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Antique dealer transforms Victorian home into Mason bed-and-breakfast

Jettie Feintuch has always had a fondness for older things. Her late father, David Feintuch, had founded the Mason Antique District, transforming a dusty ex lumberyard into the collection of 10 shops with a courtyard and gazebo that she now manages.
 
Feintuch's love for all-things-antique extends from the business to home front. Last year, she turned the Victorian home where she grew up into Mason's sole bed-and-breakfast. Sharing the beauty and history of the house made sense, she says, considering the footprint of the 3,500-square foot home could easily accommodate front and back living quarters.
 
"Plus, Mason doesn't have many places for visitors to stay," says Feintuch. "There are not a whole lot of options between Lansing and Mason."
 
Feintuch began welcoming guests to the Barnes Street Bed and Breakfast at 604 S. Barnes Road late last spring. Since then, she has hosted a range of guests including the family of a local exchange student, MSU alumni in town for sporting or performing arts events, business people, antique shoppers, and couples celebrating a special anniversary.
 
Built in 1887, the home-turned-B&B serves as a gateway to another era. The original owner, Samuel J.P. Smead, had founded the Farmers Bank, now known as the Mason State Bank. He lived in the house for about a year before he died, leaving the house to his wife and daughters who lived there for more than 40 years.
 
The Feintuchs bought the house in the 1980s and continued to retain the historic character of the home. The walls still bear the original wallpaper from 1887 and many of the furnishings are antiques—some having belonged to the Smead family.
 
"That's one of the biggest selling points about staying here," says Feintuch. "While we don't have a lot of modern amenities, our guests have immediate access to history. Everything they see, touch or experience is going to be old and antique."
 
The Barnes Street B&B has two guestrooms. Renovations are underway on the master bedroom that features a marble fireplace. Guests can enjoy a hot breakfast in the morning, and can easily walk two blocks to other dining and shopping options in downtown Mason.
 
"I've been very pleasantly surprised," says Feintuch. "Everyone seems delighted that we finally have a bed-and-breakfast in town."
 
Source: Jettie Feintuch, Owner, Barnes Street Bed and Breakfast
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Mediteran Cafe recreates family restaurant on smaller scale in downtown Lansing

The closing of Restaurant Mediteran and Deli doesn't mean Lansing will be without the signature dishes that attracted diners for a decade.
 
Owner Igor Jurkovic simply opened a smaller version of the popular restaurant a few blocks away.
 
In mid-March, Jurkovic opened Mediteran Cafe at 200 N. Washington Square. The eatery features new and familiar dishes from the family of Croatian-trained chefs, and occupies a previous employee cafe in the Capitol National Bank Building.
 
"I'd been supplying the bank and its cafe with soups and catering services for the past several years," says Jurkovic. "I had my eye on the spot ever since my parents decided to retire and close the restaurant."
 
Jurkovic and his parents had run the Restaurant Mediteran since 2005. The family had come to Lansing in 1998 as refugees after the Bosnian War devastated their home, livelihood and family.
 
Igor's parents—Mirko and Ljubica—had worked and owned restaurants most their lives, and Igor had attended culinary school in Croatia. Starting a restaurant in Lansing drew upon those talents and enabled the family to rebuild their lives.
 
"I got adopted by this town," says Jurkovic. "We grew our business here and now people know us and our family."
 
The new cafe will feature soups; daily specials like spinach pies, gyros, lamb shank, Wiener schnitzel and goulash; and other favorites from the previous restaurant. Newer menu items include paninis, pastries, frozen yogurt, and Italian and other European coffees.
 
Jurkovic decked out the new space familiar decor from the old restaurant including the gallery of drawings by his father. He expanded the footprint of the previous bank cafe to about 3,000 square feet and hired four staff. The new restaurant features a main dining area with 10 tables plus two newly renovated areas for catering small- to mid-sized groups. Seating at an outdoor patio is also in the works.
 
In addition to his new venture, Jurkovic co-owns two Leaf Salad Bars in East Lansing and Okemos, and runs the kitchen for The Exchange.
 
"The restaurant business is my passion," says Jurkovic. "I'm very happy my parents are able to retire and are going that route, but I will miss their support. We'll do our best to recreate things on a smaller scale."
 
