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Posted on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Detroit barbecue restaurant signs lease for former Packard Pub in Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs

The smell of smoked ribs, beef brisket and mashed sweet potatoes will be hitting the State and Packard area next year when a Detroit-based barbecue restaurant opens its doors.

R.U.B. BBQ Pub, with locations in Detroit and Warren, plans to open in the former Packard Pub space at 640 Packard St.


A Detroit-based barbecue restaurant plans to open in the former Packard Pub space at State and Packard.

Lizzy Alfs |

“We’re constantly looking for cities that are a little more developed and have high traffic,” said R.U.B.’s regional manager Omar Mitchell. “We’re big fans of being next to stadiums and theaters.”

R.U.B. specializes in “old school” smoked barbecue food, according to its website. Its menu consists of rib tips, sliders, wings, barbecue nachos, fried pickles, grilled corn, mac and cheese, Cajun gumbo, salads and more.

“Not only can you taste the natural smoke flavor, but you can visually see the smoke ring on the outer portions of our meats,” the website says. “We mix our own rubs and sauces from scratch using over 20 different herbs and spices.”

Mitchell said the restaurant will carry more than 50 draft beers and 200 bottled beers, including microbrews from Michigan. It also will be a sports-viewing destination.

“We are excited to be bringing the same great-tasting BBQ you have grown to love to Ann Arbor and to be your premier pregame and postgame destination for all (University of Michigan) games,” the website says.


R.U.B.'s menu has a range of smoked meats and six homemade barbeque sauces.

Photo from R.U.B. BBQ Pub

Packard Pub most recently occupied the 3,500-square-foot space at State and Packard. The pub opened in March 2010, but closed unexpectedly in late 2011. When the business closed, signs on the building listed a phone number for a bankruptcy lawyer in Mount Clemens, Mich.

The building, which also is occupied by a Subway sandwich shop and student apartments, is registered to Ronald Moore of Rdm Holdings Ltd in Saint Clair Shores, Mich.

Mitchell said although restaurants have "come and gone" at the building, R.U.B.’s business model focuses more on the food than Packard Pub, which he expects will create a more loyal following.

“The past restaurant was more bar-driven,” he said. “We’re more restaurant-driven. We’re planning on serving a lot more food and we can deliver food.”

He continued: “In the spring and summer, we have very large smokers, so we can participate in a lot more festivals and outdoor events to supplement our income. We also have our other side of the business, which is our catering company.”

Owned by the Yono family, R.U.B. BBQ was established in 2010 and the three restaurants are corporately owned.

Mitchell, who is spearheading the opening of the Ann Arbor location, said he hopes to open the restaurant within the next 30 to 60 days. The turnkey space only needs some cosmetic changes, he said.

“(This space) was in great condition,” he said. “So that’s why we will be able to open up so quickly.”

Mitchell said he plans to hire about 50 to 60 workers. Email to apply.

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


Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

I hope they do well. I'm looking forward to having a GOOD bbq place that delivers. It would be perfect for when I've had a long day and I dont feel like cooking, and don't feel like eating chinese or pizza. However, I'm very concerned that the business will fail, as I would guess that 99% of the money spent in that area comes from students. Students are far more likely to grab a quick slice of pizza, due to the messy nature of eating BBQ.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Dexter gets a permanent good bar-b-que place too. So glad the guys have found a place.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

"Owned by the Yono family, R.U.B. BBQ was established in 2010 and the three restaurants are corporately owned." It's good barbecue, but I don't think its origins are in Detroit. Isn't "Real Urban BBQ", aka R.U.B, a franchise that started in New York, in 2005? I ate at the R.U.B. in Las Vegas before it closed in 2009.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Wonder if the smokers will be on site? There are nNumerous apartments above the commerical spaces on this corner. Agree the parking is horrible but if you turn the corner onto State St there are several parking spaces that are often available, also parking on Mary St near by. Wishing RUB the best of luck. Lets give a new business our support.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Although immediate parking is limited (a few metered spots on State South of Packard, a few on Hill between State & Packard, those running along State North of Hill, oh and the parking garage 3 blocks up on Hill) there is tremendous foot traffic here during any sports related event at U of M. A unique full service restaurant that can supplement income at additional locations via festivals, catering, and take out will do well vs. just another bar in a town with so many bar (& bar food) options.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 5:18 a.m.

heh-heh-heh, this is the perfect place for a bike commuter to stop on the way home after work. Parking... Hah! No problem. :-) Tip for the new owners: put up a bike parking corral on the sidewalk and be sure to let AABTS, the Ann Arbor Velo Club and the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition know when you open for business (total members must total about 2000). Just a thought but it seems that businesses downtown all suffer from the trend putting major shopping areas on the fringes of town where they can only be reached by motor vehicle. If parking motor vehicles is so impractical downtown, why isn't there more provision for bicycles (road markings, signs, bike racks / corrals, etc)?? NYC neighborhoods & business districts have solved the vehicle congestion / parking problem in that way. (Also see Long Beach, CA. and numerous European cities) Whatever: BBQ = America's Food. :-)


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

You had me until I read further and it wasn't Slow's coming here. I really had my hopes up---

Frustrated in A2

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Sounds like an awesome place to go if only there was some parking near by.

