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Posted on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 5:58 a.m.

Elbow Room's owner seeking new manager for downtown Ypsilanti bar

By Paula Gardner

News that the Elbow Room bar closed Sunday came as a surprise to many in Ypsilanti -including its owner.

Now Marion Campbell will be looking for a new operator for the longtime downtown bar at 6 S. Washington after former operator Andy Garris announced to patrons that he was leaving the Elbow Room to take a new job.

Garris ended his tenure at the Elbow Room on Sunday, according to reports on about the “closing” party.

However, that closing should be temporary , said Campbell’s attorney, Jim Jackson.

“It’s not the closing of (the Elbow Room) forever,” Jackson said. “It’s the closing under his operation.”

Garris did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him.

However, state records verify that Marion Campbell, as the widow of former Elbow Room owner Art Campbell, is the registered owner of the bar, its liquor license and the building at 6 S. Washington St. Art Campbell died in January.

In 2006, Andy Garris forged an agreement with Art Campbell to run the bar and eventually acquire the liquor license. He started managing the bar in early 2007.

The liquor license transfer was slowed as the city sought building modifications, Jackson said. Art Campbell died before the transfer took place, and Jackson said Garris has indicated that he wouldn’t be finalizing the purchase.

Jackson said he and Marion Campbell learned Monday that Garris no longer was running the bar after reading about what was described as its “last night” in an report.

“He didn’t give notice that he was having a going away party or leaving,” Jackson said.

Marion Campbell visited the bar on Monday, Jackson said, and got no answers from Garris as he moved items from the building.

As Jackson is sorting through various businesses and corporations that are part of Art Campbell’s estate, he’s seeking financial records from the Elbow Room.

“We’re trying to figure out where we stand financially at the end of his tenure as the operator of the establishment,” Jackson said.

Washtenaw County records show unpaid property taxes on the building of $4,853.79 due on June 30. City records indicate there have been unpaid personal property taxes on the bar dating from summer 2009, though city officials could not verify they remained unpaid.

Next up for the Elbow Room, Jackson said, is finding a new operator.

“We’ll have to clean the place up and Marion would like to find someone else who can run it,” Jackson said. “She would like to reopen under new management.”

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.


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

darn... another hangout hung out to dry (out?). reagrding word-choice, 'forged' was good, there was nothing about any documents being forgeries..... teh best pic in the photo essay [ ] is the one showing that even on the last-ish night, the bar tender had CLEAN FINGERNAILS. good place --- will missit.


Mon, Jun 28, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

I think it is hilarious that people actually thought fraud was involved because the author chose the word forged. If she had said they hammered out an agreement where would your mind go? Fred and Barnie hammering out an agreement on a cement slab? Heh heh. Anyway, sorry Andy Garris that the conflicting articles led me to believe you might be a deadbeat. I wish I could delete that comment. I can clearly see that is incorrect. I really thought this site was a news site. Now today I discover that Ypsi Citizen is history. It sure is getting more and more difficult to figure out what's going on round here!

Paul the Malcontent

Mon, Jun 28, 2010 : 1:08 a.m.

Let me echo the concerns about the coverage of this story. Normally the first story published would have included a sentence such as "Jackson indicated that our [] inquiries were the first he or Marion Campbell had heard of the bar's closing this past Saturday." Instead we got "Jackson said he and Marion Campbell learned...after reading about what was described as its last night in an report." Secondly, the use of the word "forged" instead of "reached" does not follow the journalistic tenet of using clear, unambiguous language. The lack of clarity was further compounded by reporting that Jackson & Campbell were "seeking financial records" and Jackson's quote that "[they]re trying to figure out where [they] stand financially at the end of his [Garris'] tenure as the operator of the establishment."


Sun, Jun 27, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

remind me again why the elbow room became successful again in the first place? oh that's right, andy garris. seems to me the owner should be rather thankful for his commitment to her establishment, and maybe even wish him well in his next venture.


Sat, Jun 26, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

Its in a nice part of town, I drove by this bar and saw a guy peeing on the sidewalk.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 4:30 p.m.

