A Night at Aubree's
Mark Grow

Every time I go back to my hometown, I take a trip to Depot Town, an historic railroad area in downtown Ypsilanti. There my mind is focused on my favorite pub, Aubree's. From the moment I step out of my car and walk toward this beautiful two-story red brick building, I am given the greatest invitation. Aubree's green candy cane awnings, which hover over windows dressed in neon welcome signs and beer specials, greet me. As I reach for Aubree's gold-plated handle, the moon hits me from behind like it has known me for years. I push open the old solid oak door, which is like a touch back to the 1870s, when Aubree's originally served as the Carr Hotel. I step inside onto the enameled ruddy brown wood floor,and I am engulfed by the scent of stale tobacco, hot grease, fresh meat off the grill and close to a hundred different colognes and perfumes.

In the middle of the large dimly-lit room sits a dark tan solid oak bar which wraps itself in a U-shape around a small tower of mirrors. Two thirty-two inch color TV's are attached to the mirrors, one showing a basketball game of the Detroit Pistons punishing the Dallas Mavericks and the other showing an interactive trivia game by NTN. Many unfamiliar faces pack the place, and as I go to sit down on what I already know as a butt-numbing hard oak chair at the bar, I see a familiar face. I come across him quite often, but I do not know him. It seems he likes this place as much as I do, maybe even more. He is an older white man who sits and talks with the bartenders and enjoys his pack of cigarettes and twelve ounce bottles of Budweiser. He wears a Jamaican-pride striped hat over the nappy gray dreadlocks that rest on the shoulders of his tie-dyed shirt. Off behind, sitting in front of a multi-colored wall of bricks, are black cherry oak booths with black leather padding on the back rests; these run down the north and south ends of the building.

This place has some of the cutest girls. Most of the girls, wearing different colored short
plaid skirts with matching company t-shirts, walk around talking and taking food and drink orders from the customers. There are two female bartenders behind the bar, both very attractive and wearing very little make-up, tight blue jeans and t-shirts like the other waitresses. One of the
bartenders is mixing a drink for a customer, while I notice she is about five-foot ten inches tall with a petite body and long straight golden blonde hair to the middle of her back and emerald green eyes. The other bartender is short, about five-foot six inches with curly brown hair to her shoulders and chocolate brown eyes. She asks, "Would you like a drink or something to eat?"

I order my favorite dish, a marinated chicken sandwich with crisp lettuce, minus tomato on toasted white buttered bread and fries. I also order an ice-cold twenty-five ounce mug perfectly filled to the rim with a Miller Lite draft special. Each bite and sip leaves my tongue tingling with excitement, as juices from the chicken and sweet yeast from the draft special keep me wanting more. When I am about finished with my meal, I hear a train passing by blowing its horn. I know right away I am getting a "Train Wreck," which is a free shot named after a derailment in 1939 that destroyed the depot. Every time a train comes by, the waitresses walk around with cases of the free shot. After I finish my free shot and pay for my bill, I head upstairs to Sticks Bar.

Walking up the heavily-worn green carpeted stair-case, I tap my knuckles on the hard oak paneling on the wall. Halfway up the stairs I hear cheering throughout the whole building, as the Pistons beat the Mavericks. A big glowing multi-colored sign of pool cues and striped balls welcomes me at the top of the stairs. Directly in front of me the cherry oak railing encases an
elevated landing where the dark tan solid oak bar sits with twelve matching bar stools in front. There is barely any room to walk on the oak wood floor. I try to make my way to the bar, but I have to shuffle my feet through the huge crowd. Looking outward from the bar, from the left side of the room there are shiny solid oak tables and chairs that wrap around the main room. There are also two sixty-inch color big screen TV's on each side of the room. I walk around the room hoping I would run into someone I know. No such luck. In addition to the loudness of everyone speaking at once, I hear the cracking of pool balls. I decide to check out the next room where the billiards are and take a glimpse. As I step onto the bright green carpet, I see that every pool table is taken by couples and groups of best friends, partying and having a good time. Immediately I wish I could go sit outside at the Tiki Rooftop Bar, which is situated in back of Sticks out on a wide-open heated balcony. Although it has a nice bar and is heated by five tall kerosene heaters, I know that it is not open until the middle of March.

I finally walk back downstairs. I start remembering all the good times I have had, times that make me always come back: playing pool with good friends, singing karaoke, hanging out with people I have not seen in a long time, and, of course, the great food. Then as I walk towards the old oak door and reach for the gold-plated handle, I am thinking, "There will be many more good nights at Aubree's."

The structure that now houses Aubree's has been designated a National Historic Building. It has seen many incarnations since its construction in the 1870s when it was the Carr Hotel, a layover for weary stagecoach travelers along the Detroit-Chicago route. Later, it became the Neat House, Dad's Tavern and the Oliverhouse which had rooms on the second floor for travelers and a first floor saloon. Unfortunately, the sun went down on its saloon days with Prohibition, but promptly rose again in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed.

In 1972, Bill and Sandee French took over, renovated and opened what is now Aubree's, a popular lunch and dinner spot for everyone from EMU students to professionals. Aubree's offers indoor and outdoor dining, a full service bar, game room and a friendly wait staff. A trip upstairs takes you to Sticks Pool & Pub where you can shoot pool, chill out with a drink or sneak out the back door to The Tiki Rooftop Bar.



The written and visual works in Mid-Michigan Remembers-Stories about Us were chosen on the basis of their quality, diversity, community interest and appeal. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the College. This space is provided as a service by Delta College.