Eating lobster at George’s Huron Inn

A few days ago, as I was walking aimlessly around town, I ended up in front of Powell’s Pub, and it occurred to me to check on Yelp and see what people had to say about the place. I didn’t find anything scandalous (I’m always hoping for stories of bandaids being found in burgers), but I did find one interesting review that I felt like sharing. It comes from a guy in Ann Arbor who calls himself Ron W, and, apparently, he used to frequent the establishment back in the 60’s when it was George’s Huron Inn. I believe, when I first came to Ypsi, that George’s Huron Inn was still in business, but I guess I never got around to going there. Now that I read this, though, I wish I had made the effort… Anyway, here’s the review.

Located at 625 North Huron Street, just off the campus of Eastern Michigan University, Powell’s Pub is your a typical all-American neighborhood bar. The atmosphere is rather dive-y, but it wasn’t like that years ago.

Opened in the early 1949 by the Beaudette family as “George’s Huron Inn,” this was the place to come if you wanted a nice and quiet atmosphere to enjoy a drink after a long day at work, or taking graduate classes at Michigan State Normal College, which is today Eastern Michigan University. Moreover, the food selection back then was absolutely fantastic and offered a wide variety of items. They were noted as the best place to go for seafood, especially lobster from Maine that was always fresh.

What I remember best about the Huron Inn back then, was the piano playing at night. They had “Sing Along With Eddie” who would play the piano and everyone would sing with him, in a classic British Pub style setting. You name the song, Eddie could play it by ear, as he couldn’t read music.

Around 1970, seafood was dropped from the menu selection, and they served more of a “meat and potatoes” type of fare. However, they offered great soup and sandwich selections for lunch and dinner. George’s was noted for their cheeseburgers, and it was quite common for the kids at EMU to order them for pickup. Likewise, their freshly baked bread was to die for.

It was at the same time that George’s Huron Inn started to become more like your typical neighborhood bar and grille. What I miss are the cute college girls in mini-skirts and Go-Go boots, who were the waitresses back then. As I write this, I wonder what happened to Cheryl and Helen who used to work there in the late 1970s? Nonetheless, those were the good old days, when you would hear college professors talking about all the places they traveled to around the world, or local politicians mentioning what projects would be coming to the area to make it a better place.

I know I said a few weeks ago that I wanted to start a bar here in Ypsi that was known for a signature drink involving some kind of dead animal, but I think that I’d settle for a little neighborhood bar that dished out inexpensive lobster, served by co-eds in mini-skirts and Go-Go boots. That sounds just about perfect to me… Anyway, I just can’t stop thinking about how it came to be that this little bar in Ypsilanti became known for serving fresh Maine lobster in the 50’s. I’m thinking there must have been a connection through Willow Run Airport or something… If you know, drop me a line. And the same goes for anyone who knows how to get a hold of Cheryl and Helen. I’d love to interview them for the site.

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13 Comments

  1. Eel
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m not an authorized food historian, but lobster could have still been considered poor man’s food in the 50s. I’ve heard that they used to serve it to prisoners at one time.

  2. Eel
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    And people in Ypsi probably weren’t too sophisticated at the time. Maybe they were just serving carp inside of some lobster shells that they kept reusing.

  3. Andrew Jason Clock
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I never went to the place when it was Huron Inn, but I always wanted to know what liquor sandwiches tasted like.

  4. Tommy
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Went to George’s – a lot – when I was a student in the early 80s. It was a smoky dive with a few regular drunks always hanging around. Mostly, it was a quiet place for a cheap pitcher that was not Theo’s or the Nickel. Theo’s was reserved for Kamikaze night and the Nickel when trying to pick up a skank or two – if I recall, they were named Cheryl and Helen (aka the Hoover Sisters).

  5. Huron Dave
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The Huron River used to be full of lobster, back in the day. If you’d wade out into the current, they’re crawl right up your legs. They were the size of wiener dogs. They’d occasionally flip rowboats.

  6. Edward
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Never went to George’s, but my understanding of the place fits with what Tommy says. I’d always heard that it was a super smokey dive bar. The thought that it began as a lobster restaurant surprises the hell out of me. It’s like hearing that the Harmony House Motel on Michigan Ave started out as a Four Seasons.

  7. Violet
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    The “Maine lobsters” were likely toxic Ford Lake crayfish.

  8. Steve Swan
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    They may not serve lobster there anymore, but I got a case of crabs at Powell’s not too long ago.

  9. Posted October 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    We forget that Ypsilanti had a major airport besides Willow Run and prior to Metro. It was situated where US 23 and I-94 intersect. \
    http://annarborchronicle.com/2010/02/14/in-the-archives-runway-to-the-future/

  10. Doug Shirk
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Very nice post. Don’t know why, but when I went to EMU in the early 70’s (BBA ’71), we didn’t go to the Huron Inn alot, but it was a nice place to go when you wanted a beer but didn’t want to put up with the hub-bub at the Ale Haus. I distinctly remember that it was probably the last bar with an Altas Beer sign out front.

  11. Lisa
    Posted September 5, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The Georges Huron Inn (there was no apostrophe in the sign, rumor had it there were two Georges) is where I met my husband in January 1980. Lots of theatre people hung out there. I don’t remember anything about the food, but Eric and I got engaged a month later. :D

  12. Posted October 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    When I frequented George’s in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was a dive bar, but a unique one for a college town. In the afternoon, the locals and their kids would drop in for lunch, by 6pm, it had been taken over by EMU students (mostly theatre and music types as Lisa said), professors and local drunks. The jukebox was a fabulous combination of music from the 40’s to the 70’s. There was always a game of euchre going on in the back room and always interesting people to talk to. The bartender/owner was a guy named Andy. A Vietnam vet who rode a motorcycle. I also remember Cheryl and Helen and think Tommy is a wishful thinker.

  13. Micheal
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    For Eel’s information, Ypsilanti was highly sophisticated blueblood community prior to World War II, when Henry Ford imported working class people from around the world – but especially the southern U.S. – to work in the bomber plant that he built adjacent to the Willow Run Air Strip (which he sold to the U.S. government, which leased it back to him). Ford made a tidy penny on the war. When the working class invasion did not go home after the war but started moving into the City of Ypsilanti from the east side of the Charter Township of Ypsilanti, the wealthy people moved to the west side of the City and the west side of the Charter Township (or to Ann Arbor), and the once glamorous mansions and Greek-revival style homes on Huron and adjacent streets were turned into flats, office space and museums.

    For Lisa: There was no apostrophe in Georges because that was his name. Georges Beaudette was the founder of Georges The Huron Inn. He was from a Michiganois family (i.e. Michigan’s historic Francophone community, aka the “Muskrat French”). So, it’s properly “zhorzh” but people called him “jorj” and pronounced “Georges” as if it were English “George’s”.

    Georges’ daughter Margaret inherited the business when he died. Her son Andy (whence comes this information) worked for his mother, and then took it over. He was about 35 or 40 in 1980, and Margaret was in her 60’s. A woman named Marcia appeared to be Andy’s girlfriend, though whether she actually was or not was debatable; he definitely was not interested in marrying her or he would have done (or perhaps his mother told him not to).

    At any rate, assuming Andy took over the business from his mother, he would be in his 70’s now and probably was happy to sell up and retire.

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