New bar owners want to 'bring something different' to the city's West Side

With both of them working day jobs and raising a family of five daughters, starting a business in the midst of a pandemic and state-mandated shutdowns might not seem the ideal time for Matt and Jill Nemode.

Nonetheless, the husband-and-wife team recently celebrated the grand opening of Mode’s Tavern in the city's Midland Street entertainment district.

"I heard from a lot of people saying that we’re crazy for opening a bar during a pandemic. They’d say we’re either crazy or we’re geniuses," Matt says.

"We were willing to risk it and it’s paid off so far."

The Nemodes signed the lease on the old JT’s Pub building in May, spent May and June renovating the building, and were open by the beginning of July.

It all happened very quickly, from deciding to open their own bar to opening it in the span of a few months, but Matt credits the people around him for helping make it happen. It's a list that includes his wife, their friends who helped with renovations, and chef Joel Clark, who shaped the menu.

Clark originally opened the kitchen at JT’s Pub. His return has already altered the fortunes of Mode’s Tavern, Matt says. The original vision was for Mode’s to be a friendly happy hour destination, but Matt says that it's a month in and Mode's is already becoming a dinner destination, too.

"We struck gold with Joel Clark," he says. "Whatever lack of knowledge I have about the bar business, we’ve made sure to surround ourselves with the best people."

A deck in the back of Mode's Tavern lets people enjoy meals and drinks under the stars and the sun.Mode’s Tavern is a relaxed and friendly establishment, complete with a buy-it-forward board where customers can purchase someone a drink, write their order on the board, and the recipient can redeem it whenever they come in next.

The bar has live music, dueling piano events, and weekly cornhole tournaments. Frank Fridays occur every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., when Frank Sinatra songs are played throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

"Our biggest thing is that we originally wanted a place where you can stop in and see a familiar face and have a conversation. It’s pretty low-key," Matt says.

"We want to bring something different to the West Side of Bay City. We’re the type of place where every customer is greeted with a bowl of popcorn."

Mode’s Tavern is located at 108 N. Linn St. in Bay City.

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