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Posted on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

For sale: Recently closed downtown Ypsilanti bars Savoy, Pub 13

By Paula Gardner

The recent closings of two downtown Ypsilanti bars took a permanent turn this week after the lender listed both the Savoy and Pub 13 for sale.

Michigan Commerce Bank is asking for $990,000 for both properties, which share a liquor license, said listing broker Jim Chaconas of Colliers International.

Both bars were operated by David Curtis, who closed them in late November amid what Curtis described as a dispute with DTE Energy over his utility billing. The businesses were $30,000 in arrears, according to DTE — though Curtis said a malfunctioning meter caused the massive underbilling.

But other debts appear to have mounted, resulting in the lender seeking a new owner for the businesses, which have anchored downtown Ypsilanti’s entertainment district.

The properties, Chaconas said, come fully furnished for a new operator: “Everything’s there,” he said, “even the beer and wine.”

Washtenaw County records showed the Savoy owed $44,632.99 in back taxes for 2008 and 2009, including interest and penalties, when it closed.

And now the listings indicate that mortgage debt is going unpaid.

According to county records, Midwest Realty LLC — an entity involving Curtis — bought 17-23 N. Washington in September 2002 with a $1.1 million loan from the former Ann Arbor Commerce Bank, now operating as Michigan Commerce Bank.

The Savoy, formerly Club Divine, operated at 17 N. Washington, one of the two buildings now for sale. Déjà Vu still operates at 23 N. Washington, and city assessor records indicate the Savoy building was “split” from the Déjà Vu property for taxing purposes, with Midwest Realty still retaining ownership of the Savoy building.

david curtis.jpg

In 2008, David Curtis prepared to expand from Pub 13 and The Savoy (formerly Club Divine) to J. Neil's Mongolian Grill on the corner of Michigan and North Washington. files

Meanwhile, Pub 13 operated at 13 N. Washington, and that building was purchased in 2002 for $150,000, according to city records. The buyer was 13 N. Washington LLC, an entity controlled by Curtis.

No record of a mortgage for the Pub 13 property could be found on a county search this afternoon. However, in March, Michigan Commerce Bank paid $24,069.72 to avoid a tax foreclosure on that building.

Combined, the buildings are 21,000 square feet, and they appraised for the listing price, Chaconas said. Individual prices for the buildings are $565,000 for the Savoy and $450,000 for Pub 13.

Both bars had been a key part of the Ypsilanti nightlife scene. At one time, Club Divine was one of the top wholesale buyers of liquor in Washtenaw County.

“A few years ago those bars were rocking and rolling,” Chaconas said.

They could regain their momentum, he added. Curtis had expanded into the nearby J. Neils Mongolian Grill as the economy took a turn, and new operators focusing solely on the bar venues should be able to find a new niche.

“People will be getting some great bargains here,” he said.

They’d also join a transitioning downtown district that remains focused on entertainment: The Elbow Room reopened with new managers, The Tap Room expanded, and the former TC’s Speakeasy will reopen this winter as Red Rock Downtown BBQ, with live music.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber described the closings as a loss, and noted that the economy has been hard on many local businesses.

However, he noted that even with the movement in the bar scene, "survival is going on."

That's evident in Woodruff's opening in the former Cady's in Depot Town, he said.

He also noted that Curtis made dramatic improvements to his properties, upgrading the Savoy from its days as the Spaghetti Bender. As the spaces are improved, the opportunities for new operators to see value in the properties and step in with new operations becomes more likely.

"That's the plan of the city," Schreiber said. "Maybe businesses come and go, but there's more there to offer (after upgrades)."

J. Neil'ss, meanwhile, also was shuttered within the last month.

Curtis has not been reached for comment.

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.


joe golder

Tue, Dec 28, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

Tony I hear you. Your a promoter. Put together a business plan and search for investors. I'm sure there are folks in the hip hop community who have the money and resources to help you make this happen. Expecting someone to put their dreams aside for yours will not happen. Ypsilanti has been slow coming around to the diverse cultures that make up our community. this goes for everyone. But honestly its going to happen. Everyone needs to be patient and get involved to bring Ypsilanti back. Being a 50 something white male makes it uncomfortable to even talk about this issue. Hey lets be honest I couldn't tell you the name of even one hip hop artist. But unless we can be honest about our feelings and discuss these issues we will never put the world back together. I thank you for your honesty and do respect you opening up the conversation. I hope any future animation strategies will include the African American community. Go Ypsi get involved. WOW why was this so hard?


