The comparison to Boston’s fictional Cheers bar may seem a bit corny to some, but it’s definitely a direction Jim Geary, owner of one of the newest pubs in Detroit, wants to go.
“Without being cheesy, that’s kind of the idea anytime you open a neighborhood pub – this is going to be the kind of place you go to and it feels comfortable. It feels like it’s right,” Geary says.
Woodbridge Pub, on Trumbull across from the Wayne State University athletic field, opened its doors Sept. 8 and has been receiving favorable reviews from customers since.
For Dorthy Tene Redmond, who visited Woodbridge Pub for the first time last week, the Cheers association is right on. “It’s a place where you can come and everybody knows your name. You look around and see everybody. It’s a cool place to hang out. It’s diverse and you can get a meal.”
“It’s a testament to the neighborhood that we have so many different groups,” says Geary, who turned an abandoned party store into a friendly, laid-back pub after realizing that every time he wanted something to do, he had to leave his Woodbridge neighborhood. “My targets are really neighborhood people, pro-Detroiters, Wayne State people and young professionals.”
The pub is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
Suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt – anything goes here.
“Every time I feel like leaving Detroit, I see something like this pop up and I feel like there’s hope,” says Drake Phifer. “I think this is just the beginning for this neighborhood because it’s rich in culture.”
The open venue with soothing mint-green walls, wall-to-ceiling French-style windows facing Trumbull and the rich, warm welcoming woody bar creates a comfortable vibe. Photographs by local artists line two of the walls and a copper-colored tin ceiling provides contrast to the concrete floor.
“I thought about it long and hard when I was doing my business model and it’s definitely a come one come all (place),” Geary says. “We have every walk of life.”
His first bar, Geary, who moved to the Detroit area in 2000, wanted to make the Woodbridge Pub feel as though it’s always been there.
“I think it’s a big step forward as far as putting our neighborhood on the map. As far as being known to anyone outside of Detroiters, (the Woodbridge area is) not like any of the so-called hot spots. Now we have a hook to hang our hat on.”
Pick me up
The full bar features more than 40 beers and an abundance of drinks averaging $3. The menu features soups, sandwiches, burgers, sides, pizzas, pastas and desserts.
“I intentionally tried to steer anyway from traditional pub food,” Geary says. “We don’t make deep-fried fattened food.”
In fact, there is no microwave or deep fryer at Woodbridge where the vegetarian selections, like the Jam-U-Wilds Mushroom and Goat Cheese pizza -- with criminis, portabella and shiitake mushrooms with pesto-spiked Alfredo sauce and a blend of mozzarella and goat cheeses ($7) -- may even tempt some hard-core carnivores.
Several menu items pay respect to some of the people that helped make Woodbridge Pub possible. The Stevers McFever black bean burger with avocados, marinated tomatoes, caramelized onions and balsamic glaze ($8) was named after Geary’s friend Steve who helped him build Woodbrige Pub while Jim’s Pepper with jalapeno cream cheese, roasted red pepper, bean sprouts and walnuts served on thick wheat berry bread ($6) is self titled.
Besides the local artwork on the wall and the occasional art showing where customers can buy the work, you and your friends provide your own entertainment.
“I like the idea of having more space in the neighborhood for people to have exposure to other things that are going on in Detroit,” Geary says of the art at Woodbridge. “I think Detroit is very cool and very trendsetting as far as the arts go. Not a lot of restaurants and bars around are without art. It’s really just kind of a double positive, I get to show people’s work and I get to have people’s stuff on my walls.”