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Embassy Grill to triple size and staff with new W. Saginaw location

After four years in their current W. Saginaw location, the Embassy Grill is on the move. Though the new home won't be far – just three blocks down W. Saginaw to the Lansing Towne Center – the 4,000 square foot location will triple their dining capacity, as well as their staff. 
 
"We're hoping for more traffic," says General Manager Rick Badawi. "We're tucked into a corner here, but we'll be able to seat more than 140 there."
 
Work on the new Embassy Grill location has been underway since late 2012. The conversion will fairly dramatic to the former retail space that is now on it's way ot becoming a restaurant. Badawi says the atmosphere will echo the business' current look, but with the addition of patio seating and a separation between the dining and bar areas. 
 
The Embassy Grill specializes in Lebanese, Italian and American dining, though Badawi says their Lebanese food has become a particular favorite to their clientele. They hope the larger, more visible new location will bring even more new diners to the restaurant. 
 
The new Embassy Grill location is slated to open in June. With the expansion into the new space, Badawi expect to grow his staff from six to up to 20. 


Source: Rick Badawi, The Embassy Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
 

SVS Vision to open Okemos location

Mt. Clemens-based SVS Vision is coming to Okemos in late summer or early fall. The location will be the company's second in the Lansing area, their first being located on W. Saginaw in Delta Twp.
 
"This location is of getting us to the other side of town now," says Cathy Walker, VP of marketing and advertising for SVS Vision. "Our goal is to be filing out wherever we can here in Michigan."
 
The Michigan company was founded in 1974 and primarily served the auto industry until 2008 when SVS Vision began to broaden their brand to include retail stores to service the general public. Now, the business has grown to more than 50 locations in eight states. Walker says the company's growth has been in part to a combination of being small enough to commit to great service and big enough to offer a wide range of products and accept a large variety of insurance.
 
"We have a great line of designer eyewear," she says. "We also care about the people we're taking care of, giving personalized service you don't necessarily get anywhere else."
 
Construction on Okemos SVS Vision is just getting started on Marsh Rd. near Target. Walker expects the location to open in mid-Aug. to early Sept., and for the branch to employ a staff of about five. 
 

Source: Cathy Walker, SVS Vision
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids pizzeria to open downtown East Lansing location

Another popular Grand Rapids destination is coming soon to East Lansing. Just as construction on the new HopCat is getting underway, Peppino's Pizzeria and Sports Grill has announced it will occupy an approximately 11,500 square foot space in St. Anne's Lofts. The restaurant will include a first-floor dining area, as well as a second floor with a patio and three-season bar area and retractable garage doors.
 
"The upstairs will be the smaller portion, but it'll be a really happening spot," says Eric Tuinstra, Peppino's chief marketing officer. "Overall, it should look and feel a lot like our downtown location, with the brick, the televisions and the wood panel ceilings."
 
The pizzeria specializes in fresh, handmade foods. Tuinstra says opening an East Lansing location made sense, considering how many of their Grand Rapids-area patrons are MSU fans, and have suggested a Peppino's near campus would do well. 
 
"We just kept hearing that people [in downtown East Lansing] were starving for a good place to eat, with good, real food that is reasonably priced," says Tuinstra.
 
The East Lansing location will be the fourth full-service Peppino's Pizzeria, joining restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids, south Grand Rapids and Allendale. The franchise also includes six carryout restaurants. 
 
The Peppino's franchise is owned by founder Joe DiLeonardo, and the East Lansing location will be operated by franchisee Kris Elliot. Tuinstra expects the new restaurant will employ between 65 and 75 workers and will open in August. 


Source: Eric Tuinstra, Peppino's Pizzeria
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Local firm to begin second Michigan Ave. mixed-use development

Wolf Development is on a roll in East Lansing. As the local firm is completing an estimated $2.9 million mixed-use project on Michigan Ave. that includes 16 new apartments, they have announced a similar project will soon be underway right next door on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Louis St. on the site of a current BP gas station.
 
"We really have found East Lansing is a very reasonable place to work," says Mike Dowdle of Wolf Development. "They make clear what they want, and it's a clear, clean communication back and forth." 
 
The four-story, 36,000 square foot development will include 39 residential units, including one and two-bedroom apartments. The first floor will include 1,200 square feet of commercial space for lease. 
 
Dowdle expects construction on the project to begin in July or August of this year and to be completed in July 2014. The exterior will be similar to the neighboring development now underway, with enough variation to keep things interesting, Dowdle says. 
 