Mon, Dec 27, 2010 : 11:51 p.m.

take it from a person who promotes night clubs and other events. the bottom line is downtown ypsi will die if it continues to try to keep the black population out. as said these venues use to be popular a few years ago until major changes in the dress code, overzealous security, and a ban of hip hop music took it off the list of ypsi hot spots. a new owner ready to make money would be welcome. personally i love the venues and if they where open today i could pack them in 4 days a week EASY!!! SO IF YOU BUY THE PLACE CALL ME

joe golder

Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

Trying to survive as a business owner in Ypsilanti can sure be challenging. Ypsilanti has become a place on the way to nowhere. This has more to do with location than anything else. Its a shame that crime, panhandling, and near by markets have taken a toll on folks opinions about ypsilanti. I have lived here for 39 years. I worked at the old spaghetti bender for many years and watched many business owners come and go. I have been mugged several times resulting in a few trips to st joes. I believe this could happened anywhere especially in this economy. This has never kept me from going downtown to enjoy a drink and the company of the many fine folks I meet there. I went to ann arbor in sept for my birthday and witnessed several panhandlers being pushed out of the downtown area by police officers. I didn't feel any safer there than downtown Ypsi. The biggest problem is there isn't enough butts to fill the many seats. Its a shame that more of the emu community doesn't support the downtown and help defuse the unwarrantable reputation people have tagged downtown with.Too Dave curtis and all the others who have made great sacrifices in ypsilanti over the years thank you.Unfortunately someone else will always try too make a difference and the city will find a way to under mind their success. There is no reason Ypsilanti should not be the hottest entertainment spot between detroit and ann arbor. The agendas of the politicians have putt ypsilanti many years behind the surrounding communities. Wake up folks its really not that bad downtown. If you feel need an escort give me a call. I'm sure your opinion will change if you look past the bad rap.


Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 4:53 a.m.

The politics around who owns/lease/pays rent in what building is for the owner/leaser/landlord to work out. My issue, at the moment is downtown Ypsilanti as a whole. A business opens, in two-four years (or less) it is closed. So far (I believe) a coffee bar, the bar that took over T.C. Speakeasy, a clothing store, discount thrifty shop, another restaurant, (Biggie's-this is a shocker-poor Victor S.), a hair shop and more have closed in downtown Ypsilanti. This is an issue with planning, marketing and promotion of the city of Ypsilanti-actually supporting SOME of these newer businesses. In other cases, poor planning led to the closure. Regardless, Canton (with the ups and downs of the economy) happens to maintain a fair stable business front on its' premier business district (Ford Road). Now I know Canton has a more stable income market surrounding it but, they also regularly promote their businesses within their city Government and Chamber entities. Until the city of Ypsilanti and whatever make up the Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce gets on board with marketing the businesses to others in and OUTSIDE of Ypsilanti, I cannot see why any potential business owner would take the risk of moving downtown. It is time for a city new business marketing specialist of some sort or downtown Ypsilanti is going to appear 'ghost-town' like, soon.


Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 12:05 a.m.

13 N Washington is a seperate building - former A&P grocery store 17 19 21 23 are 2 seperate buildings that comprised the Quirk block building 25 27 are a seperate building part of the Quirk block 29 33 is the old Martha Washington Theater People need to look at the buildings and the many businesses that have ran though them. Hopefully, another can flourish through them. All of these buildings go back to the 1910-1920s, even some to the 1890s.


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 8:23 p.m.

This happened,that happened etc. but the fact is the businesses didn't make it. Prospective new owners better look carefully before they put their bucks on the line


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.

@Ron, actually, the old Elbow/Savoy crew is safe and sound at Woodruff's Bar in Depot Town. And having that block shut down isn't giving anyone in downtown a laugh.

Honest Abe

Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

@Angela Bush...NO, this is NOT the Joe Hall who owns homes in west willow. The Joe Hall I am referring to is an executive with Deja Vu Consulting. He is from Oklahoma originally and resides in the Lansing Area.

Angela Barbash

Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

Chris, it's amazing the ripple effect something like this has. My friend lost his job when you closed (Jon Jolls) and Growing Hope lost a prospective location for our charity gaming in 2011. I hope that Andy Garris finds an amicable situation in Woodruff's, and I hope someone else comes in and takes over these locations on Washington St. With Biggie's closing, we're back down to Beezy's, Liquid Swordz and A. Green as anchors on the street... oh yeah... and the Vu... :/ sheesh.

Angela Barbash

Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Is the Joe Hall that you've said is associated with Deja Vu perhaps the same Joe Hall that owns nearly 75 homes in West Willow? Just wondering if there's a connection there... Also, ShadowManager, I'm sorry to hear that you shunned Pub 13 because of a supposed connection to the Vu. I enjoyed a few nights there with their dueling pianos show, and us brokers spent almost every lunch date there for over a year before we permanently moved our lunch dates to The Annex. It was a decent place... great chicken Caesar salads and great staff.

Ron Granger

Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

So the Elbow Room has the last laugh. I guess the Savoy's domain squatting on the ER's brand wasn't enough.


