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Posted on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

U-M alumni plan to open craft beer bar near campus in June

By Lizzy Alfs


World of Beer plans to open this summer in the Landmark student high-rise on South University. A World of Beer location in Florida is pictured above.

Courtesy photo

University of Michigan alumni Steve Rossi and Chad Wilson plan to bring hundreds of different craft beer varieties to Ann Arbor’s South University bar scene this summer.

The duo are preparing to open World of Beer, a Florida-based bar franchise and live music venue, on the first-floor of the Landmark student high-rise in June.

The 3,200-square-foot space on the southeast corner of South Univeristy and South Forest is under construction, and it will have a long bar, patio seating with garage doors, a stage for live music, and flat-screen televisions visible from every seat in the bar.

There will be 40 rotating drafts, more than 500 bottled beer varieties, and a small selection of wine and craft liquors. Eventually, World of Beer plans to offer a limited food menu.


A cooler inside a World of Beer location in Florida.

Courtesy photo

“Ann Arbor is an ideal location because we’re both Michigan guys,” said franchise co-owner Chad Wilson. “We both went to U-M, we both love the university and love the town, so it was an easy choice for us.”

Wilson’s business partner, Steve Rossi, started his restaurant career at The Brown Jug when he was a junior at U-M. After joining World of Beer, he and Wilson purchased the franchise rights for World of Beer in the state of Michigan. They plan to open six locations in the next three years, with Ann Arbor leading the way.

“I think back to my time as a student here in the late 1980s, and craft beer was already something of a novelty in Ann Arbor, a little bit ahead of its time,” Rossi said. “I remember going to Full Moon (which served craft beer) when I turned 21 years old — from an interest standpoint, this community is very much into craft beer.”

Wilson said the bar will carry beer from local brewers who are willing to partner with them, including Jolly Pumpkin and Arbor Brewing Company. It will also have beer from popular Michigan breweries like Bell’s and Founders. Average beer prices are between $5 and $8.

“We educate people on beer,” Wilson said. “We want to take someone who drinks Bud Light and give them something similar to it that’s still a craft beer.”


The 14-story Landmark building was completed in fall 2012.

Melanie Maxwell |

Nationally, craft beer sales continue to accelerate. The industry has shown steady growth for years, accounting for 6.5 percent of total U.S. beer market volume in 2012, up from 5.7 percent in 2011 and 4.9 percent in 2010, according to statistics from the Brewers Association.

Downtown Ann Arbor has a number of craft breweries and several bars that offer extensive craft beer varieties.

Rossi said one thing that makes World of Beer unique is its tech savvy loyalty program. Customers can download the free World of Beer application and earn points for different beers they order. It also sorts the menu into different categories, making it easy to find a new beer to try.

“We’re trying to create our unique place,” Wilson said.

World of Beer is still hiring, and all servers go through a 2.5 week “beer school” program. (Find the application online.)

World of Beer’s tentative hours are noon to 2 a.m. seven days a week. There will be live music Thursday through Saturday. Discounts will be offered on certain days of the week for service industry employees, loyalty members and university students and faculty.

World of Beer is the final retail tenant on the first-floor of Landmark, which was listed for lease with Ann Arbor’s Colliers International for an annual $45 per square foot. The tenant lineup in the 14-story apartment building: 7-Eleven, Tim Hortons, No Thai! and World of Beer.

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



Wed, May 1, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

You and the kids knock yourselves out Lizzie... why in just a few hours time you can probably convince the owner to raise your drink prices to 15 or 20 bucks a pop. You can pretend you're in New York or someplace equally trendy - maybe light cigars with C-notes, too. Not sure this is a competition I'd care to win.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Wow - $45 per square foot?! That's high even for A2! I wish these guys the best of luck; with that kind of rent, they'll need to sell an awful lot of craft beer.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

Yes, $45 has become the new asking rate for some properties downtown. Landmark, Zaragon West and the former flagship Borders come to mind. It has to be some of the highest rates in the state - I'll have to check and see what prime real estate in downtown Birmingham is going for these days.

