Nick Mannisto successfully launched a food truck during the pandemic, which helped put him in a position to buy a popular cafe and restaurant in downtown Brighton.
Mannisto, 28, has dreamed of opening a traditional restaurant since launching his food truck, Captain’s Wööd Fired Pies, in August 2020.
Earlier this month he took over Two Brothers Coffee, which he bought from Jim Starnes, who opened it in 2008.
Mannisto, who is also a professional DJ, and his girlfriend Lauren Somers, a yoga instructor who helps him with the business, said they would slowly change the menu, drink offerings over time – including coffee, tea, beer, wine and liquor — and interior.
They plan to install a wood-fired pizza oven covered in black mosaic tiles near the front door this summer.
“The restaurant will evolve where you’ll feel like you’re by a fire, fireplace style, relaxing by the fire with your friends,” Mannisto said.
He said that when the pizza oven is installed, the name will change to something new to include the word “Captain’s”.
“It’s all going to be as Michigan as it gets, as local as it gets,” he said.
Mannisto wants to partner with local farms for pizza ingredients, and as part of that goal, he’s been talking to Cardinal Farms in south Lyon.
“I want to have a hyper-local pie,” he said. “We will grow the wheat, take the water directly from this watershed, and the pork will be raised there, and all the other trimmings will come from this place.”
AFTER: New fashion store Sunny’s on the Corner arrives in Brighton, as another shop closes
AFTER: Brighton City Council decides to quickly replace City Manager Nate Geinzer
He said one type of pizza that has been popular with his food truck customers is a margarita pizza with pesto, balsamic reduction, fresh mozzarella and a garlic parmesan crust. Pepperoni is another popular pie.
“We’re going to specialize in pizza, but there will be special occasions where we’ll try to find wood-fired pastas and steaks,” he said.
He said limited delivery will be available in a pedestrian area.
The Two Brothers site will continue to sell coffee, tea, beer, wine and spirits. The new owners expect the liquor license to be transferred soon.
“There will be a lot of different kinds of drinks coming soon,” Mannisto said.
They have already started partnering with Livingston County-based Good Sense Coffee for unflavored coffees. They will also serve flavored coffees from Traverse City-based Espresso Bay and teas from Livonia-based Fraser Tea.
Plus, they’ll be offering made-in-Michigan liquor, including Petoskey Gypsy Vodka and local beers.
“People will experience change slowly as it happens,” Sommers said. “Usually people cover the windows. But here, every time someone comes in, the food and drink will be a little different. People can be a part of it. Every time you come in, you might notice something something changes, it could be new chairs or paint.”
She said the food truck and Two Brothers Coffee both have a strong following.
“I’m thrilled to have his captain’s suite here,” once the pizza oven is installed, she said. “It will bring both parties together, people who have been coming to this cafe for years and then the Captain’s followers.”
Mannisto said he wanted to organize special events, music and community activities.
“We will have special pop-up events and themed dinners,” Somers said.
Mannisto said ideas include dinners featuring local breweries, painting and pouring art activities, pizza demonstrations for kids, and educational events to teach people the best ways to make coffee or to grow produce.
“I would even love to work with high schools and do internships with culinary students who want to pursue careers in hospitality,” he said.
He added that he would like to give back to Howell High School’s student-run coffee and culinary program, which helped inspire his career as a chef.
“I also want to do my own festival in the next two years, maybe in January,” he said.
He said the festival could take inspiration from the Plymouth Ice Festival and that he would like to collaborate with winter-themed businesses, including Mount Brighton Ski Resort.
He also hopes to expand charitable contributions to the causes he supports, including VETLIFE and Toys for Tots, now that he has a physical location.
Changing of the guard
Starnes, 63, said he sold Two Brothers Coffee because he was ready to retire.
“I worked 38 years in law enforcement, then I made the coffee and it was time to do something different and let some young blood, if you will, come into it,” he said. -he declares. “He has a great plan and I have a great idea, so I was very happy to see he wanted to do this.”
He said he was looking forward to traveling to visit his children and grandchildren, and he and his wife are building a house in Brighton Township.
“There are a lot of good customers there. They came all the time and some people created a lot of relationships like that. It was good to do that,” he said.
He said running the cafe has also made important connections in his own life, including getting his two Dane dogs from a customer and joining the Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church community.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at email@example.com.