For students living near the corner of Packard and State, the void of a late night watering hole may soon be filled.
The owner of a new sports bar, Packard Pub — set to open in January — says his brew house will be a more convenient option than his competitors up State Street.
The pub occupies what was once Artisan Bistro, an organic specialty café. The bistro closed last December, according to Packard Pub owner Kyle Miller. The property remained vacant until Miller began renovations three weeks ago, installing a bar that runs against two walls of the pub and adding high-tops, projectors and wall-mounted plasma screen TVs.
The venue includes two stories: a lower level reserved for private parties and an upper level for the general public. Miller plans to turn one of the walls of the bar into a painted mural of the Big House.
While construction is underway, Miller is awaiting the approval of a liquor license, a process which he says takes a minimum of six months. If the license is not granted in time for the pub’s opening, Miller plans to continue the pub’s launch as a “dry run” to begin serving food.
Prior to opening Packard Pub, Miller managed a restaurant in Chesterfield, Mich., which he said closed because of the economic downturn. He said when his friend told him about the open location on Packard and State, he thought it was “kind of a miracle, so to speak.”
“Just by luck, just knowing somebody else, they brought it to my attention,” Miller said. “Then we looked at it, and I fell in love with the location, and that’s why we moved forward with it.”
While some students expressed excitement about the pub’s opening, some students who live in apartments above the venue had mixed feelings about the potential increase in noise levels when the bar opens.
LSA senior Allison Zarbo, who lives above Packard Pub, said she is worried the bar might affect her academics negatively.
“If it’s really noisy and I can’t get any sleep and my grades are starting to suffer, I’ll look into trying to get out of my lease,” she said.
However, she added that she is also excited to have a bar just downstairs, and that she plans to go on occasion.
Engineering graduate student Tim Mekaru said he is ambivalent about living in such close proximity to a potentially noisy bar.
“I don’t know how bad or good it will be to have a bar below me,” Mekaru said.
Both tenants said they were not informed about the bar’s opening until they saw the “Coming Soon” signs in the pub’s front window. Zarbo said she is surprised Arch Realty, who manages the building, didn’t notify the tenants before opening the bar.
Miller, the pub’s owner, said the leasing company had informed residents of the new change.
“They made it aware (to) all the tenants that moved in that there could possibly be a bar moving in there before they sign their leases, so the landlord took care of that on their part up front, and all the students were acceptable of that,” Miller said.
Arch Realty refused to comment on the situation.
Mekaru said he didn’t re-sign his lease because he worried the bar would be too noisy.
“Since the date to re-sign the lease was so early, I didn’t re-sign on my apartment because I was really kind of scared because what if it’s loud all the time and I can never sleep and I can never study?” Mekaru said.
LSA junior Jon Bassman agreed with Miller that State and Packard is the prime location for a bar. He said he “isn’t too big on the bar thing” because of the trek it takes to get to bars up South State Street and on South University Avenue, but that this new location will motivate him to go.
“I’m looking forward to summer to basically crossing the street, getting hammered and coming back without having to pay for a taxi,” Bassman said.
LSA senior Sean Yip also said he thought the location was a good choice.
“I think it’s going to be good,” Yip said. “There (are) not many bars around here. I think it’s going to liven up the whole atmosphere here around Packard.”
Miller said the pub’s construction is moving along and he hopes to finish repairs in the next week. He said plans are to start bringing in furniture soon in advance of the pub’s planned January opening.