Marco’s Pizza closes in Jackson

23 04 2008

Four more pizza joints close in Jackson bringing the total to seven in just a few months…..

Three Domino’s Pizza locations closed recently. Now, four Marco’s Pizza locations — 836 N. West Ave., 2003 Horton Road in Summit Township, 4000 Page Ave. in Michigan Center, and 237 E. Michigan Ave. in Grass Lake — have closed.

Franchisee Pat Richardson, who owned the Marco’s locations in Michigan Center and Grass Lake, had bought the Jackson and Summit Township restaurants last fall. Efforts to contact Richardson were unsuccessful.

Peter Wise, vice president of marketing at Marco’s office in Toledo, said he couldn’t discuss why the restaurants closed but said Marco’s “definitely values its customers and is anxious to get back and be able to serve them.”

Sad, but they are all chains. Anyone know of any good local pizza places in Jackson?

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Grilling A Pizza

23 04 2008

Who knew it was possible?  I got the idea after eating at Weber Grill (review here).  My girlfriend and I went to Chicago for date night one weekend and Weber Grill was recommended by my brother who was supposed go with us with his wife but then backed out at the last minute.  Everyone thought I was nuts ordering a pizza at a place like this, but the concept sounded so good, so I got a pepperoni pizza as an appetizer.  It was delicious.  A few months later, my girlfriend and I took my mom to a doctor in Chicago and since we were close to downtown, we took her to Weber Gril for lunch.  This time, we got the buffalo chicken pizza as an appetizer.  All three of us loved the smoky taste and I knew then, I had to try it on my own.

Pizza DoughSo, today, I started out with my homemade piza dough from a recipe I got from one of my friends moms.  She used to make homemade pizza for us every Friday and Saturday night.  It was definately the highlight of the weekend when I was in high school.  It’s a pretty simple, basic pizza dough recipe of yeast, water, salt, sugar, canola oil, and flour.  I’ve healthied it up a little bit by doing half AP flour and half wheat flour.  It changes the taste a little bit, but nothing bad.  I actually think it might taste better.  I let the dough rise over night then fired up the grill after running a few morning errands.

Charcoal Lit
Charcoal is something else I get picky about when I grill.  I only use natural lump hardwood charcoal.  In this case, I’m using a brand called Cowboy Charcoal Co.  I know it’s minor, but I try to use as few chemicals as possible when cooking and briquettes are pressed together with chemicals.  Nothing terrible, but it just adds a slight taste.  NEVER. NEVER.  NEVER use lighter fluid.  Forgot about dangers of it.  Lighter fluid leaves a bad taste if it doesn’t burn all the way off and it almost never does.  Spend the $6 and get a chimney starter.  Usually, I use parafin wax to start my coals, but I didn’t have any.  The easiest, cleanest way to start the fire is by rolling up a paper towel and spraying cooking spray on it.  The coals will take about 20-25 minutes.  I actually got mine a little too hot today and the fire died pretty quickly after I got cooking.

Grilling PizzaNow it was time to cook the pizza.  After rolling the dough out and brushing on some garlic butter, the dough rounds when straight on to the grill grates.  I had considered using a cast iron skillet, but thought I’d try this.  It worked great.  The fire was hot enough the dough cooked really quickly.  Almost too quickly.  I was yelling back in the house to my girlfriend to bring the sauce and cheese.  AfterGrilling Pizza only a minute or two, I flipped the dough and started spooning on the sauce.  It didn’t take long at all.  By the time I was putting on the cheese, I was a little worried that I was taking too long and the pies were going to be burnt on the bottom.  At this point, I put the grill cover on for just a couple seconds to melt the cheese.  Less than five minutes after I put the raw dough on the grill, I was taking them off. 

