Clara’s restaurant provides fun dining, locomotive atmosphere

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By Dillon Davis
Lansing Star staff writer

For Cindy Jubeck, owning a restaurant is as much about the food as it is carrying on a family legacy.

Jubeck, a Lansing resident, along with her brother Scott Jubeck and mother Linda Jubeck, own and manage the day-to-day operations of Clara’s Lansing Station, 637 E. Michigan Ave.

After Cindy Jubeck’s father Peter Jubeck, who founded the restaurant in 1979, passed away in 2003, she took over the primary operations of the restaurant.

Jubeck said her father was a great man who idealized building a restaurant that people could

“The building (Clara’s Lansing Station is in) was vacant,” Cindy Jubeck said. “(Peter Jubeck) was a visionary – he saw a possibility with the building. He made it a restaurant everybody could enjoy.”

When Peter Jubeck opened Clara’s Lansing Station, Cindy Jubeck said he was a merely a history buff looking to expand his reach in the restaurant business. Before Clara’s, he opened the original Sir Pizza franchise in 1966 in Lansing.

The building, which is housed in the same structure as the former Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Lansing, was converted into a restaurant which specializes in fine dining and a family atmosphere.

Much of the decor of the restaurant celebrates its locomotive history.

Cindy Jubeck said her father saw the opportunity to expand the Clara’s name and opened up another location at 44 N. McCamly Place in Battle Creek, Mich., at another former Michigan Central Railroad Depot along the Kalamazoo River.

She said opening up another location was ideal because the building fit the same genre as the Lansing location and it fit the description

Ross Simpson, president and owner of Clara’s on the River in Battle Creek, Mich., started working with Peter Jubeck at the Lansing Clara’s in 1979. Simpson said he bought Peter Jubeck’s shares of the franchise after he passed away and rents the Lansing location to the Jubeck family.

Simpson said Clara’s prides itself on being a fun dining restaurant for people to relax in a comfortable atmosphere.

“As owners, you have to be there often, know your customers and know your employees,” Simpson said. “(We’re) working every day to be the best restaurant around.”

Floyd Woodruff, a Battle Creek, Mich., resident and kitchen manager for Clara’s on the River said he used to work directly for the Jubeck’s for two years, as a busboy at the Lansing station.
Woodruff said the concept of the Clara’s restaurants is unique in its style and atmosphere. He said his time working for the Jubecks was positive and he took a lot away from the experience.

“I’ve been around Jubecks a long time and they’re a great family,” Woodruff said. “They’re real family oriented – a real tight family. It rubs off on people when you’re like that. “

Simpson said expansion of the Clara’s franchise is possible in the future but the economy has to improve before any plans can be put in place.

Although her family no longer is the primary owner of the restaurant, Cindy Jubeck said she sees many possibilities in the future for Clara’s. For Cindy Jubeck, the future is about honoring her father’s legacy by continuing with the business principles he put in place.
“(My father) was very loved by the community,” Cindy Jubeck said. “(He truly was) an amazing man.”

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