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Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Coming soon: New bar in former Studio 4 building in downtown Ann Arbor?

By Paula Gardner


Painters have been working at 314-316 S. Fourth Ave. all week, changing the exterior colors of the former Studio 4 bar.

Paula Gardner |

It’s clear something is happening at the former Studio 4.

But what that is appears to be a secret no one involved wants to share.

I stopped by the shuttered downtown Ann Arbor bar on Wednesday afternoon in a final attempt to ask the people doing work onsite for an explanation. I’d been asking others about the situation for much of the week.

Instead of finding the answer, I was thrown out of the bar.

A man I talked to briefly on Monday was sitting inside, viewing a laptop computer. He said he’s overseeing the painting of the building - after denying he’s the ex-operator of Studio 4 - then said he wouldn’t answer any of my questions. And he told me I had to leave.

He said his instructions were: “Don’t say nothing to nobody,” urging me toward the door.

He told me to call Dennis Serras, co-owner of Ann Arbor’s Mainstreet Ventures.

Yet I've also been told that Serras is out of the country- and that nothing going into that space has a connection to Mainstreet Ventures restaurants.

But that’s just about all that I’ve discovered this week since spotting crews painting the formerly black building on South Fourth Avenue early on Monday.

Except for a job posting on Craigslist: Someone is looking for bartenders, security, servers and "shot girls" to work at what they're calling Dream Nite Club in Ann Arbor - same address.

No business is registered under that name with the state, according to its website as of late Wednesday. The job posting promises that it's "opening soon."

Meanwhile, the building is now partially orange, with the windows trimmed in purple.

Beyond those visible details, I only have a few more clues about what’s happening at the formerly troubled bar.

That’s after multiple visits to the property, many phone calls to people previously connected to it, and what seems like endless unreturned phone calls.

In most cases, I’d wait to report on it until I was told something definitive.

But with this property - given the profile of the location, lawsuits by the city and many visits by the police department when it was open - I’ll share what I’ve learned in the hopes that someone knows more and will disclose it.

The reason: Ann Arbor deserves to know what’s coming into the location.

Studio 4 closed on June 4. The city was trying to get a receiver appointed to run the business because officials considered it a public nuisance; that lawsuit is still pending. At the same time, litigation among business entities involved resulted in a $324,000 judgment against the operator of the bar, VR Entertainment, and the owner of the liquor license also faced a lawsuit about unpaid bills.

Here’s my latest rundown on the key players:

• VR Entertainment was operated by Vikash Mangray, and his phone number has been disconnected since the bar closed. The man I spoke to today denied he’s Mangray.

• The owner of the liquor license used by Studio 4 is Papa Chulo’s Inc. City officials said they just received notice from the state that Papa Chulo’s wants to transfer the license from the building.

Demos Panos, a partner in the entity, confirmed that. “We’re getting back the liquor license,” he said.

Anyone operating a bar in the Studio 4 building will have to get a new license.

But who is going to operate in that building?

Panos said he’s been told it’s an entity related to Mangray or his family.

• The leaseholder of the building is Maude’s Restaurant, part of the Mainstreet Ventures group.

However, any new entity coming into the building is not a Mainstreet Ventures operation, said executive Kevin Gudejko.

• The building is owned by Dean Zahn Properties of Saline. Registered manager Matthew Zahn did not return several phone calls requesting comment about the changes on site.

Kristen Larcom, the city attorney who filed suit against Studio 4, said she wasn’t aware of changes to the building or another entity coming in to operate it.

She’s now looking into it, too.

“Obviously we’re concerned that this doesn’t return to the same problem,” she said.

On the outside, the new look of the bar is distinctive.

But it appears Ann Arbor will have to wait a bit to see if anything changes inside the operation.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.


4 Fingers

Fri, Aug 20, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

Edward- Reese is Jeff's son. Jeff is still listed on the paperwork for VR Entertainment that has the DBA for the new club. BTW the grand opening is being advertised for Thursday September 2nd

4 Fingers

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Turns out this new club is owned by the same Owner (Reese Mangray) that had studio 4. Can't believe he was allowed to reopen this place. WOW!


Sat, Aug 14, 2010 : 9:17 p.m.