Source: Igor Jurkovic, Owner, Mediteran Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Spirits rising as Lansing's first distillery readies to open downtown

Lansing is keeping its spirits up this spring as the city's first distillery opens downtown across from Cooley Law School Stadium.
 
American Fifth Spirits will usher in the manufacture and distribution of artisan spirits in a 4,600-square foot building at 112 N. Larch. Owner and head distiller Rick Wyble says American Fifth will also promote Lansing's cocktail culture through a tasting room and programs that educate consumers on the nature and production of distilled spirits.
 
Wyble says his dual business model makes American Fifth standout as a producer of spirits that will eventually include vodka, gin, whiskey, brandy, rums, absinthe and liqueurs.
 
"The tasting room aspect allows customers to see and experience where everything is made and to build that knowledge base in our customers," says Wyble. "And manufacturing allows us to distribute."
 
American Fifth's first product—Hue Vodka—was released last November, and has attracted a band of followers dubbed "partillectuals." The vodka is retailed throughout the state and locally through Quality Dairy, Big Ten Party Stores, On The Rocks Party Store, Tom's Food Center and Tom's Party Store. Partillectuals and other interested consumers can also enjoy cocktails made from American Fifth spirits at Midtown Brewing Company, Buddies Pub in East Lansing, Soup Spoon Cafe, Taps 25 and Red Haven. The distillery's second product, Capital Gin, was released in mid-February.
 
With some manufacturing and distribution already in place, Wyble is turning to the launch of the tasting room and storefront. Repurposed from a car dealership-gone-pawn-shop, the two-story facility will feature 13-foot-ceilings, pine joists and steel beams, new poured floors with radiant heat, and a painstakingly-built penny-top bar. About 700 square feet will be dedicated to the distillery, with the tasting room swallowing up about 2,000 feet. Plans are to renovate and open the second floor in about a year.
 
American Fifth sources as many ingredients as possible from Michigan farmers, including wheat and corn from Williamston, rye from Corunna, and micro greens and botanicals from DeWitt.
 
"Michigan has an astonishing agricultural industry," says Wyble. "That's been one of the most amazing things in this whole journey, and a relationship we plan to continue."
 
Full-tilt production is expected to be the equivalent of 4,000 cases a year of all products. American Fifth Spirits created about 10 jobs, and is currently hiring.
 
Source: Rick Wyble, Owner, American  Fifth Spirits
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Red Barn Dog Grooming puts focus on comfort, individual attention

There's a Facebook meme that says behind every good woman is a substantial amount of coffee and a good dog. For Nicole Mackinder, there are a substantial number of good dogs and maybe a cup of coffee or two.
 
Last fall, Mackinder opened Red Barn Dog Grooming and began offering personal care services for dogs that focus on healthy coats and skin.
 
"I groom dogs of all sizes," says Mackinder. "From 3-pound Yorkies to 100-pound rottweilers. Every dog and every breed is different. I enjoy them all."
 
Mackinder learned her dog handling skills from six years of work managing a small animal veterinary clinic in Eaton Rapids. She also learned to clip and trim man's-best-friend through an apprenticeship at Classy Canine in East Lansing.
 
Red Barn offers grooming by appointment in a clean, friendly and renovated space in Mackinder's home. Originally, she had planned to convert one of the two barns that sit on her property on Tomlinson Road, but her husband convinced her the garage could be just as cozy and easier to equip with grooming equipment and amenities.
 
Over the summer, Mackinder worked with her husband to line the interior of the 300-square-foot garage with barn-red exterior siding. Next, they installed a custom grooming table, raised washtub, kennel and waiting areas, and a small foyer for meeting with pet owners and dogs.
 
"It's pretty homey in here," says Mackinder. "We'll probably be putting in some new windows and doors to add to the look."
 
Mackinder says her goal is to provide low-stress services that put health and wellness first. She says she never has more than one or two dogs at a time, and takes her time to get to know the needs and temperament of each animal. She uses all-natural grooming products that promote healthy skin, and focuses on trimming and brushing techniques that maximize the comfort of the dog while removing mats or other tangles.
 
"It's called humanity before vanity," says Mackinder. "It's a well-known saying in today's grooming industry, and it's my philosophy 100 percent."
 
After each appointment, and with the owner's permission, Mackinder posts a photo of each fido with their "new do" to Facebook.
 
