’ve been figuring things out” he said. “We’ve been busy as hell since we reopened on Monday. I can’t believe people stuck with us. They’re happy we’re finally open. I am too.”

Steakhouse Philly Bar & Grill 3020 E. Kalamazoo St. Lansing 11 a.m.-late (based on business) (517) 337-2210 steakhousephilly