Whether you crave a juicy chargrilled burger, or a sandwich of the vegan variety, PJ’s Lager House in Corktown has something to suit everyone’s diet. Perhaps the best part is that you can enjoy it while listening to some live music.
Music has always been a passion for owner PJ Ryder. He says he started helping out with rock shows when he was in 8th grade, and he even owned a record store in Ann Arbor for a while. After he quit the record store he went on to be a relator selling large houses in Detroit. One day, as he was showing a house to 2 guys when he remarked that they looked like they were in a band. Turns out it was Jack White from the White Stripes.
“I was like, ' oh my god,’” says Ryder. “I was only 8 years out of my record store business and I did not recognize the biggest rock star in Detroit. I said I needed to get back to music.”
So that’s how he wound up owning PJ’s Lager House. The place was already hosting live musical performances and had two stages and a good sound system, so he just took it over in 2007 and expanded the music program.
You can see his music memorabilia all over the walls, but you can also spot some homages to the building’s history. It was built in 1914, and according to what people have told Ryder, it was always a bar, even during prohibition. It was also a popular hangout for the Irish Catholic politicians and teamsters.
Besides expanding the live performances, Ryder also added food to the menu. Initially, he wanted to serve food from New Orleans, as that is his favorite kind of food to eat, but his staff convinced him to add some vegan and vegetarian dishes to the menu as well. Ryder says it really paid off as there are not a ton of options for vegans and vegetarians in the area, and his chefs are experts and making dishes meat-free.
Popular dishes include their jambalaya (which you can get with meat or vegan), their shrimp po’boy, and their many delicious burgers. They also are well known for serving brunch and have recently decided to open earlier for breakfast Monday through Friday as well. On their brunch menu, you will find their Korean Corned Beef hash where they saute the corned beef in a spicy gochujang sauce. The Chef’s personal favorite breakfast dish is the vegan biscuits and gravy. The gravy is made with vegan meat and mushrooms to give it a savory taste, and it is served with scrambled tofu seasoned with turmeric and cumin filled with sautéed veggies, and home fries.
For the full story, watch the video above. If you want to try out PJ’s Lager House they are located at 1254 Michigan Avenue in Corktown Detriot.