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 3:56 PM ^

I've lived on Mary since the Pub opened, and even worked a couple shifts when they were undermanned.

Bar Bullets:

  • There were ~4 management changes in 2011.
  • Last January/February, the Pub carved itself a Thursday night niche with $1 Labatt bottles, but the week the managers started charging $3 cover, the place became desolate.
  • The bar would run out of beer some nights, and bartenders would then run to Campus Corner and pay for bottles out of their own pocket.
  • This past fall, bartenders/bouncers/busboys never got their hourly wages, and this led to a lawsuit with ownership.
  • A couple weeks before it closed down, pitchers of Bud Light were $10.

The bar was just not using its space well (the downstairs was always empty and those huge tables were inefficient). Packard Pub was doing okay for a couple months, but in my opinion, trying to cash in on those Thursdays by charging cover ultimately led to its downfall.


January 25th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

CUBS AC in Colonial Lanes is the closest bar to the athletic facilities.  Not only that, but the U stands for "Ufer," though I think the Ufer family might have sold its piece.  

When the Carver, Ufer, and Buhr bought in, they took great pains to separate the bar from the bowling part of the operation.  You know you're in a bar that is attached to a bowling center, but plenty of customers never see the lanes or even pay any attention to them.  

It's a great place to get tix on game day, too, without having to deal with the "scalping mafia."

Doc Brown

January 25th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

Yep, Cubs AC is perhaps my favorite bar in the South Ann Arbor region. Cubs always takes care of their customers with great service, food, and beer prices. We always head over to Cubs after Michigan hockey games. 


January 25th, 2012 at 8:48 PM ^

But PP is a short block from the athletic offices, and another half block from Canham. Cubs AC is through their lot, past CVS/Kroger, around the corner, across a closed bridge (or going back by the golf course that basically puts you at PP), and across the whole athletic parking lot.
<br>But even if you want to mapquest it to an inch, the amount of foot traffic on Gameday is practically nil compared to what's headed back down State towards campus. The only place you'd get more is replacing that how-in-the-heck-do-they-stay-open phone place on the corner of Main and Stadium. That could be a crazy successful bar location.


January 25th, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

I lived on Monroe St. (meaning we had the cul-de-sac and PPub was feet away) when PPub opened, and I remember at first being jealous of my friends that were 21 at the time because of our proximity to a new bar. From the few times I went, the jealousy was unfounded.

The location precludes it from being a "skeeps/ricks/charleys/jug" caliber bar, but the huge amount of students in the area gives the place some potential.

However, as others said, the layout was terrible. No one likes to be in a bar where they couldn't move, but I don't think PPub ever would've gotten there if they drastically increased their seating. With booth and small tables, they could've pulled of the "Mitch's" (RIP) paradigm of "chill bar where you can generally get away with doing whatever you want" but targeted the "bro" portion of the population that lives in the area. Instead, they seem to have targeted the non-existent portion of the student population that watches re-runs of Wings games on FSDetroit while overpaying for mediocre booze.

I went during a round of Bar Golf. The place was dead empty, and we still took 15 minutes to get a simple shot. This shot tasted like terpentine and the inside of the Brutus mascott's head. The bartender was very attractive, granted; that didn't make up for all of the shortcomings. 

Silly Goose

January 25th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

I went there once and seriously have never had a worse experience in my life. Servers didn't have zones and basically were grabbing each table as they came in. I had to stand in the middle of door back to the kitchens to even get someone to notice me. Once I did order, they ignored the order and I eventually had to go get my own drinks.

Honestly it isn't the location. Scorekeepers is in a relatively bad location but they always do all right. I think if you get the people who run BTB/Charlies to run it you would have something. Needs a major food/service upgrade, and needs to become THE bar for sporting events. I think someone will pick this place up and turn it into something good.

My name ... is Tim

January 25th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

That place honestly had the worst service I've ever seen at a bar. Prior to the Western game it was an unmitigated disaster. The waiters/waitresses were openly complaining about how understaffed they were and how bad management was. If anyone bothered to put in the time/effort for a bar at this location it would be a raging success. I lived right by that corner for 3 years and kids in that area definitely would've appreciated the opportunity to go to a decent bar that didn't require a walk all the way to South U or Church. I wouldn't have minded a once a week change of pace from going to Rick's.

French West Indian

January 25th, 2012 at 4:50 PM ^

...but timing.  If there had been a bar there when I was living in the neighborhood, they would have made a fortune off of me.  All of those freezing-ass cold nights I passed that intersection on my way to bars on Main St, State St, or South U., I would have gladly preferred the shorter walk.

Having said that, it sounds like from those of you with first hand experience, that it's biggest problem was poor management.

My name ... is Tim

January 25th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

From a Daily article:

"Bommarito said he plans to keep making additions and changes to the bar in order to establish it as a campus hot spot.


'We're doing a lot of fun things ... music really loud and dancing on top of the tables,' he said. 'We're installing a slide so you can slide down to the downstairs.'"

They probably went out of business based on general liability premiums alone.





January 25th, 2012 at 5:11 PM ^

I am an alumnus who goes to one game a year.  One year we went to the Packard Pub and the waitresses were all half naked and pretty good looking; we thought it was a pretty good bar.  The next year we went back expecting the same, but it was totally different; the waitresses were not good looking and pretty inattentive to boot, even though the place was dead.



January 25th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

I rather enjoyed Packard Pub at times. When I wanted to just drink a beer and talk to friends before a hockey game, the basement of Packard Pub was a perfect place. No one ever sat in that table down there and we were able to go to Spot's or BTB and grab some food and eat it down there. Perfect. Maybe multiple bars need to open up at the same time on that corner.


January 25th, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

Arbor st. for two years and went there often due to convenience alone. The pitchers were always more expensive than charlies/blue lep/jug and the service was pretty slow when it was busy. If their market was college students, the price point was definitely their biggest downfall. If though it was so convenient for me and my housemates, we still ended up going to charlies for the pitcher specials.


January 25th, 2012 at 8:39 PM ^

Ever since going to last year's Big 10 basketball tournament when Michigan was playing, I have been convinced that this place is a money launderer for drug money.  Hear me out:

They TRY not to make money.  No matter how big the crowd, they will have one waitress, one cook, and the turkish dude who does nothing.  While being cheap can be advantageous, it never is when you're selling things with 1,000% mark up.  So I think Packard shows income on their tax return in line with the other Ann Arbor bars, so the IRS doesn't think twice.  Meanwhile, 90% of that money came from shady sources for purposes of laundering.

I'm sure this is not the case, but I swear to god, I've never seen a business do such a great job at making as little money as humanly possible, even when crowded.