From the frost-proof ceramic tables on the porch to the tricolored ceramic pillars inside the bar, Silvio, the “doorman” at Dominick’s, has left his mark in countless ways inside the popular campus bar.
The cousin of the bar’s founder, Silvio was present at the inception of Dominick’s, helping to build the distinctive bar at 812 Monroe St.
Most students, however, know Silvio, who refuses to give his last name, as the bouncer with a keen eye for spotting fake ID’s.
He said he snagged 29 ID’s last year alone, but insists that it’s only to keep underage students out of trouble.
“I like to help kids for their own good,” he said.
Though Silvio is known for his flinty eyed glare at the bar’s front door, he said he’s built a rapport with the students that frequent Dominick’s.
“I see lawyers that graduated from here come back from all over,” he said. “These kids have a lot of respect for me.”
A native of Italy, Silvio grew up in Castelvetere Sul Calore, where many of his relatives still live. When asked about his native home, he proudly displayed a small business card with a picture of his native city on the front.
“This is my house,” he said, pointing to a cream-colored villa on a green Italian hillside.
In 1954 Silvio moved to Canada, and then soon after to the United States.
“Canada had too many French rules,” he said.
He said Ann Arbor especially appealed to him because it was built on seven hills, which reminded him of the famous Seven Hills of Rome.
After moving to Ann Arbor in 1965, Silvio got to work helping his cousin Dominick build and manage his restaurant.
Dominick’s started out as a single house, he said, but expanded after the bar’s owners bought a neighboring house. The entire bar was then remodeled in the 1970s to resemble what it looks like today.
Today, Dominick’s is popular not only for its potent sangria and food selection but also for its intimate indoor atmosphere and lively outdoor seating.
And Silvio, should you ask him about the bar’s history, is quick to remind customers that, inside or outside, he has helped make Dominick’s what it is today.