About ten minutes later she calls back and says her boss will go in on it with us. She worked for Jeff Kuhns, the owner of Heritage Appraisal a man never known to shy away from adventure. So sure enough Jeff and his wife Nancy, Lisa and I go down to the Tap Room to check it out.
The old Tap Room had fallen on hard times by the time it we saw it. The beautiful wood work was all there but the top trim piece had fallen off years ago exposing fluorescent light fixtures. Half the room was full of booth and chairs and the other half was full of the broken pieces of booths and chairs. Apparently whenever a chair broke the standard procedure was to take the pieces and put them "over there". And keep in mind the place was open for business! A handful of colorful characters and some college students frequented the joint on a regular basis.
John Farres had owned the Bar since 1941. He bought it just a few days before they announced that the Bomber Plant was being constructed in Willow Run. He said he never would have been able to afford it if the previous owner had known the plant was coming. When he sold it to us he was 95. We closed the place for three months and remodeled. New carpet, new stage area floor, lots of paint, new bar by the kitchen area. We started as a live music club featuring some of the area's best blues performers. Johnnie Bassett, Al Hill, Steve Nardella, Robert Jones, Lady Sunshine and The X-Band and George Bedard and The Kingpins all played on the Tap Room Stage usually to a full house. The Tap Room has been home to some of the best open mic nights as well. For over ten years Chris Buhalis Hosted a legendary Monday Night Acoustic open mic that brought some now well know musicians to a wider audience. Jo Serapere, Jack Spac jr. and Rollie Tussing III just to name a few.
On Tuesdays the Blues roared as The Badluck Boys, The Terraplanes, Johnny Reed or Danny Pratt hosted the Blues Jam. My own band The Martindales was born at the Tap Room. As I jammed with all the musicians that played at the bar I recruited the ones that I thought could stand to hear me play. After a while I couldn't get rid of them so we named the band after a regular customer, Jerry Martindale. After a few years Lisa and I bought out our partners Jeff and Nancy. Unfortunately as the years went by the interest in live music began to fade. The attendance at the live shows got smaller and smaller. In 2004 we made a very painful decision to end all live music. The place just wasn't big enough to have music and a game room with a pool table. The last open mic night with Chris Buhalis was a very sad and tear filled evening. In comes the pool table, a bunch of cool video games, a new counter with stools in the back and surprise, a whole bunch of new customers. Lisa and I were shocked at what a fun place the bar became. As Jon our longtime bartender said "this place is Cheers!" Everybody knows everybody. Just show up and within a few minutes you will be playing pool with a new friend or catching up with an old one.
About the same time all this was going on we took over management of Louis' Cafe. The restaurant is located next door to our building and has been there for years. We saw an opportunity to someday connect the two to allow the Tap Room to have a larger kitchen, more pool tables and room to bring back live music. Lisa named the restaurant The Tap Room Annex which is the name John Farres used for an adjoining space that he had many years ago. Our water bill for the bar has come in the name Tap Room Annex ever since we owned it. Our Tap Room customers and a lot of folks that haven't been in the bar love our food and the atmosphere at The Annex. The Ann Arbor News raved about us in their review and we couldn't be more proud of our staff.
Since we have the space, and people kept asking when the music was coming back, we slowly starting experimenting with live music at the Annex. The first successful foray began when we asked John Latini to host the Friday Night Acoustic music series. He brings two or three very talented singers and songwriters to share the stage with him. The response was so positive that we expanded the stage and relocated it to allow all the seats an excellent view of the performers. Next we brought back the open mic electric jam on Thursday. Also an immediate hit with musicians and music fans alike. Saturdays are devoted to the best in full bands in a wide range of musical styles. Folks that loved the Tap Room Music but not necessarily the poor view of the band will appreciate the layout at the Annex.
In 2009 we finally glued it all together. With tons of sweat equity and lots of cheap deals found on craigslist we created the game room in what was once Fast Eddies Music Store and connected the Annex and the bar. After years of dust and piles of construction debris the place looks awesome. Former capacity 69, now over 180. Brand new barrier free bathrooms, two pool tables, internet juke box, new stage. And much more.
Now we are busier then we have ever been! Mlive recently named us the third best neighborhood bar in Michigan!
Interesting Tap Room Stuff: Year Built 1840 ( No Kiddin! It's old) Phylis Dyler was a reguler customer The front doorknob is only about three feet off the ground. Legend has it that it was installed to allow the little people that worked in the wings of the bombers in the 1940s to reach the knob. Before the demolition to allow fire supression, the third floor had gas light fixtures and grafiti from July 17th 1926. See the photo page. Recent celebrity sightings: Jamie Lee Curtis, Former Red Wing Darren McCarty, Country Music Star Hal Getchum, Critter from the Old Crow Medicine Show The Movie Stone with Robert Dinero was filmed in the Tap Room in the Summer of 2009.
In 1993 I was selling real estate and I saw a listing for a little bar in Ypsilanti called The Tap Room. I called my wife, Lisa, at work and said, "Hey honey I found a bar we should buy" as a joke. She had worked her way through college as a bartender and waitress and that is how I met her, but that's another story involving tequila, rock and roll and life in the 80's. Where was I? Oh Yea. Anyway she says "yeah right" about the bar we should buy, laughs and hangs up and I went back to work.
Monday - Saturday: 11am-2am
Kitchen Open Till Midnight!
Call us AT:
734 482 5320