Tag Archive | "East Lansing"

MSU and East Lansing businesses are teaming up to go green

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MSU and East Lansing businesses are teaming up to go green

Michigan State University students and East Lansing community members are teaming up to implement new equipment and methods to give more meaning to “go green.”

MSU students are becoming more involved in the East Lansing environment by implementing new technology on campus and promoting energy efficiency in campus groups and outside organizations like Michigan Energy Options.

Assistant Director Jennifer Battle at the Office of Campus Sustainability said the university is adding more renewable energy to the campus, such as a new anaerobic digester.

“We’re taking animal waste and food waste and putting it in a digester that renews the energy and powers buildings on campus,” Battle said.

Environmental Economics and Policy Sophomore Sara Savoia said the new anaerobic digester burns garbage and makes methane for energy and is considered one of the most revolutionary digesters on a campus in the nation.

Battle said the university has experienced a reduction of greenhouse gases by 17% since the fiscal year 2010. She said MSU tries to be aesthetically pleasing while also promoting eco-friendly habits.

“We want to make sure we have a park-like setting and carbon energy,” she said. “We have pledged to reduce carbon greenhouse emissions.”

She said there has been more student activation recently and that there are many students getting involved in improving the environment through hands-on activities.

“Overtime attitudes and beliefs from students have changed,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot more student interested in sustainability and it’s been great in helping our office engage the rest of the student body and get them involved and share information.”

Bryan Madle, the education and outreach coordinator at Michigan Energy Options, said they work with some MSU student interns who are working to improve the energy efficiency around the city.

Madle said MEO is currently working on modifying areas such as the 20 miles that stretches along Grand River Avenue from the Lansing capitol building to Webberville.

“We are remodeling energy efficiency,” he said. “One of the long term goals is to make predictions and to enhance the community.”

Madle said the organization helps local businesses and homes with their energy plans and teaches people how to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Er Ping Lu is an intern at Michigan Energy Options in East Lansing and said she hopes to see an improvement in better energy planning around the city.

“Basically we recommend people to restore some equipment in their house,” Lu said.

Lu said the interns usually have general meetings to discuss new ideas and analyze data sets. They are currently doing an energy review of consumption along Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue.

“We recently conducted a survey on people’s energy consumption in East Lansing,” Lu said. “It’s a very important part of our program.”

MEO works with several organizations to promote energy efficiency and has an event called Charrette from Oct. 22-30 throughout areas of East Lansing to open up discussion to the community about how to improve the environment, Madle said.

“Ultimately one of the big parts of it is raising awareness,” he said.

On campus, Battle said there are thousands of projects which impact water, waste and energy.

“Some are very visible and some are behind walls,” she said. “Some people may not even see the projects.”

The university has invested in new bike lanes to help reduce greenhouse emissions as well as purchased electric vehicles and electric charging stations with four at Spartan Stadium and one at Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Battle said.

Battle said recycling rates have also increased throughout the campus since 2010.

While Savoia said she has noticed several businesses on Grand River Avenue that do not recycle, she said she hopes to see students and community members learn sustainable habits.

“There is a lot of initiative to be eco-friendly on campus just because it’s such a hot topic in society and the business world today,” Savoia said.

Savoia said there is a lot of recycling in the buildings on campus, but has noticed majority of the businesses along Grand River Avenue do not practice habits like recycling.

“I know a lot of people don’t recycle unless it’s super easy or there’s an incentive,” she said. “I know a lot of kids don’t really care much. It’s a personal choice.”

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Living under a rock? East Lansing’s guiltiest pleasures please late night student cravings

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Living under a rock? East Lansing’s guiltiest pleasures please late night student cravings

            Everyone has that one snack that you just have to indulge in every once in a while. In East Lansing students can’t seem to stay away from Goombas’s Pokee Stix and Insomnia Cookies.

