Starting early next month, fans of BTB Cantina and Good Time Charley’s will soon have two new hangouts to add to their list.
The owners of the popular South University Avenue restaurants — Adam Lowenstein, Justin Herrick, Robbie Schulz and Paul Drennan — are expected to open LIVE, a new dance club, on Feb. 3 and a cocktail bar called the The Last Word, slated to open soon after. Both businesses will be located at 102 First Street in downtown Ann Arbor — taking the spaces formerly occupied by the music club Live at PJ’s and Goodnite Gracie bar.
Derek Aldridge, former owner of PJ’s and Gracie’s, wrote in an e-mail interview that he sold his businesses in order to move onto new opportunities because “the time was right”, adding that he believes Lowenstein, Herrick, Schulz and Paul hold the tools to develop a successful business venture.
“I think the new owners have the resources and industry know-how to make that space successful,” Aldridge wrote. “I wish them all the luck in the world.”
Lowenstein said both he and his partners are looking forward to bringing another dance club to the downtown area. LIVE will feature music performed by various DJs during the weekends and live music throughout the week, he said.
“We’re really excited about the idea of taking over Live (at PJ’s) because this building is unlike any other in Ann Arbor,” Lowenstein said. “There’s no other dance club that’s this close to Main Street.”
The Last Word, located downstairs from the club, is named after a prohibition era cocktail that originated in Detroit. Lowenstein said they felt the name is fitting, as the bar is going to sell a mix of prohibitions drinks — beverages modeled after those served during the prohibition era — and more modern cocktails found in high-end bars around the country.
With The Last Word, Lowenstein said the group wants to expand on the successful bartending they’ve had at Alley Bar, one of their other local businesses.
“We’re going to take (what we’ve done at Alley Bar) even further,” Lowenstein said. “We set out with the goal of being Michigan’s best cocktail bar … and there’s a lot of details that go into that.”
The owners said they plan to make their own bitters, foams, juices and aging cocktails, as well as experiment with molecular mixology in creating drinks.
Lowenstein said renovations on the spaces are not quite finished, and that he and his partners are giving both business spaces a general facelift, including new paint and décor before the businesses open in February.
“LIVE will feel like the same place, just fresher when you walk in,” Lowenstein said. “The Last Word will definitely feel different than Gracie’s”
Apart from the change in décor, Lowenstein and his partners are also changing how customers can access each business. Customers visiting Live at PJ’s and Goodnite Gracie could previously move freely between the two businesses, but the new establishments will have separate entrances with no customer access between them.
Lowenstein said he and his partners want to ensure each business has its own identity.
“We’ll have some crossover in terms of demographic and people that are going back and forth and drinking,” Lowenstein said. “But in terms of the identities, they’re not just going to be one … and in the end they might be separate people that come here and come there, kind of like (BTB) Cantina and (Good Time) Charley’s.”