Jesse Thomason, manager of the Crossroads Bar and Grill in Ypsilanti, stood before the Ypsilanti City Council on Tuesday evening, May 15. He was there to answer questions from council members about his application for a dance and entertainment permit to add to the Class C liquor license Crossroads obtained in 2011.
The dance and entertainment permit would allow customers to dance to live music. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission issues the permit, but requires prior approval by the local city government.
The questions from council members were probing. One question asked if he had live entertainment and dancing, on at least one occasion prior to obtaining the permit? To this he replied, yes.
Thomason told the council during a previous appearance on May 1, that a delay in obtaining the permit, allowing the council to see written responses from city officials who had inspected the property, would not interfere with his business.
Council member Brian Robb then asked why had Thomason gone ahead and scheduled a live band and dancing, after the May 1 meeting and before obtaining the permit? To this, Thomason said, “Because it did not interfere with my business.”
With this response, Robb asked, “If you ignore our requirements in this process, how can we trust you to follow all the regulations you will have to follow as you manage your operation into the future?”
Thomason’s response was that he would follow all the rules because he had worked so hard to transform the formerly failed bar and adjacent adult bookstore into an attractive bar and grill. Thomason said fundraisers held at the spot are part of how he plans to contribute to the community, with the most recent to benefit Ypsilanti High School.
Since he began managing the business in February 2011, Thomason said he has renovated the interior and exterior, including the bathrooms, the bar and the seating. “Coming from a family of 10 kids, I learned how to shop at Value Village,” Thomason said. “All of this interior decoration came from there, or from scraps from my dad’s construction company.”
He pointed out brightly colored objects from beer bottles to umbrellas and whimsical figures in windows turned into picture frames. “And I did many of the paintings,” he added. “I got the booths for free from an Applebee’s that was changing out its furnishings.” Recently he expanded into the building next door, previously an adult bookstore, using the space to create areas for bands and dancing.
Despite the questioning, the Ypsilanti Building, Fire and Police departments all agreed that the dance and entertainment permit application could be approved. In fact, Officer Brooke Harrison reported that in the year or so since Thomason has been in charge, “Jesse appears to have the bar operating in a clean and organized manner.”
After discussion, the council unanimously approved Crossroads’ application. With the final decision, about 20 members of the audience clapped, cheered and gave high fives to Thomason. “Those were my customers, and musicians and other people who support the bar,” said Thomason.