Something of a local institution, although not always a bar, the building at the corner of West Stadium Boulevard and West Liberty Street once housed a grocery store and auto service station, below. But today it's a stopping place for old and young alike, especially in summertime when a thirsty softball crowd livens up the atmosphere.
The names may change but folks have been stopping in for years
By Bob Schairer
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Basically, it’s “a shot and beer bar.”
That’s how one of the business owners of the Stadium Tavern describes it.
The tavern at West Stadium Boulevard and West Liberty Street has become something of an institution in the eyes of many.
Nelson Clark, co-owner of the tavern, says that he would describe the tavern as a “working man’s type bar.” Most of the clientele, he adds, are male.
Clark, 36, owns the tavern business along with his brother, Ronald, 31.
THE TAVERN HAS been on the corner for about as long as many people can remember.
Nelson Clark says the original building was built in 1928 or 1929. In its early years it housed a grocery store and auto service station. Clark is unsure when it was transformed into a tavern. For many years it was known at Tice’s Tavern.
The original business owner, Clark says, was a man by the name of Highbind. Next was Burt Foster, he adds, and then Bob Wheeler. The Tice family then came into the picture. The Clarks’ father, the late Erwin Clark, became sole owner in 1964 when the name changed to Stadium Tavern. The Clark brothers purchased the business from their father in June of 1973.
The property, Nelson Clark points out, still is owned by Mary E.Tice.
The tavern opens each morning a 7 a.m. and closes the following morning at 2 a.m. Sunday is an exception, when the hours are noon to 10 p.m., and has many regular customers, Clark says.
DURING THE DAY the patronage is pretty much made up of regular customers, he observes. Daytime customers also are a somewhat older crowd, he adds. Nights, the patronage is more varied and tends to a somewhat younger crowd. The night crowd during warm months also will include a number of baseball and softball players.
Staffing of the tavern varies with periods of the day. Generally there will be three persons plus a cook over the lunch hour. Evenings there are two much of the time, but in the summer the number jumps to three. Saturdays there are two people plus a cook, and Saturday nights there are two persons. Sundays generally one person is on duty. The latter number will increase, however, if there is a ball tournament in town.
Topics of conversation among tavern customers cover a wide range, Clark observes, including sports, politics, the economy and the cost of living.
BEVERAGES' REQUESTED run about three to one for beer over liquor, Clark says.
Liquor-drink requests are on the plain side, with requests for blended drinks rather infrequent, he observes. Still, there are a substantial number of requests for screw drivers, vodka and Squirt, gin and tonic, whiskey and water, whiskey and 7-Up, and vodka and tonic.
Food also figures prominently in the fare of the tavern. The establishment offers lunch, plus sandwiches in the evening.
The lunch hour generally finds the tavern with a full house (capacity set by the fire marshal is 100).
EACH DAY THE menu features a special. Also available are hot beef and hot pork sandwiches, and homemade soup and chili.
The Stadium Tavern’s lunches has attracted some relatively prominent patrons, Clark recalls.
Included are University of Michigan football coaches, including Head Coach Bo Schembechler. Also in for lunch has been Golf Coach Tom Simon and former U-M Basketball Coach Johnny Orr.
Clark also recalls major league baseball player Ron LeFlore being in the tavern when he was doing promotional work for a nearby appliance store.
NEWS PHOTOS BY ROBERT CHASE
Nelson Clark, above, co-owner of the Stadium Tavern with his brother Ronald, sees a daytime crowd of regulars but he also recalls the likes of Bo Schembechler and Ron LeFlore stopping in, too.