Agree wholeheartedly with ShadowManager and Speechless. can post all the opinion/lighthearted stuff it wants to, but we all still expect it to be responsible and to verify facts before it gets to publication. It appears there was no fact checking whatsoever before this first blog was published and parties may unfairly suffer damages because of it. It's unprofessional at best and libelous at worst. The fact that "Reity is not a reporter and is friends with Andy" is no excuse for disingenuous publishing and certainly isn't going to hold much weight if sat before a judge.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

As an interested observer of both the annarbordotcom's confusing "model" of news delivery summed up as "we're a newspaper except we're not, we're a blog!(unless we feel like being a newspaper that day too!)" and a frequent visitor to the Elbow Room; I almost could see this whole brew-haha coming when Richard's original article/blog/opinion piece/whatchamacallit was posted on the FRONT section of the a2dotcom website. Of course it was opinion and not "news" but it was disingenous for a2dotcom to post it --- complete with a photo montage and accompanying comments --- BEFORE posting an accompanying news article to actually ascertain if the central premise of the "blog" was correct...that the Elbow Room was "closing", which appears, at least at this juncture, to not be exactly true. If the blog was buried in the backpages and comments, its one thing, but the day this "news" broke, it got front page treatment as fact and news on the front page of the website. Tsk.tsk.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 9:09 a.m.

I know that many of these comments are due to loyalty. The reason why an owner hires/pays a manager is so the manager will take care of the business, which evidently was done poorly. Did anyone ever see Andy as being frustrated? I believe he was living the High-Life at someone elses expense. $100 steak dinner? Must be nice!!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 10:52 p.m.

I think that about sums up my feelings too, Speachless. Good post. Hope you have a copy saved...


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

From above: "...This is a starkly different set of facts than the goodbye article...." The considerable awkwardness stems from the Retyi piece presenting 'facts' through omission. In telling a story, what you don't say can speak volumes. Sometimes what the writer chooses to leave out still delivers "news" to readers, intentionally or unwittingly. We will go ahead and read things into what the writer doesn't say, based on what we have been told so far, and which assumptions seem logical in helping us fill the information gaps. We will forge our own history of the situation. These two articles comprise a call-out to editors to show more care in background checking what's being posted. Even when it's labeled as non-objective non-news penned by non-reporters on your non-staff, you can still count on readers to glean newsy details from content. Granted, it's more difficult doing background on what's not being written into a piece. In the earlier non-news story, we were told the Elbow Room closed that night, and that Andy Garris walked down the street for good. In regard to the actual owners' role in the affair, silence reigned. It was then easy for us to initially infer the Elbow never intended to reopen and that the owners (assuming Andy wasn't one of them) decided on final closure. It seemed very nice that they waited until Andy found a new gig before shutting down. Due to the owners' maintenance neglect and tax problems, Andy's apparent high frustration is understandable. But now I read Retyi's article as less of a sad farewell — it also partly promotes Andy's skills and new Savoy gig, and partly makes a sly dig at Elbow's ownership. Did Retyi fail to reach them before his earlier piece, or was part of the point not to make contact? Lastly, his references to disgusting bathrooms no longer seem to gently rib his friend's upkeep so much as aim a barb at ownership.

The Kingpin

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 4:09 p.m.

As a patron, and someone who performed music numerous times at the Elbow Room, I would like to wish Andy all the luck in the world. He was a nice guy, who operated his business well, and always took care of me, as a customer, and performer. I'd also like to wish Mrs. Campbell good luck, and good fortune in the operation of The Elbow Room in the future. We need functional businesses in Downtown Ypsilanti. Cheers to The Elbow Room...past, present, and future. Thanks for the good times.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

I think this story is a microcosm of the larger issues of --- Tony wrote that its a different "model" --- based on this story and the comments(and others) its at least a safe argument to make that this is not a popular model of the readers! But where else can people go for local news? Will the editors review this "model" since it has been in place for a year or will they continue this path, despite its many (legit) complaints from users? In general, the reputation of is, well, unflattering to say the least.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

"In 2006, Andy Garris forged an agreement with Art Campbell to run the bar and eventually acquire the liquor license." So you were confused and thought possibly Andy Garris had falsified a document to run Art Campbell's Bar, presented the faslified document to Art Campbell, and then managed Art Campbell's bar with the forged document?


