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Tommy's Detroit Bar & Grill gears up for hockey season traffic

A new awning helps Tommy's grab the attention of people downtown.
A new awning helps Tommy's grab the attention of people downtown.
Ken Welsch

Rule No. 1 in attracting customers: make sure they know you're there.

Tommy's Detroit Bar & Grill, tucked in a low-traffic corner of downtown Detroit that sees little action when the Red Wings aren't in-season, turned to the basics this summer in an effort to gain traction in the space long occupied by Mac's on Third.

Leading the changes were the additions of a black and orange awning and building signage, both visible to Fort Street travelers who happen to glance toward the Joe down Third Street. At the same time, Tommy's made aesthetic improvements by enhancing the aging building's facade.

Nothing like a little facelift to give a place a new identity.

It's fair to question whether those changes alone will be enough to give Tommy's a better fate than Mac's, which is why the current owner isn't relying solely on a new exterior to keep the place afloat. For example, in an attempt to warm up to the student crowd from neighboring WCCCU, Tommy's has plans to tweak its backroom to feature lounge-style seating, coffee tables and WiFi service. Those changes, along with an improved build-your-own-burger lunch menu, helped Tommy's stave off the dog days of summer to get them where they are today, riding the natural tide of success from the Tigers and Lions on the other side of town, and eager for the swarm that they hope will accompany the neighboring Wings and their 40-plus home game schedule.

Fans heading to the Joe no doubt have their favorite haunts in the southwest corner of downtown Detroit, most notably the Anchor or Cobo Joe's. But Tommy's is worth a look, and anybody familiar with the former Mac's on Third might be a little surprised to find out just how much a tiny, red-brick bar can change in a few months.


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