"As a groomer, you become attached to dogs rather quickly," says Mackinder. "It's important to remember that the dog may not have had grooming in mind that day and would rather be snuggling on the couch."
 
Source: Nicole Mackinder, Owner, Red Barn Dog Grooming
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Meat expands, offers carnivores more options for comfort food and drink

Sean Johnson hasn't had any trouble building a following for his signature southern barbeque and comfort foods he plates up through his Old Town restaurant. So when a larger space became available next door to Meat Southern B.B.Q. & Carnivore Cuisine, he didn't think twice about making the move to become even meatier.
 
In mid-February, Johnson opened the doors to his new, expanded  restaurant at 1224 Turner St. At 2,000 square feet, the space nearly triples the size of his original restaurant and provides more seating—both inside and out. Even more, the new digs enable Johnson to feature a bigger menu and a full bar, something that wasn't possible in his previous 800-square foot space.
 
"I had always hoped the restaurant would take off," says Johnson. "My wife and I thought it would be a hole in the wall place—just something we would have for several years. But when we starting seeing people lined up at the door all the time, we knew it was time to take the next step."
 
Johnson and his wife, Lynette, opened Meat in the summer of 2012 after taking a hobby for barbecuing to the next level. Since then, Meat has been met with a healthy reception to carnivorous offerings that include smoked brisket, pulled pork, turkey and an assortment of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese.
 
The move into a larger storefront, Johnson says, allows Meat to add additional sandwich and meat selections, as well an some appetizers and sides. Many menu items will rotate, with meats prepared daily through two industrial smokers.
 
Johnson and his family did the majority of the remodeling themselves over seven months, including the tables made from hardwood flooring. The new restaurant will seat up to 90 people, with 40 additional on a covered, outdoor patio—weather permitting.
 
The new Meat will feature a full bar with 18 beers on tap, including Michigan beers and other domestic favorites. Johnson says he added five staff, including a couple bartenders, and a host and hostess to help with workflow and expanded hours, bringing his staff up to 23.
 
"We work very hard to make sure the quality of food is the best we can provide," says Johnson. "And now, we're working hard to develop a bar following. People know we've expanded. But I don't think they really think of us as a place where they can go to enjoy a drink and snack, too."
 
Source: Sean Johnson, Manager, Meat   
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Experienced Chinese chefs bring flavorful dishes to Lansing's East Side

Mei Wan's outlook is simple: He likes to cook.
 
So when the opportunity came up to start a restaurant in Lansing, he took it, pulling up stakes and moving from Kalamazoo to start a new adventure.
 
In early January, Wan opened the doors to China Flavor on Lansing's East Side after finishing a six-month overhaul of the white brick diner at 2033 E. Michigan Ave. The restaurant brings new life to a space that was the previous homes of Lamai Thai Kitchen and Eddie's Chinese Restaurant that had sat vacant for nearly two years.
 
"I like the location," says Wan. "My friend told me this was a good part of town between East Lansing and Lansing, and I have lots of nice customers who come here."
 
China Flavor seats 72 people and offers an extensive menu packed with familiar Asian favorites like egg drop soup, egg or spring rolls, fried rice or lo mein, chop suey or chow mein, and a variety of chicken, beef, pork, seafood and vegetable dinners. Wan also cooks up authentic Chinese dishes including those made with duck, lamb and squid.
 
Wan says he's been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. He learned his culinary art at a cooking school in China, and moved to Michigan in 1996 from the Guangdong province of South China. Since then, he's worked in restaurants and hotels. En route, he met his current chef from Hong Kong, who also has nearly 50 years in the restaurant business.
 
China Flavor created five jobs; offers take out, dine-in or delivery; and is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. The past midnight hours, Wan says, are intended to attract customers working night shifts at the hospital or enjoying the nightlife.
 
"I'm very proud of my five-star food," says Wan. "You can come here to enjoy good food and good times."
 
Source: Mei Wan, Part-owner, China Flavor
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

New microbrewery and distillery set to open during Craft Beer Month

Blending business acumen, industrial engineering experience, and an affinity for craft beverages, two friends from DeWitt are working to bring a new microbrewery and distillery to Greater Lansing.
 
Business partners Aaron Hanson and Eric Elliott look to open Ellison Brewery and Spirits in Meridian Township in July to coincide with Michigan Craft Beer Month. The venture involves transforming a 4,600-square foot warehouse at 4903 Dawn Ave. into a destination for world class craft beer and artisan spirits made in Lansing—complete with a tasting room, production area and distribution facilities all in one.
 
