Status: The age of the bar is a mystery, but that’s about the only ambiguity this Detroit mainstay holds.
“At the Bronx, we don’t really do anything. It’s kind of our deal,” said 37-year-old Paul Howard who owns the 1,500-square-foot dive bar on the corner of Second and Prentis with brother-in-law Scott Lowell. “Part of what we do is no surprises -- no special nights, no drink specials, no happy hour.”
Howard and Lowell, who have owned the Bronx Bar on the Wayne State campus for 10 years, estimate that it opened in 1937, but “we’ve never been able to figure out for sure,” Howard said.
Gear: “It’s a real casual dress code,” said General Manager Paul Flis. “People in their pajamas come in here for a Bloody Mary. It’s real informal for sure.”
No one among the handful of people at the bar Thursday was rocking the jammies, but they were wearing jeans, sweatshirts and other laid-back gear.
Mood: The Bronx is old, but that shouldn’t be confused with being rundown or dirty.
While the 90-person bar has remained largely unchanged over the years, there have been a few cosmetic alterations like new paint and landscaping. A patio was added last year.
“The clientele changes. The neighborhood has gone from worse to better, but the Bronx -- the Bronx hasn’t really changed,” said a daytime bartender who goes by Charleen. She has worked at the bar for about 35 years.
Flis added, “It’s always been kind of the younger hipster and students, but with the neighborhood changing, we’re getting a lot more business people from the area.”
A mismatch of fringe, felt and stained-glass light fixtures hang throughout the bar, and though it’s March, colored Christmas lights hang in a window. Assorted lamps decorate the wood bar top, and tchotchkes add whimsy to the Bronx.
“The atmosphere is really chilled out,” said Bronx regular Catherine Morin, 23, of Detroit who decided to grab a drink with her purse-sized dog Ella. “Everyone is nice, super friendly and warm.”
Pick me up: The Bronx is your basic shot-and-beer bar, Flis said. “We don’t do anything real fancy. We don’t even have martini glasses. You want wine, you get it in a high-ball glass.”
You can get simple mixed drinks like a rum and coke, and there is a Bloody Mary bar from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Most drinks are between $3.50 and $5.50, and food will run you $3.50 to $7.
“We’ve got pretty good food,” Flis said. “It’s typically bar food -- burgers, fries, fried food and sandwiches. Nothing too fancy, but it’s not super plain. We’re known for the burgers here, and our food portions are pretty big for what you pay for it.”
While slinging bar basics, the Bronx also offers ingredients like avocados, fresh spinach and eggs.
“We get good produce and fresh-baked bread,” Howard said. “We just try to keep it fresh.”
Entertainment: The main source of entertainment besides a solitary pool table is the jukebox.
“It’s a place where people come and meet their friends and hang,” Howard said. “We don’t have televisions, so it keeps everybody’s focus from being on the televisions. It facilitates an atmosphere where people resort to conversations.”