Ode to a Bar:
The Music Menu
From the poster of blues legend Robert Johnson hanging in the back
to the sound of local Detroit musicians on the stage up front, visitors
to the little corner of Greektown that is the Music Menu know that they
have found someplace special. Blues and jazz have long been a part of
the soul of Detroit, and places such as this enrich the character of
a city. Through its dedication to local music, the Music Menu has long
offered a vital outlet for passionate expression.
Music Menu is a haven for diversity both in terms of music and the people
who frequent it. The music ranges from blues and jazz, to rock, with
a mixture of everything else in between. There is no set demographic
and neither a posted nor an unspoken dress code. Within the walls of
511 Monroe, far from computerized beats and smoke effects, patrons are
free to express themselves as individuals, no longer bound by the frenzied
confusion and restrictive standards of local clubs and casinos.
Although perhaps not "everyone knows your name," it is rare
to see someone enter the establishment without receiving a warm welcome
and a handshake. The coat rack is always filled with the belongings
of those that can relax and feel at home in a time where others fear
to leave their cars. Every night the Music Menu promises a style of
entertainment and atmosphere that promotes a feeling of connectedness.
The waiters and bar-staff are just as inclined to start a conversation
as they are to rush off and fill the next drink order. The feeling that
everyone is family is always present, whether at the bar or sitting
in the corner under the framed poster of Elvis Costello.
the Music Menu might serve as a metaphor for the city of Detroit itself.
It is dim, loud, and weathered, but it is also a place of complexity
and understanding where everyone can find a place to fit in. Inside,
one can be left alone, or become the center of attention by dancing
at the foot of the stage. Unfortunately, this atmosphere is in danger
as the future of the Music Menu is uncertain. It is unknown just how
much longer the doors will be open or how many more times Thornetta
Davis will tell the audience how much she loves them (no matter how
big or small). The doors were rumored to have been locked for the last
time at the end of January, but as of the beginning of February the
advertisements read: "We're Still Here!"
Bars that evoke such a strong feeling of connectivity are rare, but
they are the ones that give a city its attitude. The Music Menu may
not be here forever, but should it be replaced, we can only hope its
successor continues to help Detroit maintain its soulful sound. While
it is still here though, the Music Menu will never disappoint in reminding
us what greatness can be found in even the most trying times and locations.
- Jon Macha