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Posted on Fri, May 25, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Bill's Beer Garden: City approves liquor license transfer as construction continues

By Lizzy Alfs


The bar and bathrooms are underway at Bill's Beer Garden in downtown Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

Mark Hodesh's vision to create an outdoor gathering spot in downtown Ann Arbor where people come to eat, drink, socialize and listen to music is moving closer to becoming a reality.

Construction on Bill’s Beer Garden - inspired by the community gathering spots Hodesh saw in Brooklyn, N.Y. -- is underway in a portion of the parking lot next to his Downtown Home & Garden store on the west side of downtown.

Ann Arbor’s City Council's Liquor License Review Committee this past Monday approved a request to transfer ownership and location of an escrowed 2011 Class C Liquor License from Pizza Hut of America, Inc. to Bill’s Beer Garden, LLC. The request still needs approval from the state.

The committee also approved a dance-entertainment permit, an outdoor service area and a new Specially Designated Merchant license.

Construction on the beer garden is moving along quickly, with the hopes of opening it in mid-July, Hodesh said.

Jensen & Sons, Chelsea Plumbing, Norris Electric Co. and Van Ingen Construction are working on the project.

“It’s going extremely smoothly,” Hodesh said. “It’s the same construction crew that has built everything for me. It’s a well-oiled machine by now.”

Hodesh, along with his long-time business associate, Bill Zolkowski, are opening Bill’s Beer Garden: a 422-square-foot storage and restroom building, two open air-pavilions with seating, and an enclosed pavilion for the bar on a portion of the existing Downtown Home & Garden parking lot, located at the northwest corner of Liberty and Ashley streets.

There will be a corridor connecting Bill’s Beer Garden with Mark’s Carts, and customers will be able to bring food from the courtyard to the beer garden.

The garden will serve Michigan craft beer and wine and host live music and other entertainment events. It will be open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. while the weather is warm, so people can still park in the Downtown Home & Garden parking lot during the day.

Hodesh’s hope, he said, is for Bill’s Beer Garden to become a community gathering spot, adding to the recent influx of activity on the blocks just west of Main Street.

“The carts are extremely busy, the store is busy, they’re building (Ann Arbor City Apartments) right behind us and we’re building the garden; the whole block is just really active,” he said.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

Hoping to join the crowd downtown with an ice cold Gluten Free beer...Red Bridge is nice...although a local beer would be better...can we say Jolly Pumpkin? Looking forward to the Beer Garden!

Robert D. Mosley

Tue, May 29, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

I will definitely check this out with my niece when in town! These articles really are helpful for those of us out of town and I love the responses from you guys in Ann Arbor.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

can't wait for tomorrow's article about mark's carts/bill's beer garden.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

Sounds good, but I want to see the beer list. Flat crap beer in a plastic cup is gross no matter the location, no matter how much community vibe you throw at it.

Top Cat

Sat, May 26, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

The only thing better than drinking beer is drinking beer outside.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Sweet! Just in time for 'skeeter season. Need to figure out what they hose them down with at German Park and get some of that.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

The mosquito population in downtown isn't anything like going to the rural setting of German Park. It'll be fine. It'll be great to have a few beers outdoors and walk home.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

I think this is a great idea and it will undoubtedly be well conceived, with good things to drink. I just wish there were just one place in town where you could eat or drink without music. I love music, but it is not wallpaper!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

any chance it will be dog friendly? we were so bummed when we found out we couldn't bring dogs in to the parking lot of marks carts, finally ann arbor got a food "truck" scene but love bringing our dogs with us and so many other places in AA are dog friendly.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

I love dogs, but I don't let them hang out with me while I'm eating. I certainly don't need someone else's dog waiting for something to hit the floor.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

Sorry, I don't need to have salivating dogs hanging around while I eat. You can leave them at home and come and join the fun.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

OSHA (correctly) would throw a s**t-fit.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Wonderful, I'm very excited for this.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

and dont forget noise +dust from backhoes across from kiwanas!


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Yup, that's what happens when you build stuff. You make some noise and things get dirty before the final product is achieved. Progress is a mixed bag.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Yea! An out door beer garden! Let's party!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

I do not drink. But I applaud what has been and is being done by Mark.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Looking forward to the opening. I will always support home-grown institutions. Keep it going Mark!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

It's nice to see a "home town boy" doing so well here. Mark has done some interesting things in his career including a beautiful venue in Maine. This is a nice concept and I'm sure it will be a success like his other ventures. It will be interesting to see how the "corridor" works out. I wonder if the Ann Arbor Apartments development will use up all of that available public parking lot though. I missed that article I guess.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

I think there's only one thing to do - rename that portion of the city "Marktown". Or maybe "Mark Hill".


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

I will make it a point stop by. Hopefully there will be some good Happy Hour specials

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

Mark has made really valuable contributions to the life of the city. Besides, I like his store. Does everyone know that he originally launched Fleetwood Diner?


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

As the censored poster below noted, Hodesh bought the existing Dagwood Diner in 1971 and renamed it the Fleetwood.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

His ideas of late have certainly been winners in my book. He's been an inspired, imaginative entrepeneur that, as you pointed out, has brought life to the downtown area.