Lena, located on the corner of South Main and East Liberty, was nothing less than a staple restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. This Latin-inspired eatery served brunch, lunch, dinner, and even happy hour specials for customers excited by its “rustic-chic” atmosphere. Additionally, the restaurant contained an underground nightclub called Habana, a speakeasy-style hotspot with a bar and central dance floor. Habana offered salsa and tango nights to the public, as well as cocktails and tacos on a regular basis.
Not surprisingly, due to its tasty food and drinks and its reputable social offerings, residents of Ann Arbor were disappointed when Lena announced the conjoint closing of both its restaurant and underground club. The closing took place this past Sunday, January 17th, marking a monumental moment for students and other local Michiganders.
The news, however, is not entirely negative. Lena and Habana will soon be replaced by Pretzel Bell (also known as P-Bell). 31 years ago, this popular destination for drinking and dining was located on East Liberty Street and a “Go Blue” sort of atmosphere dominated the restaurant/bar. The walls were even covered with photographs of the most current and idolized Wolverine athletes. It is a group of these U of M athletes themselves, along with other interested alumni, who are working to bring Pretzel Bell back to town. In an article published by MLive on January 8th, restaurateur Jon Carlson confidently stated, “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to bring back an Ann Arbor legend.”
So, what exactly do we have to look forward to as the reopening of Pretzel Bell approaches? Minimal information has been released, however, we do know that the restaurant will offer the same type of cafeteria-style dining experience it did years ago. Interestingly enough, Pretzel Bell was once the most popular Wednesday night spot for U of M students. We are hopeful that, this time around, the camaraderie surrounding the restaurant and its loyal customer base is here to stay. In the meantime, we will miss you Lena and Habana.