Pokee Stix remains one of East Lansing’s guiltiest pleasures. Photo credit: Julia Grippe

We all know that Pokee Stix had your heart the first time you tried them. If you haven’t experienced them yet, you’re missing out on cheesy pizza breadsticks with any topping you want that are impossible to settle with just one piece.

What makes Insomnia Cookies so good? It could be the way that the cookies are made doughy, warm, fresh, and like to melt in your mouth on the very first bite.

“Students love cookies. They especially love them when they are quick and easy delivery cookies!” declared Dan from Insomnia Cookies customer service.

“The convenience of delivery and having a store right on campus really draws students in,” Dan said. “They especially come for the chocolate chunk and the s’mores deluxe cookies; those are our most popular choices.”

When Dan was asked what makes Insomnia Cookies special besides the fact that they are delicious cookies, he replied with the unique hours Insomnia Cookies is open. “We’re open 6 p.m. until 3 a.m., and when you’re on a college campus you know that everyone gets the midnight munchies. Also for our student employees it’s a good work schedule because it’s after classes and never conflicting,” Dan said. “We also get calls for cookie cakes with special messages like, ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Good luck on your test.’ Students really like to be creative with those kinds of things.”

“Another big reason why we get so much business is because our prices fit right into the student budget,” Dan added.

When it’s not your sweet tooth that is calling, Goombas Pizza is the place to go, or to order in. Pokee Stix specifically are the items students at Michigan State love to snack on.

“My friends and I all love Pokee Stix after being out late at night. We’re up until 1 or 2 a.m., and since that’s a long time after dinner we want something hardy and filling. Because there aren’t that many places open late, Goombas is always our go-to,” said Mackenzie Jebb, a freshman accounting major.

Mackenzie didn’t have a single negative thing to say about Goombas. “It’s easy, and delicious. Also we never feel like waiting, which is perfect because it gets here so fast,” she explained.

“Goombas never fails to hit the spot, and because we’re always with a big group it’s super easy to share,” said Jebb. “I don’t know if anyone is as weird as us, but when there are left overs they go straight in the fridge because they are so good cold.” Jebb claimed.

Goombas is open until 3 a.m. from Sunday until Wednesdays and until 4 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday, which makes it the optimal time for a delicious night snack.

In fact, their busiest time on the weekends is from around 12:30 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. according to Bob Jones, student employee at Goombas in East Lansing.

“Students enjoy Pokee Stix so much because it’s the most terrific greasy and satisfactory snack that you just can’t seem to get enough of,” Jones said. “Especially when it’s late at night and you’re not worried about what kind of food you’re eating.”

While there are other places on campus that sell pizza and bread sticks, none seem to satisfy the late night cravings of Michigan State students like Goombas Pizza does. Let your taste buds do the talking and try them for a starting price of $9.00, depending on how many you want.

Insomnia Cookies and Goombas Pizza have proven to be sensational late night snacks for students across Michigan State’s campus. With low prices, late hours, and foods that hit the spot like no other, it’s impossible to break the tradition of a midnight Insomnia run with the gang or a Pokee Stix delivery after a long night. Another bonus of these businesses is you can order online for both of them. Talk about easy. Next time you have a late night craving, keep these yummy places in mind.

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MSU in Color: Brown

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MSU in Color: Brown

Although the fall semester has ended and winter break has begun, MSU has yet to have a big snowfall leaving campus looking a little dull.  But if you try, you can still see the beauty our campus has to offer.  So I leave you all with my attempt to find beauty in the shades of brown throughout East Lansing including some cute pictures of the local squirrels we all know and love.

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“Life in Color” invades East Lansing

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“Life in Color” invades East Lansing

Formerly known as DayGlow, Life in Color invaded East Lansing on Friday, October 19.  Life in Color has been, “The Worlds Largest Paint Party,” since 2006.  Starting out as a college tradition among Florida campuses, Life in Color has turned into a full blown concert event and has spread to some of the world’s largest cities including New York, London, Melbourne and more.  Life in Color includes booming DJs, aerial acts, fire shows and of course the, “Paint Blast.”  If you missed Life in Color at MSU this time around, Rachel Tang captured some awesome moments from the event!


