austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

While all of my brothers are sitting at home I've got a bank loan and I've opened up my very own

To continue this week's theme of things-there-forever that close. Emil's Italian restaurant, not quite as far from us as the hipster bar where we play pinball, had been there since 1921. A few months ago the local alt-weekly mentioned the whole block had been bought up by the local Totally Not Evil We Swear developers group, and that most places on the block were now on month-to-month leases. Emil's was on a lease through the end of October. A few weeks ago the alt-weekly reported that Emil's was not signing a new lease, and wasn't moving either. It would close the 30th of October.

bunny_hugger and I had gone there several times, I think every time with her parents. It had been, the first time we visited, a decent-seeming place. Each subsequent visit seemed a little less good, though, the menu a touch less vegetarian-friendly, the crowds a bit thinner. The last time we were all there we were the only people in the restaurant, slightly but not very early for dinner. Reviews of the restaurant suggest this wasn't just our faulty memory, or a post facto explanation for why we ignored a local and longstanding business almost in our backyard. The restaurant had been indispensable once upon a time, and had sometime in the past decade given up striving for that, and now was ready for a quiet rest.

We didn't go to the restaurant for a last visit. We didn't have time, really. I might have gone for lunch one of the days bunny_hugger was out at work, but I was stricken with stomach flu and then back pain and while I might stop in a fast-food place for lunch without her, an actual restaurant feels a step too far somehow.

But I did visit before the last day, to photograph the building and its surroundings, and the large mural that marks the western wall of that block of buildings. bunny_hugger went the last day, under skies that made for much more exciting photographs. Neither of us stepped inside.

We expect the whole block to be torn down and replaced. In fact, the Lansing State Journal reported that just Thursday. The architect's rendering of it makes the new block look like an unremarkable, circa 1970 block of low-rise apartments, only with the brick cladding that somehow looks like fake brick cladding that they put on new buildings anymore. bunny_hugger described the style as ``Brutalism made softer.'' I responded, ``So, Bluto-ism?''

In the fuss of closing we learned Emil's had always been at that exact spot, that the restaurant had never moved in search of a better lease. It had started from an immigrant fruit vendor who went from that to selling Italian food in the early 20s. The Lansing State Journal claimed Al Capone always ate there when he was in Lansing on business. I'm sure he was in town all the time to tend work and would stop in for dinner. (Well, I guess he did have work with state legislators.)

With Woody's Oasis gone three months ago, and Video To Go and now Emil's gone, we got to thinking what would be the next institution to suddenly vanish. We simultaneously hit upon: Westlund's Apple Market, a neighborhood supermarket that's the last survivor of the local Shop-Rite chain. The other Shop-Rite closed last year.

We stopped over at Westlund's on Halloween, to get some chips and some hummus, itself provided to Westlund's by Aladdin's Mediterranean Cafe, a local institution. It's located in the shopping mall that Video To Go was in. We haven't been to Aladdin's in person though.

Trivia: Reuters's computer-gathered Stockmaster business data transmission system lost £20,000 in the second half of 1964, its introductory year. It earned profits after that, rising to £244,000 profit for 1968, despite gathering competition. Source: The Power of News: The History of Reuters, Donald Read.

Currently Reading: The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, John McPhee.

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