Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Elwood Bar earns its stripes as Detroit baseball landmark

If there were such a thing as the Unofficial Bar of Old Tiger Stadium, few Detroit baseball fans would argue that Nemo’s Bar on Michigan Avenue would top the list. In fact, when the Tigers shuttered the old stadium at the end of the 1999 season and moved across town, it would have been fitting had they found a way to lift Nemo’s from its Corktown roots and plop it somewhere in Foxtown.
Hmm. Moving a bar. Who’d have thought of that?

Turns out, to make room for the Tigers’ new home at Comerica Park, a bar and grill on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Woodward Avenue that’s been serving since 1936 had to be spared. Or did it? Rather than demolish the Elwood Bar & Grill –named for the intersection on which it resided – owner Chuck Forbes decided to lift it up, drop it on a trailer, and drag it down the street. Moving a bar. Clever.

In doing so, Forbes not only salvaged a beloved local hangout, he also – by mere proximity to the stadium – claimed the title that Nemo’s held for so many years: the Unofficial Bar of Tiger Fans. Now located on the corner of Adams and Brush streets, the Elwood sits in the shadows of Comerica’s enormous leftfield scoreboard, “only 56 steps to the ball park”, the website boasts. The menu features a photo of the move, with the Elwood – looking similar to one of those old Carter’s Hamburger joints – sitting atop a trailer waiting to be lowered into place.

Once settled in to its new home, it didn’t take the Elwood long to became a fan-favorite for lunch and drinks before, during and after a Tiger game. And when Ford Field went up across the street, Lions’ fans began flocking to the Elwood on Sunday mornings. From the outside, the Elwood still looks much like it did the day it sat on that trailer; its art-deco stylings, although restored, make it look like something out of ‘American Graffiti’. The interior underwent a complete restoration, and now features impeccably polished booths and hightops fronting a beautifully designed, long wooden bar.

But throughout the baseball season, and even early in the Lions’ schedule, the place to be at the Elwood is out on the patio at the corner of Adams and Brush. For a casual lunch on a wooden picnic table beneath a patio umbrella and baseball pennants, it’s a great place to grab something from the Elwood’s menu of burgers and sandwiches. The Comerica Park public address announcer, the crack of the bat, and all the sounds of the ballpark filter across the street. And that’s something that even Nemo’s could never deliver.
For more info: Visit the Elwood at 300 Adams Ave., or visit them online at Through the summer, the Elwood is open daily, but closed on Sundays unless the Tigers are playing at home.