"We'll be creating a big industrial feel where you'll experience all the aromas, sights and sounds associated with a microbrewery and distillery," says Hanson, president of operations. "It will be a completely open concept, where if you sit at the bar, you'll be able to see right into the brew house."
 
Ellison Brewery will have the capacity to produce up to 5,000 barrels of craft beer annually on a custom-designed production line that draws on Hanson's industrial training and experience. Distilled spirits will be produced through a smaller 53-gallon still and available for tasting room sales and limited distribution. Customers will be able to enjoy in-house wines in the tasting room, as well as a revolving menu of cocktails, meads, braggots and limited release craft beers. Eight beers will be on tap at all times, with selections rotating throughout the seasons
 
Brew masters Todd Schwem and cellar master Leon Traczynski will oversee the creation of craft beers and spirits, and round out what Hanson says is a solid, experienced management team.
 
"We're putting a strong focus on being a distributor," says Hanson. "We're laying the groundwork now to get our products out to markets in Lansing, Detroit and Chicago."
 
Hanson says customers will be able to take away craft beers in 64-ounce growlers, as well as specialty 32-ounce cans called crowlers. The "monster" cans, as Hanson describes them, are filled, labeled and sealed onsite, and provide a means for customers to store and enjoy products later.
 
"It allows us to give you something that's perfect for tailgating or to take to places that don't allow glass containers," says Hanson. "It's sealed and can be stored like a regular can of beer."
 
Ellison Brewery and Spirits will create eight to 10 jobs. 
 
Source: Aaron Hanson, President of Operations, Ellison Brewery and Spirits
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Firefly Hot Yoga Bar turns up the heat in downtown Lansing

For Abbey Weston, turning up the heat is a sure fire way to rest, relax and deal with stress. And in downtown Lansing, there's a new place where the heat is always on.
 
Weston co-owns the Firefly Hot Yoga Bar, a repurposed space on downtown's Washington Square that provides a place for yoga enthusiasts and those seeking an invigorating way to decompress.
 
"Our goal is to encourage people to be part of the downtown community and offer another venue for yoga, too," says Weston.
 
Weston and her business partner Patty Sutherland got the idea to open a second location of their East Lansing-based Firefly Hot Yoga Bar after seeing the potential of renovating a storage and office area above Kewpee Sandwich Shoppe. The 100-year-old building has been in Weston's family for more than 40 years, and she said she always loved the upstairs space.
 
"Patty and I went up there and we could see the bones of the building and the structure and how awesome it could be," says Weston. "We could envision the exposed brick, a skylight, and all the unique architectural features that would make for a great yoga studio."
 
Weston talked with her brother Tobin who was using the space as an office and storage, and came up with a renovation plan. Starting in August, they sketched out a floorplan, worked with an architect, and upgraded all the necessary mechanicals. By January, they had fashioned a 1,500-square foot studio that featured reclaimed barn wood, extreme sports flooring, and ambiance setting décor like succulents, an ottoman, and a vintage frame from the Lansing Civic Players.
 
But the most notable feature is the heat—driven by an infrared radiant system that's environmental friendly, noiseless and pegged between 90 and 110 degrees.
 
"You're getting an infrared sauna session and yoga all in one," says Weston. "Some people practice yoga, other lay in the heat and stretch. We encourage people to do what's right for their bodies."
 
Firefly's downtown location features about 28 classes a week taught by 15 instructors. Classes include Slow Burn, Kick Your Asana, Sweat and Surrender, Power Lunch, and DeTox to Retox.
 
"Location dictates a lot of what we do in our lives," says Weston. "Sometimes it's easier for people who work downtown to pop in at lunch or after work. We want to help build that vibrant downtown and see what we can do in Lansing."
 
Source: Abbey Weston, Partner, Firefly Hot Yoga Bar
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Specialty Asian grocer opens in Hannah Plaza

The feeling of being close to home just got a little stronger for East Lansing's Asian community as a new convenience store specializing in Chinese, Japanese and Korean foods opens in Hannah Plaza.
 
Yiming Shao opened the doors to the Hannah Market at 4790 Hagadorn Road right before Valentine's Day.
 
