Correction appended: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that Packard Pub offers a four-pound burger. Their “full pounder” consists of a half-pound each of a burger and fries.
After Packard Pub opened on the corner of State and Packard streets in March, it was jam packed for the first few weeks. But then interest began to diminish and support for the new bar on campus waned.
Part of the pub’s problem was due to the way the restaurant was being managed, according to the bar’s current manager Chris Bommarito. Former Packard Pub Manager Kyle Miller claimed he was the owner of the bar-restaurant and was running the establishment in a fashion contrary to the intent of the actual owner, Michelle Trybyla.
Bommarito, who said in an interview that the pub wasn’t being managed in a way that maximized its potential, replaced Miller in July.
“Although he did have almost full control of the bar while he was here, the owner did step up and say she didn’t appreciate what he was doing with it and simply removed him and put me in place,” Bommarito said.
Trybyla didn’t respond to multiple interview requests from The Michigan Daily.
Because of low profits while Miller was running the bar, the Pub had cut its hours and scaled back on employees, Bommarito said.
Since Bommarito has assumed management, Packard Pub has made changes that have helped bring back the crowds that were present during the bar’s first few weeks in business.
“Kyle wasn’t really a restaurant manager,” Bommarito said. “There’s things that were happening that from a bar owner perspective, you kind of shake your head at.”
Even some students who went to the Pub said they noticed there were some internal problems at the bar.
LSA junior Liz Sundin visited the pub while Miller was still in charge and said she saw that the bartenders were doing double duty.
“The bartenders were really friendly but it seemed really unorganized,” Sundin said. “Our bartender was also cleaning the bathroom so she had to keep going back and forth … there were still only two people working and the manager, but we didn’t actually see him.”
Since Bommarito has become manager, he has been working closely with Trybyla to fuel spirit for the Pub and its sports bar offerings. Because of these efforts, Packard Pub is now Bud Light’s top distributor in Ann Arbor and hosts events like $1 beer Thursdays and All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfasts on game days, which are sponsored by Blue Moon.
Despite Packard Pub’s rejuvenated business, Good Time Charley’s Manager Ben Hammond says his bar never saw a drop in business from the time Packard Pub opened to now.
“Our summer business was about the same and it actually picked up a little bit more,” Hammond said. “I haven’t seen any adjustments in business and we’re a mainstay here.”
Hammond said Charley’s management isn’t worried about Packard Pub’s dollar beer Thursdays because it has its own $4 full-pounder burger option on Thursdays to compete.
Prior to coming under new management, some students said Packard Pub’s drink selection had been a little unappealing due to its unusual beer choices. But with the Pub’s now expanded drink list, students are expressing interest in returning.
LSA senior Emily Duhovny said she heard the drink selection at Packard Pub was unusual, but ended up going to the bar because of its spot in an area heavily populated by students, not because of its drink reputation.
“We went because of the convenient location,” Duhovny said. “I heard there was an interesting selection of beers and stuff. I’m not a beer drinker, but I liked the one I had.”
Bommarito said he plans to keep making additions and changes to the bar in order to establish it as a campus hot spot.
“We’re doing a lot of fun things … music really loud and dancing on top of the tables,” he said. “We’re installing a slide so you can slide down to the downstairs.”