BTB, Charley's owners aim to lure 'townie' crowd with new venture

BY NEETHI SRINIVASAN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 15, 2010

Campus favorites BTB and Good Time Charley’s are better known for their drink specials and collegial atmosphere than for providing classy drinks. But the bars’ owners are getting into the “townie” market with their recent acquisition and revamp of Alley Bar, which they hope will become the hot spot for getting a good cocktail.

Alley Bar — located on 112 West Liberty St. — has been a part of Ann Arbor’s bar scene for more than 30 years, and has experienced various changes in ownership over its lifetime. The bar re-opened at the end of the summer after being acquired by the owners of BTB and Good Time Charley’s, who implemented several changes.

According to Ryan Trzcinski, marketing director of BTB businesses, the new management took time to update the look of the bar and increase the selection of drinks available to patrons.

“We cleaned it up a whole lot,” Trzcinski said.

“We also introduced a menu of drinks that would allow our bartenders to produce drinks that (are) not available in Ann Arbor…drinks that included fresh juice and fresh herbs,” he added in an e-mail interview.

The price range for the drinks available at Alley Bar is as diverse as its beverage selection. High-end options are available and most of the cocktails cost less than $10.

Trzcinski said the bar “provides a really, really great cocktail without the ego that you sometimes get on Main Street. We’re not trying to be pretentious about it…this is a dive bar.”

Though the bar may have a multitude of drinks available for purchase, it does not sell food. The bar does not have any live entertainment or music either. This creates a more intimate environment for customers, bar manager Robbie Schulz said.

While the bar is owned by the same company that oversees campus favorites like BTB and Good Time Charley’s, the dive bar character of Alley Bar has remained intact, management said.

According to Trzcinski, the acquisition of Alley Bar allowed BTB to expand its market to cater to more of the Ann Arbor community. He also said the combination of the bar’s “townie” appeal with its broad drink repertoire will help make Alley Bar a success.

“We’re not trying to…compete with the other bars," Trzcinski said. "We’re really trying to do something special on our own here. A lot of people are starting to realize that.”

Renee Schantz, manager of the Arbor Brewing Company on East Washington Street, said despite Alley Bar’s recent efforts to attract a more adult crowd, she’s not worried about the competition.

“I don’t see (them) impacting us business-wise,” Schantz said. “They didn’t have much of an impact on us when they were open before.”