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Posted on Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Former Goodnite Gracie bar in downtown Ann Arbor reopens under new ownership

By Lizzy Alfs

The former Goodnite Gracie bar on Huron and First streets in downtown Ann Arbor reopened last month with a different name and an updated look after local bar owners acquired the business earlier this year.

Owners Adam Lowenstein, Justin Herrick, Robbie Schulz and Paul Drennan -- who are also partners of downtown Ann Arbor restaurants and bars BTB Burrito, Alley Bar and Good Time Charley’s -- purchased both Goodnite Gracie and the connected bar Live at PJ’s in January.

They have since transformed the roughly 8,000-square-foot connected space into two separate bars: LIVE and The Last Word, which is named after a 1920s cocktail from the Detroit Athletic Club.


The former Live at PJ's reopened as LIVE under new owners.

Angela Cesere |


The Last Word specializes in craft cocktails with fresh herbs, fresh squeezed juices, bitters and other homemade ingredients.

Angela Cesere |

Following minor renovations to update the space, LIVE reopened in February with the following weekly lineup: a new live music showcase on Wednesdays, grad night on Thursdays, the live music happy hour tradition Friday evenings, and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.

And so far, the owners said, the feedback has been positive.

The Last Word, which has its own entrance off Huron Street, reopened a few weeks ago after the owners transformed the space by removing one of the stages, replacing the seating and rearranging the layout.

From candles on the tables, to a bookshelf and framed pictures lining the walls, the owners are trying to create an intimate, conversational atmosphere.

“The room and the whole feel of the place is supposed to be this warm, comfortable feeling that you can feel at home in,” Lowenstein said.

To help create that environment, they plan on only allowing 96 customers inside at any given time, which is the bar’s seating capacity.

The Last Word still has a small stage with a piano, and the bar might host solo musicians or small bands every once in a while.

But the main focus, the owners said, are the craft cocktails.

“We’re mostly trying to have a craft cocktail bar and the music will always be somewhat secondary,” Herrick said.

Drennan added: “[Schulz] and I are both beverage geeks. It was definitely a niche in Ann Arbor to explore a little more complicated drinks than people are used to.”

The bar’s craft cocktails range in price from $7 to $14, and there is also a wide selection of bottled beer available and a still-in-development wine list. But Drennan also assured customers: “If you want a Jack and Coke, you can absolutely get that.”

The price of the craft cocktails, Drennan said, reflects the "quality and cost of the ingredients."

Among the ingredients in some of the made-from-scratch cocktails: fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice, fresh ginger and herbs, balsamic and rosemary syrup and bitters.

The owners also plan on adding appetizers and bar snacks to the menu in the coming weeks, such as nuts, cheeses, meat and olives.

The Last Word’s current hours are 7 p.m. - 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. LIVE is open 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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



Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

"It was definitely a niche in Ann Arbor to explore a little more complicated drinks than people are used to." May be a niche because there are only a few places doing it in town but I wouldn't say these guys created the niche. First place in town making their own ingredients, infused vodkas, smoking cherries, blah blah.., was Sava's. Alley Bar was next (these guys) then Raven. Although I hear Raven thinks they introduced craft cocktails to AA. Place looks great though, will definitely check the place out.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

So what's the big deal? I've saw bars come and go, and as a local, I hated these particular establishments anyway. The 8Ball, where you can hang and play darts or pool with the locals. These commercial high priced fancy pants bars are way over priced, and too many inflated ego's.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

I think a certain crowd is willing to pay the extra to not be amongst those who've "saw" bars come and go, end sentences without their verb, and randomly abuse the apostrophe.

Nora S.

Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

We checked it out last night. Jazz trio on stage was great. Cocktail was very good. We'll go again.


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 6:22 a.m.

" Craft cocktails" = grossly overpriced drinks. Fake bar... boo!


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

what makes one bar real and another bar fake?


Sat, Mar 10, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.

Maybe I'm being picky but if as according to the headline "Goodnite Gracie bar reopens" wouldn't the name of the place be "Goodnite Gracie"?

Alison Herrick

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

BEST DRINKS in Ann Arbor! So inventive! Great place to mingle and imbibe!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

I think utilizing this place for small combo modern jazz would bring a lot of business in. KCH and the Raven are always packed on nights they feature jazz, and having a consistent jazz lineup, not to mention the drink menu, would add to (recreate?) Ann Arbor's much needed jazz presence.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Looks like they are already on this..I have been there for a few Jazz nights already

Dr. I. Emsayin

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Locals love the Friday night bands!

wolfman jack

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Much prefer the quiet bar. There are plenty of music venues. Better for those of us who would rather have miles on the stereo than squawnk of the blowholes on stage. (squawnk and the blowholes are friends of mine).

Dr. I. Emsayin

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

The Happy Hour Bands, that is!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 2 p.m.

how long will it last?


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Until people stop drinking alcohol probably.

Ben Connor Barrie

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

I just stopped by The Last Word for the first time last night. It was pretty nice. Expensive cocktails, affordable beer. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Ben Connor Barrie

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

The cocktails were delicious though.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Interesting tranformation, the trade off appears to be much more comfortable seating and lighting versus the larger stage and music format. Assuming those music acts find gigs close by, I don't mind the change and will eventually check it out.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Might the new Last Word consider providing a venue for the groups that used to play at the sadly now-defunct Firefly? If this club will host Easy Street and Phil Ogilvie's Rhythm Kings regularly, I bet that many of us (mostly the not-so-young set) who miss hearing them will come and spend money at the establishment. Otherwise, I know that I'm unlikely to patronize the place, and I expect that the other former Firefly (and Bird) regulars are, also. Inasmuch as there's no place left in A2 or anywhere nearby serving trad jazz fans, seems like this ought to sound like an opportunity to businesspeople looking to expand their customer base.


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

I think this The Last Word will be great for folks who just want a quiet drink and conversation, without a lot of loud music and noise in the background. Great concept!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

"We're mostly trying to have a craft cocktail bar and the music will always be somewhat secondary," Herrick said. So it's a place to go get expensively schnockered, but not necessarily entertained? Was this the place that shafted Laith Al Saadi?


Wed, Mar 14, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

@Dutchy734: Thanks for the info. That's good to know!


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

That was the previous owners, just ask him


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.