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Posted on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

New R.U.B. BBQ is open for business at State and Packard in Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed


Patrons enjoy lunch during R.U.B. BBQ's soft opening at the corner of Packard and State Street.

Joseph Tobianski |

A new barbecue restaurant in Ann Arbor started its soft opening quietly over the holiday weekend and has been enjoying steady crowds in the first few days, its regional manager said.

R.U.B. BBQ Pub took the place of Packard Pub at Packard and State streets.

“So far folks are very excited about us being here, and we’ve been getting great reviews,” said regional manager Omar Mitchell.

“Some of our customers are saying it’s about time we got some real food here in the stadium district. I guess they’re tired of the pizza and sandwiches and they want some good old southern comfort barbecue.”

The restaurant sits on the corner that separates the University of Michigan’s main campus and its main sporting arenas and stadiums.

The Packard Street location is the third for R.U.B., which stands for Real Urban BBQ. The other restaurants are in downtown Detroit and Warren. The restaurants are owned by the Yono family, and Mitchell said their longtime experience in the industry helped shorten the timeline for the Ann Arbor store’s opening.

“We really have it down to a model now,” he said.

“We can come in and open up very quickly. This location was especially easy because it was a pre-existing restaurant so we did more of a cosmetic lift. We put in new lights, splashed some paint on the walls, installed a top-of-the-line surround sound, and put in a bunch of extra beer taps.”

One major addition to the building was the restaurant’s new smoker. Mitchell said that all meats will be smoked on site and that a rear wall had to be partially demolished to make way for the the smoker, which required a forklift to move in.

Barbecue purists will be glad to hear that the pub’s brisket and pulled pork will be smoked for at least 15 hours, while the ribs will be smoked for four hours before serving.

The soft opening, which began Saturday, is designed to both introduce the restaurant to customers and to acquaint servers and cooks with the menu.

“We give away a lot of free samples and let people try different things off of our menu,” Mitchell said.

“At the same time it’s good for our wait staff and chefs to be able to get used to making everything, to break the ice so they can get more familiar before the students come back into town.”

The restaurant has about 30 employees, and Mitchell said he expects to hire another 20 to 25 as business picks up when the students arrive in town after winter break.

“We will be having a student opening next weekend that will run from Thursday (Jan. 10) through Saturday,” he said.

“There will be a bunch of specials, we’ll be giving away free flags and other trinkets, and we’ll have a DJ every night.”

While the pub will be focused on food, Mitchell said he does plan to have evening entertainment that could include DJs, karaoke, or pub trivia.

“Our goal is to be a restaurant first,” he said. “But at night time we want to be bar driven as well so locals and students can come and have great beer and good bar food.”

With the soft opening and winter break set to end next week, R.U.B. is gearing up to meet what it hopes will be a rush of new business.

“We’re waiting for students to get back and be attacked by the mayhem that will come with them,” Mitchell said. “We’re looking forward to having a great rest of the year with these folks.”

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Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

So I went there last night with my brother, and I felt compelled to register and review it on here. I should start by saying that I am a BBQ junkie, and I do have high standards. That being said, it was a major let down. First of all, we walked in and there was a huddled of confused waitresses/hostesses crowding the host area. Even though there were at least half a dozen employees standing there, nobody greeted us. Minor, no problem. Then we were sat directly next to the waitress stand. RIGHT next to, meaning there was a constant stream of frazzled waitstaff clustered around the stand trying to figure out...everything. It seemed like nobody knew what was going on. I asked where the restroom was, and the server had no idea and had to go ask. That about sums up how well trained these poor kids were. The food? Mediocre. The potato salad tasted prepackaged, coleslaw was very heavy on the celery salt, beans were not bad, mac and cheese was easily the best part of the meal. Between the two of us, we had 6 meats to try. The ribs were served dry, which I appreciate, but the rub was very salty and lacked depth. The texture on the St Louis was ok, but the baby backs were lacking- definitely not bite through tender. The other meats (Grand Slam plate) were all pretty average, but the pulled pork was a pretty decent offering. The six sauces were all fine on there own, but ended up making the meat taste terrible! How does that even happen? AND I paid 30 bucks for ribs and a beer. Dang. The decor was fine for a sports bar, but said nothing about BBQ. The bathrooms were carelessly refinished and felt dirty. Overall, fine for a burger and a beer after a game, but NOT a BBQ destination. Food 6.5/10 Decor 4/10 Service 1/10

