Name Change Doesn’t Hurt Biggby’s Growth

26 01 2009

The State News did a profile on Biggby founder and MSU Grad Bob Fish.  The only real newsworthy thing is almost an after thought in the lead. 

Fortunately, the name change didn’t stunt the growth of the company. Biggby has doubled its store numbers every two years since Fish began franchising stores in 1999. The company had its best year ever in 2008, opening 35 new stores across the Midwest and Southeast.

I know how hard change is for people.  I still don’t like to call Comiskey Park US Cellular Field.  It’s just not right.  To me, Beaner’s is an obvious reference to coffee.  It was the only thing I thought about when I heard the original name of the coffee franchise.  J actually had to clue me in as to why Beaners could be offensive.  Then, just last month, I figured out where the new name came from.  Duh…

Anyway, the thing I really wanted to write about today was Biggby’s ability to adapt.  The thing I absolutely LOVE about the franchise is that there is no set model on how the stores have to look.  I love the store in Holt that’s put in an old building or the store in downtown Lansing.  Biggby doesn’t have to go into the same, boring, building every time.  Outside of major cities, all the Starbucks look exactly the same.  What will help Biggby grow is being able to use existing buildings.

Jack Breslin Student Events Center

7 12 2008
  • 1 Birch Road
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 432-1989
  • Website
The view from our seats for a Michigan State basketball game at the Breslin Center

The view from our seats for a Michigan State basketball game at the Breslin Center

A year ago, when I stood in the Peoria Civic Center and watched Bradley University almost upset Michigan State, I never imagined that I would see this year’s Bradley/MSU from a seat in the Breslin Center.  Earlier in the week, J and I made sugar cookies like we do every year from my grandma’s recipe.  She took a few to work and one of her co-workers said he’d like some more.  He’s got access to MSU basketball tickets and I offered up a trade.  Two dozen home made sugar cookies for two tickets to the Michigan State vs. Bradley basketball game.  I lived up to my end of the bargain and two days later, J came home with a pair of tickets.

I have been to a number of college basketball games, but surprisingly, never as a spectator.  I do a lot of work for sports networks that broadcast these games and that’s how I usually go…including last year’s MSU/Bradley game that was aired on ESPNU.  I had been to the Breslin Center one other time, but that was for a volleyball game earlier in the year, so I was really looking forward to getting to go to a game.  J had never been to a college basketball game either, so it was a treat for both of us.

Before we ever got inside the Breslin Center, I already had a sour taste in my mouth.  Parking sucks.  Really sucks.  I tried looking online for a parking map before we left, but couldn’t find anything.  There were no signs directing you to a public lot and everything near the arena had a temporary sign out front that said those lots were for passes only.  I finally found a paid lot on Kalamazoo heading back towards Lansing and by the time we got there, it was almost full.  We were one of the last cars they let in and one of the parking attendants had to move their car to create more parking spaces.  The spaces were really tight and my mid-size truck didn’t want to fit very well.  Had we not left the game five minutes early, leaving would have been a mess. Read the rest of this entry »


7 12 2008
  • 301 E. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 332-6500
  • Website
  • Menu
Cosi on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

Cosi on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

Cosi is another one of those places that remind me of Chicago.  It was about eight years ago that a DJ friend of mine introduced me to the chain when he took me to a store on the north side of Chicago.  I went back to that store on Clark and Belmont a few times, but I also made several stops at a location in the Loop while I was interning at Fox Sports Net Chicago.  When I moved away from the Chicago suburbs, it was four years before I saw another Cosi.  Not long before I left Illinois, Cosi opened a location in Uptown Normal (home of Illinois State University).  I took co-workers there after talking up their flat bread sandwiches.  Most of them didn’t agree with me, but it was still a sandwich that I really liked.

J and I had walked past Cosi several times in East Lansing.  The store is located on Grand River Avenue across the street from Michigan State.  We had tickets to the Michigan State vs. Bradley University basketball game and wanted to grab lunch before heading over to the Breslin Center.  Since we gorged ourselves yesterday on pasta, bread, pizza, and gingerbread cookies, I decided on a healthier option than bar food.

It was J’s first time ever going to a Cosi, but this was the fourth different shop I had been in.  The others I’ve been in have all been very cramped and designed really awkwardly.  The shop in East Lansing was very spacious.  When you walk in, you have the option of going to a coffee bar or to go order sandwiches.  We headed to the right where the sandwich order line was.  The menu board was above the counter and was a little hard to read.  It was so far way from the front of the counter and a little high.  I found three or four sandwiches that looked good, but I always let J pick first. No sense in us getting the same sandwich.  That way we can share with each other and taste more of the menu.  Read the rest of this entry »

Crunchy’s Burgers and Pizza – Revisited

17 11 2008
Crunchys in East Lansing.  Picture taken in the spring of 2008

Crunchy's in East Lansing. Picture taken in the spring of 2008

I first reviewed Crunchy’s back in the spring not long after moving to Mid-Michigan.  That was the beginning of my quest for the best burger in Lansing.  I wasn’t overly impressed, but really liked the bar.  There were a few other things on the menu we were wanting to try and figured we’d get back there some day.  Fast forward six months.  I was working at Munn Ice Arena and J and I decided to meet up for dinner after the hockey game.  There’s not a whole lot of options after 10:00 other than pizza so J suggested we meet at Crunchy’s.

