18 West Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Seating till 8:30
11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Seating till 9:30
All major credit cards accepted.
As stagecoach travel
developed along the old Military Chicago Road, saloons and other
establishments sprang-up along the route. They served both travelers
and residents of the settlement which would be chartered as Ypsilanti
in 1825. As traffic and the surrounding population grew, what was
as the Chicago Road would be renamed Congress; it would later be again
re-named to the name it bears today: Michigan Avenue.
Haab’s Restaurant traces its
roots back to the mid-1870s when the saloon, owned by James Fulton, provided
fellowship—predominantly to gentlemen. A
portion of the dividing-wall separating the men’s bar from the women
still exists at Haab’s.
Just as today, turnover of ownership in eating/drinking establishments
was fairly frequent. When Adam Shaner owned the saloon, he added
tobacco to the offerings of a traditional saloon. The best tobacco
leaves were acquired and wrapped into cigars on the second floor, a
“gimmick” which enabled him to maintain his ownership from 1894-1905.
A. “Smitty” Smith renamed the saloon “Smitty’s Saloon and Riverside
Club” in 1905 and completely remodeled the space, installing a tin
ceiling and modern bar manufactured by Brunswick Balke Callendar of
Grand Rapids. Both the tin ceiling and bar remain today. Smitty held
onto this successful business until his death.
The onset of prohibition in 1920 caused the storefront to become
dark. Soon after repeal in 1933, brothers Oscar and Otto Haab had
the foresight to open a saloon that reversed the traditional focus of a
saloon. The Haab Brothers’ Café was the first establishment in
Washtenaw County where food was the primary draw for the customer, with
beer and wine offered as a complement.
In the 1940s and 50s, automotive travel on the main Detroit/Chicago
route exploded, bringing travelers directly past Haab’s front door.
Travelers and local residents alike discovered Haab’s, “where it’s fun
to eat.” With large portions of good food being their signature
product, their customer base continued to increase. To accommodate more
diners, the brothers expanded in 1963, adding two additional
storefronts to the original “saloon.”
The dining rooms were decorated in an antebellum motif, with heirlooms
from the original Haab Family homestead in Lodi Township scattered
throughout. The hand-hewn beams, although they provide no support, were
added to enhance the early-American atmosphere. That atmosphere
continues to be maintained today.
But Haab's reputation was not
built on its decor. Quality
food, served in a friendly, warm atmosphere at affordable prices, is
has kept customers coming. Over
the past 77 years, more than nine million people have been served in
single location. Seldom does a day go by that one or two guests don’t
remark that it has been 20 years since they last visited,
fortunately for them, the service and food quality are just as they had
Well-known restaurants are generally known by signature
menu items. Haab's Restaurant is no exception. A thick-cut New York Strip
Sirloin Steak, broiled to perfection, is
unquestionably Haab's most famous item. Haab's was acclaimed locally in
the Ann Arbor
poll as “Washtenaw County’s No. 1 steak
house” every year until the category was retired. Haab's reputation has
spread beyond the county, however, as evidenced by the article from Detroit Monthly, prominently
displayed at the front entrance, "For the best steak in Detroit, go to
the New York Strip Steak is not Haab's most popular item.
The Prime London Broil, as featured in Ford Times Magazine,
consistently outsells everything else on the extensive menu. Seafood
has also become increasingly popular in recent years, and Haab's has
adjusted its menu to include over 15 fresh and frozen seafood items. In
fact, it is not uncommon for customers to proclaim that, although they
summer on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, they await their return to
Haab's to experience really great whitefish.
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