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Posted on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

Elbow Room ownership files lawsuit against Ypsilanti nightclub's former manager

By Paula Gardner

The ownership entity of Ypsilanti’s Elbow Room bar filed a five-count lawsuit this month against former manager Andy Garris, asking for the return of money and property allegedly taken from the bar.

The litigation offers details on the situation last summer as the popular manager’s departure resulted in the sudden closing of the downtown Ypsilanti nightspot.

Garris did not respond to interview requests for this article.

The lawsuit alleges Garris failed to deposit $217,381.21 in cash receipts; participated with others in taking personal property from the business, including its neon sign; converted bar funds for his own use; and didn’t fulfill his fiduciary duty or the sales contract.

The litigation, filed by attorney James Jackson on behalf of Flagship of Michigan Corp., also makes the claims against Garris Enterprises LLC.

The lawsuit follows the departure of Garris as operator of the bar on June 20, after a closing party.

However, news of the bar closing came as a surprise to Marion Campbell, the widow of longtime Elbow Room owner Art Campbell, Jackson told

According to the lawsuit, Garris signed a contract on Nov. 15, 2006, to buy the assets of the bar, including its liquor license, for $55,000. On that same date, he and Art Campbell signed a management agreement calling for him to run the bar until the deal closed.

That agreement ended June 20, according to the lawsuit.

Until then, Garris — as the agent of Garris Enterprises LLC — was to pay all taxes, “operate in the best interest of the owner” and deposit all receipts in the owner’s name.

According to the lawsuit, no monthly sales tax payments were made to the state from June 2008 through November 2009, generating $6,075 in penalties and interest.

In addition, according to the filing, Garris used corporate funds for items unrelated to the business, including $1,000 in personal attorney fees, $1,040 in property taxes on an Ypsilanti Township condo, $4,046 in personal debts and $2,825 in Red Wings tickets.

He also failed to deposit $217,381.21 in cash receipts dating from 2008 to April 2010, failed to provide an accounting of funds, and made an unauthorized cash withdrawal of $19,868.94, according to the lawsuit. One withdrawal, totaling $5,013, was made two days after “he ceased performing services for the plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, missing equipment from the bar totaled $15,000, and the company is seeking $45,000 to cover that, including costs and attorney fees.

In addition, the lawsuit claims Garris, while acting as an agent of the plaintiff, planned to divert the Elbow Room’s business to a competing bar. After leaving the Elbow Room, Garris became manager of The Savoy on North Washington. That club recently closed as its owner navigates a billing dispute with DTE Energy.

The Elbow Room reopened this fall under new management.

As of Monday, no response had been been filed to the lawsuit.


Gabriel Heiss

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 : 11 p.m.

I too am one who supported the Elbow Room before, after, and during Andy's reign. Though he brought in more of a much needed clientel (girls!), he gave it more of an A2 feel. This was not surprising seeing how he was a popular bartender at the Alley Bar and many others there. Whether you like the fact that he brought in the hipster element is neither here nor there, but there was a decline in the hard rock 'n' roll which kept the place afloat and people like me supporting(as well as playing and DJing at) during Tina and Tony's management(we always thought they were the actual owners!). Then it closed...and after John, Ryan, and Ryan revived the high energy rock and anything goes feel to the ER, it is once closed again. I was really hoping someone like Leighton Mann would start booking again, so we could return to the days of touring national(Gaza Strippers, Texas Terri, Alabama Thunderpussy) and international(Orange Goblin, The Embrooks) acts with locals opening at the small bar. Mrs. Campbell has all but put the final nail in the coffin of punk rock, etc. in Ypsilanti. As for the Tap Room plugs, we need not just a rock bar, but a rock bar open to other genres and subcultures. Crossroads Bar & Grill at 517 Cross Street anyone?

Pete Murdock

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

@Lorie The real irony is that Bill and Sandee French led the opposition to Andy Garris locating his operation at the Thompson Building (pre-fire). I guess the venue is OK if it's in your building. In any event I wish Hasan, Andy, Bill and Sandy success in this endeavor. See you tonight at Woodruff's.

Andrew Claydon

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

I'm curious how a story like this gets found. Do the lawyers contact or does look through court records to see who is suing who. With that being said, it not news that really effect the community at large. It comes off more as a gossip piece.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Was somebody talking about earlier about how Garris never gets any postive press in Case closed.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

call me crazy but this Garris guy seems to be killing off bars left and right. Several people from that neighborhood fought Beal's plan to put a bar in the Thompson Block building saying that parking was an issue, drunken people wandering the neighborhood would be a problem etc.. Since no parking has been added to the area, is this new bar (with party boy in charge and later hours) going to "ignite the neighborhood"? I find this to whole thing to be ironic.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:26 a.m.

