Music Menu’s fading notes

They say that all good things must end someday. Autumn leaves must fall. But don’t you know that it hurts me so to say goodbye to you. Wish you didn’t have to go …

—“A Summer Song,” Chad & Jeremy

We know that wistful lyric from the ’60s ballad is beyond syrupy, but it sums up News Hits’ sentiments upon learning that a beloved Greektown institution, the Music Menu, has been sold.

The business’ owners — two sets of brothers, Rick and Scott Pinkerton, and Gordon and Glenn Novak — expect to hand the esteemed blues venue over to Trappers Properties LLC in late January. Rick Pinkerton says the partners have reached a sales agreement in principle, with paperwork yet to be signed.

Principals in Trappers Properties are Jim Papas and Ted Gatzaros, says Greg Bowens, spokesman for the pair. Bowens says Trappers already owns the building, so in essence is purchasing a business that has been a tenant.

There’s no definitive word on whether the new owners will keep the prime Monroe Street space as a club, or if it will remain the important live music venue it’s been.

It’s been a great 10 years, Pinkerton says, but what started as a labor of love has lost too much of its luster.

“It’s never really made a profit, and after so many years, it was just time to move on,” Pinkerton says, his voice tinged with a mixture of sadness and relief. “The economy hasn’t been great lately, as everyone knows.”

The owners were all childhood friends who grew up in the same neighborhood in Westland.

“We just thought there was a need for that type of bar out there,” says Pinkerton, who booked the club’s musical acts. “We just tried to create a bar we wanted to hang out at, because we couldn’t find one we liked.”

As for himself and his garrulous partners, he says, “We’ve got to go out and become working stiffs. I’ll have to get a real job. Oh, god, the thought of that! I’m going to be a free agent. I’ll sell myself to the highest bidder.”

Maybe he should write a book. The Menu’s cast of characters, both employees and patrons, is notorious and colorful, to say the least.

Turns out that Pinkerton has already been busy on a side project. He and musical partner Jon Milan, the creative forces behind a band called the Brakeman, have just received shipment of a CD that’s wicked good. The disc, which features many bright stars in the Menu constellation — Thornetta Davis, Johnnie Bassett, Vinnie Dombrowski, Liz Larin and Phil Hale, among others — shows Pinkerton and Milan as inventive, formidable songwriters. Who knew? The CD release party is set for Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.

Of course, there will be a bash to mark the passing of the torch in late January.

“We’ll let everyone know about the closing ceremony,” he says. “We’re trying to do something special.”

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Metro Times Staff

Since 1980, Metro Times has been Detroit’s premier alternative source for news, arts, culture, music, film, food, fashion and more from a liberal point of view.
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