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

Lok, I had inquired this morning when I read this, which definition of "forged" she was referring to, because I didn't know. From other posts, I'm not the only one. I am open about my outlook/stance on the issue. I have nothing to hide thus I expressed my friendship so people would "get" that. Glad that you got it. I think Dave would hire good guys. Thus, my stance. To each his/her own opinion.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

"Paula, nope it's not clear." I never got the impression "Forged" was some covert term used here. Maybe since you are such a good friend of David Curtis, you're not keeping yourself completely impartial when reading the story.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

Yet another comment making a personal attack has been removed from this story.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.

Paula, nope it's not clear. I posted asking you about the use of the word "forged" early this morning and what you meant by it....and you removed my post. So, no, it's not clear. This is not a well written or researched story. I have known David Curtis (Savoy, Pub 13, J Neils and Keystone) for years and he is a fine upstanding gentleman. He is a hands on "always in the house" owner and is at work every day trying to build up downtown Ypsi. He hires good people. Andy will find Dave supportive 24X7. Sounds like a good mix to me.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

he knew too much about the situation to speak about it How can I argue with that logic?


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

@ Paula, well I must brush up on my mind reading to fully comprehend the "context" of the sentence. However, since you are privy to such information as the agreement between the parties, perhaps you can enlighten us as to the remark regarding the unpaid taxes? Or will you leave your readers just hanging on wondering about that?

Paula Gardner

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

@andyypsilanti, This story is about a business dispute. Some information is a matter of public record, and it's cited. I'm hearing speculation and reaction from 3rd parties on both sides of the dispute, and some of that is coming out here, since we provide a forum for that. But I do not agree that hearsay from 3rd parties belongs in this news article. And Rich clearly stated in his opinion piece (which is a link in this story) that, in essence, he knew too much about the situation to speak about it.

Richard Retyi

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

@Christine - I agree that one could be confused as to whether or not my feature was news or opinion because it centered on a local business and its "closing". I've never written a news story for and my little column is housed in a subdirectory of the Entertainment section called "The Deuce" which is one part entertainment, one part opinion and one part hodgepodge. I see how news and sections like The Deuce could blur because it's all on one big website - but I think those instances are probably fairly rare. I love the idea of allowing people in the community to write and actually have their opinions and ideas printed on a legitimate website. I'm one of those community contributors and I thoroughly enjoy writing for - I recommend it for all aspiring writers, regardless of interest. @AndyY - A bum who went to the bar a lot? I think you mean "A ruggedly handsome bum who went to the bar a lot."

Paula Gardner

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

@djm12652, The use of the word "forged" is not meant to convey "falsified," and I believe that's clear from the context of the sentence. I chose that word because, based on my understanding of the deal from my recent reporting and previous conversations about it going back to 2006/2007, there's some complexity to the agreement between Art Campbell and Andy Garris. That includes managing the bar, making the city's required improvements, the intended purchase of the liquor license.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:48 a.m.

Richard, no one is asking you to be unbiased in this situation. We have the bias leaning to one side here (in that only one side of the dispute is represented), you could easily provide the other. It's not like nobody knows why this happened or why certain actions were taken. Any number of people could have been interviewed; Employees of the Elbow Room come to mind, they certainly were effected and are at least partially familiar with the situation. I could throw in what I know, but it just becomes here-say when it's tacked on in a comment. As for Mr. Garris not commenting, my guess is he doesn't want to be seen as taking shots or being petty. If you don't have anything nice to say... Tony, as an editor, wouldn't you rather see one fully detailed and accurate story? It was in your power to provide that. Who cares if Richard is an staff member, or contributor, or just a bum who went to the bar a lot? If he, or someone else, can contribute to the story and make it more balanced, why leave it out? And in this case he's actually turning in work on the subject! I don't presume to be a bastion of journalistic knowledge here, but this seems like Editor 101: if you don't yet have the whole story, send the reporter to look for another source.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Getting back to the Elbow Room - I'm sure only the tip of iceberg has been exposed.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:42 a.m.