Wow...What a scene. As someone who has spent time, played and enjoyed the "New" Elbow room outside of Andy's managment (I enjoyed it a ton when he was there too!) I can say that they new management is gracious, attentive, and very fun to be around. There is a brand new sound system (top of the line) that doesnt make your ears bleed, new paint job, cleaned up bathrooms and it is night and day from what it was prior. This article makes it seem as though the place is shut down, when in fact, there are a few hard working people trying to make ER reach its potential and it is OPEN! We have a show there Friday night, Dragon Wagon, and would love to highlight what the place has become outside of all the drama. New Holland Brewery will be there all night pouring their liquor selections and four beers on tap. I can not stand how Ypsi is hell bent on shooting itself in the foot. It is a great area full of culture and a ton of fun. We need to support the people trying to make things happen in Ypsi, Ann Arbor and Michigan in general. Sorry to hear about the news Andy. I am sure it will work out and you will come out strong.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

I actually prefered the Elbow Room prior to the arrival of the manager in question as had the sort of character that Tap Room has now...and without all the skinny pants and hipsters.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

It's my understanding, especially from reading the "blogs" (not news stories, mainly) about the Elbow Room closing...esp. The Duece... that the place receives all the coverage because those articles were written by personal friends, patrons and acquaintances of the former manager. The writer of the Deuce article even says so in the article....and in the update. If it's a conspiracy to hold the magnifying glass to the whole fiasco, it seems to be a pretty willing least among fans & supporters of the former manager. The old adage that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" seems to work quite well in relation to keeping the Elbow Room and the other place Savoy well ahead of the curve.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Andy- just so you know, this site is called ann not ann arbor they stoped reporting the news a long time ago. This is about one step above a blog and far from a news source. One sided, incomplete stories with spelling and gramatical errors mixed in with embellished press releases and thinly veiled 'testimonials'. that look like a buch of high school paper writers wrote them. Take it with a grain of salt.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Really I can't imagine why Mr Garris wouldn't talk to! LOL They have already dug a six ft deep hole for him and put out the pine box in previous articles!! I don't know any of the people involved in this case, but the articles on the subject have been nothing more than advertisements for the lawyer Jackson and his client. As this entire episode has been reported from only one side, I don't believe any of it. Reality will play out in court, hopefully. I don't know Mr Garris but because allows people to post unfounded personal attacks against you (as they do with Mr Curtis and his situation) once you speak up, I'd not response to them either.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 3:12 a.m. Look at all of these stories together, and tell me honestly that there doesn't at least appear to be a bias here, and while you're at it point out another business, other than Border's or maybe Zingerman's, that's received this much coverage in


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 12:13 a.m.

AndyYpsilanti: I see no problem with the story. First, a lawsuit is public record, and the Elbowroom was a somewhat popular place. Heck, they filmed part of Drew Barrymore's movie there. Second, as the article mentions, Garris was given the opportunity to respond and choose not to do so. Moreover, the article only states what the lawsuit alleges.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 10:38 p.m.

Seems like someone made off quite well!


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.

kudos to glimmmertwin for noting this great fact: Want to get a good drink and have a good time in Ypsi without the National Enquirer Drama? Patronize the Tap Room.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

@bubble if this was theft, wouldn't there be criminal charges, not a lawsuit? And as I recall, the sale was on hold because either the city or the liquor control commission wanted repairs made to the building first, and that work had not been done.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 6:25 p.m.

Also, looking back on it, almost no one, except those involved, knew that Andy was going to Savoy. There might have been some rumors on the very last night, but the first real mention or announcement was in the "Ace-Deuce" article here, and I was there the whole weekend.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

I would just like to point out that I used to occasionally go to the Elbow Room before Mr. Garris became the manager. I would go there with other college educated young professionals because it was kind of a laid back place and we liked it. I wont dispute that Mr Garris really changed things. I'll even share my opinion that the changes were mostly positive and desired. But seriously, the place wasn't all bums and crack ho's before his arrival.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

$15K in equipment missing? I was in that bar, and it never had any equipment worth that much! But if the owner should find my personal property that was inadvertently left there, perhaps they will return it to me! The former owner, now deceased, never went after the former manager, but now his "estate" is? I don't get it...was Mrs. Campbell aware of the condition of that place prior to Garris coming in? It was a haven for bums, drunks and yes, the occaisonal crack ho. I lived in Ypsilanti for a year plus and wouldn't step foot in that place before Garris cleaned it up, literally both by scope of clients and the physical condition [which was horrendous]. I think AndyYpsilanti has a valid point on the whole one-sided thing. Garris not long after taking over made it a point to make repairs he wasn't responsible for, the big ol' hole in the floor in front of the bar...the dirt and mold was intolerable coming from the room off of the stage.

Bubble world west

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

Lawsuits happen everyday, cause a lot of people aren't honest, take advantage of others, and seek profit. It's hard to call what amounts to a community blog a corporate newspaper or be highly critical of the lack of real news content. This isn't chump change discussed here. This all totals close to or over 300k. That's a lot of money, at least for most folks. Potential theft of this amount seems worthy of a story.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

It's only a "saga" because of's news corp-like reporting on the issue. I'll say it again, disputes and lawsuits happen in business every day, but we don't generally see a series of articles about it, telling only one side of the story, tracing back to the very beginning, well before much fact was known.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 2:36 p.m.

What a soap opera. As all this goes on, their is the Tap Room. A nice, GROWING establishment that is well run and never seems to find itself in the A2 News for scandal. I hope that others realize that and patronize that bar.

Bubble world west

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Always two sides to every story and this is a report on what was stated in the filed lawsuit. I think this must still be news, since the place had a personality involved in running it. When people are alleged to have failed, where they once were doing well....we all know people like to rubber neck. If you have bills to pay, pay them. If you can't make enough money to cover your costs, it isn't a good business model, is it?


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

At 517 W. Cross there is a bar owned by one person that has seen 5 or 6 management and name changes in the last 4-5 years under all sorts of strange circumstances. Haven't seen one story on the goings on there...


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

Oh, hey, a story you've been covering for three months and finally an article that almost qualifies as news. Still and all, this sort of thing (lawsuits between business partners) happen a whole lot. It's just hard to shake the feeling that someone over there at the must have a pretty cozy relationship with Mrs. Campbell or Flagship of Michigan for this bit of gossip to rate so much one sided coverage.