OT-Packard Pub on the brink?

Submitted by twohooks on January 25th, 2012 at 3:06 PM


Running a business is difficult, running a bar/restaurant proves to be more difficult. I was always intrigued by the location of Packard Pub the closest bar to UM's athletic facilities. With campus in full session it is hard for me to believe PPub is stealing plays from Angelo's playbook and taking a month vacation. That being said here in the cheap seats it looks like either a chapter is over or the book has been completed. With student foot traffic and game traffic this should fill a lot of dates on their calendar to offset your slower summer season. Parking seems like an issue but many people that I know who drive to Spot's dont have that issue one block north. Im interested to know your opinions why a seemingly prosperous positional site would prompt Packard Pub to be in this defensive stance.





January 25th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

Thursday meant dollar Buds/Bud Lights. Happy times. I was sitting down for a beer at the end of Spring term of 2011 and the manager started asking me some questions about how I liked the place. He also told me about how he was going to try and make it "the best cheap breakfast place in Ann Arbor" for the summer. I didn't think it was a great idea and I'm not sure if it came into fruition. The only thing I remember of the summer is that halfway into June or something like that it had signs saying "be back in the fall." I guess it's all my fault for not telling the manager that he was an idiot.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

I saw the opening, and I saw the second ownership this past season. They still hadn't gotten it right for the kind of audience they could draw from that area, IMO. Pretty much just for whatever reason. I don't think I could succinctly name the things they would need to tweak to get it right and prosper.

If they could pull off replicating the South-U vibe, I think it would be a huge hit. 


January 25th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

The location wasn't that great, but the seating arrangements and the inside was pretty crappy, IMO. It needs to be a blue lep/charleys/jug type of bar I feel like.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

Think about the successful bars on campus... they're in blocks. When I was in undergrad we went out to a few different places, but there were options.

South U - Charlies, Jug, Rick's, etc.

State St. Area: Skeeps, Arena, Ashley's etc.

Main Street: Connors, Monkey Bar/Jolly Pumpkin, All kinds of restaurants where you could drink

Down by Packard Pub there is.... packard pub? All the other places on campus you could go and if the vibe was bad/line too long you could walk 15 feet to another bar. That spot on packard was an island.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

Totally agree with this. Owners probably believe its good location because there is no competition over there, but i think it actually needs some competition around it to increase bar traffic in that area.

People like the different blocks because they can go from one bar to another if to meet friends or just get a change of scenary. Someone should scoop up the old sake bombs/video game store spot.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

Agree completely.  College kids for the most part want to hit a few bars each night in case 1 of them isn't fun on that particular night.  For this reason, I don't think you want to duplicate the "south u vibe".  I think this needs something completely different, attracting townies or make it higher scale.  Something other than a college bar.


January 25th, 2012 at 6:11 PM ^

You live near the Packard Pub.  It makes no sense to walk to the Pub and pay their prices when you can just walk in to the Packard Party Store, buy beer by the case, and leave.  If just want to drink, I'd hit the party store.  If I want to bar hop, I'd walk somewhere with more than one bar.  

The last place to survive at that intersection was that sake bomb place and that was because they never carded.  


January 25th, 2012 at 3:15 PM ^

It sucked.  They had cheap bottle beer nights and decent looking bartenders but that's it.  Charley's, Ricks, Blue Lep and Skeeps were all better UG options.  There's nothing else to do there so if you get bored and you wanna walk to a different bar, you have to walk all the way to South U so you might as well start out over there. 


January 25th, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

Service was a disaster prior to the Ohio game.

 .    .While it was crowded, it was much more difficult to get a drink than other crowded bars.  The place was way understaffed. 


January 25th, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

i just graduated last year and i lived about a block away from packard pub. the only time that place was busy was thursday nights cause they had $1 bud and bud light bottles (luckily i didnt have class till 1:30 PM on fridays). Then they started charging $2 cover on thursdays, still a pretty good deal but it turned a lot of people off


January 25th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

It's a terrible bar. When I went there to watch football on a Sunday i served myself because the waitress was texting on the other side of the bar. I was one of about a dozen people there. If you're looking for a beer in that area, you're better off going to quickie burger.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

For 3 years (one in undergrad, two in Law School), I was jealous when PP went in after I graduated and moved.  I think the location is fine (though I agree that it's a better bet to be located within a "pocket" of bars).  But having never been there myself, I did hear it kind of sucked.


But man, the curse thing is right.  During my time around the corner, that place changed hands between something like 4 sandwich/cafe places.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

And think it needed a bar badly. But it couldn't be a destination place...it had to attract the neighborhood there so people didn't have to walk so far to the bar. Be THE place to go during gamedays.  And attract athletes, who would then attract everyone else, on non-gamedays. 

But from what I've heard, they have had high prices, piss-poor service, and horrible food.  (Someone told me they were even getting Bell's Pizza to upgrade their food...from ACROSS THE STREET...and it's not that good to begin with).