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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — April

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — April

Hello. I don’t remember what round of Global View Goes Out to Eat this is, and I don’t care. Let me tell you why: Senioritis.

I can’t make myself go to class. I haven’t done a reading in I don’t remember how long. This is the longest sentence I’ve written in a month. My friend just texted me telling me we’re going to Rick’s tomorrow night. Today is Monday.

El Oasis, on Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

So, in the true spirit of my disease (I think senioritis has been certified as such by the CDC at this point), for this month’s column I declined to actually go to a restaurant where I have to sit down, wait for food, and in general behave like a normal, civilized human being, and instead went to a food truck. But it’s a food truck that doesn’t really move, so is it even really a food truck? That is too existential of a question for my level of brain function right now.

You have probably realized that I am speaking of El Oasis, the Mexican food truck (?) located on Michigan Avenue as you head west towards the Capitol, kind of across the street from Theio’s (the place that I don’t understand why everybody loves; its takes forever to get in at breakfast which is the only time you want to go, service is super slow, and the food kind of sucks). It is in a parking lot and there is nowhere to sit down and eat there. For where I’m at in my life right now, this is ideal. For you, it may not be. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

The menu is pretty standard Mexican fare – tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and so on. However, don’t expect Taco

Part of the (very well-priced) menu; pretty standard Mexican fare except for the beef tongue and tripe tacos.

Bell. This stuff is legit (or at least it seems legit to me, but I am not exactly a connoisseur). The food is all homemade (truckmade?) and there was a woman wearing a pink polo shirt that said “La Jefa” (The Boss) on it giving orders in the background, so all in all, the scene is pretty awesome. There was also a token hipster in line, a given with any food truck experience.

So my friend and I grabbed our food and ran back to the safety of our apartment to take pictures of it without the hipster judging us for being so lame. I had “Gregorio’s Special” (who is Gregorio?), which consisted of a beef taco and rice and beans, and I got some pico de gallo on the side because I had chips at home and I am obsessed with pico.

The taco consisted of a soft tortilla (the good kind, not the kind from the $1.50 pack you get from Meijer), ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. It was definitely really great – flavorful and clearly fresh – but I had severely underestimated the size. I’m used to Americanized Mexican places where the servings are for, like, that kid in Matilda who ate the whole chocolate cake. This was for a normal person, even a not-super-hungry normal person. All of my illusions about Mexican portion size have been shattered. The rice and beans saved the meal, being kind of spicy and delicious, and most importantly, filling. I got the hot sauce on the side, but it wasn’t that great. It was a strangely electric orange color and weirdly bitter, although, it was indeed, very hot.

The pico de gallo, on the other hand, was really good – it was pretty standard tomato, white onion, cilantro (all uncooked) mixed together with some lime juice. The ingredients were definitely very fresh, probably the only really important thing about pico de gallo, but in my opinion the amount of lime juice was excessive. But what do I know? I’m just a white girl from the suburbs.

Beef taco, rice and beans. Tasted a million time better than it looks, I swear.

My friend got a small burrito (like me, she was expecting Chipotle-like sizes and so opted for a more human-like portion) and also ended up wishing she had ordered more. That being said, it was a good option for a vegetarian – it contained beans, rice, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese. She also got the mild sauce, which was definitely the better choice of the two sauces. It was kind of a green chili sauce with a bunch of cilantro, which is personally one of my favorite herbs.

What? You don’t have a list of favorite herbs?

Also in the plus column was price. The burrito was $3.50 and my taco plus rice and beans plus pico de gallo came out to $4.25. However, you might spend a little more if you are actually getting enough to create a whole meal – we had to supplement with the little food we have left in our cupboards (we have too much senioritis to go the grocery store).

