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Posted on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Studio 4 closes after lawsuits citing unpaid debt, public nuisance at downtown Ann Arbor bar

By Paula Gardner


Studio 4 closed in downtown Ann Arbor on June 3, after several lawsuits were filed earlier this year.

Paula Gardner |

Faced with litigation this spring from a landlord seeking payment and the city asking a judge to appoint a receiver because officials called it a “public nuisance,” downtown Ann Arbor bar Studio 4 closed on June 3.

Some of the business dispute is visible in a notice posted on the doors of the nightclub, located at 314-316 S. Fourth Ave., just north of the city parking structure.

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris awarded $324,890 to Papa Chulo’s Inc. in its lawsuit against VR Entertainment, according to the posting on the door that officials said were part of the eviction of the Studio 4 operators.

VR Entertainment - registered to Vikash Mangray - ran Studio 4. It operated under the liquor license of Papa Chulo’s, registered to Demos Panos, and the judgment reflected unpaid debt to Panos’ company after Mangray bought the club’s assets in 2009, according to the court file.

The closing of Studio 4 follows two years of concerns among city officials after numerous police calls to the bar. Some of the calls involved large-scale fights nearby.

studio4 2.jpg

Studio 4 was located north of a city parking structure on South Fourth Avenue. For several years the building housed Maude's Restaurant.

Paula Gardner |

City officials say at least 200 police calls were logged at Studio 4 since September 2007, with 87 of those calls in 2009. They included liquor license violations, disorderly conduct and assault.

The most recent was just before the bar closed: On June 2, police arrested three people after a fight involving at least one suspect with a handgun. Police used pepper spray on the unruly crowd, according to reports.

That latest incident was similar to others over the past two years, officials said.

The fights, according to the city’s lawsuit against Studio 4, made it a public nuisance.

“(The) longtime tolerance for rowdy and disorderly conduct … reflects a disdain for law and order,” according to the city’s lawsuit, filed in February.

That lawsuit is still pending, said Kristen Larcom, assistant city attorney.

“We have to see what’s happening next,” she said Monday. “When the bar is closed, there isn’t going to be the types of problems that gave rise to the suit.”

Neither Daniel Cramer, attorney for Papa Chulo’s, nor Mangray returned a call seeking comment.

Litigation over the business includes several business relationships. A third lawsuit involving the business this year was filed by Maude’s Restaurant Inc. for $52,754 in unpaid fees from Papa Chulo’s.

The property formerly was operated as Maude’s Restaurant, part of the Mainstreet Ventures group.

The property is owned by Dean Zahn Properties of Saline, according to city records.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by e-mail. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.


Joshua Snowden

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:37 p.m.

Hmmm, there were never any problems when I went there. Of course the only times I went were when there were events there sponsored by University of Michigan student organizations. Oh, and there was plenty of Rap, Hip-Hop and R&B playing and plenty of people with dark skin. I guess these factors don't always result in violence, huh? Go figure!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:40 p.m.

Not surprised. I remember when Studio 4 opened several years ago. I think one of the owners was Martin Bouma from KW. It was supposed to be an "upscale bar" for the over 21 (maybe even 25) crowd, and the advertising suggested you "dress to impress". Back then, many really good dancers frequented the place and the atmosphere was a bit upscale. Unfortunately, dancers don't often drink and I'm sure that didn't help their bottom line, so their "standards" appeared to erode, and they appeared to admit anyone who patronized the bar, and there you go. Several nights I'd go by and see young, drunken youngsters on the street. It just seemed to go downhill and someone's vision of "upscale" started to become "downscale". Too bad, so sad. I guess it's true, Money and Liquor talk. Sigh.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:51 p.m.

Quoted from further above: "If you don't want fights, DON'T play Rap/Hip-Hop music.... Ask Necto... how many fights on Hip-Hop (also referred to as "Frat or Date-Rape Night") Saturday... more than a few." Please remember that hip hip represents a musical style — and nothing more. The values and behaviors which our culture chooses to attach to contemporary musical sounds are arbitrary, and they will shift over time. For instance, the strong association in late '60s between rock, psychedelia and social revolt came about by historical accident. At the time, that unexpected development alienated some older rock fans from the late '50s. Later on, an emerging punk scene helped redefine things once again. The commercial hip hop of the last 15-20 years is a rather different creature than the more grassroots variations holding forth between the late '70s and the early '90s. To give just one example, I doubt that club patrons twenty or so years ago felt much danger attending a show headlined by the relatively unknown Queen Latifah or Missy Elliott. And, yes, in hip hop there has existed a feminist strain, one not very fond of date-rape 'frat' audiences. Questions or judgments about the violent incidents which occurred at Studio 4 should examine the specific contexts. Trends might emerge. Who were the performers or DJs on those nights? What is the content of their stage acts or their sets? What characteristics drew their audiences to the club? Or, did an ugly incident result from aggressive mismanagement on the club floor? It's much better when we don't prejudge a format of artistic expression and instead pay attention to what individual performers bring to the stage. Would it make any sense to widely discredit reggae due to the misogyny of Buju Banton, or to shut down stand-up because 'Kramer' shouted a racist tirade? Sweeping generalizations regarding all hip hop run parallel to stereotypes, past and present, for emo kids, rave dancers, punks, '60s counterculture, greasers, bluesmen, and big band scenesters in zoot suits. On today's scene, maybe violence linked to hip hop will reach new heights following the meteoric rise of rapper-influenced Justin Bieber. There have been injuries at some of his public appearances — reminiscent of the Vietnam-era street mayhem inspired by Bobby Sherman. I fear that a new club will emerge from Studio 4's remains and hire a DJ to spin for a series of frenzied Bieber nights, bringing chaos to the Germantown neighborhood.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

