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Posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Fifth Quarter nightclub in downtown Ann Arbor officially closes after string of problems, lawsuits

By Ryan J. Stanton


A crowd gathers outside the Fifth Quarter in downtown Ann Arbor on a weekend night last year. The troubled establishment is now closed.

Ryan J. Stanton |

An owner of the Fifth Quarter nightclub building in downtown Ann Arbor confirmed today the troubled establishment at 210 S. Fifth Ave. officially has closed its doors for business.

City officials consider that good news, given the many problems the city and its police department have had with the club in the past few years.

The club recently was listed for sale for $1.8 million. City officials have been in talks with club owners about the possible non-renewal of the bar's liquor license due to numerous police calls to the location.

A college student from Livonia also recently filed a lawsuit saying that at least two bouncers at the club severely beat and choked him last year, then threw him out on the street while he was unconscious.

The building is owned by 210 South Fifth Ave LLC, an entity registered to Jeff Starman, who confirmed today the decision to close the club after a string of problems.

"We have closed Fifth Quarter," Starman said. "The property and the business is under contract to be sold. There will be a new establishment some time in the future there, by September."

Kristen Larcom, senior assistant city attorney, said that's good news for the city, but referred comment to Police Chief Barnett Jones, who could not be reached.

Starman said the club probably would have been forced to shut down.

"We decided this unilaterally, but we also felt like we didn't have a choice," he said, expressing regret that the club found itself in the position it did.

"Obviously, no one likes to have bad things happen," he said. "Things could have gone better from all sides. Obviously, we'd have liked it to be successful and have a long run, but it didn't seem to happen. Ultimately, we just decided it wasn't the right kind of place. I don't think that kind of place fundamentally fits in with what Ann Arbor wants."

Starman added he thought "90 percent of the nights were great and the 10 percent that were bad were bad." He said the new establishment will be a "very different kind of place," and it won't be a nightclub at all. It'll be more of a bar and restaurant, he said.

Fights, assaults by staff and incidents of over-serving customers prompted Ann Arbor officials to ask owners and management to stem the problems in the downtown nightclub last year.

With calls for police service as of late October running at twice the number recorded in all of 2009, Ann Arbor officials filed a lawsuit in November against the business and the owners of the building that houses it. The lawsuit is still pending.

The city’s request: Declare the bar a public nuisance and close it, or appoint a receiver who can run it without putting the public in danger.

The city asked the owners to get rid of bouncers who were too aggressive, institute staff training to monitor for over-intoxication and discontinue Sunday night events.

As of Oct. 25, police had responded to 89 calls for service at the bar, compared to 48 for the full year of 2009.

The lawsuit detailed what it called “large-scale incidents” that threatened the safety of the entire city due to the number of officers called to restore order to the club and the area immediately outside of it. The incidents include:

  • Dec. 31, 2009: Police closed the bar because of the people gathered on the sidewalks, fights inside and outside the bar and the crowd hindering efforts to help a woman who’d been assaulted.
  • July 19, 2010: Police closed the bar and a portion of South Fifth Avenue after large crowds were fighting inside the bar and nearby.
  • July 24, 2010: Police closed the bar after fights on the sidewalk outside. In addition, “officers had difficulty walking through the bar due to the size of the crowd and numerous broken bottles littering the floor.”
  • Oct. 18, 2010: Officers were stationed at the bar at closing time but were unable to prevent the crowd of about 250 from spilling into South Fifth Avenue.
  • Oct. 25, 2010: A week later, Ann Arbor police asked other agencies to join them at closing time, but the group of 20 officers couldn’t prevent more fights.

In addition, after a lawsuit was filed in November 2009 by a patron who said a bouncer assaulted him inside the bar, nine more complaints came into the city that allege assaults or injuries at the hands of bouncers at The Fifth Quarter, according to the lawsuit.

Five incidents of over-serving alcohol also were listed in the lawsuit, including one on July 24 when two people were found unconscious in the alley near the bar.

Starman and a business partner bought the building in 2006, according to city records.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


JA Jones

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

Francis Clark ... where is your comment taking some responsibility for this mess? Jeff Starman's comments are laughable. No one here wants to do anything but rake in some easy money with no concern for the community or the customers.


Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 7:40 a.m.

I got crabs from touching the toilet seat at the fif Q. Totally worth it!


Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

There are obvious ways to run a successful dance club that caters to early 20-somethings. There are lots of examples, and they all depend on doormen and bouncers who know who to let in and who NOT to let in. Fights, which are inevitable, are quickly and firmly dealt with by well-paid, experienced security, without hurting anyone. Go to any big city and do your homework! Personally, I think that places that get a little rowdy and attract a crowd that people aren't accustomed to seeing are actually good things for Ann Arbor. If they generate too many police calls, just start levying fines so that it covers the extra work. They'll get the hint soon enough and hire competent security of their own.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

sounds like a totally poor thought out idea from the beginning.any community would be better without an establishment like this. GOOD RIDDANCE


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

The "Fifth Quarter" has reached Infinity's End.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

The Schwaben Hall on Tuesday nights was the place to be!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

and of course Mr. Floods Party.

Jojo B

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

That spot on 5th Ave is bad mojo. No establishment can last there for more than a few years.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

I am glad to see The Necto nightclub has the ability to create both a patron and community friendly establishment. They keep a good handle on the patrons and create a good feeling environment, as much as a club can be.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Sure do miss the good ol' days when Maude's was there! That was a great restaurant.

Mike Martin

Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

That is the space where the Ann Arbor Theater used to be not Maudes. I miss the theater there. Something other than restaurants and bars.

Jojo B

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Maude's was great! But it was located on 4th Ave next to the parking structure. The 5th Quarter is (was) located on 5th near Afternoon delight.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Had awesome food!!!! That was the days...


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

There's not a good precedent for that spot at all. I'm betting the "new place" that goes in its spot...will be more or less the same sort of place. This place was "Oz" before it was 5th Quarter, and "Oz" was more or less just a classier version of what the 5th Quarter was.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

Believe me, honey, it's nothing like the old Del Rio days.

nl dream

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

I love how they keep blaming the bouncers for all this mess, poor management and horrible clientele is to blame!!! I've been there and seen first hand some of these people just get in to fights for no reason and the understaffed security having to deal with it and having to defend themselves. Also why is Studio 4 aka Dream still open??? That place is even worse!!!!

Tom Joad

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

Good riddance. I hope the owners are financially ruined. I was accosted by a flash mob let out one late Sunday night...These owners obviously put their profit motive ahead of community safety. A large flock of undesirables would flood out on to the streets after closing. Fifth Quarter won't be missed.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

"How Not To Run A Bar 101"....good riddance