Walking into Red Cedar Cafe Espresso and Bakery at Brookfield Plaza in East Lansing, which opened last August, feels like walking into a friend’s home. Founder and owner Angie Anderson greets customers with a warm smile and a generous menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a quick snack. She’s eager to point out the daily specials and show off her glass case of devilish desserts. Though daily specials change, service is always on the menu at the Red Cedar Café. Anderson has a degree from Michigan State University in business management and many years experience working in the service industry on campus. She was an assistant dining room manager for MSU and an operations supervisor for the MSU Bakery that provides baked goods to the MSU campus. When the opportunity presented itself, she knew that the plaza would be a great spot for the café. “This whole plaza has a new feel to it,” she explained. The property owner has made the parking lot and other storefronts attractive and inviting. And because it’s near MSU, it seemed like the right time to follow her dream. Anderson also knew how she wanted her restaurant to look and feel — warm, eclectic, fun and local. Her mother and father-in-law provide pictures on the wall that they’ve taken on and around MSU. She worked with a decorator who combined earthy wall colors like honey and green mint with edgy accents like a corrugated steel wall and a black-trimmed glass bakery case. “I think it looks warm and cool at the same time,” she said. And to fill the case, she hired an expert baker who bakes all the treats — including bite-size goodies like mini cheesecakes — on-site every day. Anderson also buys as much Michigan-grown product from local vendors as possible. Her fare ranges from homemade soups and sandwiches to fruit bowls and yogurt granola parfaits. Yes, even the granola is fresh and homemade. It took a few months to convert two suites in the plaza to accommodate the café that seats 58. Still, Anderson knew that she wanted to stay close to the MSU community. “I enjoy the energy of the students,” she said. But the café also attracts professionals and families. If you or your business are planning a party or special luncheon, the Red Cedar Café will cater onsite, too. Anderson enjoys all facets of running the restaurant. “I love working with people,” she said. “This is a fun industry. I really love it when someone walks up to the baked goods area or the “Grab ‘n Go” case and gets a big smile on their face.” She tries to change the offerings in the case with fun, local and unusual items. Today, you might find Voss water straight from Norway and Faygo. Tomorrow, you might grab a fruit cup or Mexican coke made with real cane sugar. The Red Cedar Café, located at 1331 E. Grand River, is a place you’ll want to visit often or maybe even make part of your daily routine. With Wi-Fi, hot gourmet coffee drinks and tasty treats, it’s a place where you and your friends can linger and feel right at home. Visit Red Cedar Cafe on Facebook for more details.
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.