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Willis Show Bar Brings Classic Cocktails to Cass Corridor in January

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After 40 years behind locked doors, the lounge is making a comeback

The Willis Show Bar is getting a reboot in Midtown.
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.

After 40 years on the bench, Cass Corridor’s Willis Show Bar is poised to reopen in January as a live performance venue and cocktail bar, the Detroit Free Press first-reports.

Continuing to earn their empire builders title, Dave Kwiatkowski’s Detroit Optimist Society hospitality group (The Sugar House, Honest John’s, Wright & Company, and more) has partnered with Los Angeles-based investors Steve Livigni, managing partner Sean Patrick, and Brandon Smith to turn back the clock on the long-shuttered lounge. Livigny has been involved in a number of reputable LA bars and restaurants including Old Lightning, Scopa Italian Roots, and The Chestnut Club.

The space with its curved and tiled facade had previously been earmarked for a spot called the Shag Bar, however, the deal fell through. Livigni and his team soon stepped in and eventually contacted Kwiatkowski.

The 3,000-square-foot space features a restored Art Moderne ceiling and a stage that will host jazz, blues, and soul artists. Kwiatkowski says that the 75-seat bar will serve a small selection of cocktails inspired by a 1960s cocktail menu from the Flame Show Bar —originally located just a few blocks the Willis Show Bar).

The Willis Show Bar fell into decline in the 1970s and was eventually shut down by the county.
Place Promo

If all goes according to plan, the Willis Show Bar will be up and running again in January.

This has been a huge year for the Detroit Optimist Society. Earlier this month, the group unveiled a dive tiki spot called Mutiny Bar in Southwest Detroit and took over day-to-day operations at The Buhl Bar in downtown. The group is also working on a restaurant with an accompanying line of charcuterie called Gratiot Avenue Provisions.

Infamous Willis Show Bar to Re-open in Cass Corridor as Classy Cabaret and Cocktail Bar [Freep]
Willis Show Bar Website [Official]
New Bar Claims Formerly Seedy Willis Showplace Space in Cass Corridor [ED]
All Coming Attractions Coverage [ED]
All Detroit Optimist Society Coverage [ED]

Willis Show Bar

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