" I was able to enjoy seeing DJ AM in Ann Arbor at a trouble-free show. I understand there were problems." No I think DJ AM is doing fine now isn't he?

Alan Benard

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

I did some publicity work for Reese, and Jeff and Reese were always straight with me. I enjoyed working for them. Thanks to them, I was able to enjoy seeing DJ AM in Ann Arbor at a trouble-free show. I understand there were problems. I'm sorry they're having a hard time now.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Contrary to most people's beliefs, this was place was a fine establishment. Beautiful, unscathed booths will clean leather. Great music. Great promoters like Andy Bilinsky. I even met my girlfriend here. This saddens me.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

@ Ed, Kid Rock played at the Blind Pig back in the 90's. Harms Way, a local band, opened up for him.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

One more thing, we all know what the knee jerk reaction is here, race. So, to act all cowardly about calling it what it is, why not actually try to understand the facts instead generalizing. Hip hop or "Gangster types" come in all shades!!!


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

"He {Jeff Mangray} said, 'You guys only brought in 50 Asians,' and he showed me his clipboard with tallies," Oh lord. The peole running this place don't sound too nice.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

@David how is this racist? I've never seen race mentioned any time about this place.In fact, I think its racist to assume its racist


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

Hip Hop music always brings in bad elements. One of my friends is an owner of the Necto. In the past the Necto would bring in Hip Hop artists and they had to beef up security as well as deal with unruly people. These are gangster types/wannabees and not very desirable. It is a fact -- plain and simple.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

I'm torn about this. Vik and Pops are good guys who unfortunately have their names on all of the legal documentation. It's a shame that the other person involved in all of this caused 99% of the problems.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

"So, you really think people didn't go to this dive because they couldn't smoke and couldn't carry? Seriously?" No I don't.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

Studio 4 was in the news for all the wrong reasons and I think stereotyping club visitors and their predilection towards violence is just racist!!! The reason the Necto, the Blind Pig, and other established clubs don't have gun problems is that these establishments are run very well; good business models, well trained bouncers, and lightening fast cop responses. Studio 4 was run as a dive and attracted a lot of trouble makers that felt that they could act out with impunity. Maude's is gone. It will gone forever. I say, put a gentlemans club there. The tax base would be excellent!


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

I'm so glad that it's closed for good. I've heard nothing but bad experiences from my friends back in college.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

@A2K, how very naive of you to think that Hip Hop music is the problem. The music and its content does not control people and make their decisions.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

Great, now the Studio 4 riff raff will be moving over to 5th Quarter! Hopefully that will be the next bar to go!

rusty shackelford

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

So, you really think people didn't go to this dive because they couldn't smoke and couldn't carry? Seriously? We really needed dead bodies on the street at closing time!!! Wow!! Think what we missed!? I was just joking around, making fun of the gun nuts and pro-smoking zealots who often post here.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

@A2K, are you seriously blaming hip-hop for the fights? "You darn kids, get off my lawn!"


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

Studio 4 has been an awful hole of a place since the doors opened. The clientele were always stumbling drunk, vulgar, and, er, "gropey" regardless of their age. If you don't want fights, DON'T play Rap/Hip-Hop music. Will your business draw fewer patrons? YES, but then you'll have the chance to expose patrons to new, innovative dance music with REAL DJs instead of garbage. Ask Necto how many fights they've had on Industrial/Dance Night over the last 5-6 years (0 or perhaps 1?), then ask them how many fights on Hip-Hop (also referred to as "Frat or Date-Rape Night") Saturday...more than a few.

Steve Pepple

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

A comment was removed because it contained a personal attack against another commenter.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

This is excellent news. Those involved in closing this venue should be commended to the highest degree.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

@ speechless, it's a phoenix that you're talking about.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.

Good, this bar was terrible. How about we get something in that location that is worth going to?

Paula Gardner

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 6:57 a.m.

Re the Golden Falcon - a longtime Ann Arborite told me yesterday that was the name of a restaurant on that site years ago. It will be interesting to see what follows Studio 4. The location of the building worked for a destination like Maude's (and even Studio 4)... but it's also an atypical downtown location - there's not a lot of natural foot traffic, except for people heading in and out of the parking structure.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 6:15 a.m.