All in all, it was a successful outing. We ate good Mexican food. We didn’t have to hide the fact that we ate it all in five minutes, since we were in the privacy of our own apartment. And most importantly, we avoided the dreaded scorn of the hipster.

Here are my conclusions:

–       Order more than you would at a more Americanized Mexican place; portions aren’t huge

–       If you own a fixie, you should ride it to El Oasis. You would fit in there.

–       Go for the mild, not the hot sauce

–       You should try either the beef tongue or tripe tacos, because they’re on the menu and I wanted to but was too scared/hungry

–       It is hard to accomplish things in April of your senior year


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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — February

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — February

And, welcome to Round Three of Tengo Hambre! Has anyone seen that new show on MTV, Caged? I need some of those ring girls from ultimate fighting to walk around me (as I sit on my couch with my laptop writing this) holding up those numbers and grinning inanely. If my writing career doesn’t work out, maybe I could become one of them – it doesn’t look like it takes too many IQ points.

Anyways, thanks for coming back, is what I’m trying to say.

The somewhat sketchy outside view of Altu's. Don't let it discourage you.

This month I decided to check out an Ethiopian place, Altu’s, that’s just off campus, west down Michigan Avenue. Ethiopian is really popular in D.C., and I tried it for the first time when I was there. I loved it, so this month I turned to my trusty Yelp! to try and find somewhere to get it in the East Lansing area. Only two options came up – Altu’s, and weirdly, a place in Ann Arbor (which had 3.5 starts to Altu’s 4, just another way East Lansing owns Ann Arbor), which means there can’t be too many Ethiopian restaurants around if the second closest place is an hour away.

On one hand, I’m glad I can help introduce people to a new kind of cuisine, and one the other WTF Michigan?? Ethiopian is super popular in the bigger cities, and I like to think of Michigan, and especially the college areas, as pretty cultured and diverse. Let’s step it up guys. There’s more than Tex-Mex out there.

Ethiopian food involves a lot of stew-like dishes, usually spicy (but you can almost always order them mild if you prefer), that are served with a spongy, sourdough-ish bread called injera. The injera is used to scoop up the meat and veggies, as Ethiopian food is intended to be eaten with your hands instead of silverware.

Don’t be lame and let this scare you away. Eating with your hands is fun, trendy (see a recent story in the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/xoMADN) and a cool way to try out an element of a traditional culture that you might not be that familiar with. Take a date there, and it will give you something interesting to talk about, or teasingly mock him/her about if they suck at it. Hopefully they won’t since it’s pretty easy, but who knows, maybe your date is motor-skill deficient. And if you’re really set against the eating-with-your-hands thing, you can always ask for silverware – the restaurant is bound to have some for super American Americans like you.

Back to Altu’s. I wasn’t expecting it to measure up to the Ethiopian I’d had in D.C., being nowhere near as popular in Michigan, but it totally did. You guys, it was so good. Which actually makes more sense now that I’ve done a little more research on the place. The owner, Altu Tadesse, was born and raised in Ethiopia, and opened the restaurant when her husband accepted a job at Michigan State. She doesn’t just own the place, she’s in charge of the cooking too, so you can be sure your food will be authentic.

If you want to check out your options before heading over, the menu (with prices – dinner ranges from about $8 to $12, slightly more if you get a bigger plate to share) is available on the restaurant’s website, eatataltus.com. I got a combo with spicy chicken stew and garlic lentils and OMG LOL as my dad would say (he doesn’t understand popular acronyms). First off, all the meals come with salad, cabbage and of course injera bread, in addition to the main dishes. If you like, you can have rice instead of the bread, or do half-rice, half-bread (which I did just so I could report back to you guys on the best choice).

The salad, although it was just a small amount, a basically just lettuce and tomato with a vinagrette dressing, was super fresh and very good. I wished I had had twice as much. As for the cabbage, usually I’m not fan, but I actually like what was served with my meal. It was buttery and flavorful, but not super cabbage-y if that makes sense. Still, it wasn’t my favorite part of the meal. My friend who came with me loved it though, and in her words, “I’m not a cabbage girl.” Put that on a bumper sticker.

