Ann Arbor area bars expect 'crazy busy' night on Thanksgiving eve
At Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is packed with locals, students and people in town for the holiday.
And since most people have no school or work on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, Sidetrack owner Linda French said it’s “crazy busy” the entire night.
Art Aisner | For AnnArbor.com
About 1.33 million Michigan residents will travel for the holiday, according to AAA Michigan. And French said that brings a lot of out-of-towners that are home for the holiday into the local bars.
She said Sidetrack’s revenues increase 25 percent to 50 percent on Thanksgiving Eve compared to a typical Wednesday night.
To prepare, she even installed 8 more taps so customers can enjoy 24 different beer varieties on tap.
“We gave our construction guys a deadline today for getting the new taps in,” she said. “We added 8 more taps just so we could be ready for tonight.”
Jon Carlson, a partner in several downtown Ann Arbor restaurants such as Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin, Blue Tractor and Cafe Habana, agreed and said Thanksgiving Eve is “definitely” the biggest Wednesday of the year.
He said sales at the downtown Ann Arbor bars typically increase 50 percent on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
But Carlson said weekend days with football games can get just as crowded.
What makes Thanksgiving Eve unique? “People seem to start to celebrate right at 5 p.m.,” he said.
And even though many of the University of Michigan students have already headed home for the holiday, South University still gets huge crowds tonight, said Paul Drennan, general manager at Good Time Charley’s.
He estimated Charley’s is two to four times as busy on Thanksgiving Eve as a normal Wednesday.
“It tends to be more locals,” he said. “But some of the students don’t go home. It’s a busy bar night, for sure.”
With more people out and about on Thanksgiving Eve, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning is advising people to use a designated driver and wear seatbelts.
Last year, there were 10 people killed on Michigan roadways during the holiday weekend, three of which were alcohol-related crashes. There were also 159 alcohol-related arrests between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
“Thanksgiving is a special time to celebrate with friends and family, but it should be done responsibly,” said director Michael L. Prince in a release. “By making the decision not to drive after drinking you could be saving your life and the lives of others.”