Soulful Adrenaline

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

Hope they have some hickory flavor

Rob MI

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

There was a BBQ place in this area in the late 90's. Located where Quickie Burger is now, it replaced a pizza joint and was itself replaced by a Tubby's Submarines franchise that lasted quite a while. I never went to this restaurant (whose name escapes me at the moment), and for some reason I recall it being owned by the same people that run Campus Corner just down the street. I don't think this other BBQ place lasted two years. I wish R.U.B a better fate than what befell this other restaurant.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Probably won't be able to walk your pigs without a leash anymore


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

I still miss Delong's BBQ.

Britain W.

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

BBQ fries!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Yeah, that great spongy white bread to mop up the sauce. Ate many a Delong's meal over the years.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Unless they build a parking lot somewhere near this location I feel this restaurant will have the same fate that the many others had before it. When the students leave, there's just no one willing to go to that location. There's no parking anywhere close to it and it relies almost entirely on student traffic. When people go to dinner, which seems to be what this place will most likely strive for, they don't want to have to fight for meters on the street to park. If any business wishes to succeed there, they must find a place to build a lot for their customers to park.

John Hritz

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

I have a general suspicion of BBQ places that take reservations and have valet parking, but in this spot, valet parking may be a necessity.

Andy Piper

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

I am usually able to find a parking spot nearby when I eat at Big Ten Buritto. If the food is good - and it sounds very promising - I will find a way to park. Good luck!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

The owners of BTB will let you know that it is called BTB and NOT Big ten Burrito. The sports conference made sure of that with their cease and desist letter. There is no such place as Big Ten Burrito, because it is obvious a consumer could become confused that a burrito joint is similar to a sports conference.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

I only wish they were coming to Dexter instead of more pizza. A really good bar-b-que restaurant would be a great addition here.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Ask and you shall receive:


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Boogie Woogie is local to me, and a great place for takeout. Mmmm, that gives me an idea for dinner...

sun runner

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Smokehouse 52 BBQ is set to open in downtown Chelsea in early December.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Hans, thanks from me too. I'll Google it. I love Mr. B's ribs in Howell.

Boo Radley

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Hans, thank you for mentioning the Boogie Woogie BBQ ... I had no idea it existed. After your post I checked out their website and will take the short drive up there to try it.

Hans Masing

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Chef Chris' Boogie Woogie BBQ isn't too far north of Dexter, and worth every inch of the drive there!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

@ Kyle, Not sure about a revivial of BBQ, more like a saturation. After all, we did have Mr. Rib in these parts until Jessee passed away, bless his soul on a roll. As for BBQ itself, what is not to like? Even Jim Henson covered the topic.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Thanks for that video link treetown, brings back memories.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

While you wait for R.U.B. to open, why not try Red Rock in Ypsilanti. Great food, great bar, and local.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

The only way I can foresee a great experience at Red Rock is if you enjoy the great bar long enough to overlook the mediocre food and abysmal service. I support local, but not when I'm getting ripped off.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

How's service now - last time the service was so terrible.....servers so snotty! Need more training!

Jessica Webster

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

I'll be happy to walk a bit for some good BBQ!

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

If the BBQ is good, I'll take my chances parking on a nearby lawn. Heaven forbid that anyone should ever need to walk a few blocks.

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

Ross, the first rule of good street parking in A2 is you don't talk about it.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Haha. But do tell, where is this abundance of parking within a few blocks? The street parking within more like 10 blocks is always pretty full due to the proximity to campus.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Without parking only a sub shop can make it in this location. Good Luck!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Yep, I have to agree with the others. The parking situation in that area will definitely guide me in how often or if I ever eat there.

Bill Wilson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Link not working.

Bill Wilson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

For those interested:

Ron Torrella

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Here's the link.... "Schooled By A Legend: My 3 Days At Jack's Old South BBQ Cooking School."

Bill Wilson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Lizzy, As a graduate of the 3 top BBQ cooking schools in the world (Jack's Old South [Myron Mixon], Johnny Trigg, and Paul Kirk BBQ cooking schools), I was delighted to see that a new BBQ restaurant will be coming to Ann Arbor. You missed a few details, so I called RUB's Detroit restaurant and spoke with their manager, Chris. Chris tells me that RUB will be using a Southern Pride smoker, and using a combination of hickory and cherry smoking woods. Chris was quite friendly, and if their Ann arbor manager is anything like him, I'm sure RUB Ann Arbor will be a very nice place to eat at with some darn good food. Great news for those who appreciate real BBQ.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

BBQ Tofu!

