Some students took a break from the South University Avenue bar scene to test out Packard Pub, a new bar that opened this weekend on the corner of Packard and State streets. The bar, which is the only one in the student-heavy South Campus neighborhood, opened to long lines on Friday night.
“We’ve been open two days, and it’s been a full house from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” Packard Pub owner Kyle Miller said in an interview yesterday.
Miller said the chance to lease the pub’s space fell into his lap after a diner at his other restaurant, Buffalo Wings & Rings in Chesterfield, Mich., told him about the space.
Though Miller didn’t officially sign the lease until Oct. 1, 2009, renovation had already started on the space beginning in September. Before Packard Pub moved in, Artisan Bistro, an organic café, occupied the space.
Miller said the bar’s early success is partly due to its spot close to students, but far away from other bars, adding that one of the most important aspects to starting a business is “location, location, location.”
With maize and blue colored walls and a mural of the Big House, the sports bar gives students the opportunity to watch a variety of sporting events in a spirited atmosphere. The bar also features six cable boxes so owners can air multiple college and professional sports games at the same time.
“We have 14 TVs and a mural that we have prepped for three projectors, so come football season, I’ll have three projectors on the wall,” Miller said.
Miller said his pub differs from other spots near campus because he offers quality food, including what Miller claims is the “best burger in town.”
“What separates me is the food for one thing,” Miller said.
LSA junior Doug Noveroske went to the pub Saturday night, after deciding against going on Friday when he saw the long line outside the entrance. While he had heard a few complaints from his friends about the bar, Noveroske said he was excited to check it out.
“I had heard it was too bright and the music was too loud, but someone must have said something because the lights were down and the music wasn’t too loud,” he said. “ I don’t know if it’s really like anything else on campus. I live right across the street pretty much, so ever since they first put in the sign we’ve been looking forward to it.”
Packard Pub has 20 taps, with 18 different beers, six of which are from local Michigan brewers. Drink specials will be running throughout the week and weekend, with a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. According to Miller, the weekend’s biggest seller, both on tap and by the bottle, was Bud Light.
Despite the selection, some students complained that the pub’s drink specials didn’t compare to those of other bars on campus.
“They didn’t have all their beers on tap, and their drink list was miniscule,” LSA junior Samantha Greenberg said.
Because it was only the opening weekend, Greenberg — who said she often goes to Good Time Charley’s on the weekend — said she thinks the pub is still getting organized and that more drinks will be offered soon.
“We are really excited for Packard Pub a month from now because it’s going to be epic,” Greenberg said.
Despite the long lines, Miller said the pub wasn’t lax on security. Miller said no one under the age of 21 will be allowed in the bar after 9 p.m. He added that security will confiscate any fake ID cards.
“The first night we got six fake IDs,” Miller said. “We got a heck of a security team here, and they have a lot of experience.”
As summer approaches, Miller expects business to slow down a bit as students leave campus, but based on what he has heard from other local business owners, he said business shouldn’t decline too much.
“It may slow down a bit, but outside of locals, you are going to have out-of-towners here for the (Ann Arbor) Art Fair,” Miller said.
He added that he also expects University Athletic Department staff to visit the pub during their down time.
“There’s faculty down here at the Athletic Department that have been dying for me to get open, and I’m sure I’ll start seeing them here for lunch,” Miller said.
Ben Hammond, daytime manager for Good Time Charley’s, said he doesn’t think Packard Pub will create too much competition for Charley’s or other bars in the area.
“I think it’s always good to have competition to give people other options,” Hammond said. “But I think they are far down enough that it won’t have an effect on the South U. businesses.”
After evaluating this weekend, Miller said he’s received great feedback and, other than a few small kinks that need to be worked out, the sports bar is successfully up and running.
“We are pretty well ironed out,” he said. “(We) just (need) to be a little more efficient with the computers — we are still updating our system. People love the food.”