"We have lots of store frontage and signage so we're not hard to find," says Shao of the store situated between GNC and Sultan's. "Lots of people go in and out of here every day, so we hope people can find us and get what they may be missing from their home country."
 
The Hannah Market will offer fresh produce, meats, frozen foods, sodas, snacks, and made-to-order smoothies and bubble tea. Many of the products come fresh from local farms, with Chinese and other Asian products coming from distributors in New York, Chicago and California.
 
Shao knocked down walls between three previously vacant suites to create the 2,950-square foot store. He also put in new ceilings and flooring and upgraded the lighting. New shelving and high-end freezers and coolers create a clean, bright feel, as do the vibrant green hues that permeate most every inch of the store.
 
"It's the theme of the store—go green," says Shao. "It ties in with the university campus as well as relates to healthy food, too."
 
Shao says his emphasis on a clean, well-lighted space reflects his desire to create a nice store with good, solid products that will make people want to come back and shop. The Hannah Market created five part-time jobs. Shao plans to add full-time staff as the store expands and offers more options such as seafood and bakery selections.
 
Source: Yiming Shao, Owner, Hannah Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Beer Grotto set to premiere hybrid bar and retail experience in Stadium District

The soon-to-open Beer Grotto in Lansing's Stadium District is a testament to the vision of Sam Short and his business partners to rethink why people come to bars.
 
The absence of a traditional bar and the inclusion of "tasting pods" that dot an open landscape create an environment where customers can enjoy extraordinary beer or wine. Well-trained "beer geeks" and "cork dorks" will advise and assist customers with sampling and selecting a craft beverage that suits their tastes and preferences.
 
"We're looking to eliminate that buyer's remorse," says Short, one of four owners along with Troy Ontko, Brandon Ansel and Lisa Manno. "There's no need for that in this modern world. Our goal is to restructure the experience and to make sure you get what you want."
 
The combination tasting and to-go store is slated to open in early March and follows two Beer Grottos that recently premiered in Ann Arbor and Dexter. Patrons will be able to hang out in a full-service lounge, reserve event space for parties or other events, and purchase any of the craft beer and wines carried on site.
 
Designed as a destination for craft beverage fans, the Beer Grotto has 48 craft beers on tap and dozens of boutique wines—with about 75 percent made in Michigan. Customers can also enjoy a select line of non-alcohol beers, wines and sodas, as well as limited food options—or as Short says, "enough to get you through the happy hour."
 
Aside from the beverages, the interior décor will be an attraction unto itself. The 4,100- square foot space will feature tables with Cyprus wood tops made from 100-year-old Heinz pickle barrels. A 30-foot by 15-foot mural painted by Detroit artist Jeremy Harvey will add to the restaurant's welcoming ambiance.
 
"Jeremy is doing something similar to our Dexter store but unique to Lansing," says Short. "He did some crazy stuff there with phosphorescent paint, so you know he'll do something super amazing here, too."
 
The Lansing Beer Grotto will create about 25 full-time and 10 part-time jobs. Staff are expressly trained by area managers, and also receive training as beer cicerones and wine sommeliers.
 
"We have a triple bottom-line," says Short. "We think about people, the planet and profit—with people being first."
  
Source: Sam Short, Owner, The Beer Grotto
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

CrossFit Sanction grows, offers professional coaching to all levels of athletes

Dan Romigh started helping people reach their fitness goals through a gym he set up in a pole barn. Today, he's holding classes in a more conventional space on Lansing's southern edge with plans to move to a larger facility as membership grows.
 
Romigh started CrossFit Sanction in late October 2013 after taking exercise physiology courses at the University of Findlay in Ohio. As a former collegiate athlete, he was interested in pursing CrossFit as a sport, and was urged to open a gym of his own.
 
"I started out with two members," says Romigh. "We're up to 43 members and four coaches today."
 
Soon after starting CrossFit Sanction, Romigh moved operations to the current location at 3681 Pine Tree Road. With 1,200 square feet of training space, CrossFit Sanction features equipment like Olympic lift barbells, more than 1,000 pounds of weights, and 15 types of kettle balls.
 
Romigh contributes the rapid growth to the professional coaching as well as the community atmosphere of the gym. All coaches, including Romigh, hold a level 1 CrossFit license, with one claiming credentials as a USA Olympic weightlifting coach. All training takes place through organized classes, with all members encouraged to have workout partners.
 
