Local legends: the stories behind 5 of Mt. Pleasant’s most popular bars

In 1933, in the small town of Mt. Pleasant the bar business was booming. Prohibition had just ended, and in its wake a myriad of pubs and bars were popping up all over town. Some of those establishments continue to be prominent in the community today; but given their storied histories, there’s more to these local staples than meets the eye.

The Green Spot Pub

The Green Spot Pub

Like many of Mt. Pleasant’s bars, The Green Spot Pub was founded in 1933 directly after the end of prohibition. Today, The Green Spot Pub is owned by Mike Faulkner who bought the bar in October of 1994.

Outside of The Green Spot PubFaulkner has done his best to stay true to the traditions and atmosphere established by the bar’s previous owners. Hanging up in the bar, Faulkner has pictures and maps of Ireland as well as a painting of the bar’s former owner, who was nicknamed the Leprechaun.

“Most everybody that’s owned the bar has been proud of it and continued the traditions of the people before them — as I have done,” says Faulkner.

Throughout the years, The Green Spot Pub has been best known for its Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations which today entail several hundred pounds of corned beef and green beer on tap.

“Our biggest celebration day is Saint Patrick’s Day,” says Faulkner. “It’s a really happy day, everyone’s there to have a good time. You don’t see people in a bad mood that day.

Address: 808 N Mission St, Mt. Pleasant, MI

The Bird Bar and Grill

The Bird Bar and Grill

Eighty-seven years ago, in 1933, John Breidenstein founded The Bird Bar and Grill, though it was originally named The Rathskeller. Breidenstein opened the Rathskeller in the basement of the Bennet Hotel in downtown Mt. Pleasant; but, a few years later he relocated the bar to South Main Street, where it still stands today. This change in location prompted Breidenstein to rename the bar The Flamingo Cocktail Lounge. When college students began to frequent the bar, they nicknamed it The Bird — a name it has been known by ever since.

(Left to right) Managers Ben Breidenstein,Stacy Rabish, DJ Blizzard, and owner Lois Breidenstein stand in their family’s bar at The Bird Bar and Grill.

The Bird Bar and Grill has remained within the Breidenstein family ever since its founding. When John passed away, his wife took over the bar, then his son, and eventually his daughter-in-law, Lois Breidenstein. Lois has owned the bar for the last 18 years and keeps it running with the help of her two daughters, son, and son-in-law — all of whom are managers.

“My kids will take it over when I’m gone, and then it will be their kids,” says Lois. “We love it. We love the business; we love the customers. It’s just a good business to be in.”

Address: 223 S Main St, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Marty's Bar

Marty’s Bar

Strolling down the streets of downtown Mt. Pleasant, the deep maroon entrance to Marty’s Bar is easy to spot. However, few would guess that the structure behind that maroon façade is actually a little over 130 years old, making it one of the oldest buildings in downtown.

Mt. Pleasant resident Sheridan Pelcher takes her turn as part of a weekly darts tournament at Marty’s Bar.The building was constructed in the mid-to-late 1880s and housed a hardware store, then a grocer, and then a billiards hall. In 1923, Sam and Rose Cascarelli bought the hall and under their ownership, it would eventually become a bar. The bar, named Cascarelli’s, remained within the family until 1987 when Marty Naumes bought it. Naumes renamed the establishment Marty’s Bar and has kept a watchful eye over it for the last 33 years.

Since opening the bar, Naumes has used it as a way to give back to the community. He donates to various causes, including Special Olympics, and every Thanksgiving he provides free holiday meals to anyone in need.

Lacey Coulson, a manger who’s worked at Marty’s Bar for 10 years, says Naumes’ generosity and the bar’s laid-back atmosphere has created a sense of family within the establishment.

“It’s very much a family here. Not just the employees, but the regulars that are in all the time too,” says Coulson. “I absolutely love it here — I love the people.”

Address: 123 S Main St, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Freddie's Tavern

Freddie’s Tavern

Spring break in Mt. Pleasant tends to be a less-than-sunny affair, filled with chilly overcast weather rather than warm beaches. Despite this, in the late 1980s spring break in Mt. Pleasant was full of rock music blasting through the air as local residents danced in the sand. It wasn’t a sudden, rare heat wave making the beach parties possible, though; instead, it was the ingenious thinking of Freddie Phillips, the owner of Freddie’s Tavern, who filled his bar with sand for a makeshift beach and invited local rock ‘n roll bands to play on weekends.

Manager Emily Vos and owner Freddie Philips stand by one of two pool tables at Freddie’s Tavern.“In the late 80s I brought in rock ‘n roll bands and that was kind of a hoot,” says Phillips. “Where the pool tables are right now, I filled up with sand for spring break so we could dance barefoot.”

Rather than being known for its beach parties, today Freddie’s Tavern is recognized for its exceptional food — which has earned the establishment 8 People’s Choice Awards for “Best Burger in Town.” The good food and large, sports bar atmosphere makes Phillips confident that Freddie’s Tavern will be a part of the Mt. Pleasant community for years to come.

“I’m still here after 39 years and I never thought I would do anything for 39 years,” says Phillips. “I don’t see us going anywhere.”

Address: 705 S Adams St, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Rubble's Bar

Rubble’s Bar

Thomas Minelli spent the better part of the late 70s and early 80s travelling the country with his rock band — meeting and performing with all kinds of famous musicians. Soon, it came time for Minelli to leave that whirl-wind lifestyle behind and move back to his hometown of Mt. Pleasant. His passion for music and rock ‘n roll would not soon be forgotten, though; and a few years later in 1989, Minelli bought an establishment known for being a live music venue: Rubble’s Bar. To this day — after 31 years under Minelli’s watch — live music continues to pulsate throughout the venue every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening.

Over the years, Minelli has used the connections he made as a rocker to bring performances by famous artists such as Rick Derringer, Matt Murphy, and Dick Wagner to the bar.

Michigan-based folk-funk band, JD and the Salingers, plays at Rubbles Bar

“There’s been some major artists here,” says Minelli. “The town got to see people that you don’t get to see in a small venue up close.”

Minelli’s dedication to live music and the bars classic rock ‘n roll aesthetic, has given Rubble’s Bar a sense of timelessness. To Minelli and the regulars, Rubble’s Bar has somehow managed to stay more or less the same over the last 31 years, even in a world that is constantly changing.

“The whole word has changed,” says Minelli, “But, it stayed the same pretty much down here, other than I got older.”

Address: 112 W Michigan St, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.