Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tom's Tavern - Detroit

Tom's Tavern 
Detroit, Michigan

A favorite watering hole for students and
alumni of nearby University of Detroit Mercy.

Prohibition was in full effect and W. Seven Mile Rd. in Detroit was a dirt road when founder Tom Lucas bought this little frame building and opened his "house bar" in 1928.

During its more than 80 years of existence, Tom's still stands, still thrives, despite a seemingly never-ending series of problems. Over the last dozen years it has endured and overcome deterioration from age and weather, fire, break-ins, cut water and gas lines, vandalism by scrap metal scavengers, and most recently an automobile crashing into the front wall that fataly injured a woman on the sidewalk. Its miraculous, yet always tenuous, survival is largely due to the steadfast loyalty of its customers. Whenever the place's existence has been threatened, they have come to its aid providing funds, materials, labor, or whatever was needed. The fragile frame has been repaired and rebuilt so many times that there isn't anything plumb, square or level in the place.

During the 1950s all the neighboring businesses on Seven Mile Rd.called it an eyesore and wanted it demolished. Today, they're all gone, and Tom's has outlive them all. One of the most popular times of year at the bar is the annual celebration of Babe Ruth's birthday. On other - more quiet and less auspicious - days, current owner Ron Gurdjian, who bought the bar from Lucas in 2001, is fond of retelling stories he heard from Lucas about prohibition, like how the infamous Purple Gang would supply its booze in a black limousine.

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