What’s new, Midland?

In hopes of combatting cabin fever, the Focus visited and reviewed a variety of new cafes and restaurants to give you some new options to get out of the house. Design Editor Noah Jacobson | Copy Editor Aubrey Chambers

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NCG CINEMA

NCG has been a Midland staple since most of us can remember. We were all used to the worn-out seats and 90s-era decor. Fortunately, the powers that be decided it was time for an upgrade. The new NCG Cinema is sleek. You’ll now want to go to the theater for the environment and comfort, not just the big-screen experience. The theater now offers many new amenities such as separate ticket purchasing to control overflow crowds, freestyle soda machines and premium recliner seating. Despite what one may expect, pricing has not drastically increased since the building’s renovation. Movie night has shifted into a grand outing. You can wait for your movie to start in the new comfortable seats in the lobby, and admire the modern decor.

Not everything has changed, of course. The cinema still offers all of its timeless concessions: slushies, candy, popcorn, and pretzels are still available for your movietime snacking. You even get to add your own butter–as much as you’d like. Also, moviegoers 21 and older can now enjoy an alcoholic beverage with their film. Overall, the new and improved NCG provides a place to watch the latest blockbuster while feeling like you’re treating yourself with a luxurious experience.

 

 

 

OLD CHICAGO

Newly renovated and in place of the late Bennigan’s, Old Chicago brings the modern, clean cut restaurant atmosphere Midland has long been needing, but at a price more of us can afford. Despite being advertised as a pizza joint, the restaurant offers a wide variety of choices, accommodating to whatever occasion it might be. Whether you want an easygoing sandwich for lunch or some greasy bar food on a Friday night, they have it all. One could describe their menu as Applebee’s on steroids; a few extra options at a step up in quality, in addition to pizza.

Pizza still reigns as their obvious specialty however, with choices of hand tossed, deep dish and thin crust as well as gluten free alternatives. Offering a soft opening before their official one, owners clearly communicated that adequate service was one of their top priorities and wanted to give their staff an opportunity for experience. The service certainly matched their intentions. The entire staff was welcoming and kind, constantly checking to make sure our time there was as good as it could be. Our server was very helpful and timely. Altogether, Old Chicago has put themselves on the map as the place to return to regardless of the occasion.

 

 

 

 

TIKI PINEAPPLE

Tiki Pineapple offers a consistently wide variety of dole whip soft serve flavors conveniently located along South Saginaw Road. In addition to the many choices, it offers a good handful of toppings, add-ons, and sauces. They also offer dairy-free chocolate and vanilla soft-serve for those on a lactose-free diet.If you’d rather pass on the frozen dessert, the menu also includes different meal options such as wraps, salads and chili.

Unfortunately, the toppings for those savory snacks are scattered about in the same cooler as the sweeter toppings, so make sure you’re putting a cherry on your dole whip, not a cherry tomato. Walking in for the first time, one can appreciate the cleanliness of the building; it’s apparent that the staff takes pride in their store and works hard to keep it up to par. Furthermore, they were very kind and accommodating upon our arrival, offering us a seat in the exclusive, unopened party room. The shop will soon be open to host birthday parties and events for all ages, adding a new space for Midland party planners. While acknowledging the difficulty of decorating such a large space without a multi-million dollar budget, the space (formerly Yogurt Yeti) lacks any sense of homey atmosphere and feels artificial and oddly spread out. However, this would not be difficult to overlook if stopping to pick up some soft serve. Overall, Tiki Pineapple offers a good place for a quick, unique bite.

 

 

GROVE TEA LOUNGE

Midland has seen a recent increase in popularity in locally-owned cafes and coffee houses. Following the addition of The Loch and Live Oak, add Grove Tea Lounge to that list. It differs with its focus on tea rather than coffee, but you can still get your classic espresso drinks here.

They offer a wide variety of tea, and the prices are manageable enough that it doesn’t feel like a splurge in the same way a $7 coffee drink does. Teas are offered hot and iced, and you can even add some boba or lemonade for a customizable drink. A favorite of ours is the iced Blue Jasmine green tea. Grove also offers a wide variety of food options, ranging from sandwiches to cinnamon rolls. This makes it a good option for a light meal or a quick snack.

Housed in a former Chemical Bank branch, the environment has a modern feeling. That makes it an interesting place to stop in for a drink, but it lacks some of the homey feeling that makes you want to curl up with a book and a warm drink. Overall, Grove Tea Lounge is a nice, bright stop for a hot drink and a unique bite, but is missing a little bit of the ‘lounge’ feel.