For MSU students and other East Lansing residents, Grand River is the place to be for a quick snack, a casual dinner or even something a little fancier. A recent addition to this melting pot of foods is the new Auntie Anne’s and Jamba Juice joint location.
The decision to open in East Lansing was brought on by Focus Brands, a developer of multi-channel food service brands. It is the parent company to a number of well-known franchises including Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill as well as Jamba Juice and Auntie Anne’s.
Though Jamba Juice and Auntie Anne’s are typically a staple of malls, Focus Brands chose to expand outward with the two franchises, starting in East Lansing.
“They went into the demographic of the state of Michigan and they picked Michigan State,” owner and franchisee Ali Jaafari said. “If I was to guess, maybe 80 or 90% of our (customers) are from Michigan State.”
The establishment opened its doors just over a month ago on January 5, but Jaafari said the location has already been met with an influx of customers.
“They picked Michigan State and it was a blessing,” Jaafari said. “With our late night crowds, especially right after the bars, we’re open until 2:30 in the morning and get crazy rushes.”
Manager and psychology freshman Alyssa Fredin said the location is constantly busy. She said she thinks it has to do with the fact that it is right across the street from campus, making it a convenient location for people in the dorms.
“Especially for us college kids, at least like freshmen and sophomores, we don’t really have our cars on campus," Fredin said. "Like Target is right down the street, that’s really popular for students because we can walk to it, so same thing with (this store).”
Jamba Juice is usually found on the West Coast or in Chicago, Jaafari said, which he thinks has added to the business of the store.
“The only time I’ve ever really had Jamba Juice is in California,” James Madison College freshman Jala Purofoy said. “So I was very excited that we were actually having one in Michigan.”
“People come in and they’re always surprised, like, ‘Oh this is a two in one!’” Fredin said. “The student crowd comes in and it’s a great midnight snack.”
The store provides an environment for MSU students to thrive in, notably in its willingness to collaborate with the numerous student organizations that MSU is home to.
“It’s a student environment,” Fredin said. “Basically all the workers here are students and it’s the perfect on-campus location, so it’s mostly students coming from class. We get those rushes on the weekends too, it’s a student rush, always.”
“We did a sorority fundraiser on Wednesday ... and that was very, very successful,” Jaafari said. “We’re just trying to be interactive and connect with Michigan State.”
The menu provides a variety of options, pairing a selection of Auntie Anne’s hand-baked pretzels with Jamba’s staple smoothies, bowls and juices, which has proven to be a favorable combination for many customers.
“Nine out of ten times, most people come in and get a smoothie and some sort of pretzel combo,” Fredin said. “People always get some sort of smoothie or drink with whatever pretzel item they get that day.”
As a business that employs many MSU students, there is a visible certain level of connection between worker and customer.
“It was a very student-oriented environment,” Purofoy said. “I feel like the workers were very understanding of me not having an idea of what I wanted, so they definitely helped with that. And when I tell you it was the best drink I’ve ever had in a little while.”
Auntie Anne’s and Jamba Juice can be found at 103 E. Grand River Avenue.