E.L. officials are looking to create more diverse restaurant scene
Imagine it’s your birthday. You and your friends want to go out for dinner. The question is, where do you go? Peanut Barrel? Noodles & Company? Georgio’s Pizza? Somewhere else in downtown East Lansing? Maybe head out to P.F. Chang’s in Eastwood Towne Center? If it was any other night, a super dub from Menna’s Joint might be enough, but what about a special occasion when you’re willing to spend a bit more cash?
This is the situation East Lansing city officials want to solve.
In the next six months to a year, the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority and city staff will seek to increase downtown restaurant diversity by adding more table service type establishments, East Lansing Planning & Community Development Director Tim Dempsey said.
Dempsey said the city is looking into two different approaches it could take. One would be working with existing restaurants to expand service arrangements, such as adding table service, broadening the menu, and all in all, upgrading the dining experience.
The alternative would be trying to attract new, upscale-casual type restaurants into East Lansing’s downtown.
“We have some great restaurants now, but it’s about broadening that overall mix,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey added it’s not just about restaurants, the city also seeks to bring in new retailers to attract a diverse array of detail.
El Azteco’s rooftop, patio, authentic food and award-winning specialty drinks offer a fresh alternative to the typical sandwich joint, El Azteco Manager Johnny Vlahakis said. With the addition of Hopcat and Peppino’s Pizzeria, Vlahakis believes the downtown restaurant variety is on the rise.
“It’s turning out to be a pretty well-formed circle,” Vlahakis said.
Psychology senior Nick Collier isn’t the type of person who goes out for his birthday, but nevertheless, he said it would be nice to see some P.F. Chang’s or steakhouse-like eateries come to Grand River Avenue.
“I feel like the real high-end places that cost a lot of money aren’t really going to want to settle in a college town, because a lot of college kids aren’t throwing around a lot of money when they eat,” Collier said.