From VC to WOB
If that isn't enough alcohol irony for you, this one occupies the former site of the singularly unique beer and wine store Village Corner. Displaced from South U by the Landmark student high-rise, the VC is now in the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth.
One of the franchise owners, Steve Rossi, is well aware that the spot is, in his words, "sacred ground." Says Rossi, "I was in school [U-M] from 1985 to 1988 and worked at the Brown Jug. The VC is where I bought beer."
Since leaving college, Rossi has mostly been working for Outback Steakhouse, first owning the one on Oak Valley in Pittsfield Township, then becoming a regional manager. His franchise partner, Chad Wilson, has a similar story: he owned an Outback in Novi and then moved up to management. (Outback has no formal relationship with WOB, but Outback's ex-president Ben Novello is in charge of franchising at WOB and seems to be doing quite a bit of recruiting from the Outback ranks.)
The Ann Arbor location, on the ground floor of what is essentially a dormitory, is atypical. Suburbs are WOB's more usual turf: "Our demographic is twenty-five-to-forty-five-year-old professionals," Rossi says.