- 27676 Harper, St. Clair Shores, MI
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- 7:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat. and Sun.
Status: The blue façade of Grissom’s Pub in St. Clair Shores is only a memory now, but new memories — of family gatherings, holidays and drinks with the guys — are being made at the Butter Run Saloon.
Butter Run opened Nov. 19 in the former Grissom’s location at 11 Mile and Harper after an 18-month renovation by owner David Harden. The lifelong resident of St. Clair Shores stripped the building to its bare bones, replaced the plumbing and electrical systems and installed all the tile and woodwork himself.
“I wanted to do something unique for the community,” says Harden who named the bar after a family tradition that began with his grandparents. “One year, Grandpa gathered everyone who was of age, and we had a butter run,” he recalls. “We went down the street and got a pound of butter and went next door to Pat O’Brien’s. Ever since that day, whenever the brothers get together, we go on butter runs, which is going out for a drink.”
Harden’s daughter Shannon Goodwin recalled that her father “hit a few bumps in the road with this place, but he never gave up.”
“This is what he was meant to do,” Goodwin continues. “I can tell you my dad put his blood and sweat and tears into this place. He wanted a place where people could be comfortable and have fun. He wanted a family atmosphere, and I think he’s really accomplished that. I’ve never been more proud of my dad.”
Gear: “Comfort” is the word to keep in mind when you get dressed to spend an evening at Butter Run. There are no bright lights, and there’s no dance floor or room to strut. On a recent evening, Harden stuck with the tried-and-true combo of jeans and a button-up shirt, while Goodwin wore jeans and a flowing blouse. Country superstar Toby Keith made a quick stop at the bar on a recent Friday night and showed up wearing a cowboy hat, plaid button-up shirt and jeans.
Mood: The 1,300-square-foot Butter Run is filled from top to bottom with items Harden has collected over the years.
“Everything you see in here is from our house growing up, from his obsession with collecting things and antiquing,” says Goodwin, 31, of Grosse Pointe Woods. “Coming in here reminds me of being home.”
Vintage signs hang from the walls. Glass display cases and a row of shadow-box tables showcase themed collections that include Vernors, Faygo and Strohs memorabilia, items from Chippewa Valley (where Harden went to school) and diecast model cars. A tin ceiling adds to the eclectic décor.
“I knew this place before it became (Butter Run),” said 54-year-old Chuck Tanghe of St. Clair Shores as he sat at the packed bar and nursed a drink recently. “It’s just a total changeover. (Harden) did a wonderful job. The ambiance is unbelievable. It’s very new, but I think it will be very successful.”
The long 72-person bar was crammed from front to back on a recent Friday night, so crammed, in fact, that the row of windows facing Harper fogged up as more warm bodies began crowding the space.
“I’ve been a resident of St. Clair Shores for forever, and I’ve been coming to this bar for 30 years, and I’ve never seen this bar look like it has at this time,” Tanghe said. “It’s phenomenal.”
Tina Allen, 46, and her husband recently bought a house just three blocks from the Butter Run, and she called the establishment “the best ‘Cheers’ bar I could ever imagine. I love it. I’m very excited. … It’s unbelievable what he did to this place.”
Pick me up: Though the bar opens at 7:30 a.m. during the week, breakfast is served only on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu includes appetizers, burgers, soups, salads and sandwiches. Prices range from $3.95 for a side salad to $8.95 for a French dip sandwich. Butter Run also offers a full bar and flights of beer, wine and scotch.
Entertainment: Flat-screen TVs hang throughout the bar, and Harden says he may offer acoustic music in the future. The bar has a second level, but he hasn’t yet decided what to do with it.