- 1 North Saginaw, Pontiac, MI, 48342
- Overall User Rating:
- (11 ratings)
- 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Wed., 7:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat., open on select Thu. call for dates
- Official Web Site:
Status: Take a dash of collegiate spirit, a healthy dose of alcohol and two smart-talking, easy going pianists and you’ve got JD’s Key Club, one of the area’s first dueling piano bars.
“If you don’t want the typical bar scene, ours is the place to be,” says John DelCampo, who owns the club with his wife Maureen. “To try to describe this club to somebody and have them appreciate what we’ve got is next to impossible.”
JD’s, in the hearty Pontiac party district on North Saginaw, has provided a high-energy, poser-free atmosphere for the last 10 years. “We’ve seen people grow up with the club,” DelCampo says.
JD’s is open Wednesday through Saturday, and cover is $10 for those 18 and older and $6 for those over 21.
Gear: There’s no dress code, so wear what makes you comfortable. Most of the people at JD’s late Saturday night took their cue from the servers who wore khakis pants and various colored Key Club tees and sweatshirts, which are available for purchase. The patrons’ jeans and nondescript shirts fit perfectly with the low stress tone at JD’s, though DelCampo says he has seen some couples dressed to the nines in dresses and suits.
Mood: Imagine you’re at one of the hottest clubs in the area with the flyest people, who, of course, are wearing the latest designer fashions. As they perform some complex, body-grinding moves from an MTV music video, you stand on the sidelines feeling awkward and a little uncool. JD’s is the complete opposite of that.
From the fully functional, no nonsense bar, unvarnished wood floors and deliberately crumbling plastered walls and exposed brick, JD’s screams “all are welcome here.”
Kyle Rhein, 26, of LaPeer took her first trip to Pontiac in years with her husband and a few friends just to take in the atmosphere at JD’s. A self-proclaimed dueling piano lover, Rhein, was so caught up in the excitement of the tinkling sounds from the key strokes that she could barely stop singing to tell us her name and age.
Aaron Ruby, however, was drinking in the quiet of the den-like Coyote Club down below JD’s. “I like the vibe,” says 30-year-old Ruby of Pontiac. “I’m not a clubber. I like to have some peace and quiet and have a drink.”
The Coyote Club is where you’ll find the bathrooms, TVs, pool table and jukeboxes typically found in a bar. “This is where people come to escape the rowdiness,” says 33-year-old bartender Stacie Bartman of Rochester Hills who has worked there for eight years.
Particle board tables are mixed with traditional black café tables, and old fashioned light bulbs cast an orange glow on the rock wall façade and concrete floors.
Every now and then, guitarists will play there to small crowds, DelCampo says.
Pick me up: Food, ranging from bagged chips and pretzels ($1), chips and salsa ($4.50), mini tacos ($6.75) and pizza ($11), is served from 7-9 p.m. in JD's. After 9 p.m., you can buy food for the Coyote Club and bring it upstairs.
Wednesdays feature $1 draft beer, $5 Cruzan rum buckets and $1 off all drinks.
Entertainment: “We appeal to all the different age groups, and the music that is in there isn’t geared toward the 21-year-old or the 81-year-old,” says DelCampo.
The request-driven show allows everyone to enjoy the music that suits their mood that night. Saturday, pianists Marc Doiron and Matt Safrankek played everything from Soulja Boy’s self-titled song to “Heart and Soul” to the Eagle’s “Hotel California.”
You won’t find any big screen at JD’s. The dueling pianos are front and center, DelCampo says. If you want to watch a game, you’ve got to head downstairs to the Coyote Club.