Greenwich Time Pub keeps on ticking

Celebrating 50 years this summer, the Greenwich Time Pub’s owner Harry Hans says things have ‘never been so good.’

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Harry Hans has spent the past 50 years grilling burgers and making friends at Greenwich Time Pub at 130 Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit. Few restaurant owners are seen behind the grill at their own establishments, let alone every day, for decades.

“He’s here at like nine in the morning and he doesn’t leave here until like 2 a.m.,” says his daughter, Nika Hans, the pub’s bartender. Her brother, Michael Hans, works alongside his dad at the grill, making the pub’s signature tuna melts, burgers and soups.

On July 15 the Hans family will celebrate Greenwich Time Pub’s golden anniversary with food and drink specials.

Hans’ American tale starts in communist Albania around 1960 when, according to his daughter, he kissed his mother goodbye without telling her his plans to escape the country. After a landslide down a mountain, six months in jail in Yugoslavia and a few years living in Italy, Hans made it to Detroit.

“I immigrated here in 1960,” he says, taking a break from behind the grill last week to talk to me. “And I (saw) bars, I see this building was a restaurant owned by another Albanian and I thought ‘I would like to have a bar like this one’ ... and you know what, it happened.”

Hans bought the bar in 1966. Back then, the Greenwich Time Pub was known as Borg’s Lounge. In fact, some of the restaurant’s accounts at Eastern Market are still listed under Borg’s.

He met his wife, Dolores, at Borg’s when she came in for margaritas on her 21st birthday. After they married, it was her idea to change the name to Greenwich Time Pub. She had an affinity for British things, says Nika.

Dolores Hans passed away about 14 years ago, and after 50 years, much of Detroit has changed, but little is different inside the Greenwich Time Pub. Harry Hans is still behind the grill and Miller High Life is still on draft, and the prices — $4.50 for a cheeseburger — haven’t inflated too much. Nika says the increase of activity in downtown Detroit has helped keep things going. They used to close at 8 p.m. due to lack of business, but now Greenwich can serve customers as late as 1:30 or 2 a.m.

“This is his life,” says Nika about her father. “All his friends come here to see him, and now this new, young generation ... it’s crazy. I’m so happy he’s alive to be able to see this turnaround happen so fast.”

“I went through a lot of things, during the riots and up and down the city,” says Harry. “Everybody left, and I said ‘I’m going to stick here’ and I did. I’m glad I did. Things have never been so good.”

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Twitter: @melodybaetens