New program seeks to introduce unique Lansing eateries to local residents as well as out-of-town guests

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 5, 2022) – When visitors come to Lansing for a Fox Pointe concert, or when local families host guests from out of town, or when former residents return for a visit, where should they grab a meal? Lansing is home to nearly 70 restaurants — a mix of franchises, chains, and locally owned eateries. Which ones offer a uniquely Lansing culinary experience? Which restaurants should visitors “not miss” while they’re in town?

Those questions are behind a new program by The Lansing Journal. We set out on a quest to showcase Lansing’s unique flavor by offering Local Flavor Awards to Lansing restaurants. The awards are not intended to pit our restaurants against each other in competition. Rather, we want to let readers know what makes a restaurant noteworthy. Is it the homemade potato chips? A secret mix of spices in the pizza sauce? Knowledgeable staff? A unique setting or decor? All of these could qualify a Lansing restaurant for a Local Flavor Award.

We have set up a new Local Flavor category in our news menu. Over the coming weeks, we will publish a story in this category for each Lansing restaurant that invites us to visit and sample a dish of their choosing. We encourage readers to then visit these establishments and bring family and friends.

Who qualifies for a Local Flavor Award?

The program celebrates uniquely local flavor — food and beverage experiences that are available only in Lansing. For that reason, we eliminated McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and even Harold’s and Shark’s. The Lansing Harold’s might be slightly different from Harold’s in Chicago or Los Angeles, but it’s probably not different enough to make eating there a uniquely Lansing experience. (If you disagree and want to nominate Harold’s, we are willing to reconsider our stance.) Qualifying restaurants might be dine-in or take-out — and they might serve meals, desserts, or drinks — but we want them to be uniquely Lansing.

Local Flavor
Local Flavor Awards celebrate uniquely Lansing flavor — food and beverage experiences that are available only in Lansing. (Photos: Melanie Jongsma)

When we visit an award candidate, we ask the owner or manager to choose the signature dish they want to serve us. We take photos of the food and of the restaurant. We interview the owner. We interact with the servers. So in order to qualify for a Local Flavor Award, a decision-maker at the establishment needs to be directly involved.

What do Local Flavor Award winners win?

  1. Article
    After we visit a Lansing restaurant to learn about their signature flavor, we describe our experience in a detailed article. The published article will appear along with our regular news, so subscribers will receive it via email before we share it to our social media sites. We have also created a new Local Flavor page on our website, and that page will give visitors easy access to the full collection of Local Flavor articles.
  2. Directory listing
    The Business Directory on our website already includes a restaurant category, and award recipients receive an enhanced listing in the directory.
  3. Certificate
    We provide each award winner with a Local Flavor Award certificate that describes the reason they won and includes a QR code and link to the full article.
  4. Digital swag
    For each winning restaurant, we create digital versions of their award that are size-optimized for Facebook, Instagram, or websites.

How can a restaurant win a Local Flavor Award?

Restaurants may nominate themselves, or readers are invited to nominate their own favorite eateries by emailing us:

You are allowed to send as many nominations as you like; nominations are not “votes.” Also, there is no limit to the number of establishments The Lansing Journal chooses to recognize.

Why is The Lansing Journal doing this?

The Local Flavor Award program is intended to benefit Lansing restaurants by making readers aware of the uniquely local flavor in this community. It is intended to benefit the broader Lansing community by attracting enthusiastic new business from out-of-town visitors.

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