Two for one: Punk Taco and The Cosmos come to East Lansing
Editor's note: A previous version of this story inaccurately referred to The Cosmos as a burger restaurant instead of a pizza restaurant. This has been corrected.
The 170-seat establishment — owned by the Potent Potables Project, a restaurant management group run by Sam Short, Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper — will include 42 patio seats.
Potent Potables currently has locations across the Lansing area, including The Creole Burger and Southern Kitchen in addition to Punk Taco and The Cosmos.
While the hybrid taco-pizza restaurant is marketed to everyone, Short said, the management group has adjusted how the restaurants normally operate to appeal to East Lansing’s biggest demographic: students.
“We know we’re going to have a lot of students, we’re a big location,” Short said. “We’ve kind of changed our model a little bit to make it a little quicker-style service.”
He said the restaurant would eliminate having hosts seat patrons, and instead have customers order drinks and food right as they walk in. Beer and wine will be offered as well.
Carryout options will be offered for those who don’t want to sit down, though delivery options like Uber Eats and Grubhub are still being mulled over, according to Short.
“My concerns with some of those things ... are quality, consistency and timing,” Short said. “At least initially in East Lansing, we’re going to hold off from doing those things. But people are able to stop in and get them to go.”
Plans for new hotels, apartment complexes, supermarkets and solar parks have brought a wealth of confidence to potential investors, as previously predicted by Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and Lansing Economic Area Partnership officials.
Restaurants are often the first things to pop up as a the result of these investments, and now the city of East Lansing is seeing results, according to Tom Fehrenbach, East Lansing's community and economic development administrator. He said the restaurant represents a great opportunity for the city.
“There a mix of people from a lot of different backgrounds and walks of life that are interested in gourmet food and fun atmospheres, and that’s definitely something that folks like Potent Potables are capitalizing on,” Fehrenbach said. “I think it’s a new, unique concept having two restaurants with totally different concepts under the same roof, and I think it’s a great addition to the offerings East Lansing already has.”
Short said his burgeoning restaurant company is a sign investments across the capital region are paying off.
“Initially it was a fun thing, something to do, have a bar to go drink at. Then it evolved into this company where we’re actually growing and we’ve got a great regular base and a number of employees,” Short said. “I’m proud to say that my partners and myself and our whole team at the restaurants have really been a part of something new and making Lansing better. Along the way we’ve invested our time, talent and treasure here in Lansing.”
The restaurant will be a welcome addition for students who might need large gathering places for big groups and lots of options, East Lansing resident Kory Hamblin said. While initially skeptical about having another spot offering tacos and pizza in the city, Hamblin said he reconsidered when he thought about the potential wave of people moving to the new developments.
“I didn’t really take into account all the developments that are happening on Grand River right now, as far as apartment complexes being built,” Hamblin said. “They’re all pretty high-quality ... I feel like (more) restaurants would be really good for East Lansing.”
Hamblin said he’s interested to see how the new restaurant and changes to the city play out.
“I’m excited to see what East Lansing will turn into, eventually,” Hamblin said.