On to the main dishes. My chicken was delicious – pretty much exactly what I had expected from my prior experiences

Salt and...berbere?

with Ethiopian food. It was tender and spicy (but not like Tabasco spicy, more like a slow-growing, lasts-for-an-hour-after-the-meal kind of spicy) and went really well with the slightly sour injera bread. There’s a spice mixture used in a lot of Ethiopian cooking called berbere that was used on the chicken and you’ll probably run into if you try Ethiopian food anywhere – it’s a combination of chili powder, garlic, pepper, dried basil and other, less-known spices like rue, korarima and fenugreek. It’s so ubiquitous, that instead of salt and pepper shakers on the table, there was one shaker filled with salt, and one filled with berbere.

My lentils were good, but not as flavorful as the chicken. I expected a strong garlic taste, but it was much more subtle, and almost hard to detect when combined with the injera, which has its own flavor. If you’re going for a vegetarian dish, I would suggest going with the half-rice, half-bread option. The blander rice allows you to taste the veggie dishes better, but the definitely try the bread – it’s traditional and interesting and like I said, fun to eat with.

Salad, cabbage, injera bread, spicy lentils, whole white peas and potatoes, spicy ground peas with greens and chickpea sauce.

My friend went for the vegetarian combo, which is a really nice option because you can choose any four of the veggie options, which gives you a chance to try a variety of things. She went with the spicy lentils, the whole white peas and potatoes, the spicy ground peas with greens and the chickpea sauce. She said the spice lentils and spicy ground peas with greens kind of ran together since they both were flavored with the berbere, and that her favorite was the white peas with potatoes which she said were slightly sweeter, with an almost squash-like texture and taste. The chickpea sauce, she said, was a little bland, but went the best with the injera. I tried all of her dishes (and ate the leftovers today) and my favorite was the spicy ground peas with greens, which were spicy and flavorful, with a little more texture than the white peas or chickpeas.

On Saturday nights at Altu’s they have live music, which was cool, but a little annoying when it got loud enough to make our conversation difficult. Also, we were slightly confused because the band was definitely bluegrass-y, when we would have expected something African or at least not so…American. But they were good, and obviously local, so it’s kind of cool that Altu’s is giving local musicians a place to play every week. But still. Weird.


My conclusions about this place:

–       OMG LOL it’s good

–       Great place for vegetarians, lots of the hearty and diverse choices

–       Eating with your hands is highly underrated

–       I love berbere

–       Ethiopian food + bluegrass music = odd, but overall not unpleasant

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So Long, Barnes & Noble

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So Long, Barnes & Noble

By Emily Green

The Barnes and Noble located on the corner of Grand River  and Charles Street  here in East Lansing is closing its doors on December 31. Barnes and Noble had just recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary at that location in September.

“I think that this will be a big loss to the city. It is an ideal set up for East Lansing and I hate to see it go,” said R. Dale Wilson, professor of marketing at MSU.

“Barnes and Noble is a place to read, browse and socialize. It is a retail anchor in East Lansing. I will miss it,” said Patricia Huddleston, professor of retailing.

While the reason for the closure is unknown, the vice president of development at Barnes and Noble David Deason did release a statement saying, “The current lease is at its end of term and we will be closing the store at the end of this year.”

Photo Credit: Julia Grippe

The company is keeping pretty tight lipped about the reason for the closure. While Barnes and Noble employees were questioned, they declined to comment on the story. It is known, however that the company and the building owner were unable to agree on the cost of a new lease for the upcoming year, which played a role in the closing of the store.

Huddleston speculates that this Barnes and Noble was one of their less profitable stores to begin with and that parking is a big issue. “If you do not have campus parking, or are on foot, you have to pay for parking. This makes the location of the store less convenient.”

