A new cocktail bar and community arts venue is heading to Hamtramck this fall. The partners behind Barter recently signed a lease on a vacant storefront at 11601 Joseph Campau Ave.
Owners Cait Pluto and Michigan native Jake Goodrich alongside partner Jennifer Sandella became friends while living in New York City and together share a passion for the arts. Last year Pluto and Goodrich moved back to the Detroit area and, inspired by the growing cocktail scene and arts community, began scouting out spaces for a cocktail bar and arts venue. In the process the pair came upon the Hamtramck space, formerly home to a travel agency.
“The space is kind of ideal for the project,” says Pluto, a marketing director by trade. At 3,500 square feet the location features 20-foot ceilings disguised by drop ceiling and an unusual balcony that gave the couple the impression that the 1920s building may have once housed a small theater.
Barter’s partners plan to divide the space into two areas. The front will feature a cocktail lounge area with roughly 40 to 50 seats spread across a mixture of low couches and bar stools from San Francisco-based showroom Hewn. A simple black box-style theater will be located toward the back with space, that will be suited to a variety of arts exhibitions ranging from burlesque shows to standup comedy to gallery space. “What we’re trying to do is create a self-sustaining arts space,” Pluto says of the format, noting that the bar will likely feature some type of still-to-be-determined literal bartering element. “It’s really just about the relationship between art and the economics that come with it,” she says.
Sandella has a background in the beverage industry in New York as well as experience running a non-profit theater. She’s been tapped to develop the cocktail menu that will focus on minimalist drinks prepared with fresh ingredients such as the Audience Participation made with gin, grapefruit liqueur, fresh lime, simple syrup, and club soda.
Barter is expected to begin construction in the next few weeks with the aim of opening sometime in October. Stay tuned for updates as the project moves forward.