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Andy Garris and Micah Bartleme

Nightcap Gets a Casual Companion

Lo-Fi seeks "the soul of a dive bar."

by Sabine Bickford

From the January, 2019 issue

Walk by Lo-Fi's LP-shaped retro neon sign on Main St., and you might think the stairs underneath it lead to an underground record store. In fact, Lo-Fi is an underground bar, the latest project of Nightcap owner Micah Bartelme and partner Andy Garris.

Nightcap, which opened last spring, serves artisanal mixed drinks in a lounge setting. Bartelme says Lo-Fi has the "soul of a dive bar ... I think in general the ambience [at Nightcap] is a little more elevated and an elegant experience," he explains. "It's hosted and seated, and downstairs the product is still going to be to our standards, [but] it's designed to be a more casual environment."

The two bars are entirely separate entities. Staffers use a back staircase to go between the two, but customers will have to use separate entrances, and run separate tabs. Lo-Fi has a small stage up front, a bar on a side wall, and large wraparound booths along the back wall, with the rest sitting or standing room. Bright blue, pink, and purple neon under-lighting give the whole room an otherworldly glow. Accented by pieces of metal grating, a colorful abstract mural, and a large neon dragon above the bar made by local artist Jeremy Wheeler, the neon is the bar's only source of light.

At Nightcap, "it's really an experience where you sit down, take your time, [order] drinks that take a little bit longer to build," says Garris. Downstairs, he says, "everything will be done behind the scenes," and patrons will order at the bar. With just twelve craft cocktails and four beers on tap, service will be quicker, too.

Though Bartelme says they are definitely going to bring in the rock music that the name connotes, they want to keep that small stage versatile. "We see anything from comedy to open mike," he says. "We'll do some standard weekly events like karaoke, some DJs of course, all sorts of different live bands, readings, book releases, pop-up art shows, small performances ... theater stuff."

The two muse on the ways the name Lo-Fi fits with the bar: its focus on music, a reference to the "dive aspect," the underground space. But ultimately, says Bartelme, "it's just a cool name!"

Lo-Fi, 220 S. Main (lower floor). (734) 369-6070. Wed.-Mon. 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Closed Tues.     (end of article)

[Originally published in January, 2019.]


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