I want Maude's back!


Sun, Aug 8, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.

There was activity at this bar last night. AAPD had a man pulled over right out front when we walked by at about 1am...

4 Fingers

Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

ANN ARBOR CITY V.R. ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK, INC. DREAM NITECLUB & LOUNGE 158474 N $12,237.95 Same people that had Studio 4..... The owner of the liquor license used by Studio 4 is Papa Chulos Inc. City officials said they just received notice from the state that Papa Chulos wants to transfer the license from the building. Demos Panos, a partner in the entity, confirmed that. Were getting back the liquor license, he said. Anyone operating a bar in the Studio 4 building will have to get a new license. But who is going to operate in that building? Panos said hes been told its an entity related to Mangray or his family. AAPD beware....


Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

Registered with the state...

4 Fingers

Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 6:27 a.m.

How do you open a bar WITHOUT a liquor license?? I wouldn't put it past this place....


Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 1:23 a.m.

In "real" cities, this wouldn't be a concern as to what new place was coming or going, but, this is Ann Arbor. Do I ever recall as much concern when Dooley's (nee Scorekeepers) had issues after issues and finally changed their name? A simple police presence near closing time is all that's needed. But, then again, 512 Packard was known to be a drug den and it took Lawnet and not the AAPD to finally close that place, but not until those dealers found a steady clientele on campus.

Inside MI GOP

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:12 p.m.

Ran into a former bouncer a couple of months ago about the time the judgement notices were posted on the door. He was talkative and indicated that the place was not being run professionally and that his suggestions were not appreciated. Prior to that I had noticed that English was at best a second language for the patrons of the bands that were playing there. Not that I have anything against muchachos in their square dancing outfits and the mujercitas with the bare midriffs and negals de J-Lo. But for Ann Arbor real estate the building is a waste of vertical space.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

you're right Django, according to they are illegal under our state constitution. Thanks for teaching me something new!


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:03 p.m.

@diagbum If I'm not mistaken, sobriety checkpoints are illegal in the state of Michigan

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

Think of the contrast between what it takes to open another bar in Ann Arbor and what it takes to get any kind of redevelopment project approved. Everybody has a say in the latter; nobody has a say in the former. Everything is published, examined, and public in the latter; secrets are hidden behind companies behind companies and "no comment" in the former. It is easier to open and harder for the police to close places that attract and tolerate drug dealers, fights (as long as they are outside) and noise at all hours than it is to build new housing or open a plain old restaurant that doesn't even sell beer.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

First off, thanks for the supplemental info posted in the comments and sent to me via email. There is a Twitter post that suggests this new bar could be open on Saturday: "ANN ARBORS NEWEST NIGHTCLUB THIS SATURDAY! " @john of Saline: How often does this happen? Next to never. Sometimes very small businesses don't respond to requests for info. The only time that I can recall having a business owner give zero info came with a recent story by Dan Meisler - it was a medical marijuana dispensary. @somewhat concerned: The master lease is held by Maude's, and is related to Mainstreet Ventures via co-owner Dennis Serras. All questions about the property are referred to Dennis, who is out of the country and not responding. @speechless: awesome job putting the story to song @boom, I'd like to say maybe it'll happen again some time... but probably not:)

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 5:24 p.m.

Mainstreet Ventures says it won't be one of their operations. Why won't they tell you who it is? What are they hiding, and why? Maybe it's time to get their liquor licenses reviewed.

John of Saline

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

Dont say nothing to nobody, Wow. How often does that happen, Paula? And I must say, since he used a double negative, you're just doing what he said to do.

Bob Needham

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

(comment removed because of a personal attack)

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

AAPD is not going to do sobriety checks or impound cars. First, it's not nice. Second, they are supposed to use verbal judo. Third, on any afternoon when UM is in session and the weather is nice, hundreds of students and other underage young people are in front yards, chugging beer, screaming at people in cars, and offering cups to passersby. Police (AAPD and UM) drive past saying "I see nothinggk." This bar won't be touched because in Ann Arbor there are only two things you can get in trouble for: (1st) saying something politically incorrect that hurts the feelings of a Buddhist, a woman, African-American, gay, Muslim, lesbian, feminist (or lesbian feminist), a Hispanic or a Norwegian-American - or (2nd) letting your parking meter expire.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 2:36 p.m.

