Detroit’s ‘Actor’s Bar’
Hamtramck’s 7 Brothers Bar has a dive atmosphere and a creative clientele.
Jacob Plante of Hamtramck, 30, an actor who attends Downtown Synagogue, is proud of his association with 7 Brothers Bar on Jos. Campau. He occasionally bartends at the Hamtramck neighborhood watering hole, informally known as “Detroit’s Actors Bar.”
After their shows get out, many theater people meet up at 7 Brothers to relax over a cold brew or beverage. Actors no longer in the Metro area, or even among the living, forever smile alongside the regulars in a lineup of 150 formal headshots affixed to a wall.
The name “7 Brothers” in colored neon letters beckons patrons inside the dark, retro-looking room with exposed ceiling ductwork and an ancient fridge with rounded corners in a corner. This is a real old-time bar — cash only, please — and a completely unpretentious, friendly gathering place for thespian and non-thespian alike.
No food is prepared here; in fact, there’s a warning sign to staff: “Do not put anything on the grill.” However, anyone who’s hungry can get the local Amicci Pizza location to deliver at a discount price.
The real beauty at 7 Brothers is its original back bar that dates to 1924. Liquor bottles gleam from the lights under woodwork panels. Dual mirrors are also above the latched cabinetry. Rumor has it that this spot was once a speakeasy, illegally serving alcohol during the 1920s Prohibition era.
When Macedonian native George Cvetanovski became the owner in 1977, he honored his family of origin — seven brothers (no sisters) — in the name he chose.
The late Eric Black and two other members of Detroit’s former Second City company were the first performers to discover 7 Brothers. Larry Joe Campbell went on to do ABC’s According to Jim and the Owen Wilson movie Hall Pass while Mad TV alumnus Keegan Michael-Key co-stars in a new Comedy Central sketch series, Key & Peele. The comic actors found the dive atmosphere and Cvetanovski to their liking and began bringing friends.
Originally from the Saginaw area where he had his own theater company, Plante has performed at Waterworks Theatre Company, Detroit Repertory Company and the Theatre at University of Detroit-Mercy. He recently contributed comedy at the Birmingham Temple’s Purim celebration.
According to Plante, 7 Brothers customers associated with the Jewish Ensemble Theater include Arthur Beer, Yolanda Fleischer, Patrick Cronin, Dax Anderson, Rusty Mewha, Drew Parker, Jeff Thomakos and Leah Smith, plus Elaine Hendricks-Smith and Eric Maher from Berman Center for the Performing Arts.
Friends of the bar on Facebook include Frannie Shepherd-Bates, artistic director of Magenta Giraffe Theater Company; Jeff Nahan, executive director of Fine, Performing & Communication Arts at Detroit Country Day School, and local actress Kelly Komlen-Amadai, associated with Mosaic Youth Theatre.
The cool jukebox is one more attraction of 7 Brothers. Customers are welcome to add their own CDs to the rotation, which makes for an eclectic smorgasbord of rock-and-roll, blues, oldies, hip-hop — and Macedonian dance music for you-know-who.
7 Brothers Bar
11821 Jos. Campau
Hamtramck, MI 48212
Hours: 7 p.m.-2 a.m. daily
Price Range: $ (Under $9)
Alcohol: Full Bar
Dress Code: Anything Goes
Bar Style: Music and Neighborhood