Businesses Opening and Closing Along East Lansing’s Main Corridor

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

Storefronts all around Potbelly downtown are changing operations.

Several storefronts in downtown East Lansing are now shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic slowdown. But some new businesses are just opening or planning to move in soon.

Snap Pizza recently opened in the old Cosi space, across M.A.C. Ave. from Potbelly. The Snap Pizza chain of restaurants features custom pizzas and salads, and you can currently dine-in or get take-out and delivery.

Just a short walk north on M.A.C. Ave. from Potbelly, there’s a sign up in the former location of Mackerel Sky indicating that we can expect For Crêpe Sake to be moving in there.

And just to the west of Potbelly, signs are up for Rise Smoke Shop, where GNC used to be.

Rise has a marijuana leaf dotting it’s “i,” but don’t expect marijuana sales there – at least not anytime soon. That location isn’t currently zoned for marijuana sales.

East of this area, Georgio’s Pizza has temporarily closed its Charles St. location and delayed the opening of a new Grand River Ave. storefront in The Hub.

Currently, the phone number listed for Georgio’s location in The Hub goes straight to a voice message: “Thanks for calling Georgio’s Pizza on Grand River. Due to all of this craziness going on we decided to postpone our grand opening. We will open our doors to business just as soon as things calm down a bit. Stay safe and we hope to see you soon.”

Georgio’s recently asked the City for rent relief for its Charles St. location, which is owned by the City of East Lansing. Read more about that here. 

The Quality Dairy store at 1109 E. Grand River Ave. is no more, with a closed sign in the window reading, in part, “Thank you for your years of support here at our University Quality Dairy Store.” 

Quality Dairy, a large regional employer headquartered in Lansing, has been in business in the area since 1936 and still has two East Lansing locations — the store on Michigan Ave. near Harrison Rd. and another on Lake Lansing Rd. where that road takes a jog just north of Whitehills Elementary School.

Exscape Smoke Shop and Vapor Lounge has operations in several states but has had only one location in Michigan, on 225 M.A.C. Ave. downtown, next to The Riv. Now, the East Lansing Exscape store has closed. Signs in the window on M.A.C. offer that space for rent.

Espresso Royale has closed all of its coffee shops in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, leaving the storefront at 527 E. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing vacant.

Espresso Royale closed all its stores on March 20, due to COVID-19, according to a message on its website. The message goes on to say they intended the shutdown to be temporary, but as lockdowns grew longer, the business was no longer viable. 

The message thanks customers, employees and suppliers and directs customers to visit M-36 Coffee Roasters, who provide the same coffee that Espresso Royale had for sale. 

“Some would say that a company that goes out of business has failed; we don’t think so,” the note reads. “Since 1987, Espresso Royale has served excellent coffee to millions of customers, has provided good work for thousands of people, and has purchased millions of dollars of goods and services from businesses around the country. We think that’s a success.”

The vacancy left by Espresso Royale in downtown East Lansing will be matched by a vacancy next door if MSUFCU’s plans come to fruition. The credit union plans to build a new 7-story structure at the intersection of Albert Ave. and Abbot Rd. and to move its branch from next to Peanut Barrel to that new location. (That is at least a year off, and possibly more like two.)

Bubble Island, just west of Peanut Barrel, recently closed permanently.

MSUFCU has just closed the Financial Innovation & Education Center at 309 E. Grand River Ave., next to Curious Book Shop. The credit union’s President and CEO April Clobes tells ELi this afternoon it was closed because “our five-year lease was up and we will be transitioning this intern center to the new building location.”

Clobes goes on, “Our interns left campus in mid-March and the building has been unoccupied since then as our teams are working from home. We have been working to close the location based on our lease termination. Future interns will be accommodated in our headquarters buildings and the branch location in the Union Building. All of these changes are part of our long-term planning involving the proposed project on Abbot [Road].”

The Blaze Pizza at 437 E. Grand River Ave. and East Lansing Threads, a clothing boutique located at 225 E. Grand River Ave., have been in those locations since 2017 and 2014, respectively. Both are now closed and calls to the listed phone numbers go straight to an automated Verizon message stating “the called party is temporarily unavailable.”

Work continues at the Jolly Pumpkin location on Albert Ave., with an anticipated opening in the fall.

Correction, June 30, 8 am: Originally this article said Barrio Tacos was closed for no apparent reason. After several days of being closed, Barrio has reopened, so we deleted that short paragraph.

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