Lou & Harry’s Grill and Bar, 245 Ann St., will close later this month as plans to open a larger version of the establishment at Chandler Mall are underway, general manager Scott Rolen said.
The new location, 16800 Chandler Road, will have a pre-grand opening Jan. 8, 2011 and a grand opening tentatively is planned for Jan. 14, 2011 .
The restaurant’s capacity will jump from 130 to 500 people, and there also will be a large stage area for live entertainment events, which will be open to patrons 18 years and older, he said.
“Upgrading to a bigger building is a big reason for the move,” Rolen said. “We’re looking to have live music out there every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and have a big, known (act) for events here and there.”
The restaurant’s move is a real loss for downtown East Lansing, said Lori Mullins, community and economic development administrator for East Lansing.
“It’s an ethnic restaurant, which always has great Greek options,” she said. “We’ll be sad to see them go.”
The menu, prices and ownership will remain the same, Rolen said. Harry Saites, the co-owner of ENSO, 16800 Chandler Road, and owner of three Lou & Harry’s locations will maintain ownership at the new location, Rolen said.
The new location is about halfway done, he said. The former occupant, The Small Planet, has a similar layout of Lou & Harry’s, so remodeling is minimal, Rolen said.
“Overhauling the entertainment (equipment) will take the most time,” he said. “We just had to put up accent walls.”
Along with more space for entertainment, the new restaurant will have more than 80 TVs, compared to about 20 TVs in the current location, Rolen said.
Filling the space with a new retailer is not a concern, Mullins said. The location is desirable for businesses and upcoming development projects nearby will enhance the Ann Street Plaza, she said.
An eight-story, mixed-use development on the nearby corner of Albert Avenue and Grove Street is slated to begin construction in 2011.
“Redevelopment will happen nearby and that will really change the composition of the retailers in the downtown and open up some other great spaces, and Ann Street will become more and more of a vibrant asset as those changes occur,” Mullins said.
Psychology senior Emily Vezina said she and her friends are frequent visitors of the restaurant. She is sad to see the business move.
“It’s such a convenient spot for people to go in East Lansing,” she said. “I was shocked when I heard the news.”
There are concerns about losing customers who walked to the Ann Street location, and the restaurant’s management is working to find solutions, Rolen said. The shuttle running between ENSO and Ann Street likely will continue and Rolen said he is investigating the possibility of putting a taxi stand to give students an easy transportation option, he said.
Lou & Harry’s likely will benefit from the nearby student apartments, including three Chandler properties, Rolen said.
“A lot of younger people will be out there, and they can come out and eat and enjoy the music,” he said.