ANN ARBOR - There's a new bar in town, and it's located under the popular Main Street cocktail bar Nightcap.
The owners of Nightcap have decided to give their sophisticated space a rowdier sibling in the basement of 220 S. Main.
Lo-Fi is slated to open Dec. 7, according to co-owners and longtime friends Micah Bartelme and Andy Garris.
Bartelme also owns Babs' Underground and BEVi Bar Catering, and sold nightclub Rush Street on Main back in January. Needless to say, he and Garris are responsible for bringing several hit concepts to Ann Arbor's bar scene.
And Lo-Fi is no exception.
Featuring bright pops of color and a custom neon dragon over the bar, it is in stark contrast to the sleek, modern design of Nightcap.
"Nightcap is seated and hosted," said Bartelme. "It’s a little bit more of an elevated experience. You’re walked in by the host and seated as if you’re coming to dinner. And we designed it that way because we wanted to bring that level of service as well as that environment that people can be comfortable just hanging out and having a quiet chat.
"Lo-Fi is our answer to that. It’s more high energy, it’s a bigger space. It’s a lot more casual and it offers some entertainment. They're separate but together."
Bartelme and Garris worked with the same pair from Synecdoche Design Studio in Ann Arbor who made their vision for Nightcap become a reality.
"We worked with Adam Smith and Lisa Sauve of Synecdoche design again," said Bartelme. "They’ve been great friends and they took our concepts and ideas and put them into real world applications. We love their aesthetic and we work together really well.
"We maximized the space as best we could with the limits. It’s an older, narrow, long building with exactly the same footprint as Nightcap. It is a small room, but we think there are advantages to that as well. It provides great energy. You don’t need 400 people to show up to make it feel like a full show."
The room can accommodate 60 to 70 people, and the owners plan to make it a multiuse entertainment space.
"I think the great thing about Lo-Fi is it offers us a lot of flexibility with what we can do with programing," said Bartelme. "We’d really like to reach a broad spectrum of audiences, depending on what’s going on that night. We’ll use it as an event space, for rental and private parties, but with the meat of our business obviously being our bar happenings and entertainment offerings.
"We’re looking to do everything from comedy and art and book releases to shows with music of all kinds as well as some DJ/dance parties."
Garris will be working on coordinating live shows with local and visiting bands.
"It’s a very exciting time to have a stage back on Main and Liberty," he said. "I think there are very few places for music in town and very few to get from the ground up. How do you get big enough to play the Blind Pig?"
Bartelme and Garris are proud of their establishments and are happy to call Ann Arbor home.
"We're heavily invested in the downtown’s health and wellness, we love being a part of the community of businesses and business owners," said Bartelme. "We find that the city is generally supportive of businesses and merchants and we love it here. That’s why we continue to put money into new businesses and create jobs and opportunities for our staff and new people. We couldn’t be happier."
For Garris, it's the patrons who continue to surprise and inspire him.
"There are faces that I’ve seen since day one and every year there are new people," he said. "You never know who you’re going to see that day. And in Nightcap, we get customers from 21 to 91 years old. It’s amazing."
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