Creating an aesthetically pleasing entrance to East Lansing along the region's most development-focused corridor is one of the attractions for Wolf Development to continue investing on Michigan Ave.
 
"This was a great opportunity, because in the end, between the print shop and the gas station, this was probably the least attractive part of the drive down Michigan Ave.," says Dowdle. "Now, we believe it'll be the most attractive. Everybody wins."
 
The neighboring development is set to be finished in July. All units have been leased. Dowdle says Wolf Development plans to continue developing in East Lansing in the future.

Source: Mike Dowdle, Wolf Development
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

MSU to foster collaboration with $60.8 million Bio Engineering Building

A new $60.8 million facility that aims to foster collaboration among Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science is moving forward on Michigan State University's campus. The new Bio Engineering Facility was approved by the MSU Board of Trustees this month. 
 
"You get a lot of synergy by getting these interdisciplinary groups together," says David DeWitt, associate dean for research for MSU's College of Natural Science. "The sum of the parts is greater than the pieces themselves."
 
The Bio Engineering Building has been under development for about six years. The four-story, 130,000 square foot facility will include office and open laboratory space. The effort to connect related areas of research together is nothing to MSU, says DeWitt. The college has previously combined bio chemistry and agriculture teams to collaborate on projects that make sense from the lab to farmers' fields. 

"I think this is a really good investment," says DeWitt. "It'll be a good opportunity for us to do some new research in translational medicine that will have an effect on people's health." 

MSU is awaiting $30 million in funding from the State of Michigan to fund the project. Approval from the state is expected in May, and DeWitt hopes to break ground in late July or early August. Construction is expected to take about two years. 

Source: David DeWitt, MSU College of Natural Science
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

American Board of Emergency Medicine expanding facility by 6,000 sq ft

When the American Board of Emergency Medicine found they were outgrowing their East Lansing building, the national organization with board members on both coasts and a testing site in Chicago could have moved anywhere. 
 
"When we first started their master planning almost two years ago, they really spent some time looking at where they wanted to be located," says Alan Goschka of Bergmann Associates. "They did their due diligence and decided that East Lansing was the best place for their home. They are very proud of their facility."
 
That's good news for East Lansing, as well as Bergmann Associates, which is now managing the renovation and expansion of the ABEM's facility. First built in 1993, the 13,000 square foot building is receiving a 6,000 square foot addition. 
 
In addition to the extra space, Bergmann Associates have worked with local office interior experts DBI to renovate the existing space so the organization can make better use of the original portion of the facility. 
 
"Times are changing, and how people are working are changing," Goschka. "We gave them smaller, more efficient work stations but gave them more conference spaces."
 
Work on the project began about two weeks ago and Goschka the renovation will be complete by the end of the year. ABEM will continue to work from the facility throughout the duration of the project. 
 

Source: Alan Goschka, Bergmann Associates
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Edtior

CBRE|Martin signs 45,000 sq ft of space in Park Place Office Park

March was turned out to be a stellar month for East Lansing's Park Place Office Park, which secured two new tenants that together will occupy 45,000 square feet of the commercial property. 
 
"They were both significant transactions in the marketplace," says Eric Rosekrans, senior vice president with CBRE|Martin. "They happened independent of each other, but both tenants were out looking for large suits and Park Place just happened to have what that needed. The Class A market in Lansing is very tight."
 
The two new tenants are Coverys, a medical professional liability insurance company, and CLEAResult, an energy optimization firm based in Austin, Tex. The companies will occupy 26,000 and 18,500 square feet respectively, and both plan to move into the office park this summer. Both offices are moving from existing Lansing-area locations, and Rosekrans says the ability to expand in their new spaces was a factor for both growing businesses. 
 
The Park Place Office Park was built in the early 2000s and offers a total of about 105,000 square feet of space for tenants. After the new tenants enter the complex, just 12,000 square feet will remain vacant. Rosekrans says the space would be ideal for a variety of tenant types, such as attorneys, associations, insurance companies or medical practices.
 
"It's a wide ranging and flexible type of space," Rosekrans says. "If you want anybody in particular going into a project like this, you want someone in growth mode."


Source: Eric Rosekrans, CBRE|Martin
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Panopoulis Salon grows staff in new Eastwood Towne Center space

After 20 years in East Lansing, Panopoulos Salon moved westward to Eastwood Towne Center in late 2012. The full service salon and spa opted for a new space that was similar in size, but far greater traffic. 
 
