Detroit’s Third Street Bar reopens with live music and new owners

The humble Third Street Bar is now owned by the Detroit Optimist Society, a hospitality group better known for its high-end cocktail bars like Sugar House, Wright & Co., and Bad Luck Bar.

But co-owner Dave Kwiatkowski says they plan to keep it more or less the same low-frills shot-and-a-beer kind of a spot that has long been popular with Wayne State University students.

“This definitely has gotten a little bit younger of a demo,” Kwiatkowski says. “It’s always kind of been more of a college hangout, and so we’re going to try to retain the original spirit.”

The bar is set to reopen at 4 p.m. on Friday. It closed in September.

“I think that they just were ready to move on,” Kwiatkowski says of the previous owners.

The Detroit Optimist Society’s nabbing of Third Street Bar is similar to its acquisition of the nearby Honest John’s, another long-standing Cass Corridor bar which it acquired a decade ago and left more or less intact. But there will be some changes at Third Street.

One of the biggest is that Kwiatkowski has expanded the previous owner’s pandemic-era patio, building a stage with plans to host regular live entertainment — something none of the Detroit Optimist Society’s other holdings offer.

Booking will be handled by someone who Kwiatkowski says is notable in Detroit’s music scene, though he says he is not yet ready to disclose who. The plan is for this person to also hold a residency, he says.

“I’m just in love with live music on weekends,” Kwiatkowski says. “I think it’d be a big draw for us. … I don’t expect we’re going to sell tickets or anything. It just seems like it’d be sort of a fun thing to have.”

The previous owners built a large outdoor seating area out of metal storage racks, which Kwiatkowski has built upon by ordering custom cushions.

He has also expanded on the games offered by the bar. While the old Skee-Ball machines have been removed, the shuffleboard and dart boards remain. Outside is a giant Jenga set and cornhole, and the fan-favorite ring a bull game, where players try to swing a hoop tied to a string onto a hook, also remains.

click to enlarge Third Street Bar sports a revamped patio, which now includes a stage for live music. - Instagram, @thirdstreetdetroit

Third Street Bar sports a revamped patio, which now includes a stage for live music.

One new offering is shot glasses made of ice, which Kwiatkowski says guests are invited to throw at a bell on the patio for a chance to win another shot.

Kwiatkowski has also brought in frozen drink machines for two booze-infused menu items: Irish Coffee and Miami Vice, a blend of strawberry margarita and piña colada.

The bar also includes a kitchen. For now, the plan is to partner with existing food trucks, but Kwiatkowski says they are exploring having rotating pop-ups out of the kitchen.

“We’re talking to a few different people about doing some longer-term residencies,” he says. “We may do something that is more of a revolving thing where we’ve got somebody one weekend, somebody the next weekend. … There are also so many great new food [businesses] that don’t really have permanent space. So we’d love to operate in that capacity.”

Third Street Bar will be open on weekends at first, eventually ramping up to be open most days a week, Kwiatkowski says.

Detroit Optimist Society’s full Motor City holdings include Sugar House, Wright & Co., Bad Luck Bar, Honest John’s, Grandma Bob’s, Mutiny Tiki Bar, Time Will Tell, and Last Chance Saloon, as well as the bar Finger’s Crossed up north in Northport.

Kwiatkowski says he’s excited to fully embrace Third Street’s college bar vibes.

“We’re not trying to make it a fancy cocktail place or anything, we’re just keeping it chill,” he says. “We’re having fun making gummy bear shots and green tea shots and stuff like that.”

Third Street Bar is located at 4626 Third Ave., Detroit. More information is available at

Source link

Leave a Comment