By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added January 8, 2012 at 8:24 pm
Theo’s bar, located at 705 W. Cross St., opened its doors for the first time on September 5, 1980. From the very first night, it was clear Theo’s was a hit.
“It was overwhelming,” said Theo’s co-owner George Tangalakis. “It was almost tearful.”
Since that Friday night, George, along with sister and co-owner Cerene, have seen their bar through 32 successful years. However, after three decades of quenching the thirsts and filling the barren stomachs of Ypsilanti, Cerene and George decided to put the bar up for sale.
When asked about what prompted the sale, George said, “Thirty-two years is a long time.”
He further explained that after such a long time he and Cerene were ready to try something new. Exactly what they will do is still up in the air, but the cheerful, former-business owner said he did have a few ideas.
“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m pretty sure I will do, is work on a Habitat for Humanity project. I would really enjoy something like that.”
He also said before any of that, he’d be spending a few months this summer resting in a cabin by a lake and working on his golf game.
Even though he’s excited for the future, he still thinks he’ll miss running Theo’s.
“It has truly been an experience and the career of a lifetime,” he said. “I’m really going to miss being energized by the youthful atmosphere.”
On Dec. 16, 2011 the sibling business partners closed the doors to their beloved bar for the last time as owners. Tangalakis recalls that night with a somber yet sweet tone, which speaks to his passion and love for the bar he called home for so long.
“That was a difficult evening,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was tearful, but I did take a big sigh. I was pleased with a stellar track record, and at the same time I was thoughtful.”
Four days after the Tangalakis family closed Theo’s for its scheduled winter break, Dec. 21, the deal with new owners, Jim Seba and Jesse Kranyak, was finalized.
Although many people were shocked by the sale and closure of the bar, this move has been long in the making. George and Cerene originally put Theo’s up for sale in 2010. There’s been a bit of an outcry from the EMU and Ypsilanti community about the so-called closure of Theo’s, but George wanted to set the record straight.
“We always close during school breaks,” he said.
He further clarified that if the deal with the new owners had been delayed, he and Cerene would have been right back at work Jan. 5. There was never any intention to close the bar.
New owners Seba and Kranyak plan to re-open Theo’s with a new name, Wurst Bar, and a new face. Since the deal was finalized, they’ve been hard at work refreshing the interior of the bar in preparation for their opening, which is loosely scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Geo and Cerene, who’d taken a visit to the bar the afternoon of our interview, were excited by all the changes to their old home.
“We’re very encouraged by the changes they’re making,” Geo said.
He then added, from what he’s seen, the new owners are honoring the long and proud legacy of Theo’s with little Easter eggs around the bar, including some of the same wall fixtures which have been on the walls since Theo’s opened its doors.
Along with the changes in décor, the food will be seeing a bit of a change as well. As the new name implies, Wurst Bar will be focusing on gourmet bratwursts. This might come as an odd surprise, but Geo approves of the change.
“I’ve tasted their brats, and that’s good stuff,” he said.
Whether or not Wurst Bar will be able to stand tall in the long shadow cast by Theo’s history has yet to be seen, but Geo seems optimistic.
“Wurst Bar is going to be really cool,” he said. “We wish them the best of luck and fortune.”
You can find out when the doors to Wurst Bar open this week.