Before the owner's of Foran's Grand Trunk Pub purchased the Checker Bar & Grill, it was a sort of musty establishment, a watering hole that made you feel cramped while you nursed your drink.
It was a charming place, however, adored by the regulars who frequented it. The long, narrow bar, formerly owned by the Munro family, opened in 1955. The family maintained it until it was sold last summer. "A lot of work, a lot of years," Karen Munro told WJR's Paul W. Smith earlier this year.
Under its new ownership, the place has been revamped, with an improved beer selection and a friendly staff. With the lighting kept dim, a stellar selection of tunes to enjoy, and ample seating opportunities that gives your legs room to breathe (it could comfortably seat about 50 to 60 diners), Checker offers an environment that makes it easy and comfortable to unwind after a long workday.
Situated along a strip in downtown that's a stone's throw away from Detroit's Campus Martius, Checker succeeds in being exactly what it intends to be: a welcoming, affordable bar.
On the night we came in, a diverse crowd was scattered about, with everyone grooving to the tunes of Marvin Gaye and Motown classics.
And if there's one thing you need to know before you come here, Checker has a sound reputation for making an excellent burger, known around town as the "World Famous Checker Burger."
Orders come prepared in a burger basket, with a side of tortilla chips and salsa — a nice touch that complements everything pleasantly, rather than a greasy pile of fries. It bears mentioning, we opted to try Checker's veggie burger, for kicks. We finished the whole plate in short order, and it was a fulfilling, satisfying meal.
We have it on good authority from a number of burger lovers that Checker's scrumptious fare checks out. Checker gets their meat daily from Wigley's Meat Market in Eastern Market. Plenty of comments in passing suggest the bar's turkey burger should land on must-eat lists everywhere. You dig BBQ sauce? Checker makes theirs in-house and it's a spot-on way to top a burger.
It's not just about the burgers, though: Checker also slings hot dogs, kielbasas, and sloppy joes.