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Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Grizzly Peak owners preparing to open the Old German by early July

By Lizzy Alfs


Greg Lobdell, Chet Czaplicka and Jon Carlson are opening the Old German in the basement of downtown Ann Arbor's Grizzly Peak.

Melanie Maxwell |

Related coverage: Grizzly Peak owners plan to revive the Old German in restaurant's basement

The owners of more than a dozen Michigan restaurants and bars are hoping to revive a long-lost piece of Ann Arbor when they open the Old German on West Washington Street this summer.


The owners of Grizzly Peak doubled the restaurant's brewing capacity to prepare for the Old German. Pictured here: Assistant brewer Mike Bardallis.

Melanie Maxwell |

Jon Carlson, Chet Czaplicka and Greg Lobdell plan to open their version of the Old German bar, which closed in downtown 18 years ago, in the basement of their Grizzly Peak Brewing Company by early July. The three partners, along with a number of other investors, own several downtown Ann Arbor restaurants, including Lena, Blue Tractor and Jolly Pumpkin.

Renovations are underway on the roughly 2,400-square-foot basement space below Grizzly Peak, where crews started installing lighting and trim work this week. Grizzly Peak’s brewing capacity was doubled to prepare for the new bar.

The Old German will have a bar and lounge atmosphere that emphasizes German beer culture, Carlson said. It will have about 14 beers on draft.

“This is a tribute back to the Old German and that heritage of Ann Arbor,” Czaplicka said. “Bud (Metzger) was a really nice guy.”


The Old German, pictured from South Ashley Street, closed in 1995 when it was sold to Carlson and Czaplicka.

Ann Arbor District Library archives

The Old German first opened downtown in 1928, according to an Ann Arbor Observer article from 1995. Bud’s father, Fritz Metzger, purchased the Old German in 1946 — years after his brother opened a similar German restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor called Metzger’s, which is now located on Zeeb Road.

Carlson and Czaplicka replaced the Old German at 120 W. Washington St. with Grizzly Peak in 1995.

“(Bud Metzger) and I shook hands. I was only 24-years-old and it was my first real business deal,” Carlson recalled. “(Bud) gave us the price of the building and the business and we didn’t negotiate. It was fair.”

The new Old German bar will pay homage to the original, and Carlson said they have been working to collect pictures of the original restaurant and of Bud Metzger to hang on the wall. A wrought iron Old German sign will mimic the old one, and stones from the original restaurant are being used to build booth areas.


Stones from the original Old German are being used to build booth areas in the new bar.

Melanie Maxwell |

“We are kind of pack rats and we do save everything,” Carlson said. “Although, when (Grizzly Peak) opened up, we never thought we were going to do a basement concept. As Ann Arbor continued to grow, we realized basement concepts do well.”

In addition to reviving the Old German, Carlson and his partners recently opened two basement concepts: mash below Blue Tractor, and the new Cafe Habana underneath Lena.

Carlson said the Old German’s food menu will be limited, although it will include the potato salad recipe from the original restaurant. The bar will have its own entrance off South Ashley Street.

The goal is to open the Old German before July 4, Carlson said.

See also: For more information on the Old German, check out this 1995 article from the Ann Arbor Observer.

There are some copies of an Old German cookbook collection, made by a former server and the chef, available on Amazon.

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


Sven Gustafson

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Every Saturday my father and I would have lunch at the Old German and sit at the large, round wooden table where strangers who wanted a communal experience would sit. It was great fun and a unique experience that today is all too rare, in my opinion. I always ate a meat-patty sandwich on dark pumpernickel that I ordered off-menu (I was young and still a fussy eater), and I amused myself by examining the elaborate beer steins lining the shelves high up on the walls. Glad to hear they're bringing it back and adding homemade beer -- hopefully they focus on some German pilsners and kolsch and the like.


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

PLEASE don't use the same light bulbs that Mash does. They are a literal pain to look at.

James J. Gould

Mon, May 27, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

The Old German deserves a lot more than a basement hide-a-way ! That was Ann Arbor's best German eatery by far and has been sorely missed. I hope at least they will have a real German chef who knows REAL German food and how to prepare it properly. And would it be too much to ask for REAL German wheat bier and not the poor excuse home brews offered upstairs. I look forward to trying the new place out. Hopefully it will meet our expectations and not be another overpriced disappointment as so many other places have turned out. Good luck guys. May your Schnitzles be pounded thin enough and your Saurbraten be spicy enough to warrant our support !