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

"The Savoy, formerly Club Divine, operated at 17 N. Washington, one of the two buildings now for sale. Dj Vu still operates at 23 N. Washington, and city assessor records indicate the Savoy building was 'split' from the Dj Vu property for taxing purposes, with Midwest Realty still retaining ownership of the Savoy building." Paula, can you clarify the addresses / parcels here? 23 N Washington is Club Divine/Savoy's address, Deja Vu is 31 N Washington, and there are several parcels between them. I have heard before of past links between the two properties, but this paragraph doesn't sound right.


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 7 a.m.

I just checked my facebook and found this article there. I think this message is in poor taste. Making fun of this guy's and the city's problems by titling "Still need a holiday gift idea? How about a bar in Ypsilanti?" is not very professional. Have a good laugh, and I hope you find coal under your tree.


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 6:41 a.m.

>> I don't think people necessarily realize just how many businesses have closed Are you kidding? We read about it every day on this site. Regardless, this saddens me. Just nothing good coming out of Ypsilanti. Along with the crime it is simply not a desirable place to live, and many, such as myself, are somewhat trapped here due to the real estate collapse. This is very sad. Those buildings were nice. Although I am not a frequenter of "clubs", I certainly was hoping that these place would survive.


Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 2:16 a.m.



Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 11:26 p.m.

I'm still unclear about the presumed association of Deja Vu with the rest of this family of businesses...I for one never would patronize either Club Divine or Pub 13 or any of David Curtis' businesses primarily because I felt that in someway I was supporting the Vu....which I think is an albatross around this part of town's viability for families and foot traffic. I'd like this issue to be cleared up in a future article, if possible. Does Deja Vu have any stake, past or present, in the other businesses in "The Savoy Building"?

Paul Schreiber

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 10:03 p.m.

David Curtis was a committed and hard-working member of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority. He was a founder of the Friday night "Crossroads" live music festival in downtown Ypsilanti. His businesses, fundraisers, and projects brought people into Ypsilanti and helped revive downtown. He will be missed. I wish David and his family the best of luck in his future endeavors.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 7:53 p.m.

No matter the reason, this is sad. The closure of these businesses leaves several large holes in downtown Ypsi... I don't think people necessarily realize just how many businesses have closed (even the liquor store on Michigan Ave!). I hope the new year brings something great for that town.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 6:48 p.m.

Laura Bien writes great articles regarding the history of Ypsilanti. I wonder what will be written about the past 30 years forward. I can't imagine.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

$44,000 owed in property taxes for 2 years?? No wonder this business can't make it. the whole city of Ypsilanti is run by Democrats... and that's what you get with Democrats: high taxes, pie in the sky ideas ( think Water -Park fiasco). Just look at the downtown area: tell me that their ideas are working. Keep pulling that Democratic lever, everyone... you'll keep getting the same results: high taxes, bigger government, protection of unions, ridiculous ideas and policies, etc. The people of Ypsilanti are great I've lived in the Ypsi for 30 years... but ill-served by the city government.

Steve Pierce

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

Just exactly where is this "plan" the Mayor talks about in this article.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

Paula, Thank you for explaining. Because I know the devastation this has caused for David,the person, I was hoping the mayor might offer some consolation for David and some concern for the man who fought so hard for downtown for so long. Losing your dream hurts.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Steve Pierce, That is so true.David fought the good fight. Frankly I am glad for him that the burden is gone after several years of working 24X7 trying to survive. It's a HUGE struggle to try to maintain businesses with buildings the size of 13 and J Neils and Savoy....and trying to get and keep upscale clientele downtown Ypsilanti is a battle. The battle was lost. David will land on his feet. Good people usually do. The real question is: will downtown Ypsi land on it's feet? The Mayor seems happy that David sunk his life savings into remodeling the building and upgrading all the places, only to lose everything. Nice.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

zuzupeddles: That is probably not true. An individual generally can't be held liable for the debts of a corporation. That is why people incorporate.

Steve Pierce

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

Dang, sort of hard to be cheery for Christmas, but Dave did a tremendous amount of stuff for Ypsilanti and so to Dave and his family, I say Thanks! - Steve

Honest Abe

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

By the way- Midwest Realty is owned by Mark LeChard. Mr. LeChard also owns 1-800-Dry-Clean. He may be a silent partner, but he is still responsible for any debts owed to former employee's. Proof- Paychecks are issued from "Maximum LLC" Mark LeChard Owns "Maximum LLC" This is public record and is all factual.

Honest Abe

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

This is GREAT news!I look forward to meeting the new owners WHen it sells! It will sell with no problem.

Honest Abe

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

Its official- Dave Curtis is History! I hope all the employee's get their W2's! Tax time is coming!


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

So what happened to J. Neil's Mongolian Grill?