McDonald owns the building, which formerly housed another nightclub, Oz. He’s done a complete renovation since Oz closed last year. The back half of the space is a dance floor, complete with a mirrored wall, banquet seating, a DJ booth, and a full bar; the front is a more traditional sports bar, with dark wood and plasma TVs, “so the guys can catch the game while the girls dance,” McDonald says. There’s a DJ Thursday through Saturday and a mechanical bull on Friday.
McDonald got his start in the nightclub business working the door at Rick’s American Cafe while attending the U-M in the early 1990s. Later, in law school at the University of Detroit Mercy, McDonald started making and selling his own brand of vodka called Zodiac; he’d rent a venue, hire entertainment, and serve Zodiac. When the party revenues far outstripped vodka sales, he sold the rights to Zodiac to a Texas distillery and used the profits to open Envy, a nightclub and restaurant in Detroit.
McDonald sold Envy in 2006 to come back to Ann Arbor. He says bars do well in college towns—and besides, “I loved the energy of college towns in general and Ann Arbor in particular. It’s a more intelligent crowd. It’s ever changing. It’s more dynamic. It’s cutting edge.”