"It's been a lot busier here," says Panopoulos Salon's Renee Vanatten. "We've been much busier with walk-ins."
 
The salon has seen such an increase in business, in fact, that the staff has had to grow to keep up. Two new stylists have been hired since Panopoulos' move to Eastwood Towne Center, and Vanatten expects more to be added soon. The salon currently employs nine stylists and four receptionists. A flexible staff is cited as a key factor in Panopoulos' success.
 
"We're a full service salon, so all the girls are qualified in all the services we offer here," says Vanatten. "Seeing one person for color and cuts allows customers to have a connection with their stylist." 
 

Source: Renee Vanatten, Panopoulis Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Howell's Jonna's 2 Go to expand to East Lansing

Jonna's 2 Go is a familiar brand a short drive east down I-96, with two locations in Howell. The popular party store is expanding westward with its first East Lansing store on Michigan Ave. in the former 24/7 convenience store. 
 
"We've always loved this area," says Anthony Jonna, manager partner of Jonna's 2 Go. "We're the biggest Spartan fans in the world." 
 
The East Lansing Jonna's 2 Go will be the fifth outlet of the Jonna family business, with two Jonna's Market stores in West Bloomfield and Taylor. The party store specializes in homemade pizza, sandwiches, salads and other deli items, along with craft beer and wine. 
 
"We're going to pay special attention to this one," says Jonna. "It'll really pop. I don't think anybody in the area will have seen anything like it." 
 
Work on the renovations is currently underway, and Jonna expects the store to open in the next few weeks. Jonna's 2 Go will employ about a dozen workers. 
 

Source: Anthony Jonna, Jonna's 2 Go
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Great Lakes Family Dental opens new, 3,300 sq ft DeWitt Twp location

Great Lakes Family Dental did more than simply double its footprint when it expanded into a new, 3,300 square foot building in DeWitt Twp on January 1. From new dental services to a new community outreach program, the practice has grown in all sorts of ways. 
 
"We outgrew our space," says Patricia Hart, general manager of Great Lakes Dental Group. "It was outdated."
 
Growth has been the name of the game for Great Lakes Dental Group since it purchased retiring local dentist Dr. Tomkie's practice, which had been in business for 30 years. Under new ownership, the practice grew by three employees, and now plans to add two additional staff members in the new office. 
 
"Moving out of that space allowed us to do more," says Hart. "It's pretty homey. It's meant to take away from being hit with that feeling of being nervous to be at the dentist." 
 
Great Lakes Dental Group broke ground on the new building in mid-August of 2012. Since moving into the new location in January, the practice now offers such new services as digital x-rays, free cancer screenings and new teeth whitening techniques. 
 
In addition, the growing office is offering a free dental clinic on April 16 for those without dental insurance or other assistance. 
 

Source: Patricia Hart, Great Lakes Dental Group
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Frozen yogurt and sweet bun shops come to Downtown East Lansing

East Lansing just got sweeter in two new ways with the opening of Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns on E. Grand River downtown. Kayla Nguyen brought the frozen yogurt and sweet bun stores together under one roof on March 7. 
 
"I went to visit my friend in California and I fell in love with frozen yogurt," says franchisee of both businesses, Nguyen. "It's non- or low-fat and it's good for digestion."
 
Located in a 1,800 square foot, second floor location next to Yoga State, Nguyen built out Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns to be a place where students can comfortably relax, study or hangout between or after classes. 
 
"I designed it to be more like a lounge," she says. "I personally prefer places like that, where students can move the tables together and come and do their homework."
 
Tutti Frutti offers frozen yogurt with a topping bar containing 50 choices of toppings. O' My Buns offers plain or cream cheese-filled buns with either coffee or vanilla topping. 
 
Nguyen currently employs a staff of three across the two stores, but plans to soon grow to 12 to 15 employees. 
 

Source: Kayla Nguyen, Tutti Frutti and O' My Buns
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Williamston bridal offerings complete with Wedding Gallery

Dawn-Marie Joseph knows a thing or two about Williamston, having opened the popular Gracie's Place and Vivee’s Floral Garden and Café. One thing she's known for some time is that the town is becoming a destination for wedding businesses, with florists, caterers, invitation printers and a new cake shop. There's just one thing missing: a bridal shop. 
 
Joseph and partner Tina Benington will change that in April with the opening of The Wedding Gallery at the corner of Grand River and Putnam in Downtown Williamston. 
 