Here's Reese's Facebook - - looks like there might be a connection... Seriously why doesn't AAPD just do Sobriety checkpoints at the parking structure and raise some cash for the city by impounding some vehicles and arresting some drunk drivers!


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

If you're being so secretive, why on earth would you modify the EXTERIOR of the building in such an obvious way? At least do that part last. It just makes them look shady. If you're trying to turn the reputation of the location around, be straightforward and give the reporter a date when you will be able to divulge information. Don't just kick her out.

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

There's nothing to worry about. If the bar turns out to be a slimy haven for drug deals and fights, our police will move in with their newly-learned "verbal judo," bow politely, and calm down the dealers and the gun-packing thugs with kind words, gentle voices, and invitations to come back downtown the following weekend with parking for free, on the city. Maybe even free donuts. Let's not assume that this will be a totally bad place. For all we know, the bar will offer free chess lessons to under-privileged children and free tours of their shooting gallery to Cub Scouts working on their marksmanship merit badge.

Jim S.

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

Funny, the twitter feed and craigslist posting have already been removed. Why would someone be so paranoid?


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

The owners don't want the same type of crowd to destroy the club's new reputation. We should give them a chance. If you are afraid of what may happen, then you shouldn't go to the club. The new security team is the first line of defense in keeping the club safe. If they get that right then all should go smoothly.

4 Fingers

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

wow...I wonder when he thinks he'll open....Liquor license alone will take six months to acquire and transfer, then the building dept. needs to get involved and so on...

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

Just what Ann Arbor needs: another questionable bar that is likely to be the host for drug deals and fights. On the plus side, it is convenient to have this sort of activity concentrated in just a few places. It saves the cops time and gasoline; they can just park outside. Ann Arbor - the town where it is difficult to build new, clean housing but easy to open a sleazy bar.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.

a simple "whois" search on the website url returns the following. Dream Nite Club & Lounge 314 S Fourth Ave Ann Arbor, Michigan 48140 United States Administrative Contact: Mangray, Reese Dream Nite Club & Lounge 314 S Fourth Ave Ann Arbor, Michigan 48140 United States (248) 219-2222 Fax --


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

well, we certainly know it's not a home decorating store. Orange with purple trim?


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

A few minutes on Google turned up some items of potential interest. The Craigslist ad: A Twitter feed: The Twitter yields this image: A placeholder-website: The Twitter image and the website lists this e-mail address: Next step - who owns the e-mail address? I think I'll leave finding that part to the writer. I have studying to get back to...

elvis the pelvis

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

Just wondering why you care what business is going in there? I would probably tell you to leave a business too if you were not invited in and the business was closed and under construction. I'm just happy to see something new downtown and more jobs coming.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

From the article: He said his instructions were: Dont say nothing to nobody, Duuuh, okay boss. Something seems fishy.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

Really dating myself, but the best restaurant that occupied that space was Maude's, late 70's and 80's... Really miss that place.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:20 a.m.

I had high hopes for this place until I saw that they spelled "night" wrong and they're looking for "shot girls." I predict the same "nitemare" for our finest every weekend.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

Speechless...too funny. Laughing out loud at work. That's Rare.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

Kudo's to speechless.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear. There's a man with some paint over there, telling us we got to beware. Stop, hey, what's that color? Everybody, look at what's going down! There's battle lines being drawn; nobody's right if everybody's mum. Inquiring writers speaking their minds, getting so much resistance from inside. It's time we stop, ask, "Hey, what's the matter? Everybody wonders, "What's going down?" Paranoia strikes deep; into primed walls it will creep. It starts when they're always afraid; you step past their line, and the "man" come and chase you away. Stop, now.... How's it going to sound? Everybody:  What club's going down???


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 7:35 a.m.

Paula, You are my hero, getting kicked out of a bar before it has even opened for business.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 7:05 a.m.

Sounds like a sleazy operation at best. The lack of transparency should have residents concerned. Most new businesses welcome publicity. They want the public to know what's coming. Side note... orange? really? Orange???