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

German meat patties and Spatzen were my favorites at the Old German. Bud was also a class act. Good Luck to the Grizz group!


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

Kyle I think you are missing my point. Brio is not just an upscale Olive Garden, yes it is franchised, everything is made on the premises. Bread is fresh, crackers they make are fresh, deserts are fresh. It does not take whole lot to make good meal and great service. Sometimes one ruins the other. Yes I do agree with with there more options. AA really is student town that is how the merchants and restaurants look at it. I guess I am an old lady like her coffee fresh, and service with a smile.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

This sentence bothers me. I was looking forward to Old German food, not only the bar. Carlson said the Old German's food menu will be limited, although it will include the potato salad recipe from the original restaurant.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

There are a lot of really bad restaurants in Ann Arbor, you notice when you go out of town. I'd a lunch yesterday at Somerset Mall restaurant called BRIO. Check it out, really great Italian food and pasta of course. Getting back to some of these restaurants mentioned, before these owners keep opning up a new ones like an assembly line they need to train their servers. I've always had to wait a lot for my food. Quality have gone down so much.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Brio is apart of a franchise/chain ala an upscale Olive Garden. I'm actually sort of surprised there is not a location near Briarwood. I think every town has its good and bad restaurants, but usually making that call on a specific is usually personal opinion and varies from one diner to another depending on personal tastes, budget, diet, etc etc. What I appreciate the most here in Ann Arbor regarding the dining scene is the concentration of so many options ranging from national chains to niche fare prepared by local entrepreneurs to choose from. As a result, if you don't like one restaurant you can usually find one that does fit what you're looking for.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Frequently go to Grizzly. Delicious food and tasty beers! I will definitely check out the new digs!


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

"The new Old German..." That should be the name of the place.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.



Thu, May 23, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

I have found the food at these guys' restaurants marginal at best-always the cheapest ingredients. Not expecting any better with the new place.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

Hey PattyinYpsi, no one was talking about jolly pumpkin... We are discussing Grizzly Peak. Anyhow, I restate my opinion that the beer at GP sucks.

Top Cat

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

I agree. I've given up on GP and Blue Tractor. I enjoy the beer and food much more at Arbor Brewing. Red Rock in Ypsi is it for BBQ.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

Emphatically agree. I've given Blue Tractor, Grizzly, Habana more chances than I should have. Their beer is wildly mediocre and the BBQ is so white, it's bland. This town deserves to have better beer than that. Short's save our palette! Then again this town seems to love mediocre. Nearly every restaurant is. I was speaking to a customer of mine who worked there & she said that the brewmaster was frustrated in not being able to order the ingredients he wanted to use, thwarted by mgmt. I don't doubt it. Quality + Service =Profits. Start over.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Have to disagree with you. Jolly Pumpkin is one of my favorite Ann Arbor restaurants. I've been there many times and have always found the food to be fresh and delicious and the service very good to excllent.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Agreed. The best thing on the GP menu is the cheddar ale soup. The staff is always belittling as well. Last time we asked for bread, the staff actually berated us and told us, "next time you should tell the server beforehand so we don't have to make two trips". The food at Habana was not good at all. I hope that they finally have a better beer selection for those who do not like their in house brews. PBR is the only beer available if you don't want to drink their terrible lagers.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

As a loyal patron of the original Old German, I'm looking forward to the opening of the new one.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

Very exciting. Grizzly Peak is a gem and these fellows have done great with Habana and Mash. I expect good things from this.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

I have a feeling it will better than that German Bar on main...that place is horrible.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Spaetzle, black bread, red cabbage, rouladen !


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.



Thu, May 23, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

I was raised to call it spatzen and pumpernickel, but its all good no matter what you call it. Looking forward to taking my kids in for some braised hossenfeffer!

Paprika Z

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

What's the name of the architect involved with the project? Someone had to design the space, make sure it complies with building codes, etc.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I'm more interested to know who the lucky person was that got to carry those rocks down the stairs! :)


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

Hopefully they will fill it with Gem├╝tlichkeit.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

Hip, hip hooray. Will be more than happy to check it out when it opens. And continued best wishes to these young gentlemen for their continued success with their restaurants. Have been to several and enjoyed them thoroughly.