Grilling PizzaSo, how they’d stack up to Weber Grill’s?  Pretty darn close.  The crust had a nice smokey flavor.  The cheese was perfectly melted.  I add a few spices (oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes) to the sauce and that made for a spicy sauce.  This was much, much better than cooking them in an over and it was really quick.  It took longer for the coals to warm up.  I felt bad about wasting the fire so I grilled some burgers for dinner later tonight and I grilled some pineapple and peppers for my girlfriend to eat.  Don’t be intimadated by pizza on the grill.  It’s not as hard as you would think it would be.  If you don’t make your own down, just buy one of those pre-packaged ones.  All the flavor is coming from the fire and it’s totally worth the time and effort. 





4 AM Bars

23 04 2008

The State News has an editorial this week about the legislation that would allow municipalities to enact an ordiance to allow bars to stay open until 4 AM.

The point of the bill is to make money for the state and help reduce the deficit. However, the bill seems too potentially dangerous to justify the budget relief.

Currently, bars across the state are open until 2 a.m. In that time, bar crawlers are able to thoroughly indulge in their desired alcohol-driven activities. By the time the bar closes, many patrons stumble home, drunk and tired.

What happens if bar hours are extended for two extra hours?

More alcohol is consumed, and at 4 a.m. patrons who are even more drunk and tired will pour into the streets, off to their next destination.

The potential for alcohol-related incidents including drunken driving and public intoxication likely would increase.

*Sigh*  Another un-informed opinion.   I know State News is a college paper, but give me some proof to back that up.  For five years, I lived in Peoria, IL where they have a 4 AM district.  Guess what?  There aren’t a ridiculous number of DUI’s or accidents.  There aren’t people in the street fighting at 4:05 because they’re intoxicated.  Peoria is home to Bradley University so it’s not like there are no kids running around Main Street.   It just takes some planning on the city’s part.  I wouldn’t be in favor of a state-wide 4 AM license, but done responsibily, extending liquor license’s can be a benefit to the communities and the state as a whole. 

Let’s not try to pretend that alcohol is the root of all evil.  There’s a reason prohibition failed.  Alcohol sales provide a good portion of any cities revenue through license fees and sales tax.  Not everyone who drinks a beer does so irresponsibly.  I already said I’m not in favor of a state-wide 4 AM license, but I am in favor of 4 AM districts similar to the one in Peoria.  The State News article makes the same point in it’s article.

However, such legislation could be effective in stimulating areas such as downtown Detroit where casinos and other nightlife are prevalent.

But in the very next sentence, they go back to blaming all of the world’s problems on college students.

In more metropolitan areas such as Detroit and Grand Rapids, where the majority of residents are working adults and not active students, the bill could provide a positive social and economic stimulus.

An extended license in a downtown district in any city in Michigan can be a good thing.  East Lansing is no different.  Yes, it’s probably true that business downtown would spike after 2 AM, but that also gives East Lansing Police a chance to regroup and redeploy themselves downtown.  It IS the PD’s job to keep the peace.  Drinking and hanging out at the bars are part of life and a whether you think it’s a good thing or not, it is a big part of college life.  Every one of those police officers know when they take a job in East Lansing that most of their time is going to be spent trying to control rowdy college kids.  Every resident who moves into East Lansing should also know that is where a majority of their tax dollars will go too.

Back to Peoria.  The 4 AM zone is only in Downtown and it doesn’t even cover every bar.  There are boundries set up that have been under question for a few years, but the Council has been very tough when it comes to changing.  The zone is set.  The police chief is in favor of it and realizes the benefits to the 4 AM zone.  At 3:00 they reposition police officers to the Main Street area.  The taxi services know to be downtown starting around then too.  In all my years in Peoria and working in news, I only know of one or two instances of problems when the bars closed and both of those instances where at the same bar.

Michigan has a unique opportunity here with HB4573 to improve the quality of life in it’s urban areas as well as take advantage of a huge funding source.  Business wishing to stay open to 4 AM would be charged an extra $1000 on top of the license fee.  The bill stalled in the house on Oct. 3 of last year when Rep. SteveTobocman moved for temporary postponement on the third reading.