By Rachel Tang
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
In the last six months, two restaurant-bars have opened in East Lansing. Peppino’s Sports
Grill and HopCat on Ann Street opened August at the start of the football season. They have been part of the changing culture to East Lansing’s downtown area.
Timothy R. Schmitt, an East Lansing community development analyst, said, “we’re starting to get a little more higher-end stuff”. He also said, “you’re seeing higher quality space available, and it brings a high-quality tenant.”
“We want to have stuff for every resident,” Schmitt said, “from the 80-year-old person who’s lived here for 50-60 years to the 20-year-old that just got here.”
“We want to be as inclusive as possible,” he said.
Leah McGhee, who works at HopCat and who lives in East Lansing said, “I feel that something definitely needs to change in East Lansing. People are turned away from the lack of culture and new establishments.”
“It’s turning students and people away from living here,” McGhee said.
McGhee also said: “I think that it’s a college scene right now, and the way we have East Lansing set up, it’s all about binge drinking. People in East Lansing and the Lansing area are looking to get out of the house and enjoy the culture of a big city and we can give it to them, but we need more establishments first.”
General manager of Peppino’s Sports Grill Dan Tyler, who is also an ex-partner with the owner of Rick’s American Cafe, said that new restaurants like Peppino’s and HopCat are trying to bring a different culture to town. “In a few years I think you’re going to see the downtown scene change,” he said.
“Its not because of us; someone is going to do something different, and pretty soon people are going to want to keep up,” he added. He said, “Dublin was the first to do something different.”
Tyler said that Dublin Square used to be a high-end pub but found a way to appeal to the population. “They figured out how to compete with Rick’s and to do business like that,” he said. Tyler said, “You can do whatever you want here, you don’t have to wait an hour in line to get in. I’ve never understood waiting in those lines.”
“You couldn’t pay me to stand in that line; I’m going out for a reason,” he said.
Tyler said that Peppino’s didn’t want to take away from the business in East Lansing, but add to it. “East Lansing residents will let you know when you’re doing something right because they’ll come back,” he said.
Tyler said: “If you’re not ever changing in this environment, you’re standing still. If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. If you’re going backwards, you’ll go out of business”.
“It’s a great concept to be versatile,” Tyler said.