2011-10-30 / Marketplace

Old Stove fires up in downtown Lapeer

New restaurant opens its doors
BY JACOB HUNSANGER 810-452-2609  jhunsanger@mihomepaper.com

Mary Jankowske (left) and Rosie Baize-Noell serve hungry customers in downtown Lapeer at The Old Stove Cafeteria. At right, the walls are adorned with pots and pans. Inside them are old black and white photographs of people cooking. Mary Jankowske (left) and Rosie Baize-Noell serve hungry customers in downtown Lapeer at The Old Stove Cafeteria. At right, the walls are adorned with pots and pans. Inside them are old black and white photographs of people cooking. LAPEER — The Old Stove Cafeteria opened in downtown Lapeer this week, and owner Mary Jankowske said the new restaurant offers a healthy alternative for fast food. She also said The Old Stove, which has all cafeteria-style dining, offers a new choice for breakfast and lunch on Nepessing Street.

Jankowske is no stranger to feeding hungry people. A resident of North Branch, she has spent over a decade feeding customers around Michigan by way of a mobile food cart. The business was a successful one, but Jankowske said she was looking for something a little more stable and a lot closer to home. “I wanted more stability,” she said, adding that the new restaurant allows her to spend more time at home with her family instead of being on the road all week long.

Photos by JACOB HUNSANGER Photos by JACOB HUNSANGER The building on Nepessing Street was purchased over a year ago, but Jankowske wanted to make sure she had everything in order before opening a restaurant. “We went in and out of a lot of businesses downtown (Lapeer),” she said, asking people how much time they had for lunch on a typical day and what items they would like to see on a cafeteria menu. The most requested item on the list was macaroni and cheese, which Jankowske said may be a permanent staple at The Old Stove.

The new restaurant is open for business Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to catch the breakfast and lunch crowds. Everything on the menu, which changes daily, is either baked or steamed. Dining is cafeteria style at The Old Stove, which means customers grab a tray as they walk in and shuffle down the line picking out what they want to eat whether they want to eat in or take it to go. Jankowske described The Old Stove as, “A little healthier than fast food, but just as fast.”

On the menu each day are a selection of soups, sandwiches, a couple entrees and several side dishes. Each item on the menu has its own price so that customers can “build to your budget,” said the owner.

Customers will have a chance to view the menu every day online before coming in for breakfast or lunch. Jankowske has a page for The Old Stove on Facebook where she posts the day’s menu every morning.

The decor in The Old Stove is quaint and charming, with an actual old stove sitting by the door and dozens of pots and pans lining the walls. Inside the pots and pans are old, black and white photographs of people cooking. Jankowske said she got most of the photographs from family and friends who had family pictures of relatives cooking back in the day. While they sit and eat, customers can look at the pictures of Lapeer County residents cooking, dating back to the 1800s.

Several of the pots on the wall are still blank, and Jankowske invites anyone to bring in an old photograph of a relative working by stove. If she can enlarge the picture and make it fit in a pot, she said she is happy to add it to the wall.

“We’re very friendly people,” she said. “We like to keep things on the lighter side.”

Customers at The Old Stove will also find a way to help the community when they eat. At the end of the cafeteria line, next to the cash register, a large glass jar sits where customers can donate their change for a good cause. Each month, a local non-profit organization will be chosen and all donations collected during the month will benefit that organization. During the month of November, The Old Stove will use the jar to raise money for the Wheelin’ Team 457, an organization based in North Branch that provides sporting activities for residents in a wheelchair.

The cafeteria is also lined with a number of antiques and collectibles, owned by Todd Fritz. Customers can browse through the antiques and, if they see any they like, they can go online to the Fritz Auction website to bid on them. Jankowske said the antiques in the store will help benefit Fritz’s antique business and will allow the decor to change over time.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at The Old Stove on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 1:30 p.m. with the Lapeer Downtown Business Association.

The Old Stove is located at 364 W. Nepessing St. Reach them at 810-667-2699.

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