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Posted on Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Dominick's braces for business from Ann Arbor's Hash Bash crowds

By Paula Gardner


Richard DeVarti, second-generation owner of Dominick's near the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

Angela Cesere |

For 40 years Ann Arbor has been home to the Hash Bash and its celebration of cannabis. And for many of those years, Dominick’s has been the post-Bash hub for the people who attend the hour-long rally on the Diag then want to hang out.

Ask anyone in Ann Arbor how to get to the Monroe Street Fair — the official name of the block party that’s followed the Hash Bash for about a decade — and many will just point to Dominick’s.

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 déjà 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.”

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



Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

I was there today and I wish there were some petitions for people to sign. I got some suggestions for W holistic Medicine practitioners who might be able to get me a prescription for Medical Marijuana. It was good to see people out for the cause!


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

I love the way the Ann Arbor government is selective in law enforcement! Its illegal and expensive to text and drive but to blow weed its cheap and carefree. What kind of message are you sending to the next generation Mr.,Mrs.,Ms Progressive, Liberal etc?

Jake C

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

Or how about we just cut all the nonsense out and tell the next generation that if you're going to text, drink, smoke, or eat a taco, wait until you're at home to do it?

Jake C

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 1:20 a.m.

What kind of message? How about that it's beneficial to base laws on scientific studies that show texting while driving is roughly as dangerous as driving with a 0.10 Blood Alcohol Content, while marijuana has a relatively low effect on driving ability?


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

I consider myself pretty liberal, and I used to smoke it but I never blew it. Perhaps you are confused?

Freshtight Designs

Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

I like Dominick's and am excited for the live music at the Street Fair today! Enjoy Michigan spring.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

This event brings in lots of money for local businesses and restaurants. Itsn't that what it's all about?


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

AnnArborEats - I guess we'll have to keep telling you then, until the message gets through your thick skull - WEED IS NOT ADDICTIVE!!!!!! If it was, then all the people I used to smoke it with every day back in college would not have simply fallen out of the habit as we got older. As for myself, I rarely smoke it anymore, since I simply don't enjoy it. But I never made any deliberate effort to quit, even though in my younger days I was as big a pot-head as anyone. Young people obsess on a lot of things - skateboarding, music, etc. - that they gradually move away from or scale back over time. Of all the people I used to party with 30 years ago, I know only one who still smokes pot obsessively. He's also one of the richest guys I know, after starting up a successful business with another stoner buddy of mine. So chill out, quit trying to play Cotton Mather and let other people enjoy their lives and we'll do the same for you? Ok?

Moscow On The Huron

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

WEED IS NOT ADDICTIVE You're right, and I know that because the losers I know who can't stop using it, have lost their jobs and have no ambition to live life tell me that all the time!


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

The hash bash is nothing but a loserpalooza.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

I'm going to say it again. There is just as much reefer being smoked at these UM tailgates as there is beer being drunk. Stop the football references. It's pointless. Everyone drives home. I don't advocate either practice. Ann Arbor promoting addictive substances is shameful. Don't tell me weed isn't addictive. I see people who can't go a day without getting high who have no pain or medical issues. I see people getting high and putting their kids in the back seat of their cars. I see people breast feeding their babies while talking about how amazing they feel after getting high. It's all disgusting. It's all shameful. It's all destructive. I see you Ann Arbor, for what you are, even if you choose to ignore it.

Richard P Steeb

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

"Weed" is substantially less addictive than coffee. I see long lines at Starbucks every day that confirm Henningfield and Benowitz' assessments. What's disgusting, shameful and destructive is the prohibition of Earth's most beneficial plant species.

Jake C

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

What tailgates do you go to? I've been to dozens over the past years, and I don't think I've ever directly seen or smelled anyone smoking weed.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

I wholeheartedly advocate the recreational use of marijuana, the side effects are merely reducing week-long stress on a Friday night....and what is wrong with this? It also assists in fighting depression, assisting in the battle of cancer and other diseases and at least for myself, I can run like Forest Gump at the age of 60 despite my knees and ankles, and we all know one needs a good cardio workout. Therefore, marijuana use, in a personally controlled manner, is healthful. Few, if any, are advocating workplace marijuana use as some are concerned about, therefore I would encourage you all to seriously consider and join me in legalization efforts for seniors (50+ because many have retired early) if not for everyone....maybe we can take a baby step here this year in legalization efforts. My thing as a senior is that people should not have to be gravely ill, thereby qualifying for Medical Marijuana, to partake of this beneficial herb. Marijuana usage prolongs life. I know there are exceptions to this, but 99.999% of people who CHOOZE to smoke marijuana on a personally controlled basis would benefit from its legalization.

Jim Nazium

Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

I for one don't partake in that lifestyle at this phase of my life, but when I was a lot younger.... I had a blast at Hash Bash and don't regret any of it for a minute. It is a right of passage for some, a connection to your fellow man, a "Higher Plane of Consciousness" if you will. For those who never partook, and try to point out the negatives to weed, you'll just never understand. And no, it's not for everybody but it sure was fun and most of us turn out just fine. Don't even get me started on the Booze vs. Weed debate, just look at the statistics Mon!


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 1:03 p.m. me crazy but in this highminded great "booze vs. pot" debate how about "neither"...when it comes to operating heavy machinery at least .


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

new start...i count automobiles as heavy machinery and they are often operated outside the workplace. and dont get me started on ATV's , snowmobiles, jet skis ....and drunks!!


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

I do not think anyone is advocating being high at the workplace.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

@ americanwoman - If you are ashamed, then leave. The Hash Bash is part of what makes Ann Arbor....well, Ann Arbor! @actionjackson - You are right, alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana. I have seen many more lives destroyed by booze than pot.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Agreed 100%


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Ashamed? We are actually quite proud to be one of the first two cities in the nation with a $5, one ounce or less stature. With inflation it is actually $25 now. Progressive, liberal, and downright fun. I would much rather see a few people walking around campus stoned that leaving The Big House drunk from a tailgate and hitting I-94 at 70mph plus.

Richard P Steeb

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Gotta love it. I received a higher fine than that for backing into my parking space at the Maynard St structure in 1969!


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

Hash good reason to be ashamed to be from A2. The police, mayor and city council should do something to stop this.


Sat, Apr 2, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Pot smoking is good for stress, depression, cancer control and stimulates creativity and exercise and thereby promotes a healthy heart.. Medical marijuana is not should not have to be gravely ill to legally smoke this. At least seniors (50+) should be able to legally smoke marijuana if employers are worried about work place issues.