"Our members range from elite athletes who compete on a regular basis to people who come here to get back in shape," says Romigh. "A lot of people like CrossFit because it's a different kind of routine."
 
Similar to his workouts, Romigh has specific goals for his business. His sites are set on a larger facility, one that will accommodate his increasing membership and additional training and CrossFit activities like rope climbing.
 
"We'll be ready to make the move once we hit about 70 members," say Romigh. "My goal is to reach that by October 1, as well as to add a couple more coaches."
 
In addition to managing CrossFit Sanction, Romigh is training for a spot on a professional fitness team. The team is one of just nine in the U.S. through the National Pro Grid League.
 
Source: Dan Romigh, Owner, CrossFit Sanction
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

RCP offers high-end scanning and printing to Michigan artists

A picture can be worth a thousand words, except when the picture doesn't do justice to original art or photography it represents.
 
As the owner of Reed Consulting Partners, also known as RCP, Mark Reed helps artists and photographers share and catalog their works by offering high-end digital imaging services.
 
"The only real answer was to invest in the highest quality scanner," says Reed. "The business evolved from there."
 
Reed purchased a large format Cruse Sycron Scanner—a piece of equipment he says is among the best in the nation when it comes to fine art scanning and printing. Most of these particular scanners, he says, reside in government installations, the Smithsonian, and European museums.
 
"The artists we have met to date are very impressed with the quality of the scan and what it can do for their career," says Reed.
 
The scanner's unique abilities enable the creation of digital images without ever touching the art. Images can be output onto most any medium including canvas, matte, archival paper, and vinyl, with stitch-less, large format pieces among RCP's specialties.
 
Reed works primarily with Michigan artists who come to him to create digital files for use in portfolios, copyright applications, catalogs, Web and magazine images, and reproduction prints for sale. He has scanned and reproduced fine art pieces up to 60- by 72-inches, including a large South American hymnal from the 1600s, pieces for a sports artist licensed by the National Football League, and large format photographs for display at Jackson National Life and Michigan State University. Another recent job involved scanning cherished watercolor paintings created by a family's deceased mother.
 
"She had spent years painting all these pieces and when she passed, all her kids wanted them," says Reed. "They split them up, but were also able to get scans and prints created if they didn't received the original."
 
RCP printing recently dove into the quilt market. Scanning quilts rather than photographing allows each stitch to stand out and highlights techniques used by the artist. Reed anticipates scanning for art quilters worldwide since quilts can be easily shipped.
 
Reed opened RCP in early 2014 in Portland. Six people work at the 5,500-square foot facility at 1301 E.Grand River Ave. shop, with plans to bring more on board in 2015.
 
Source: Mark Reed, Owner, RCP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

The Cosmos brings out-of-this-world menu and sci-fi vibe to Old Town

Sam Short has been a science fiction fan since he was a kid.
 
Now he's created his own universe called The Cosmos.
 
In late January, Short opened a new pizzeria in Old Town that radiates sci-fi nostalgia. What's more, the restaurant plates up cuisine that propels pizzeria fare beyond the stratosphere.
 
"Science fiction gives us the most wondrous possibilities for progress," says Short. "And pairing it with wonderful and good food just made a lot of sense."
 
The 1,000-square foot restaurant at 611 E. Grand River is the previous home to Poppa Leo's and is attached to Zoobies Old Town Tavern via a short hallway addition. The Cosmos is the second of three ventures undertaken by the Potent Potables Project—a restaurant group Short operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. The first was Zoobies. And the third will be The Creole, slated to open in early April.
 
"We're rehabbing part of Lansing's history and joining it with another historic part," says Short of connecting The Cosmos to Zoobies. "There's no sense in destroying an old building when you can repurpose it."
 
The Cosmos seats 48 people and when the weather warms up, will provide access to another 120 or so seats at an outdoor bar and roasting pit. Patrons can dine at old video consoles. Other tables and walls are decorated with sci-fi images of the 30s, 40s and 50s. Reproductions of nostalgic movie posters join phantasmal renditions of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon painted by Detroit artist Jeremy Harvey, further satiating Lansing's appetite for unique dining and drinking venues.
 