"What we really found in our research is basically customer service is key," says Joseph. "That business is 100 percent about the customers. We're not going to have every dress in the bridal magazines, but we'll work our hardest to find it for them, for what they can afford." 
 
To really complete the town's collection of wedding vendors, the building will also include Gallery Travel, a travel agency.
 
"The building offered me the opportunity, so right across from the bridal shop, we'll have the travel agency," says Joseph. "So, we'll be able to book honeymoons for our brides."
 
The Wedding Gallery and Gallery Travel will both open in April, sharing about 3,000 square feet of space and employing staffs of about three and two, respectively, in addition to Joseph and Benington. 
 

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, The Wedding Gallery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Williamston Barbell Club brings powerlifting to 2,800 sq ft Grand River space

Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club is a new kind of gym for the area, offering a focus on powerlifting, as well as other workout options such as classes and cardio. The venture is another project from Grace's Place owner Dawn-Marie Joseph and her partners. 
 
The 2,800 square foot facility at 350 W. Grand River Ave. has been under renovation for about three months and is now open for new members. While the gym is a new business for the family, Joseph says they also see the Williamston Barbell Club as a benefit for the community. 
 
"The gym will partly be used for goodwill," she says. "We'll have powerlifting, classes and kids' yoga here. People from LCC and different organizations have gotten in touch with us. We'll do boxing and different competitions."
 
With vacant land adjacent to the property, the partners have plans to add outdoor activities to their services, such as volleyball and outdoor powerlifting. 
 
The partners have invested about $200,000 into the renovation project, and hope to continue improving the facility, perhaps adding a screened-in workout area facing the Red Cedar River in the future. Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club currently employs a staff of three, in addition to contracted trainers and the four partners.
 
"It's a nice thing that my family is really involved," says Joseph. "It's nice that we're in a potion that we can work with our family the way we do." 
 

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, Tom Donnelly's Williamston Barbell Club
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Old Town General Store to bring specialty groceries to former Redhead space

With all of the growth Old Town has experienced over the past decade, one type of business has been missing from the mix of retail, dining and service that has been drawing people to the neighborhood: a grocery store.
 
Maria Van Atta is looking to soon change that void, giving Old Town residents and workers a place to pick up specialty foods, fresh produce and more with the forthcoming Old Town General Store.
 
"We have somewhat of a food desert here in Old Town," Van Atta says, "and I think if I can create a little oasis of reasonably-priced healthy, and tasty, specialty foods, the Old Town General Store will do quite well." 
 
The idea for the General Store began several years ago when Van Atta made a career change and searching for a new venture that would appeal to her sense of community and appreciation of nature.
 
"I enjoy and appreciate the goodness of nature, a sense of community and giving back, and supporting the local economy as much as possible," says Van Atta. "A general store has traditionally been a gathering place, where you would find interesting and unexpected things as well as convenience items." 
 
The 1,500 square foot E. Grand River location will do just with specialty foods, fresh produce, beer, and wine, with an emphasis on Michigan companies and sustainable and organic items. The Old Town General Store is expected to open May 3, and celebrate a grand opening on June 15. Van Atta plans to employ a staff of approximately four part-time workers at the store. 

Source: Maria Van Atta, Old Town General Store
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Family owned Save-a-Lot to become Monticello's Market

While big changes are in the works at the Bath Twp. Save-a-Lot location, one thing about the forthcoming grocery store, Monticello's Market, will remain the same: it'll still be local, family-owned business. 
 
"Our customers love coming to us because they know us. They know our kids," says Margie Potter. "We're here all the time during construction, and they'll see our car here, and stop by to how it's going. So that's really been fun." 
 
The building on Marsh Road in fact was even a grocery store owned by the Potter family before it became a Save-a-Lot 18 years ago. While keeping that tradition alive, the Potters will be brining a whole new look, feel and grocery offering to their customers. 
 
"I really want a whole different feel than a discount store," says Potter. "It's not that our prices are going to be high, but I want it to be beautiful. I want it to be warm and inviting, and a fun destination for people to come and have a great time."
 
The 10,000 square foot store is now under construction, which will include a deli counter and a small addition to expand the grocery store's footprint. In developing their vision for Monticello's Market, the Potters visited such popular grocery stores as Trader Joe's
 
The new market will feature Michigan products, as well as the wide selection of plants the Potters' customers have come to expect from the family business. Though the interior of the store is not expected to be ready to open before June or July, Monticello's will begin selling plants in April. Potter plans to employ a staff of about 12 in the new market. 
 

Source: Margie Potter, Monitcello's Market
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor
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