@Christine, your veiled remarks of defamation eradicates any validity to your writing, perhaps you should speak with Mr. Garris and get his input, along with [as you put it] the jilted widow before you blatantly call anyone unemployable and lacking integrity...furthermore Paula, your placement and choice of words leads the reader to believe that Mr. Garris forged documents rather than entered into an agreement with Mr. Campbell. That at the very least, is inflammatory reporting and quite tabloidish; very unprofessional. The best thing that could happen to that building is for Mrs. Campbell to bulldoze it down and charge for parking. The structure in and of itself is a mold haven and on the scary side of being even close to structurally sound.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

"There needs to be an "Opinion" section of this website so that we know when we're reading opinion versus fact." To be clear there is an opinion section here; although the original article wasn't.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

Okay so the rest of the comments clear a lot of this up. So if I read an article here, it's not necessarily an article. It could be just a biased report on the writer's friend, not an actual reporting of facts. Very confusing. There needs to be an "Opinion" section of this website so that we know when we're reading opinion versus fact. As a result of your starkly different items on the same event, I thought Mr. Garris was really pulling a fast one. Very strange that the comments explain the situation so much better than the actual article. Mr. Garris may well have been forced to move along because the owner was neglectful in some way and there wasn't anyway he was going to end up owning it. Nooooow I get it. Regardless, I still don't like the jilted widow part of this story. Seems like if someone made their livelihood at a beloved establishment, they would want to make sure it didn't end badly like this because after all, it is a small town.

Richard Retyi

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.

@AndyYpsilanti - I avoided any real reporting on the situation because: a) I'm not a reporter; b) I'm friends with Andy and it would be impossible to be unbiased. Also, I write a column called Lie to Your Cats About Santa. Who's going to take that business card seriously?


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

We have this story from Paula, and we have a fawning, insider's view from Richard Retyi two days ago. Why are there two stories about the same subject that are biased from each side instead of one researched and reconciled story that reports all of the facts? Even if Mr. Garris didn't return phone calls, you clearly have a reporter on staff that is at least familiar with his side of the story. The string of insider jokes in the comment section is evidence to that fact. A paragraph beginning According to staff member Richard Retyi, who is familiar with the situation, Mr. Garris has found.... would have really helped to clear things up. Now it's up to us to try to speculate as to how all of these facts fit together. I will say this; if you were in a location, doing a great job managing, hoping to purchase the business, but were being held back by an owner that was not maintaining the building to city standards (as stated above) and had tax debt (as stated above) associated with the business that could result in the loss of the business including improvements and investments you made, and you had a chance to move yourself and all of your staff to a bigger, better, nicer location without those problems, what would you choose? Ypsilanti is a small town, Christine. I'm fairly confident that Dave Curtis (Savoy's owner) and Mr. Garris know each other, and probably a fair amount about each other's business. I don't think anybody's pulling anything over on anyone in this situation.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

Well let me put it a different way, I think this situation stinks. This is a starkly different set of facts than the goodbye article. If any portion of this particular article is actually true, I would seriously question the integrity of those involved and any future employer should as well. Savoy, hope you're reading the paper today lest you end up closed abruptly too. I'd certainly want to get to the bottom of this.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

Until I hear Andy's side of the story, I'll hold my opinion. The Elbow Room needs a lot of cosmetic work...I have to say the facade is a shambles.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Something smells here. If Garris gave no notice that doesn't strike me as very professional. And the paperwork certainly doesn't seem organized. I like the idea of the Elbow Room reopening, though. No one wants another empty space in downtown Ypsi.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 5:35 a.m.

They had to wait for the manager to "walk" before they came in to "clean it up"?? Good luck to Andy at Savoy!