Ann Arbor Citizen

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

This article motivated me to check out what the RUB BBQ was really all about, so I decided to grab dinner there last night. Initially, we walked in and asked where the bathroom was. One waitress pointed us in the complete opposite direction of where they actually were. No matter how new of an employee you are, I feel as though you should know where the bathrooms are located. Next, we get seated in the corner of the restaurant. At this table, I had no view of any TV. The only good view I had was the backs of countless waitstaff crowded in front of our table literally one foot from our table. So, I was definitely put in a good mood before the food arrived (not). As far as the food goes, I wasn't impressed. There is much better barbecue to be had in the Ann Arbor area. The combined total between two people was over $50 (one beer included). What college student wants to pay that much for an average meal? If you want good bbq, go somewhere else. If you want to be in a noisy, cramped, overpriced environment, this is the place for you. P.S. I liked the mac and cheese


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:58 a.m.

Do they/ will they have take out and/or delivery? Seems like a good idea since lack of patrons in the place might kill them as it did several other businesses at that location.

Mark Holten

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

Dont know if most of these reviews were written by employees of RUB (I wouldnt put it past the owners), but if you know anything about Barbecue, you will be mortified with what they do at RUB. I ate there once and it was the worst!!! The owners are former party store owners, no soul for BBQ! No passion! Besides serving stewing beef and calling it rib tips, they over charged me boot. It cost me and my wife $50 for dinner and drinks and it was not even good. You want REAL barbecue, go to Slow's in Detroit or Lockharts in Royal Oak - those are REAL Bbq joints. This place is just somewhere for the Yono's to hang their hats - for now.

Christopher Sorel

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Agree Mark. Lockharts is real BBQ and Slows at times get it right.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

Or Red Rock in downtown Ypsilanti. Two meals, two beers, decent tip for way under $50 and on par with Slow's. I'll have to try Lockharts.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

I did some searching on the Internet in order to find out that this new business is at 640 Packard Street. I had driven past Packard and State Street last week using Packard, and I thought the Blue Front had closed. Learning their address (701 Packard) and R. U. B. BBQ Pub's convinced me that this new business didn't take the Blue Front's place.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

With the addition of R.U.B. to the existing A2 BBQ joints Biercamp and Satchel's I am now conveniently situated in the center of a BBQ trifecta. Thank you A2, I think I moved here just in time.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

I swear I saw an AATA bus ad for R.U.B. and it was a massage joint? Is there more than one RUB in Ann Arbor?


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

The wide variety of food and beer (and lots of TVs) is what makes the location in Detroit near Comerica Park special- OK, that and 52 taps with a great selection of Michigan beer. I hope this location does some of the same since other places in town have reduced their MI beer lists. The food is tasty, the atmosphere is great for watching multiple games and I am excited to hear the new sound system. Glad the location is open again. I too will stop in tonight and after Sunday's basketball game. And be sure to get those local Michigan beers on tap. Go check it out.

Thomas Jones

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

ate there today at lunch and the place is amazing! food was great but staff is new... so be patient. Other then that parking was a breeze parked right on state st. No problem. waiter even spotted me some change for the meter!!! No excuses, Go there!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

We'll try it tonight after the hockey game!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Ah the college crowd, known for their generosity when it comes time to leave a tip. Good luck keeping waitstaff.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

The extra B is for BYOBB


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

"What's that extra B for?" "It's a typo."


