Metro Detroit bars embrace Thanksgiving Eve crowds

Posted at 11:31 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 23:31:00-05

CLAWSON, Mich. (WXYZ) — As a small town local watering hole, Renshaw's Lounge in Clawson always attracts a crowd.

“We're a local bar. We know everybody," employee Samantha Rink said. "It’s almost like 'Cheers' but Clawson.”

However employees know the night before Thanksgiving brings in a much bigger crowd than normal, even attracting patrons a few hundred miles away.

Ben Thompson lives in Minneapolis but is back home for the holidays catching up with old friends over a few drinks at Renshaw's.

“All high school friends, grew up with these guys, good to see them all,” Thompson said. "Nice to see people out, come back to your hometown.”

The night before Thanksgiving has long been known as one of the busiest bar nights of the year. Renshaw’s says only St. Patricks Day rivals business that night.

“Kids come home from college, people that live in the community bring their family from out of town here,” Rink said.

One Ferndale bar is doing something different. The Loving Touch on Woodward decided to replace their entire bar with non-alcoholic drinks, throwing a sober party instead.

“The idea came from a former coworker who said she wanted to celebrate her first year of sobriety,” said Jesse Shepherd- Bates, general manager of WABCO, which owns The Loving Touch. "Whether you’re sober due to health reasons, personal reasons, from avoiding addiction, anything like thatm the holidays can be really triggering.”

The bar sold 100 presale tickets and is preparing for a few hundred more in an alcohol-free environment. They have a number of non-alcoholic beers and mocktails for $5.

“We're not selling things at a normal margin, but it’s still getting people in the room having a good time,” Shepherd- Bates said. "Night before Thanksgiving is good to see friends if you're coming out of town and to avoid family for a bit and if you don't drink, it’s a nice place to socialize”.

For those who do plan to drink or smoke marijuana, law enforcement will be on high alert looking for impaired drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2014-2018, 47% of drivers aged 21 to 34 involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve were impaired from alcohol.

AAA is renewing their annual "Tow to Go" program. From 6 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Monday, they will send a tow truck free of charge to drive you and your car home within a 10-mile radius. They just ask this service is used as a last resort. You can get a ride by calling 2-TOW-2-GO, or 855-286-9246.

“Impaired driving is certainly still a problem and this is our work and our effort to keep impaired drivers off the road this holiday,” AAA Spokesperson Adrienne Woodland said. "We ask anyone who's planning to drink, make sure you have a designated driver or a ride-sharing program and if you’re tempted to drive impaired, make sure you call AAA.”

For those out enjoying a drink, getting home safe will be the No. 1 priority, making sure a good night with friends is followed up by a good meal with family.

"Every night at Renshaws is a good night. We love it, especially the night before Thanksgiving," Renshaw's patron Brian Vanfleteran said. "Seeing friends, and you got a good hangover meal the next day.”