“Many citizens of East Lansing will be disappointed by the closure, and wish that the two could’ve came to an agreement on the leasing price,” said Wilson.

The reaction to the closure of the store will most likely vary from person to person depending on who you ask. Both elementary education freshman Caitlin Karram and Lyman Briggs Freshman Darren Donnelly were not aware of the closing, but were also not very upset that Barnes and Noble will be closing.

“I would rather buy books online, it is easier,” Donnelly said. This brings up the debate on whether online shopping and e-readers will end up putting traditional books stores out of business.

“We are in the transition mode from traditional to online retailers, consumer preference is hurting their business,” Wilson stated.

On the other hand, biochemistry freshman Alek Guettler and Lyman Briggs freshman Breanna Borg were shocked to hear the news.

“I am very upset and very surprised,” Borg said.

With the closing of Barnes and Noble in a prime retail space and one of the biggest buildings on Grand River,  it may make people wonder how long will it be until another business will take its’ place, and what that  business  will be. Jacobson’s Department store was located in that building before Barnes and Noble moved into it.

Photo Credit: Julia Grippe

“It will be hard to find one retailer to take over the space. It may have to be subdivide,” offered Wilson.

While agreeing with Wilson that a good option for the building would be to subdivide it, Huddleston suggested that, “It might be interesting to subdivide the building as an incubator for local entrepreneurs to start up a business and merchandise their stuff; this could be a creative way to use the space.”

Some of the students on campus also shared what they might like to see open up in the vacated building once Barnes and Noble is gone.

“I would love to see another book store open there. I think that location is great for books,” said Guettler.

“I want to see a nice sit down restaurant go into the building,” Karram said. Even with many different ideas on what will fill the newly vacated building once Barnes and Noble is gone, both Wilson and Huddleston agreed that it will be hard to say how long the building will stay unoccupied.

With the closing of Barnes and Noble creeping closer by the day, whether you are upset or indifferent about the closing it is becoming apparent that the citizens of East Lansing will need to find a new place where they can buy books and music while also spending a quiet afternoon wandering through the shelves, or  to study silently.

“We will lose a convenient place for students and faculty of Michigan State to buy non-school books,” Huddleston said. Schuler Books and Music will now be the closet major book store to campus. It is located in the Meridian Mall.

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat – December

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat – December

New Aladdin's Restaurant, located in Frandor

Welcome back to Tengo Hambre. At least, I hope you’ve come back. I hope you didn’t read my first column and realize the truth (that I’m extremely underqualified to review restaurants) (that I should buy a thesaurus) (that I’m mostly motivated by hunger instead of journalistic integrity).

Either way, if you’re here, thanks. I appreciate it.

In Round 2 of this great experiment, I tried to make it a little easier for you guys, and I split the distance between East Lansing and Lansing to go hang out in that monstrosity of a strip mall called Frandor.

If you’ve ever been to Frandor, you know that it must have been designed by some civil engineer who either barely graduated community college or who was really smart but had an evil streak. It’s like a series of interconnected parking lots with no real way to get from one to another so you just kinda have to make it up. A successful trip to Frandor depends as much on your knowledge of sign language (to communicate with the other poor souls who find themselves there) as it does your driving ability.

But if you can get past the potential for a few minor traffic accidents, there’s some pretty good things in Frandor. Michaels – for supplies to decorate your beer pong table. A Coney Island – a good alternative for Saturday/Sunday hangover breakfast that not as many students go to. A slightly sketchy Kroger – for groceries when you just can’t take going to Meijer one more time. And of course, my destination: New Aladdin’s Restaurant, for Middle Eastern food.

When my friends and I set off for Aladdin’s, we had high hopes. It had earned 4.5 starts on Yelp! (with the all-important lone dollar sign under the price section) and great reviews about both the food and the service. And for me, it pretty much fulfilled those expectations. For my friends – some yes, some no.

