Hamburger Mary’s, a national franchise historically owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community, has partnered with Ypsilanti favorite Tower Inn to bring a lively collaboration restaurant to Cross Street.
Owner Douglass Hanchett, originally from west Michigan, initially wanted to open a Hamburger Mary’s location in Downtown Ypsilanti, but the place did not move forward due to the pandemic.
“I had a location on Washington street, but right when we signed the paperwork COVID hit, so it kinda just sat there and never progressed, so I went onto a Grand Rapids location and did things out there,” Hanchett said.
Hanchett was contacted by the owners of Tower Inn, Rois and Nathalie Savvides, with the idea of combining the two restaurants. Now, the three co-own the restaurant while the couple makes their transition into retirement.
“Tower Inn has been here a long time so it’s got a really big following, college kids really love coming here, so it was a good fit,” said Hanchett.
Hamburger Mary’s is known to be an open air gourmet burger bar type restaurant; the menus are tailored to each area specifically, but there are some things done at every location, including the offering of some type of drag shows.
“We’ve got entertainment right now 5 nights a week, shows on friday, saturday and sunday, we bring in special guests from around the country, Rupaul's drag race girls, things of that nature,” said Hanchett.
The manager himself has also been a drag performer in the area for the past 20 years under the name Chanel Hunter.
The restaurant has events almost every night of the week. Bingo nights are Wednesdays, karaoke night is on Thursdays, with drag events being held all weekend. There is also a big event room people can reserve for big group events. The best way to see a thorough monthly schedule is to visit their Facebook page.
Just like the entertainment, the visual ambience of Hamburger Mary’s is similar, but unique at each location too.
“So this is the true Mary’s decor, it’s kind of kooky, like I said every Mary’s is unique but it is prominent through all the artwork,” said Hanchett. “Here we went with the Royal purple with the pinks which are traditional Hamburger Mary’s colors and then the heels on the wall and the purses and the different feminine artwork, but we also kept some of the old traditional Tower stuff and blended it in so we kinda took the best of both worlds.”
The new restaurant’s menu is also a mix between Tower Inn favorites and Hamburger MAry’s specialties.
“We kept the top 30% of Tower Inn’s menu and then we have the traditional Hamburger Mary’s menu,” said Hanchett.
The owners main goal for this location is to be a place where Eastern Michigan University students can feel accepted.
“It’s just a fun place where everybody is welcome and we want to provide a place close to campus that students can come to weekly for whatever kind of entertainment they enjoy,” said Hanchett.
The new owner wants the Ypsilanti community to know that Tower Inn is not gone, and Hamburger Mary’s welcomes everyone with open arms.
“We want to give [EMU students] a safe space and a home, this is not a gay bar, it’s a LGBTQ+ friendly environment and everybody is welcome,” said Hanchett. “As long as you have an open mind and an open heart, you are welcome here.”
Visit Hamburger Mary’s soon and follow the spot on Instagram @hamburgermarysypsilanti.
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