Head Chef Dan Konopnick is the force behind the menu, applying his Johnson & Wales training to out-of-this-world variations on wood-fired pizza that feature Bosc pears, caramelized apples, onions, pancetta, and gorgonzola, arugula and house-made mozzarella cheeses. Konopnick will also continue to perfect his famous duck fat fries and sweet treats like homemade ice cream and donut bites.?
 
"I like the 'Trust Me,' pizza," says Short. "It's literally a special that Dan comes up with. You come in, say 'Trust Me' and Dan will bring out a pie that's his special of the day. His pizza is just fantastically good."
 
About 40 full- and part-time people work at both Zoobies and The Cosmos—nearly double the staff from six months ago.
 
Source: Sam Short, Co-Owner, The Cosmos
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Gravity Works expands presence in Old Town, adds six staff

Lauren Colton was among the first people on board when Gravity Works set up shop in Old Town in 2009. Today, she is one of 17 on staff, with six new talents joining the design and development company in the past year.
 
Located at 1132 N. Washington Ave., Gravity Works continues to expand its universe of providing graphic design, website and mobile app work. With the recent acquisition of the former Love Betti antique shop, Gravity Works doubled its footprint to nearly 3,150 square feet. Once a small shop two doors from a streetlight, Gravity Works today illuminates corner real estate, providing frontage and visibility for a growing list of clients.
 
"The main thing is we want to have a space that supports the size and culture of our team," says Colton, information architect and business development strategist. "The new space supports that, and it supports clients coming onsite and being with us for longer stretches."
 
Gravity Works began their office transformation in late 2014 by knocking down and putting up walls, and accentuating the classic Old Town elements of plank floors, exposed brick and tin ceilings. The remodeling involved creating several private rooms with doors—something new to Gravity Works office culture.
 
"We have conference areas but they're open," says Colton. "It's nice for collaboration to have that open environment, but it's nice to have a closed space to sit down with a client for a long conversation."
 
Each of the three new private rooms has been named and decked out by employee teams. Themes include the Science Room, the Star Wars Room and the Video Game Room. New interior décor in other parts of the office includes a built-in couch and gaming area for employee breaks.
 
"It's a space that really gets everyone working together," says Colton. "It fosters bonding and forward thinking and looking ahead to what we want to become next."
 
Gravity Works originally took off with just 10 clients. At last count, the company serves 60 clients statewide with services that help an organization communicate, promote and connect with targeted audiences and customers.
 
"We started with the idea that design and development go hand-in-hand," says Colton. "You see a lot of companies that outsource development to India, or companies that outsource design. We can make a customized product by having those functions side-by-side."
 
Source: Lauren Colton, IA and Business Development Strategist, Gravity Works
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Mert's Meat expands Okemos location to satisfy customer appetite for specialty products

Accommodating customers is always top-of-mind for Shirley Decker Prescott. So when retail space opened up adjacent to Mert's Specialty Meats in Okemos, Prescott jumped at the chance to expand the footprint of her popular family market.
 
Right before the winter holidays, Prescott brought down the wall between the two suites, and added 1,300 square feet to her market's sales floor at 1870 W. Grand River Ave. It was a decision, she says, that was driven by seeing her customers volley for space within the friendly confines of her original store, and one that she says will enable her to carry an increasing line of fresh cut meat, seafood, dairy and cheeses, frozen items, and a variety of Michigan-made products for creating favorite meals.
 
"We have a lot of open space now in the grocery section and could add hundreds of more items," says Decker. "We're hoping to do that, and are looking for our customers to tell us what they want."
 
The expanded Mert's Meats consists of 3,000 square feet of retail space plus back room operations. Areas and aisles were reconfigured to accommodate 15 more doors of frozen, additional produce, and more sets of streamlined shelves for grocery.
 
"Our customers were wonderful during the transition," says Prescott of the transformation that took place over the winter holidays. "And now, they're here, enjoying the additional room and new products. I even saw some people the other day who had room to stand in the store and chat. That wasn't really possible before."
 
Prescott started the market with her husband Mert Prescott and son Brandon Decker in July 2012. Together, the three family members bring nearly 100 years of retail, food and community experience to the business. 
 
Mert's Meats employs 14 people between its Okemos location and newer store on Lansing's East Side. Because of the expansion, Decker says she has made some previously part-time staff full-time, and will bring back some seasonal help in the summer.
 
Source: Shirley Decker Prescott, Owner, Mert's Specialty Meats
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.
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