We went on a Saturday night, and although it was far from full, there were enough people there to not make us nervous. We were the only students, which is pretty much standard, I’ve noticed, for places off Grand River.

The menu was pretty extensive, and pretty well priced. Pretty much anything you would want or expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant was available (with an optional side of fries – always a plus).

Three of us ordered entrees, (the ones we got were all around $8-$9, but the more expensive ones got up to about $15) and one ordered a sandwich (which was around $5). All of them came with a side (soup or salad) and the entrees included hummus and pita, which came out almost immediately after we ordered.

On the hummus front, we were divided. I thought it was pretty standard, good but nothing special, but others thought it was some of the best they’d had in a while and complimented it on being super fresh. There definitely was a lot of it, which was nice, because it lasted throughout my whole meal – which also arrived really quickly, by the way.

Clockwise from left: Fattoush salad, lentil soup, hummus, tabouli

We all ended up getting different sides (ideal for you readers out there just dying to know more about New Aladdin’s). I got the fattoush salad, with romaine, tomato, green pepper and toasted pita bits. It was hands down the best part of my meal. I could tell it was super fresh, and it had this light, lemony vinaigrette dressing that I wished I could have bought a gallon of because I would eat it on every salad for the rest of my life. Seriously.

My three friends got the tabouli salad (also super fresh, though a bit too onion-y for some of us, but perfect for others), a lentil soup (a little too lemon-y, my friend thought, but otherwise good) and one daring (aka hungover) soul went for the French fries. The one I tried was a little mushy, but I guess that’s what you get for ordering fries at a Middle Eastern place.

On to the main course. I had the yes, conservative, but ultimately good choice of chicken shwarma over rice. It was literally that – just chicken and rice – but it was really, really good. The rice was perfectly cooked, the chicken was well-spiced and delicious, and there was a lot of it. The leftovers are sitting in my fridge right now, calling to me, but I told myself I have to finish writing this before I eat them.

Chicken shwarma

My friends had varying experiences with their meals. One got the eggplant and falafel sandwich which she described as “dense” (whatever that means – I told her you guys need more varied descriptors than that but she wasn’t having it) but good. She added some turnip from another plate that she said broke it up well. The second got a vegetarian combo, which included grape leaves, falafel and mujadara (a rice, lentil, onion combination). This was not as much of a success. The falafel was deemed “nothing special – a little dry”, the mujadara “kind of flavorless” and finally – and I quote – the grape leaves were so lemony that eating them was “like sucking on a lemon-chamomile tea bag.” So. You might not want to order the grape leaves.

My last friend had kind of a terrible experience. I’m hesitant to write about it too much because I don’t think it’s typical of the restaurant but I don’t want to gloss over it, either. She ordered vegetarian cabbage rolls, which she thought tasted a little weird, but ate anyways. As we were paying, our waitress came over and apologized because – psych – the kitchen had messed up and given her the meat version. The waitress and the owner were super distraught and apologetic and rightfully didn’t make her pay, but my friend is a strict vegetarian, so it was a traumatic experience for her. I don’t think this should make you never go to Aladdin’s, because it’s the kind of mistake that I could see happening (a scribbled-down order or a too-quick glance at what was written could easily cause it), but still. Pretty big mistake.

My conclusions about this place:

–       Food was good, but order carefully – some things aren’t as great

–       They really like lemons

–       I want more fattoush salad

–       Frandor needs to install a full infrastructure of lanes, traffic lights and preferably some of those people who wave down planes at airports to direct confused drivers

–       Thank god I’m done writing this because now I can go eat my leftovers


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Inside MSU’s Headphones: November

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: November

November has brought us unexpectedly warm weather and sudden snow fall. Yet rain or shine, MSU students are always listening to music as they trek to and from class. I know I always want to know what they’re listening to, so once again, I’ve used my privileges as Arts & Culture editor to find out for myself. Watch the video below to see the music tastes of even more students!

