People in Mason are clamoring for a new restaurant to replace the the one next door to Kean’s Store Company.
In June of 2015, a fire started in the former Baja Grille, causing the first floor to fall out, as well as extensive damage on the exterior. Kean’s Store Company, the business next door, was also damaged by smoke. Baja Grille was permanently closed, and Kean’s closed until December of 2015 for reconstruction.
Since the closure of the restaurant, downtown Mason has not had a local one in over a year and a half. That has some people wishing for one to come back, and soon.
The Baja Grille “was appreciated when it was here. It was a really big thing for the restaurant to burn down. A lot of people were upset.” said Garrett Maher, an employee at The Daily Scoop.
Maher said that the lessees of the Baja Grille were disappointed that they could not reopen due to the cost of repairs and maintaining the building.
“I think it’d be a really good thing to have it back. Or maybe even something to replace it.” said Maher.
Ed Altenritter, a 63-year-old resident of Mason said that the town doesn’t need “nouveau cuisine” nor does it need another pizza parlor.
“It’s like they think we live off of pizza!” said Altenritter. “If we could get just a decent sit- down place to get a decent beer and good food, that’d be great.”
Altenritter said Mason could use something between Capital Prime, an upscale restaurant at Eastwood Mall in Lansing, and a generic bar and grill type place.
“A good example is the Soup Spoon Cafe in Lansing. That’s the kind of place that would fit really well around here.” said Altenritter.
“The thing I like about this place (Mason) is that I can go anywhere within half an hour,” said Altenritter. “However, I don’t always want to go out of Mason. I’d rather have an American cuisine restaurant here.”
Sherman Norman, a 40-year-old Verizon employee, isn’t a Mason resident, but he sides with the community on the restaurant issue.
“We really need an eatery of some sort. It doesn’t need to be a restaurant. Maybe a breakfast place with danishes and donuts.” said Norman.
Norman said a restaurant would “absolutely be preferred” but it just depended on preference of the people.
“Baja Grille was really good and something needs to change about that building. Someplace to bring the community together.” said Norman.
According to David Haywood, Mason’s zoning and development director, someone is trying to start the process of remodeling and reopening the property next to Kean’s. However, nothing is public or official yet, although Haywood said the interested party has started to put money toward the process.