After renovations are completed on Stateside Deli downtown East Lansing in the next few weeks, the business will look markedly different.
The deli, 313 E. Grand River Ave., recently was approved for a Class C liquor license by the East Lansing City Council, and ever since, owner Spencer Soka has started planning a drastic transformation for his restaurant — the makeover will include a bar, new menu and a full wait staff.
“I opened this place two years ago as a deli,” Soka said. “Ever since I’ve been out here, I’ve really wanted to make a difference. The deli food is good, but I think East Lansing needs something more than just a deli.”
Soka said he plans to change the interior, menu and hours. The restaurant also will have a new name, which has yet to be decided.
The owner also plans to merge the ideas of the successful deli he already has with a more upscale restaurant by adding a 20-25 foot bar along the left wall and offering extensive menu options and various drinks.
After all the changes to the deli are complete, the restaurant also will add a full-service wait staff to give diners a more sit-down feel.
“We want to be a restaurant first, bar second,” Soka said. “We’re going to try and open up our doors to being more than just a strict deli.”
At the council work session on Sept. 11, Soka received unanimous approval from the city council for the liquor license, and the idea was generally well received by council.
“I think this (liquor license) is the right thing for this business right now, and I’m supportive,” Mayor Diane Goddeeris said.
Similar changes could be coming to other restaurants, too.
At that same work session, council also decided to consider loosening the restrictions of the city’s 50/50 rule, which states restaurants serving alcohol must generate 50 percent of their revenue from food sales.
After the changes are complete, Soka said he hopes to update the image of his restaurant and cater to all members of the East Lansing community.
“We’re going to try and gain people who want to have a drink during the game, or a tailgate event. … We want to gain more people with families, (people) who are working, all kinds of people,” Soka said. “When we redesign it, we’re going for where you can look as dressy as you want or as dressed down as you want.”
However, for child development junior Katie Goeddeke, the necessity of adding more venues for alcohol to East Lansing’s downtown isn’t apparent.
“It’s unnecessary,” Goeddeke said. “We already have a lot of bars. (Downtown) will be okay without another bar … There’s already enough that goes on.”
The business plans to stay open as much possible during the renovation, but Soka could not say when construction would be completed.