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East Grand Enters the Record Business

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East Grand Enters the Record Business

By Dylan Sowle

The newest record store in East Lansing has upcoming plans to offer residents a unique experience through specialized inventory, online shopping and live music.

Residing in the previously abandoned basement at 213 1/2 E. Grand River Ave. sits East Grand Record Company, lined wall to wall with vinyl records and filled with eclectic music coming from the speakers.

Photo credit -- Dylan Sowle

Brothers Mark and Mike Voldeck opened the doors of East Grand Record Company at the end of July 2011 after buying and selling vinyl online for the past three years. When they had collected about 26,000 records in a basement, they decided they needed a place for them.

That place was East Grand, and co-owner Mike Voldeck said that East Lansing, with its variety of people and college town location, was the perfect place for it.

“The college crowd has been our bread and butter,” said Voldeck. “They are a perfect demographic.”

With a good market and location, the main concern is that several other record stores are already doing business in town.

Most notably is Flat, Black & Circular, or FBC, the famous shop that has been around since 1977.

Owner of FBC, Dave Bernath, has seen plenty of music stores open up since he’s been running his.

“There used to be 10 record stores around here,” said Bernath. “Things have come and gone. I don’t have any competition. We all just want people coming out to get music.”

Voldeck also stresses the fact that he doesn’t want to view his store as directly competing with others, but as having a positive relationship of bringing music to the community. He even directs customers to the other stores when they don’t find specific items at his store.

With other well-known and successful record shops such as FBC and the Record Lounge around, a new business has to do something to declare its individuality and provide a different service to the community.

One thing that sets East Grand apart is its inventory. Unlike the other stores in the area, this shop deals almost exclusively in vinyl and on top of that, mostly in used vinyl. The store currently carries about 6,000 records and with a large proportion of the used records priced at only $1, East Grand is doing something unique in the way they approach their business.

Selling exclusively vinyl can be a challenge however, especially with the growing reliance on downloading music. Bernath attested to this, discussing how FBC has had to change and improvise over the years in order to give customers what they want.

“It’s definitely still a viable market,” said Voldeck. “We wouldn’t have gotten into it if it wasn’t. In 2010, vinyl record sales were the highest they’ve been since 1991.”

East Grand recognizes the demand for vinyl but also the need to evolve and keep up with modern technology. This understanding has prompted them to build an online store that will allow every single record that they carry to be purchased online, a completely new business technique for record stores in the area.

Photo credit -- Dylan Sowle

Hairong Li, a professor of advertising at Michigan State University highly recommends this type of online presence, especially for small businesses.

“You are selling something unique and not everyone in East Lansing will buy it,” said Li. “By putting yourself online, you will have a wider audience, so more people will buy your product.”

Heather Frarey, owner of the Record Lounge, agreed with this, especially with regard to businesses in a college town such as East Lansing.

“You need some sort of online presence in East Lansing because business simply dies out here during the summer when the college kids go home,” Frarey said.

These reasons are what prompted the owners of East Grand to set up this online store, which is currently in the final stages of cataloguing and should be up very soon. This method will allow customers to have the records shipped to them, or allow them to pick their purchases up in the store.

“Even though you’re selling records, you have to keep up with modern technology,” Voldeck noted. “Not everyone makes it down to East Lansing to buy records, but just about 99 percent of people have access to a computer.”

In addition to being present online, East Grand is working on an increased musical presence in their store. They have already had several big name local and touring bands play in the store and have live jazz every Monday and Friday.

“Eventually we want to have it so that someone is playing in our store on a daily basis,” said Voldeck.

Nathan Fedorchak, an MSU student and customer of local record stores acknowledged the value of this idea.

“Having live music in a record store would be a very different experience,” said Fedorchak. “It would be great exposure for local artists.”

East Grand Record Company has been working the past three months on trying to establish themselves and building their presence and the future holds even greater plans.

“We’re still getting our feet wet and learning about the area and the customers,” Voldeck said. “But business is great and East Lansing is a perfect place to be.”

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