Detroit's storied Lindell AC sports bar returns as pop-up 

  • Courtesy of Melodies & Memories/Detroit Historical Society

Before it was razed, Detroit's Lindell Athletic Club was a favorite watering hole for athletes, celebrities, and fans. And for one night only, Detroiters will have an opportunity to relive it.

"The Lindell," as it was affectionately known, will be resurrected as a pop-up on Saturday, March 16 at the Detroit Historical Museum to mark the opening of the museum's new exhibition, Lindell AC: America's First Sports Bar. The evening's festivities include photos and memorabilia recovered from the bar, sports trivia, catering from Midtown's Royale with Cheese, and a screening of the documentary film Meet Me at the Lindell.

Tickets are $75 for Detroit Historical Society members or $100 for guests and available here. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Detroit Historical Museum. The exhibition will be up until September.

The bar got its start when Greek immigrant Meleti Butsicaris purchased it in 1949 along with his sons Johnny and Jimmy when it was part of the Lindell hotel, and in 1963, the Butsicaris family relocated the bar down the street. According to a 1999 Detroit News article, "it was nicknamed the Lindell 'A.C.' — for Lindell Athletic Club — by legendary Detroit News sports columnist Doc Greene, who was poking fun at the highbrow Detroit Athletic Club. The name stuck as owners Jimmy and Johnny Butsicaris presided over one of the most famous sports-oriented saloons around."

The Butsicaris family decorated its walls with photos and sports memorabilia, and it quickly became a favorite for visiting athletes and celebrities, including Muhammad Ali and Jayne Mansfield. According to local lore, at one time a baby elephant was even invited to the bar where it made a huge mess — apparently, elephants shouldn't drink Coca-Cola.

The Lindell closed in 2002, where hundreds of people reportedly packed the bar for last call.

Get our top picks for the best events in Detroit every Thursday morning. Sign up for our events newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation