by Colleen Otte
Lansing Star Staff Writer
Nick Gavrilides, owner of The Soup Spoon Café, said he feels Michigan Avenue is at the forefront of Lansing’s local restaurant renaissance.
The Soup Spoon, located at 1419 E. Michigan Ave., is a local, independently owned café that regularly serves folks from Michigan State and Sparrow Hospital, corporate groups, neighborhood citizens and international visitors. Gavrilides said he feels such restaurants offer more to the community than large chains.
He said local restaurants are doing amazing things with food and service – despite not being presented in what he described as the “beautiful, brand new . . . cookie-cutter boxes” of chain restaurants.”
Gaviledes said independent restaurants are where patrons will find “the very best food, given to you with the very best service.”
Lansing’s “foodie” potential
Former Jim’s Tiffany owner Ange Vlahakis said there are 500 restaurants in the Ingham County area: 250 chain and 250 independently owned. The problem, he said, is that the independently owned restaurants have a high turnover, so the same local entrepreneurs are not in business for long.
Emil’s owner Paul Grescowle said these enterprising local entrepreneurs have revitalized Michigan Avenue and have significantly restored the corridor from its once embarrassing state.
Gavrilides said independent restaurants are important to the city and deserve support. “I skip over that chain restaurant to make sure I go to the independent guy, because I know what it means for him to sell me that pint of beer as opposed to maybe another guy.”
“We want to have the very best food – the finest scratch-made products, the best, freshest locally-sourced things,” he said.
The Soup Spoon provides only Michigan craft beer and sources its summer vegetables from an organic farmer from Alma. “If you do your homework and go digging . . . you can find both quality and reasonable pricing in the area,” said Gavrilides.
“As far as independently owned and operated restaurants around town, I think that we’re all pulling for each other, and we all know each other and we all go to each others’ restaurants,” Gavrilides said. “We give each other some gentle ribbing, but it really is a camaraderie.”