Dominick's braces for business from Ann Arbor's Hash Bash crowds
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
For the bar and pizzeria on Monroe Street, located between the University of Michigan’s law and business schools, the Hash Bash generates traffic that’s comparable to St. Patrick’s Day, said owner Richard DeVarti.
“We’re pretty much where everyone goes after the speech on the Diag,” he said.
Part of the attraction is the bar’s connections over the years to various organizers of the Hash Bash and the welcome it puts out for people connected to it, like John Sinclair.
Another draw is the growth of the Monroe Street Fair, the block party with vendors and music right in front of the bar.
“Ever since the street closure, it’s definitely been a real boon to our business for the one day,” DeVarti said.
That’s important, he added, for a seasonal business - open from March-November - that has plenty of outdoor seating and depends on good weather.
DeVarti no longer is among the organizers of the Monroe Street Fair, though he recalls he was the first person to petition for the street closure so it could happen.
Over the years, he’s moved from organizer to vendor, and now just supports the effort in spirit and by welcoming the crowds into Dominick’s. He quit smoking “some time ago,” but still thinks that marijuana should be totally legal.
The connection to the event isn’t a reach for DeVarti: He attended the first Hash Bash, missed a few while in Europe, then “made most of them when I came back.”
Crowds have varied over time, he said, getting a boost more recently from the timing shift to the first Saturday in April and the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan.
The 15-person Dominick’s staff is ready for this year’s Hash Bash, though DeVarti said they don’t do much differently than any other big sales days. The hours will still be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., there still won’t be group reservations and there won’t be a themed dish or drink on the menu.
The crowd from the Hash Bash may be less likely than revelers at other times of the year to drink too much, DeVarti said.
“Maybe we’ll prep a little more food,” he added.
DeVarti, who grew up in Ann Arbor, started working in the restaurant in 4th grade and took it over from his parents after their deaths, describes the Hash Bash as fun.
“it’s sort of like a blast from the past,” he said. “A dÃ©jÃ vu-type feeling, but still realizing it exists in the here and now.”
It’s also a uniquely Ann Arbor event.
“Hash Bash has been a tradition in Ann Arbor like the Art Fair is,” DeVarti said. “It’s just totally different.”