Niches. They’re so hard to find. And that’s just for individuals. Personally, we each have to decide whether we’re with the Mods or the Rockers, the Greasers or the Socs, the Warriors or the Baseball Furies. But imagine how difficult it is for a bar, which actually has to try and make some money once in awhile. Even though our collective entertainment dollar is shrinking faster than you can say “rent party at my house,” bars are still obligated to provide up to seven varied and thrilling nights of music, wine and willing bed partners for our thankless, nearly broke asses. Niches, man. What a bitch.
That’s why the Buzz Bar’s sweep of seven categories in our 2006 Reader’s Poll is such a coup. Winning the disparate “Best Bar for Under 30s” and “Best Bar for Over 30s” categories, the equal opportunity “Best Nightspot to Pick Up a Guy” and “Best Nightspot to Pick Up a Girl” shout-outs, the salacious “Best Nightspot to Pick Up Both or Other,” the inviting “Best Multi-Culti Nightspot,” and — of course — the category for “Best New Nightspot (Last Two Years),” it’s clear that the eclectic Detroit lounge has yet to meet a niche that it didn’t know how to fill.
On paper, the bar’s setup reads like desperate overkill, the kind of scatter-gun, everything-to-everyone concept that usually ends up pleasing no one. But, in practice, it’s cosmopolitan and pretty flawless, the sort of place that exists in every cool block of Chicago or New York City, but that Detroit — both patrons and proprietors — never used to have the imagination or patience for. Buzz is open at 7 a.m. on weekdays, with a full bar of coffees and sticky breakfast niceties. But it also features a traditional bar, the kind that keeps traditional bar hours. Then there are its gourmet sandwiches and pizzas, and the live music seven nights a week in its intimate upstairs performance space, which switches sounds easily between open jazz and funk jam sessions, the freestyle electronica of Jeremy “Ayro” Ellis, blues favorite Thornetta Davis, coffeehouse folk chirp with Audra Kubat, and varied local and national acts. Even the restrooms are clean and colorful, and parking — in the bathroom stall as well as out on East Larned — is a snap. Go figure.
Remember, this ain’t a media blow job. Your votes are the reason Buzz swept seven categories. But Buzz really has injected some excitement into an area nightlife scene that sometimes can seem like it’s rewriting the definition of tepid. Buzz owners Adam Laurie and Glenn and Gordon Novak were already industry pros — Laurie used to be at Agave, and the Novak brothers ran the late, lamented Music Menu. But with Buzz Bar they’ve made an exceptional dent in the night — it’s a place where you might actually want to get sauced, part with some coin. In other words, they’ve carved a niche. And we all know what a bitch that can be.Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org