Charm keeps Clara's chugging
It started with a vision.
Thirty years ago, Peter Jubeck looked at the Union Depot in Lansing and saw a place that had potential.
By taking a risk, Jubeck turned the 100-year-old building into Clara’s Lansing Station, 637 E. Michigan Ave.
Cindy Jubeck and her brother Scott Jubeck took over running the family restaurant 15 years ago.
“It’s a big commitment for myself and my brother,” Cindy Jubeck said. “It was one of those things you knew would eventually happen. I was excited but also somewhat scared because it’s a commitment — you’re not only responsible for employees, but paying the bills also.”
Renovations were made in order for the old Union Depot to become the building it is today.
The brick was sandblasted and where once there were empty window spaces, there are now stained glass windows.
“The only thing original are the woodwork and beams, but it fits the time period,” Cindy Jubeck said.
“We have an authentic dining car which gives the diners the experience without actually moving. Trains go by all the time which also adds to the experience.”
The 16-page menu is filled with a variety of foods: seafood, steak, pasta and more. One of the most popular dishes is the Hawaiian chicken, which is marinated overnight in pineapple juice and white wine.
“We’ve had it since we opened,” Cindy Jubeck said. “I can’t remember how we got it, but I think it was a combination of my dad’s idea and the chef’s.”
Before applying for a job at Clara’s, Lansing Community College dietetics and nutritional science freshman Shelby Hlavaty had only heard of the restaurant in a newspaper ad.
“It was a really cool place when I came in to interview,” Hlavaty said. “I was impressed.”
On the restaurant’s interior walls there are photos and other historical artifacts bought from a variety of different places.
The chandeliers on the platform level are from an opera house in London and the chandelier on the balcony level is from a Belgian department store.
“We’ve sort of collected them along the way,” Cindy Jubeck said. “My dad was a big antique fan. He had a lot of places he dealt with.”
One of the more interesting portraits on the wall is on the west staircase. Cindy calls the woman in the portrait the resident ghost.
“I’m sure we do (have ghosts), if you believe in that sort of thing,” Cindy Jubeck said.
Cindy Jubeck said she has seen evidence of the supernatural—including flickering lights.
The uniqueness of the restaurant adds to the charm and warmth, which is Jubeck’s favorite part of the building.
“It’s not so commercial or chainy,” Cindy Jubeck said. “We have another store in Battle Creek, but it’s a different building within itself.”
For Cindy Jubeck, the most rewarding part is knowing how long the restaurant has been around.
“We have been around for 30 years,” Cindy Jubeck said. “That’s a big feat, especially in the restaurant business.”