Since announcing in February that it had plans to close down, the staff at Leopold Bros. bar has been busy packing up taps, boxing up board games and emptying out its kegs of home-brewed beer to nostalgic customers looking for one last drink.
Brothers Todd and Scott Leopold, owners of the Main Street bar that serves up games like Scrabble and Monopoly alongside every pint of beer, will make their final last call and lock the doors on their eclectic band of loyal bar-goers for good next Saturday.
Scott Leopold said he and his brother decided to move their business back to Colorado after a new landlord acquired the bar. Leopold said because the property sold at such a high price, they would be required to pay three times the property tax they had been paying. Staying open in Ann Arbor would cost the brothers an extra $35,000 in taxes every year.
The bar has taken on a life of its own since the Leopold brothers opened it for business about 10 years ago. But it’s not just the retro pinball machines or the jukebox that make this downtown pub a hit with both students and locals.
It’s bartenders who can talk brewing and owners who greet their customers by name that separate the bar from the local dives that peddle $5 pitchers and $2 shots to overly drunk undergraduates, customers say.
But for co-owner Scott Leopold, it’s the people who fill the bar’s 30-foot long cafeteria-style benches who really make the difference.
“You get a pretty broad cross section of people here,” Leopold said. “You’re equally as likely to meet one of the county judges here as you are a grad student with five piercings and tattoos all up and down their body.”
That’s exactly the case for Evan Mackinder. The recent LSA graduate said Leopold Bros. is a social place where he also runs into his professors.
“He shows up here twice a week,” Mackinder said, as he motioned towards English Prof. Matt Lassister who was seated a few tables away. “He’s here right now and he was here last time I was here.”
As undergraduate students argued about their scores in a round of Yahtzee Friday night, two old men pondered a quiet game of chess. Those looking for a typical seedy bar scene need not apply.
There’s no list of cheap domestics or moderately priced imports on the handwritten beer list that hangs above Leopold’s bar. Instead, the brothers serve up their own specially crafted brews on taps that rotate with the season.
Leopold Bros. is also Ann Arbor’s only distiller of hard-liquor and just one of two places in town that runs a full-scale brewery. But those are titles that the Leopold’s won’t hold for long.
The news of the bar’s closing is what drew most patrons, like Michael Ravenscroft, there on Friday.
A recent LSA graduate, Ravenscroft said he used to do his homework beneath the bar’s cathedral ceilings, but he added that Leopold Bros. is also a place where he’s made friends with bartenders and memories with classmates.
“We’re losing a bar,” Ravenscroft said as he sipped his beer and waited for his turn in Trivial Pursuit. “Ann Arbor is losing a bar and it’s the best bar.”
For those still hoping to get a taste of Leopold’s beer and a feel for the bar’s vibrant atmosphere, it will stay open until this Saturday, May 24. A live band will play to help celebrate the Leopold brothers’ mark on Ann Arbor.