Changes come to Stateside Deli: Owner faces challenges revamping the restaurant


Stateside Deli, 313 E. Grand River Ave., might be unrecognizable to students today. Construction projects are scheduled, and now the business will be known as Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar.

The restaurant was closed this week for painting and aesthetic touch ups, and it tentatively is scheduled to open today pending the interior renovations are completed on time. If not, students most likely can chow on the famous corned beef sandwiches Monday after continued weekend construction.

The minor changes are part of long-term plans to update the business, including selling alcohol and featuring an updated menu with bigger burgers, smoothies and coffee drinks.

Danyelle Morrow / The State News

Spencer Soka, owner of the newly christened Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar, said he changed the name of the deli to reflect the different feel of the restaurant.

“As I’m turning it around with a new menu, I figured nothing beats having a personable experience with someone who’s going to be giving the best service, having a staff and putting my name on it,” Soka said.

Soka hoped to have more renovations done to his restaurant, but confusions with city administration have put plans on hold.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Darcy Schmitt said the floor plans submitted to the Building Division were not the same plans submitted with the special use permit when the plan was approved during the July 10, 2012, city council meeting.

“It actually included more seating,” she said. “So we couldn’t sign off on it to say, ‘Go ahead and review the construction plans,’ because it didn’t meet the requirements of the special use permit.”

Soka said he plans on waiting to go ahead with more renovations and keep the same seating for his restaurant.

“We’re going to wait to do something major once we get the (liquor) license from the state and visit city council one more time,” he said.

Soka filed the liquor license application July 30, 2012, and the application was approved at a Sept. 11, 2012, city council meeting.

The process of obtaining a liquor license can take up to three to six months, according to Andrea Miller, public information officer for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

Marketing sophomore Jaclyn Stelter said she thinks the name change and selling liquor will benefit the restaurant by attracting more students.

“The word ‘bar’ (might) attract more people now that they have a liquor license,” she said. “I’ve never been there. When I turn 21, I’ll definitely look into going there.”

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