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Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

Ann Arbor area bars expect 'crazy busy' night on Thanksgiving eve

By Lizzy Alfs

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.


Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti draws big crowds the night before Thanksgiving.

Art Aisner | For

“Tonight is one of the busiest nights of the year,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s very festive and the beginning of the holidays.”

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.”

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


E. Daniel Ayres

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

After reading this story, I plan to stay home and stay off the roads tonight. Too crowded! My advice, don't have any more kids, they only make things worse.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

One sensible person who making a sensible comment. I too after reading this? Am staying home and watching a good Net Flex movie.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I always go to Sidetrack the day before Thanksgiving anyway, but now I have 8 new beers to try.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Maybe people want to get liquored up to help them as they face all the family dynamics on Thanksgiving Day--works for me!

Dr. Vag

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

And don't forget about ChanElbow Deep at Woodruff's tonight, right down the way from Sidetracks. Featuring the legendary Jennifer Foxx, Chanel Hunter, and your hostesses, The Chanel Sisters! Showtimes @11, 12 and 1.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

'Crazy Busy'? Is that their professional opinion, lol?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

AHH to be young again. Sure do miss that. At my age is just kind of pathetic .


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

I hear ya, now I have to get up and be productive all day on Thanksgiving. Back in the day, I could roll out of bed right before the Lions game and have a spread to eat later on .


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

the drunken turkeys should get arrested and spend Thursday-next Monday in jail.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Call a Taxi


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

Thanks for including the statistics. I hope people will encourage their drunk friends to not get behind the steering wheel.