Saturday night is probably not the best night to go to a college bar if you’re not in college, but we knew that heading in.  J called ahead to see when the kitchen closed.  I was expecting to get done with work around 11 and the kitchen closed at 11:30, so we knew it was going to be close.  Turns out, I got done before 11 so we made it in plenty of time.  We were carded at the door and a waitress pointed out a table just inside the dining room that we could take.  Read the rest of this entry »

Munn Ice Arena

16 11 2008
  • 1 Chestnut Rd.
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 353-4698
  • Website
One of the endzones at Munn Ice Arena.  The view from my camera position.

One of the endzones at Munn Ice Arena. The view from my camera position.

I like hockey.  I like going to hockey games.  I like watching hockey.  I don’t do enough of either, so when I got a phone call to shoot CCHA hockey at Munn Ice Arena, I was pretty psyched.  I was just in Munn for the first time a week ago when I shot football across the street at Spartan Stadium and I thought then Munn would probably be a pretty good place to watch hockey.  I was right.

Munn Ice Arena is located on the campus of Michigan State University between Spartan Stadium and the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.   It’s a really interesting looking building.  Most of the arena is actually built into the terrain.  All you can see from the street is the roof of the building.  When you walk in, you’re at the concourse level and have to walk down to get to your seats.

Munn is a pretty good sized stadium for a hockey only arena.  The stadium holds almost 6500 people and most of those seats were pretty full the night I was there.  There are also suites on either side elevated above the seating area.  Most of the seating is bench seating, but the closer you get to the ice, there are some individual seats.  The interesting design thing, to me anyway, was the location of the team benches.  I don’t know if it’s unique to Munn or if it’s a college hockey thing (I come from an area where college hockey isn’t big, so I’ve never been to a game before). Read the rest of this entry »

Spartan Stadium

9 11 2008
  • 248 Jennison Fieldhouse
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 355-1610
  • Website
A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

Finally!  When we moved here, I was really hoping to shoot a football game at Spartan Stadium and Michigan Stadium.  Spartan Stadium finally happened.  Michigan Stadium will have to wait and hopefully happen next year.  I’ve now shot games at six of the eleven Big Ten football stadiums (Memorial Stadium (IL), Ross-Ade Stadium (Purdue), Ryan Field (Northwestern), Kinnick Stadium (Iowa), and Camp Randall (Wisc)).  From a working standpoint, Spartan Stadium doesn’t rate that high.  Lack of elevators and access knock it down a lot.  Putting the camera deck in a location that’s not cut off totally from the public knocks it down too.  Parking, however, is one of the best.  They let us park not far from the truck which is outstanding.  I don’t have to carry all the stuff I may need two miles.  I can leave my rain gear until it rains.

So, as most of you know, Spartan Stadium sits on the campus of Michigan State University near the other sports facilities on MSU’s campus.  The first thing I noticed is that it looks much bigger from the outside than it does inside.  The luxury suites and press box tower make it look huge, but that structure also takes away a lot of seats.  Still, the facility hold close around 75,000, so it’s not small either.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hobie’s Cafe & Pub

3 11 2008
  • 930 Trowbridge Rd.
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-3800
  • Website
  • Menu

Hobie's Cafe and Pub in the Trowbridge Plaza in East Lansing.

I do love me a good sandwich. After reviewing Menna’s Joint (review HERE), frequent commenter Corky suggested we check out Hobie’s in the Trowbridge Plaza in East Lansing.  I got lazy and uninspired when dinner time rolled around.  I e-mailed J to see what she wanted to do and she said we should just go out.  Since it was recommended, looked cheap, and looked good, we decided to check Hobie’s out for ourselves.

Hobie’s is in a pretty interesting location.  It’s sandwiched between Goodrich’s Shop-Rite and a Subway.  We made our way inside and found a huge menu chalkboard right away.  After deciding on sandwiches, we walked up to the “Place Orders Here” sign.  It didnt’ really look right, but we did what the sign said anyway.  After a few minutes, a very hesitant employee came over to take our orders.  My guess is he is pretty new.  He didn’t seem to sure of himself taking our orders. 

J ordered the Chicken Breast which came with their special “South of the Border” sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato on wheat bread.  She asked to keep the tomato off, but they put it on anyway.  She loved the sandwich.  Neither of us could really pinpoint what was in the sauce, but she said it was delicious.  Getting the tomato on the sandwich is a little disappointing, but not that big of a deal.  They were small enough that they didn’t leave a lot of residue on the sandwich. Read the rest of this entry »