It should work. It just may be the most mismanaged place I've seen from start up in town.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

I remember when it first opened, and I was pissed that the year I graduated someone put a bar so close to where I lived. I figured it would be a bonanza for those like me who liked to keep walking to a minimum, but I have heard nothing but bad things about the place. I'm still convinced that with the right idea that location can support a bar.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

Crap service is why i, fwiw, haven't been back. last time i was there, they messed up some shots on my tab and when i questioned them about it, they got defensive. i pressed, wanting to know what they were going to do about it and the bartender and manager started yelling at me and told me to gtfo. it was surreal.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

I have worked in a few bars/restaurnts in my day and I knew the place was doomed from the start.


1) The prices were waaaaay off base. They needed to check the prices of their competition and set them accordingly.


2) The service was shitty (some of the staff were easy on the eyes, but I dont want to wait 10 minutes for a beer)


3) The set up of the restaurant. Those large 10 person tables were very awkward and made it very difficult to have a conversation. They needed more "traditional" bar seating, such as booths and small tables.




January 25th, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

the bar was also a weird shape. bars are almost always convex, not concave, so you can see other patrons and maybe even all the same tvs. sitting at the bar at PP had a weirdly isolating feel, where you're just staring at a wall during commercials with nothing else to look at.


January 25th, 2012 at 8:56 PM ^

Cafeteria style to something a bit more upscale wasn't a great idea. Because it was better cheap eats than a lot of places in town.
<br>The problem is the town has become so pretentious that they want to be snobs about the food they eat, but either don't have the money or loyalty (or either) to keep these trendy places open. So you get great turnover.
<br>This place isn't closing in disgrace. They're selling for a lot of money, and probably retiring. But I'll take the town's only Greek place over another Yuppie hang-out any day.


January 25th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

Suffice to say I am in a position where I get to see the shift in the restaurant business in Ann Arbor from an interesting angle, and we've had quite a few disconnects (I think I saw Champion House's order this morning actually), but almost as many new electric service requests to back them up - nearly all of them in or near downtown. It seems like all the new construction is creating a reconfiguration, if you will, of the restaurants and bars in Ann Arbor. 

That being said, I was never sure about the location of the Packard Pub, although the fact that it is near a Jimmy John's and I could absorb the alochol for cheaper helped me get over the otherwise "blah" service a little bit. 


January 25th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

It's just about the logistics. Students (and most people in general) prefer South U for drinking and then walking (stumbling) down to athetic events. That intersection is more of a before you start drinking (buying liquor from campus corner/bluefront) or after you are done drinking (BELLS.....MMMMMMMMMM) place. Athletic events only bring in a small amount of revenue, with rent being so high they need that nightly college business which they really dont get at State and Packard. I think they'll split the property up into 2 or 3 different units and then there will be some stability.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

and only slightly less so for a restaurant. As others have pointed out, its isolation means that bar-hopping isn't really feasible, and parking is essentially non-existent. It's a very high traffic corner, so even if the sidewalks were wide enough, you wouldn't want to sit and eat outside. The buildings on the corner are uninteresting and are built out right to the sidewalk, and there's nothing inviting about them as structures.

If I were looking for a spot to put in my restaurant or bar, I wouldn't touch that corner with a 10-mile pole, unless I had ridiculously deep pockets to enable me to adequately staff it and get a good menu in place.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

I went there once right when the place opened, and they had a beer tub girl standing near the front door in a bikini in the middle of the day. I thought this was pretty rad, but also thought, "This is just not a UofM/Ann Arbor type of establishment." I do believe it can succeed, but they have to really work on getting a large group of regulars from those surrounding neighborhoods, and maybe try to work something out with the frats.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

I don't know that the location is that bad, maybe the rent:location ratio is bad. There's a ton of student housing within 1/2 mile of that area, mostly houses for rent which usually have seniors and juniors living in them (i.e. people 21 yo or have fakes saying they are). They get tons of foot traffic on all athletic events. I used to live on Hill and Packard (nextdoor to Jimmy Johns) and would have loved having a bar that close, especially in the winter.


January 25th, 2012 at 3:51 PM ^

People that are saying this place failed are way off base I think. This place failed because it was over priced, had terrible service, was always dirty, and overall just sucked. When the opened everyone that lived in that area was pumped, but soon realized huge tables where you had to scream at your friends to hold a conversation were not that fun. On top of that, packpub just tried to hard, the waitresses would have "spontaneous" hula hoop contests on tables for example.

Many times I'd go in and the floor would be sticky from the night before, they would be out of beer, and every tv would be on a bears game when the lions were playing.

The only good thing they had was $1 buds (and then labatts for awhile) but then they started charging cover and I never went back.

Maybe the people who run Charlies will buy it and turn it around like they did cantina.