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The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine,
distributed every Wednesday
during the academic year.
To contact The Statement
Cover by Austin Hufford
random student interview by kaitlin williams
Welcome to the random
where we'd rather be
So, you're a freshman. I take it
you're not 21.
No. Not at all.
Too bad, I was going to say we
should go do the interview in
a bar. It's cold and windy and
it's Monday and a beer sounds
really good right now.
How's your Monday going?
My Monday is going actually
pretty well. I like the weather.
OK. Soyoulike blustery, Winne-
the-Pooh kind of days?
I don't know. As long as the sun in
shining, I'm pretty happy.
Doesn't take much then. Well,
not that you've ever tried a
beer because you're not 21, but
what's your favorite beer?
I've literally never tried it. So I
really don't know.
Come on. I won't tell anyone. Yeah.
Your dad never gave you a sip of What song gets stuck in your
beer at the dinner table? Like, head more than any other song?
"Oh hey, Sarah come try my I'm trying to think ... right now
beer." "Paradise" by Coldplay is stuck in
Well, I might've tried it like once, my head.
but I really don't even know what Oh, how does that go?
it was. It's like, he sings, "para para
Wow. paradise." It's one of their new
I didn't like it so ... songs.
It's kind of an acquired taste. Yeah, they repeat parts of
You need to shotgun one about words a lot. "Every teardrop is
18 different times before a wa wa wa wa waterfall." That
you start to appreciate its one gets me.
subtleties. Oh yeah.
(Laughs) I think the worst kind of song
Don't go chugging 21 on your to get stuck in your head would
21st though. So, are you a wine be dubstep. Are you a fan of
person then? dubstep?
No, I just don't really drink. No.
That takes some dedication. Good. My boyfriend is really
Above the influence and all that into it, but I can't imagine
jazz! You don't need substances, walking around all day with
youjust need a sunny day! a dubstep remix of a Coldplay
(Laughs) Yeah. song stuck in my head. Like, I'd
So, do you like music at least? be listening to Chris Martin's
soothing voice, and then
suddenly it's like space invaders
are fighting in robot suits.
Anyway, do you ever get
mistaken for someone famous?
No, I don't.
Really? Do you have a secret
suspicion that you look like
Um,I don't think so.
I'm kind of getting a Kirsten
Dunst vibe from you. It's the
dimples. Has anybody ever told
you that you could rock red
Do you think I look like anyone
I'm thinking someone with blonde
hair. Maybe Kate Hudson?
Kate Hudson! Interesting. She's
kind of old, but the name is close
- Sarah is an LSA freshman
Years ago, Ann Arbor native Bob Seger wrote a song
about Ann Arbor's Main Street, aptly titled "Mainstreet."
Listening to that song, you'll quickly realize that Main
Street used tobe quite seedy in the late 70s. You can still
find traces of that era in places like the bleach-scented
basement at The Heidelberg, which my friend compared
to the hallway leading to a motel pool and the dingy
Embassy Hotel on Fourth Street.
In the 70s, a plate of spaetzle at The Heidelberg was the
late-night snack for hungry undergrads. These days, the
cheap burritos and beer available on every block of South
University Avenue have taken its place, and Main Street
serves a different crowd.
If you walk down Main Street on a Friday or Saturday
night, you'll find expensive restaurants, bars, unusual
shops and interesting people, most of whom won't be stu-
dents. At the corner of East Liberty Street and Main, you
may find Ann Arbor local Tom Bartlett on his gleaming
red, seven-person bicycle. Ride it.
On the new Main Street, the food is sophisticated and
the beer, artisanal, and the decor seems picked from
every variety of upscale. By midnight, when most of the
restaurants have closed, the crowd at Conor O'Neill's
Traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant is still feasting, and
people are dancing at Rush Street, sipping on martinis at
the Black Pearl and relaxing at the Ravens Club. Outside,
it's quiet. Whereas on South University Avenue, groups of
students in liquor blankets and not much else strut quick-
ly to the next party.
Everyone's got somewhere else to be. But on Main,
they're content to stay where they are.
Most people I talked to said Main was quieter and a nice
place to talk while having a drink. LSA junior Carmine
Riviera, who was dining at the Black Pearl last week, said
she finds the drinking environment to be classier, "and
you don't have to hang out with the unwashed masses."
That last line was not a slur on the South University
crowd so much as an acknowledgment that Main Street
attracts a different clientele. Riviera's friend Gautam
Muthusamy, an LSA junior, said he loves the Black Pearl
because "a lot of pseudo-intellectuals hang out here, like
us, and the martinis are good."
Maybe the martinis are good because they're expen-
sive. The going rate on Main Street for a cocktail --judg-
ing by the prices at Rush Street, the Black Pearl and the
Ravens Club - is about $9. A pitcher of beer at the Jolly
Pumpkin costs at least $18, even on nights when Good
Time Charley's sells them for $3 and the Blue Tractor,
just a block away on East Washington Street, has them
Though students didn't mention prices often, it's clear
that as a whole, they're very price-sensitive.