Free at last, free at last, downtown Ann Arbor is free at last!

Alan Benard

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Not to mention that the business was an ongoing subject of lurid stories when that was what Ann Arbor News/ required. You all are good at skimming the police reports, but apparently don't bother following up on what is actually happening in town apart from what is spoon-fed by the authorities. It's called beat reporting. Look into it.

Alan Benard

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

@ Paula: I privately emailed a member of the staff with this tip on June 3.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 12:56 a.m.

I'll just carry my loaded sidearm into Starbucks. End of story.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 11:44 p.m.

I don't know if any of you people have ever been to Studio 4 or if you're just going on second hand information, but if you think this place was bad with fighting and stuff then wtf do you think it'd be like if people could carry guns in an atmosphere like that? And don't try to say oh it'd be fine because the owner would have a gun and security would have a gun because they'd be the first ones to kill an innocent person or be shot. I'm all for the right to own guns and protecting yourself and your property, but with the demographic in the Ypsi-Arbor area (wanna be gangstarrs and redneck don't tread on me bikers) I wouldn't want it to be legal.

Richard C

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 11:32 p.m.

Now, don't dis Loka - he's got the seeds of an idea there. If guns HAD been allowed, there wouldn't be repeat offenders. Unfortunately, smoking doesn't have as swift and dramatic effect, so he's wrong there. I ate at Maudes a few times. It seemed intimidatingly fancy to me, but so do most of the downtown eateries. The one time I tried Palio, the olive oil (for the bread) was rancid - and that was just a few years ago. Ate at Gratzi twice (again, years ago) - both times, the echoing noise of the place was overwhelming. Insofar as Mainstreet Ventures has a brand that applies across it's restaurants, it's a very useful brand (for me). I'll stick to Sabor Latino, Cottage Inn, Tios, The Broken Egg (with some reservations), and even the Parthenon. Mainstreet Ventures doesn't appeal to me.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 11:16 p.m.

Honk if you hate Mime.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 11:13 p.m.

Businesses come and go.... this spot on Fourth Ave. has gone through various incarnations, been host to a number of operations over the years. Before long it will no doubt rise once more from the commercial ashes, like the proverbial Thunderbird or Golden Falcon, whichever one it is....

Ryan Munson

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 10:52 p.m.

DDA--please dig a big hole where this building now stands.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 9:28 p.m.

The problems was not that people did not go to Studio 4. The problem was the minors being served, the failure to pay the liquor license holder his fee, the failure to keep people from fighting, and in general over serving their patrons. It was a recipe for disaster. As for Maude's, its been over a decade. Let it go. If you cared that much about the place you would have kept it going when it was actually in business.

David Briegel

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 8:59 p.m.

So, you really think people didn't go to this dive because they couldn't smoke and couldn't carry? Seriously? We really needed dead bodies on the street at closing time!!! Wow!! Think what we missed!?

Paula Gardner

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 8:01 p.m.

Alan Benard, If you see legal notices that you think warrant a story, give a shout. I'm happy to take news tips from readers who might be traveling different streets or going to different establishments than I visit either for work or my "real life" in Ann Arbor. Feel free to email me directly:


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

That was my first thought, bring back Maudes! That was an awesome place and I know many people still talk about it and miss eating there.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 6:49 p.m.

"Loka, this is just yet another example of our state's ban on guns in bars driving local entrepreneurs out of business." Fair enough.

rusty shackelford

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 6:43 p.m.

Loka, this is just yet another example of our state's ban on guns in bars driving local entrepreneurs out of business. If people had the freedom to carry guns where they pleased, it wouldn't have been such a problem now would it? I mean, if a business owner wants to allow guns in their bar, who is the government to say he can't? If you don't like it, just patronize some other business, or if you work there just find a new job.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.

Well it didn't take loing for the smokiung ban to clainm it's first victim. Thanks a lot for killing local businesses Michigan! (True it MIGHT have had more to do with all the gun scares and street fights:)

rusty shackelford

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

Glad to see you folks are on top of this breaking story.


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

Maude's was owned by the same company who manages / operates Palio, Real Seafood Company, Chop House, and Gratzi. Mainstreet Ventures knows how to pick the atmosphere and menu for a great restaurant. Studio 4 was a tragedy, so let's hope there is something in the pipeline.

Alan Benard

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

You've got to be kidding. There have been legal notices posted on the door for nearly two weeks. Why is this only being reported on now?


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 5:19 p.m.

I remember Maude's as a wonderful place to go for lunch and dinner. Many of us were saddened to see it close. When Studio 4 first opened, it was a classy joint, owned by classy local business owners. Sadly, that too fell to the wayside. The most recent version of Studio 4 was nothing more than a tragedy waiting to happen. Thanks to the City Attorney's Office for finally closing that eyesore down- Now, how about a new restaurant similar to Maude's!


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 5:17 p.m.

Bring back Maude's!!!!!!!!!