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

A model like this will probably take off in Ann Arbor. This town is very into craft brews, more so than any other place I've lived in. That said, I'd rather go straight to the source when drinking a craft beer... i.e., get beer from the tap at Jolly Pumpkin or ABC rather than a bottle at a chain.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 10:25 a.m.

where does the beer come from? who makes it? I looked at the World of Beer website and don't see any reference to actually making beer. Do they make beer or do they buy beer from somewhere else?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

which gets to the question where does the beer come from? The "craft beer" industry has a definition for "craft beer".

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

WOB is not a brewery, it's a bar that carries craft beer (like Ashley's)

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 9:59 a.m.

I will be opening a new "Fake ID" franchise. I will have fake ID's from all 50 states and the Canadian provinces. How do i get a story done?

Nick Lemmer

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 6:34 a.m.

As a student that enjoys indulging in craft beer on occasion, I see it as a very welcome addition to the Ann Arbor (South U) bar scene. What is cool about this place, besides what seems like an amazing beer selection, is the live music. South U is not typically a place that features anything like that, and I believe WOB will set itself apart as long as they bring in some halfway decent bands. Good luck and I'm excited to drink my way through your lineup.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

An entire neighborhood full of the offspring of 1%-ers, paying top dollar for rent, with suitcases full of their East coast bankster parents cash, stolen from the rest of us a few short years ago?! You betcha they will buy $8-$10 drinks. Other peoples money is always fun to spend, especially when you don't have to pay it back. The owners of this joint should make-out like bandits.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

There's this strange assumption that you somehow jump directly from 21 to 55 in this town. There are plenty of young professionals (read: recent college graduates) who are more than comfortable with that part of town and will gladly relive the "good old days" over a beer they no longer have to throw a ping pong ball into.

Robert E.

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:55 a.m. many from the older set who love craft beer...we'll see if they can hold their own with wont be easy...

Admiral Halsey

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.

Finally, a place where I can find a craft beer that tastes like Bud Light!

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 9:55 a.m.

actually said Chad Wilson co-owner of the new franchise.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Said no one... ever.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

Talk about trying to bite on Ashley's....


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

This place will do fine with the sons and daughters of the 1%ers that come from the East Coast and live in this part of town.

Robert E.

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

I disagree completely...see cubicle's point below...or you dont really know much about the Michigan craft brewing industry and how intensely people follow it...if these guys get in kegs of the good stuff like Ashleys beer geeks will be there is a shame its a chain as a home-grown beer bar would do even better round here...nevertheless, for those who love beer and have the money to invest, opening up a muti-tap with serious beer is a no-brainer windfall in Ann Arbor (regardless of location) guaranteed...


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

I'm not sure that will fit in with the sushi district that has popped up down there.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Why buy a franchise for this? This is an obvious business opportunity to anyone with business savvy and a small amount of craft beer knowledge. They don't even make beer, they only need to follow their customers's desires and trends. Why pay to have corporate hold your hand, when you can expand, improve and embellish a mediocre business idea as it evolves in a local context? Ashley's has done it for years, but they also have passion, knowledge & experience. Why chain yourself to the rules of franchise? What have these guys done since the '80s? Establishing this in the middle of retail oblivion on S. University is also unwise. Who really wants to spend an evening around undergrads while thinking "I remember my first beer"....? Hint: even undergrads don't. Get really good insurance.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

I think the days of advertising and marketing are numbered. More and more people seem to be immune from the over-saturated marketing that is everywhere. I've been a self-employed business person for 20 years and no form of advertising has never increased my sales. Facebook is the best advertising I never paid for. Why? No one is forced to see my business's posts. They sign up to. And they key to keeping them signed up is not barraging with posts (adverts). A customer loyalty program can be cheap & easy (see Flock cards), though I theirs would probably have to be more extensive. Johnnya2 the franchises you mention have clear menu distinctions created at a central level. Marketing craft beer is far easier: they create the product, not you. I doubt that with an atmosphere similar to BW3s and a business model that is the antithesis of craft brewing, that this will attract craft beer drinkers. You are correct, I have no franchising experience; I do not wish to contribute to nor participate in the ugly homogenization of culture. I would much prefer to patronize an establishment with some creativity, not a mediocre duplicate found everywhere else, which is what we get from every example you mentioned. The only reason to open one is money and all that glitters is not gold.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:06 a.m.

