New eatery invites customers to hobnob over pizza and drinks


In fall 2022, Abigail Stellern’s father, Michael Purdum, brought his Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant chain, Old Bag of Nails, to Lansing’s Red Cedar Development.

It was the first of the family’s 19 restaurants to open outside of the Buckeye State. On April 17, Stellern launched the second, HobNob Pizza, in a 2,500-square-foot space on the first floor of the University Edge apartments, also in the Red Cedar Development.

Stellern said the eatery's name came from the idea that “anyone can get together to enjoy and share pizza.”

“Hobnob really means ‘to mix together,’ especially among different social classes and groups of people. We thought the name HobNob Pizza embodied that spirit because pizza is one of the few things people seem to have in common these days,” she said.

Staffed with six employees, the new restaurant is intended to be a primarily carryout operation, although there are a few booths available for dine-in customers. The concept was the result of a series of culinary experiments between Stellern and her mother, Tara Purdum.

“My mom's Italian, so we would often make pizzas at home when I was growing up. She’s always been a great baker and would frequently make her own bread,” Stellern said. “During COVID, kind of out of boredom, we started playing around with different variations of pizza doughs. We began homing in on what we would call the Midwest cracker-crust dough.”

This style of crust, which is thin and “cut into squares for sharing,” is reminiscent of similarly prepared Chicago tavern-style pizza.

“There's a bit of nuance there because tavern-style pizzas are made from a slightly denser dough and typically have a cornmeal bottom, whereas our Midwest cracker crust is flakier, with a little bit more of a crunch to it,” Stellern explained.

For the pizza traditionalists, HobNob also offers a New York-style crust.

“Our New York-style pizza, which is pie-cut and has fluffier edges, is another one we developed further during COVID, though we’d already been making it at home for years before that,” Stellern said. “In Lansing, the New York style has been more popular so far, which is the opposite of what we expected.”

The menu also includes salads, sub sandwiches and carryout beer and wine.

Stellern said the HobNob looks to offer a healthier take on typical Italian carryout fare.

“We make our own sauce and grind our own cheese, and a lot of that goes back to something that my mom and I are really passionate about, which is limiting the amount of preservatives and chemicals that are in your food,” she said. “I think everybody has this connotation that pizza is unhealthy, but when you have only a handful of ingredients in your dough and you're using fresh ingredients in your sauce, it’s really not.”

Stellern plans to open a second HobNob location in Upper Arlington, Ohio, once renovations are complete.






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