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New Bar Claims Formerly Seedy Willis Showplace Space in Cass Corridor

The watering hole is slated to open this summer.

Brenna Houck
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Located on Third Street in Cass Corridor, the Art Moderne-style Willis Showplace Bar opened in 1949 as a jazz club but over the years declined with the neighborhood. By the 1970s it had gained a seedy reputation for prostitution and was shut down by the city in 1975. More than 40 years later, the Shag Bar is getting ready to fill the vacancy, reports Crain's.

Gordon Hyndford, owner of Shag, says he became interested in opening a business in Detroit after years of visiting during the North American International Auto Show. He's preparing to renovate the 3,000-square-foot space, giving it a modern spin on the '70s decor with a new bar, kitchen, patio, and lounge with midcentury American Danish furniture.

A view of Third Street in the 1970s shows. The Willis Showplace is visible next to Anderson's Garden and behind the Wilcrest Hotel sign. [Photo: Virtual Motor City]

Hyndford's landlords, Norm Silk and Dale Morgan of Birmingham-based florist Blossoms, have been using the Cass Corridor building in various ways since the late-70s. They plan to open a flower shop next door this spring and are considering leasing a third space in the building to a cafe or deli. Shag is currently awaiting for liquor licence approval and hopes to open in June.

Willis Show Bar

4156 3rd Avenue, , MI 48201 (313) 788-7469 Visit Website