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.

The 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.

Perhaps 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

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