1. Financing 2. MARKETING 3. Systems (why reinvent the wheel) 4. training. 5. In fact in the article it CLEARLY states "one thing that makes World of Beer unique is its tech savvy loyalty program. Customers can download the free World of Beer application and earn points for different beers they order" Making rewards/loyalty programs is NOT cheap and easy as you seem to think Based on your comment, I wonder why anybody would open a McDonalds. I mean it is only flipping burgers and pouring cokes. Why would somebody want a Five Guys, since it is fresh potatoes and burgers. Why do people open a Cottage Inn, Dominoes or Little Caesars? Why would anybody open ANY franchise. Obviously you have no experience in the field of franchising, so maybe you should get educated before you make inane comments you know nothing about

Chaz H

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I have been to WOB in Ft Meyers, FL. I am very excited about the chain coming to Michigan... so many great beers, so little time!


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

WATFF there's a World of Beer there? I was there 4 years ago and I saw nothing of the like.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

This doesn't really seem like the best location. Student's might be willing to pay $8 for a beer, but most of their budget's won't allow least on a regular basis. And I don't think you're going to get the professional crowd down on South U.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:01 a.m.

Ashleys? Arbor Brewing> Oh that"s right, YOU have determined what will and wont work in A2.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

And more crime too!

Robert E.

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Are u kidding me Mr. Joad? This place will make a is too bad its not on the main st side of town but us adults will flock to this place...also too bad its a chain but oh well...Ive always wondered why someone didnt open another multi-tap in town considering how well Ashleys does...if they bring in some good live music to boot, they pretty much cant go wrong...Michigan has some of the very best craft beer in the country and there is very high demand for bars with several taps of it...


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

Somebody should open a business like this on the adult side of downtown too.


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Hey Craig, is it in a brown bag, too?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 9:52 a.m.

I agree, my wife is tired of drinking our 40 ozers in the ally behind the dumpster.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

I would argue that there has been a change in the way people drink, especially in Ann Arbor. Craft beer sales have continued to boom and more and more breweries are opening across the state of Michigan, where people pay $4, $5 or more for a beer. I'm not saying students won't still drink a case of Bud Light or something, but I do think many are also willing to try different craft beers. I know I saw that switch at least my senior year at U-M. I think the same goes for cocktails as the craft cocktail movement continues. If you look at cocktails downtown, $8, $9 and $10 as become the new "norm." Plus, an "upscale and trendy" bar, The Study Lounge, opened on South U last year, so these businesses aren't just opening on Main Street.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

Pissing-away other peoples money at bars is something college-age young adults have been good at for generations - no reason why that should change now. It is kind of silly how much some will spend in order to see and be seen at some saloon, though. Goes with the demographic, I guess. And the hormones.

Ron Torrella

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

University staff gets short shrift, eh? Pssshht.

Bob W

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Tom, not sure. If they can afford the "new" student rents in these buildings. I'm thinking they can afford the beer as well. ;o)


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

Mom and Dad are footing the bill for what they think are 'expensive' textbooks but in actuality are high class beers. I just don't think there are enough of them to justify the high rents they must be paying but I wish them luck. Besides, too much competition.

Tom Joad

Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

A guy that drinks Bud Light is not going to pay $8 for a beer...that's why he's drinking Bud Light to begin with....I'll give this place 6 months being on that end of town...


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

nowayjose--I worked my way through college and still was able to afford nice beer. Just because people have something nice doesn't mean their parents bought it for them.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

Have you seen the Daddy bought cars pulling out of the landmark? I think they'll pay for the pricey beer with no problem. I see it sticking around a while.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

lefty48197--there's a lot of students who frequent bars like Ashley's, Jolly Pumpkin, Arbor Brewing, WSBC, etc. Plenty of students enjoy nice craft beer.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Tom, the students usually drink PBR, or Hamm's, or the Beast. You know, the $14.99 per 30 pack beers. I can't remember the last time I saw an actual adult on South U.