One Decade Down

Downtown Detroit’s Bookies marks 10 years on the block with a big bash.

These days, 30-somethingrestaurateur J Lambrecht is a fairly well-known downtown entrepreneur, the force behind Campus Martius’ Fountain Bistro and Beach Bar & Grille, as well as Bookies Bar & Grille. But a decade ago, he was just an upstart dealmaker, trying to sell a friend on opening a bar in Book Tower. The friend declined, even though Lambrecht insisted it was a highly profitable opportunity. The friend continued to balk, finally saying, “If you think it’s such a good idea, why don’t you do it yourself?” Lambrecht paused.

It turns out that Lambrecht wound up convincing himself the opportunity couldn’t be missed, and that was 10 years ago. On Friday, Aug. 23, Lambrecht will celebrate Bookies’ anniversary as co-owner of the bar.

“We want this to be a thank-you celebration to all who [have] ever supported us during our 10 years in Detroit,” Lambrecht says. “We have so many great memories over the past decade including wedding proposals, special events like the Super Bowl, final four, Detroit Tigers opening days, and so much more. We are ecstatic to still be here and established as a great spot to have fun.”

Normally, bars and restaurants have soft openings that allow the management to tweak things before the grand opening. But when Bookies reopened in 2009 at their new location on Cass Avenue — four blocks from Comerica Park — they had no such luxury.

“The week we opened was the NCAA final four, when we were a host bar for Villanova. We went from 0 to 100 mile per hour in no time.” And Bookies hasn’t slowed since, establishing itself as a prominent pre-game spot before Detroit sporting events, offering other attractions, including comedy shows, appearances by live bands, private events, and even a shuttle service available to all downtown residents. Bookies is even trying out a brunch menu, making a bid for downtown’s growing dining scene.

It’s all according to plan. As Lambrecht says, “We’ve tried to grow and change and improve ourselves as we’ve gone along.”

Bookies anniversary party is Friday, Aug. 23. It starts 5-7 p.m. with a private VIP event featuring live music from Templeton and DJ Sohand; anyone can get free tickets to the event by emailing [email protected], but tickets are limited to the first 100 people. After 7 p.m., guests can join the party with no cover, which will include discounted drinks, Michigan beers and rotating specials. At 10 p.m., Bookies will celebrate the 10-year anniversary with a $10 open bar. It all happens at 2208 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-962-0319;

Zak Witus is an editorial intern at Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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