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Lizzy, does this mean you'll be trading in tofu for pulled pork sandwiches?

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Thanks for adding this information! I have a lot to learn about BBQ :)

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Great point raised on the parking issue with this building. There is no public parking in that area, besides a few meters on State and Packard. There is some parking in the neighborhood across State Street, and there are meters further north in the campus area. The new tenants are aware of this issue -- I think they're counting on a large student demographic, but also hoping Ann Arbor residents can walk or are willing to park closer to downtown and make the trek.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

its a long winter in AA.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Will they be featuring a to go menu?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Though they don't come out and say it, it sounds like these guys may be aware of the parking issue. They emphasize that they can go to festivals and outdoor events, that they cater, and that they deliver. Let's hope they make it.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Wow, surprised that a business like R.U.B. would be bold enough to sign on a venture in this specific location. No parking whatsoever nearby. Horrible traffic almost all school year long. Only students in the local neighborhood. If a decent sandwich shop, and a cheap beer bar could not survive in this location, a premuim BBQ joint will also surely fail. Hope I am wrong though, and best of luck to them.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

It's really not just students. There are tons of families in Burns Park, so let's hope that they are wise enough to attracts some families, too, and not just students. The restaurants on S. University fail miserably in that respect. I often wonder why no one sees how many families live within walking distance of campus and would enjoy going there.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

It seems had a bit of a BBQ revival as of late here in Washtenaw County and much of SE Michigan for that matter. Any guesses as to why?


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 4:19 a.m.

BBQ goes hand in hand with beer, and the proliferation of brew pubs has helped the barbecue trade. These specialty kind of foods just can't be found at the big chain sit down restaurants, and the little local guys do it much better.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:27 a.m.

To answer your question: first it's because restaurant BBQ has to compete with home BBQ and if you are part of a BBQ family, you already know that the best BBQ is in your own back yard or that of a relative. Once you're away from home, you have the memories but need a BBQ restaurant to provide the food. Also, I agree with leaguebus about cable BBQ shows - they remind us of just how delicious good BBQ can be.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Ann Arbor and Ypsi have never had a real good long lasting BBQ. DeLongs was the longest continuous running but not real pit smoked BBQ. They used a rotisserie. There were a couple of real BBQ's that opened in the 70's, the Rib Cage and BBQ King. They were good enough so that the locals that liked good BBQ would not go to Inkster which had Hills and Youngs. The Rib Cage lasted for 4 or 5 years, and BBQ King has come and gone several times, not because of bad food, but bad business practices. I ate at Satchels, but have not been back as they did not have a 4 bone rib dinner with a couple of sides. Half a slab and sides was $16 or so, a lot out of my range for BBQ and too much to eat in one sitting but not enough for 2. Parking is the killer problem for RUB. I hope they can make it on the student walking trade. The BBQ revival is probably because of all the BBQ shows on cable.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

People like good food and are willing to pay for it. People are tired of the big chain, read, Olive Garden, Outback places that are charging $$ for mediocre food.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

cuz.... it's delicious! And was a little bit absent from our local market for whatever reason. Pretty sure we're getting towards the point of saturation though, and I expect some places to fail. This one included, due to it's horrible location.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

First let me preface my comment with the fact that when I'm in Downtown Detroit I eat at RUB often and enjoy it much. They have a rather large sandwich menu and never have been disappointed. (Red Rock has better ribs though) That said - This is one of the worst locations anywhere for a destination business to go. Parking and traffic is miserable there. I wish them the best but fear they, like the previous several businesses, will struggle then go under.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

They call it bad Chi


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Most of the downtown business district is walking distance to parking lots or decks. Packard and State is very difficult, particularly if you are parking for any length of time.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

"Parking and traffic is miserable there." You could say the same of most of the downtown business district, which was overall pretty strong last I checked. Some businesses make it work, some don't, but there's just no evidence that heavy traffic/scarce parking are correlated with business failure.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

I wish them the best of luck, as I love going to R.U.B. in Detroit. However, I wonder why not many places are a success in that spot. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of parking nearby.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7 p.m.

I agree, parking is always going to be a problem at this location.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

There's always a place you can park and get a R.U.B. in Detroit. That's not always the case on campus.

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

I hope they do beef ribs!!!

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Try Red Rock's!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

Rub a pub pub!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Had hoped to read Slows was going there, but i will take whatever we can get at this point.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

RUB is good... But Slows is FAR better.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Meeee toooo. I was salivating at the headline. But I'll definitely give R.U.B. a try.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Slows is nice, but R.U.B. is always good. It is good old-fashion bbq.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I'm glad after months of potential investors that we see R.U.B. won out.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

I wonder how long the meats are smoked? The picture in the article looks delicious can't wait for this place to open.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

It was a long time coming.