Wonder Bar memorabilia
Wonder Bar memorabilia (Ebay).

Wonder Bar enjoyed a beautiful reputation as one of Detroit’s most cosmopolitan restaurants.

Looking back to the future … The wonderful Wonder Bar, and that it certainly was, on Washington Boulevard … enjoyed a beautiful reputation as one of Detroit’s most cosmopolitan restaurants … considered a direct heir of one of the city’s most elegant “clubs” in the 1920s.

Sammy Sofferin, affable proprietor of the Wonder Bar, parlayed a cigar stand, an apartment house and the old Powatan Club into the very successful Washington Boulevard supper club.

Hank Greenberg
Hank Greenberg would go to the Wonder Bar after a Tigers’ game. Wikimedia Commons

In addition to an excellent menu, the Wonder Bar featured a delightful cocktail bar, dancing on an intimate floor to the music of the orchestra and a glittering clientele.

In keeping with his belief that “good soups and sauces are the hallmark of a good restaurant,” Sofferin’s Wonder Bar listed black bean soup on its daily luncheon menu and turtle soup spiked with brandy on the dinner menu.

Other specialties of the house included shrimps a la Powatan, which consisted of bread shaped into a pyramid to which were attached fried shrimp, chicken livers, anchovies and scallops. Around the base were frog legs.

Sammy insisted that prime rib was another key to running a successful restaurant … The Wonder Bar was the first restaurant in Detroit to introduce the boneless strip sirloin, known as the New York, and this entrée continued as one of its biggest sellers.

Sammy was the first to admit that the success of the Wonder Bar was in a great measure, due to his wife.

In fact, the business was pretty much a family affair… In addition to Sammy and Margaret, sons Sammy Jr., Lee and Don were also employed there.

Margaret’s role was traditionally that of a taster… All food had to pass her inspection.

Many will always remember the very fine Sammy Sofferin’s Wonder Bar for the many athletes who loved its famed Powatan Salad … But mostly, other than loving it, Hank Greenberg hitting his league-high home runs for the Tigers at old Navin Field … After the game, Greenberg was almost sure to be at the Wonder Bar for his regular steak dinner.

THERE IS NO STOPPING him … Now Joe Vicari will open three more restaurants in this area the end of the year … remodeling and taking them over in Birmingham, Grosse Pointe and Shelby Township … He’ll also open a couple more in Las Vegas, where Joe already has two, and Nashville … The future begins?

OLDIE BUT GOODIE … (Still another version of a favorite) … A Reform rabbi, direct from the golf tee, was so compulsive a golfer that once, on a very sacred high Jewish holiday, he left the house early and went for a quick nine holes by himself.

An angel, who happened to be looking on, immediately notified his superiors that a grievous sin was being committed on Earth.

On the sixth hole, God caused a mighty wind to take the ball from the tee to the cup for a hole in one … The angel was shocked! “Look, Lord,” he said, “you call this punishment?”

“Sure,” said God with a smile. “Who can he tell?”

CONGRATS … To David Wechsler on his birthday.

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.


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