Melanie, a waitress at the Black Pearl, told me that
she sees far more students during happy hour, when the
price of a martini drops by half. For the most part, the
Main Street crowd seems tobe young professionals, not-
so-young professionals and graduate students - the kind
of people who can pay $9 for a martini.
With so many places competing for those martini dol-
lars, new restaurants on Main are trying to differentiate
themselves with unique drinks and memorable interiors.
One of the best complete examples of this trend is The
Ravens Club, a new bar that calls itself a speakeasy.
Outside, a hanging wooden sign painted with a raven
takes the place of a nameplate. Inside, it's a dark place
with an eclectic collection of lampshades and heavy cur-
tains on the front window to hide the goings-on from
snooping prohibition bureau agents. Comfy leather pad-
ding gives bar patrons a soft place to rest their elbows.
Pitch-perfect prohibition chic is about half of The Ravens
Club's appeal. The other half is its drinks. I can't imag-
ine that many other places use pumpkin puree and carrot
juice as mixers.
Jeff Paquin, a managing partner of The Ravens Club,
has researched the history of 207 South Main, the club's
address. His interest in the building's history is reflected
in The Ravens Club's menu, which notes that the lot was
once home to the workshop of a cabinet-maker-turned
Not all the bars on Main Street draw inspiration from
history like The Ravens Club, but most use their unusu-
al ambience as a key selling point. The new Main Street
style begins with the desire to create a unique space.
Sitting in The Black Pearl, I can see how the desire for
uniqueness shapes this bar too. Once again, the place is
dark. A black padded bench runs the length of the res-
taurant, mirrors are held up by jet-black Corinthian col-
umns and above the bar, an entrancing device, rows of
leaf-shaped fan blades silently spins. Perched up high at
a black granite table, you want to lean in as you talk. It's a
good place to have a conversation.
Next toThe Black Pearl is Rush Street, the closest thing
Main Streethas to a night club. Rush Street takes its name
from a street in Chicago, and while the space and style
make it quite different from its neighbors, the bar is like
a derivative of the sleek bars that pop up in any big city.
There's a dress code at Rush Street, enforced by an
impeccably dressedbouncer. When I asked the bartender,
Chris Parow, who he sees in a typical night, he described
a crowd a little younger than the one I saw at other Main
Street locations: almost exclusively young professionals
ranging in age from 21 to 30. The dress code is meant to
keep out "the wrong crowd."
On a normal night, he said Rush Street is "wall-to-wall
dancing." When I visited, it was empty until a 26th birth-
day party appeared, danced, drank and then left.
With 11 years of experience as a bartender, Parow
added that Ann Arbor has "a more educated drink-
ing crowd" whose members constantly ask for drinks
he hasn't "made in a while," which suggests that Rush
Street's patrons aren't always drawn from the Long
Island-swilling youth of South University.
Other bars in the Main Street orbit have less-defined
styles, relying more on drink specials and events to keep
ahead. Cafe Habana on East Liberty has two happy
hours most weeknights and hosts salsa dancing each
week, which can be fun if you like sweaty bodies rubbing
up against you in a hot basement.
I met with some friends at Ashley's on State Street, and
asked why they had decided to meet there, rather than
someplace on South University or Main Street.
One friend said she goes to Ashley's because "it's here,
on Central Campus. There's more beer, and I like the guy
at the door."
Another told an interesting story, "When I didn't know
better, I went to Charley's and the Blue Lep. Then I dis-
covered Main Street, and it changed my life."
She told me the next day that she suggests Main Street
"if you want to avoid drunk, crying girls."
You see fewer undergraduates at the bars on Main
Street because the carefully thought-out ambiance and
high-quality ingredients that give Main Street its reputa-
tion also let restaurants charge high prices. For students
lookingto have a good time on Friday night, a cheap pitch-
er on South University gets the job done without leaving
the wallet light. Of course, there's one other reason stu-
dents go to South University more than to Main Street -
South University is closer towhere they live.
Letter from the editor
For the Statement's third annual Beer Issue, we looked at the craft of
brewing, the challenges of running a business and the pleasures of enjoying
a drink on the town. Our annual home brew competition hosted 34 unique
entries of student- and alumni-brewed beers, evaluated by five certified
judges from the Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild over the course of five hours.
The judges scored each recipe on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and
overall impression as well as categories including whitbier, pale ale, Belgian
ale, porter and stout in mind.
Prizes for the top three selections were donated by Adventures in
Homebrewing in Taylor, Mich. The first-place winner recieved a brewing pot,
second place, a lifetime mug club membership at Wolverine State Brewing
Co. and third place, a growler of beer from Wolverine State Brewing Co.
Thank you to everyone who entered, and we hope to taste more batches
of homebrew next year.
Watch a video
about homebrewing and
The Main Street bar scene can offer a more relaxing evenig than'the esahtlishments o South University Avenue.