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History of Mount Pleasant bars contain storied past

The “Flamingo Cocktail Lounge” was too long of a name for bar patrons, causing the student favorite to be renamed The Bird Bar and Grill, or "The Bird" in the ‘60s.

Lois Breidenstein, owner of The Bird Bar and Grill in downtown Mount Pleasant, said the bar, which first opened in 1936, has been called that ever since.

The Bird is one of several bars in Mount Pleasant that has been open for decades and is popular among CMU students. Behind the bars in Mount Pleasant is a rich history.

Lois said when John Breidenstein first opened The Bird in 1936, it was located in the basement of the Bennett Hotel and was called the Ratskeller. CMU enrollment wasn’t as large then as it is now and the bar was mostly popular among Mount Pleasant community members. 

John renamed the bar the Flamingo Cocktail Lounge after it moved to it's current location on Main Street while he was in Florida on his honeymoon. In 1963, John died and his wife, Sally took over.

“When Sally took it over in ’63, there was big growth in college students that came in and she just welcomed them with open arms and said, ‘you’re more than welcome to come here any time,’” Lois said. “It changes every year, you get a different crowd of people. (It) makes it interesting.”

Lois started coming to the Bird in 1971 where she met her husband, Dan, who became the owners of the Bird in 1988. She and her five children loved the business so they keep it going.

Now, The Bird has a variety of customers — mainly Mount Pleasant residents, professors and students.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re students or if they’re townies, (our customers) are great,” Lois said. “We have steady loyal customers. I think a lot of it is because we have some good employees.”

Lois said the atmosphere has mostly stayed the same throughout the years, describing it as friendly and upbeat and full of fond memories.

James Blumer, a general manager at the Blackstone Bar, which opened in 1933, said Homecoming is one of the best times at the Blackstone because alumni who used to be regulars at the Blackstone stop by to take a trip down memory lane.

"We have a Bloody Mary recipe that every Homecoming we have to stock up on," Blumer said. "We have a very specific recipe that hasn't changed for many years and (the alumni) were telling us that that was the way it was back then too. People line up at 1 a.m. to make sure they got a Bloody Mary at the Blackstone to end their night." 

Emily Belleck, who graduated from CMU in 2014, said she enjoyed going to The Cabin,Tthe Bird, the Blackstone and O'Kelly's Sports Bar and Grill.

"I like how they are all a little bit different from each other and on separate nights each would have different specials going on," Belleck said. 

When Belleck visits CMU for homecoming, she goes back to visit some of her favorite bars.

Also located downtown is Marty’s Bar, which was previously called Cascarelli’s, but took on its current name when Marty Naumes bought it in 1987.

Bartender Tracey Endres describes Marty’s as an easygoing sports bar where everybody knows everybody.

When more college students discovered the bar, it became a lot busier, she said. Right now, Endres said, they’re not as busy and they’re trying to get college students back in.

She said they get a lot of CMU alumni — especially during homecoming weekend — and even though Marty has remodeled, they’ll say Marty’s feels like home. 

Many people who go there ask for Marty himself.

“Everyone gets along and it’s always a good time,” Endres said. “We have the one pool table and it’s funny to see people that are regulars that are 60 and up playing with college students. It’s nice to see everyone of all ages interacting.”

Melissa Gross, a manager at Rubble's Bar, likes working at Rubble's because of the variety of people who go there, including students, alumni, locals and people who travel across the state to see their favorite bands.

The atmosphere at Rubble's, which is known for its live music, depends on what band is playing at the time, she said. 

Though the atmosphere has largely stayed the same since 1987, Gross said, the music scene has changed significantly since then. The most popular genre used to be rock, but now it's country. 

Thursday is the most popular day for students at the Bird, and Lois thinks it’s because of the $2 doubles. Because Thursdays are their happy hour, they always reach capacity around 6 or 7 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, they will reach capacity between 7 and 9 p.m.

Brianne Warren, who graduated from CMU in 2015, said The Bird is her favorite bar in Mount Pleasant. She likes that it’s always busy and thinks they have a great staff.

Senior Julia Steir said she’s had a lot of great nights at The Bird meeting new people and spending time with friends.

“I like that it’s got character from the zombie head in the ceiling to the many names on all the tables,” Steir said.

Endres said Marty’s sometimes gets overflow customers when The Bird or Blackstone are full.

The Blackstone has been known as a student bar for a while, Blumer said.

"We've been a college bar for many years but we like everybody," Blumer said. "Everyone is welcome at the Blackstone."

During the week, Marty’s gets a lot of business from people who work downtown, construction workers and groups that meet there once a week. After 5 p.m., it’s mostly locals and college students who come in for dinner. After 10 p.m., it’s pretty much all students and maybe a few locals, Endres said.

“I love working the lunch hour because I know everybody so I have their drinks already made when I see them walk in the door," Endres said. 

"I do love working at night too because the nightlife is fun and you get a different crowd.”

The Green Spot Pub's clientele is primarily people ages 25 and older, said Mike Faulkner, who has owned the bar since 1994. The Green Spot, which opened in 1933, has a 21 and older after 9 p.m. policy, Faulkner said, but students are welcome to come in during the day for lunch and dinner.

Though Mount Pleasant has changed a lot since 1933, Faulkner said the Green Spot is still known for its friendly neighborhood atmosphere. He introduced the full menu when he became the owner of the bar. The Green Spot is known for its hoagies and corn beef sandwiches, he said, and the bar recently started serving personal pizzas. 

He said the day before Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day and Christmas Eve are popular days at the Green Spot. People come from out of town to catch up with old friends and classmates, he said, and they set their problems aside and just enjoy themselves.

"Those are special days and they've been special days the whole time I've owned (the Green Spot)," he said. 

Popular foods and drinks

Marty’s has $7.50 steak all day, every day, which Endres said is popular. She said the cheeseburgers, nachos, soups and Marty’s sub are also popular. Marty’s also has a fish fry on Friday nights and a free Thanksgiving meal each year.

Endres said a lot of people love their in-house shot that’s called the Puerto Rican Slut. On Thursdays, they have $3.50 Jager bombs, which she said usually draw a big crowd.

“The Puerto Rican Sluts go fast,” she said. “We pre-make them and they’re strong; they have four different liquors in them.”

Ben Breidenstein, bartender at The Bird, said Fizzy Lifters and whiskey sours are popular at the Bird. They go through phases, but draft beers are also popular. 

Lois said the most popular items on their food menu are moon bread, pizza and burgers. The pizza is made fresh and they put coleslaw on their burgers.

In addition to their popular Bloody Mary recipe, the Blackstone has a house drink called the Madison, which Blumer said tastes like a clear gummy bear. 

At Rubble's, all drinks are doubles and craft beers are popular. Rubble's also has shotskis, which Gross said are popular among former CMU students because of the memories. 

People can find a different atmosphere at each bar, Lois said.

“Anybody that comes down (downtown), there’s going to be a spot here they’re going to like,” Lois said. “It may not be ours, it may be the guy’s down the road and that’s OK too.”