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

The owners really don't realize that their name is Real Urban Barbeque BBQ? Paging the redundancy department of redundancy.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

This story would have benefited by inclusion of basics like hours of operation and the telephone number.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

Its a no-win situation for If they don't include such detailed information, they get complaints that the article isn't informative enough. If they include that type of detailed information, they get a flood of nasty comments describing the entire article as a paid advertisement disguised as news. Moral of the story is that truly, you cannot please everyone.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 3:48 a.m.

Vivienne: you didn't expect to deal in actual information, did you? "Let them eat sensationalism." seems to be the publishers motto, it certainly is on the menu here. ;-) I shouldn't point the finger at just "our local news source" - every single one of them lives or dies on how good they are at sensationalism (and slanted propaganda according to the twitches of the publisher and "staff.") That's now - used to be some attempts to live up to the myth of "American journalism."

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

Yes, I visited the web page. It is about the Detroit and Warren stores. It does have an email address to use for applying for work at the Ann Arbor store. Menus differ at the different stores. I visited the menu on the website, which features creole gumbo. I ate at the Packard store today and they do not have gumbo. I picked up a carryout menu so can now report that the phone number is 734-662-7000. I still don't know what the hours are.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

annorborite, lmgtfy


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

The story actually links to the restaurant's Web page, which gives much more information than just the phone number and hours. You can find the link in the second paragraph.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

I'm looking forward to trying Real Urban BBQ BBQ Pub.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

It's kind of like PIN Number and VIN Number.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Looks nice on the inside. Glad they get rid of the huge awkward tables from Packard Pub.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

My brother and I stopped in for 20 minutes last weekend before the Mich v CMU basketball game and had a drink. They have a HUGE bar. Didn't try the food but the bar is nice. Super huge and big TV's all around. Might be a nice place to just sit and watch a game some day. Nice alternative to Buffalo wild wings.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

"Rub it. Smoke it. Eat it." Normally this juvenile attempt at humor would get me banned from this comment thread, however since it appears to be the company's motto per the shirt on the waitress I'm going to just point out this fact and chuckle.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

That shirt is not big enough. It should say: "Impregnate it " "Birth it " "Raise it " "Transport it " "Fatten it " "Slaughter it" "Butcher it" "Package it" "Transport it" "Rub it" "Smoke it" "Eat it" "Deficate it" "Flush it" Mmm, B.B.Q.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I popped in there last night. It's pretty much like the Rub in Detroit, though with fewer Michigan beers. It was quite nice.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

May come in tonight while the students are still away!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Good-luck indeed. That spot is cursed with awkward street parking which prevents destination dining, so it needs to rely on foot and local student traffic, which dries up for 3+ months of the non-school year. And to promote live entertainment, they're going to have to contend with the residents in apartments that exist right above them that might have something to say about loud music into the late evening. There's a reason that property has been ever-changing since I moved here in 1980. I hope these new owners have the magic to change that situation, but I'll be amazed if that's the case. The property works against you even if you're good.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Though being good helps. I'd go here. I would never have gone to the pubs that were here before, dripping with 21 year olds


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Unless there's a game at Yost, there is always abundant parking along state street just south of the restaurant, and one block up near Weill Hall. Either option is about the distance of parking halfway to the back of the lot during your daily walmart trips.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

Why did the former restaurant go out of business/close? It didn't seem to be open very long.

Rob MI

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

The Packard Pub started out strong, with a nice-looking menu, attentive service, and a number of entertainment options like live trivia. Before too long, the menu was down to one page, service was atrocious, and it was clear that nobody--not even the manager, who wouldn't even apologize for food served spoiled--cared. I would guess there were two different owners, and the real downhill slide started when the second one took over. Good riddance. I would say absolute apathy--on the part of management and staff, not the clientele (for once)--killed it.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

awful management, no business. You know when a bar resorts to selling cans of natty for a dollar they are having some problems. We will see how this place does, its a tough spot to get to if you are parking during a lot of the year.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

They have a pretty good looking menu. Good luck, I will have to try them out.