To this day, the “GROTTO” is still the number one volume per square foot in refreshment sales in the COUNTRY (making a million six hundred thousand a year in a time of 50 cent beers and one dollar mixed drinks)!! Put the “BANK” out of business and hurt all others. The largest night club to this day ever in G.R. (12,000 square feet, with a capacity of 1,200 people) and 122 employee’s. The first to charge a cover charge, when it was thought you couldn’t do it and survive!
The term DISCO was created from the “GROTTO” and New York’s “Club 54” met with me, tricked me and copied us, leading to the movie “Saturday Night Live”. Before we featured live music (Me and Dem Guy’s, The Kingtones, Ronnie Fray, Del Shannon including many more, (all “show” bands, meaning bands with multiple musicians, 6 or more, and for sure “brass”) had, not just a D J with canned music, but TWO live drummers playing to the “canned” music.
On site parking for 400 cars and filled Monday thru Saturday when most clubs were happy with decent crowds (50 to a hundred) on Wednesday and Fridays. I still see and talk with Bob Sullivan and he, “the King” feels it was the best and most advanced club he has even known, even to this day! Tom Johnson (Mr. Point After, owner of 20 plus clubs) said it was the only club/competitor he ever went to see what it was all about, not even having a club in the G R market, but seeing that it put a dent in his other operations, so much so I sold it to him! Again, not to mention, as you customers will remember, the fact that the Detroit Lions players would drive the three hours to come and enjoy, choosing to pass allot of clubs in their area. To this day, still talk with Charlie Sanders, Mel Far, Craig Cotton, Q B Bill Munson, Coach Joe Schmidt, etc.! Also helped them get into business after their career was over, and still help with their non profits, helping others.
Also, Bob Sullivan choose baseball, we did hockey, starting GRAHA and high school hockey, running/starting it all with volunteers, again, seeing what hockey has grown in to!!!
They all felt it was somewhat remarkable that a 26 year old put it all together, I.e. A club because of a glassed in area, made for adults able to enjoy the same experience as the “young” folks, without it being too loud!
If not remembered for much, at least I was responsible for the most dates, pick ups, marriages, and ill-legitimate kids and money won or lost on pool or pin ball, in the history of G R (including the first “pong” games, air hockey, shuffle board and Foo’s Ball in G R)! LOL!
Not mention the “effects” were done before computer’s, chips, etc. Including the FIRST time beer was distributed from one cooler instead having to move kegs to the bar thru crowds. Today, keep in mind, all venues, whether it’s a football stadium or anywhere else, would not exist if it were not for my inventing the ability to pump beer from one location without having to wheel kegs thru crowds. Again, to this day, 30 years later, the GROTTO is the largest draft beer account Fox Distributing has ever had!
All said, I did do it all for the income (most peoples motivation), but it’s comforting to know, it was all “cutting edge”, a new concept, a leader with a huge investment, especially for a 26 year old, which means a risk, especially taking on all the existing and established “pro’s”!
G R is home to a president, but also the home to “DISCO”!!!!
PS: We also had the first microwave oven (made by Amana, $2,600.00, and looked like the front grill of a 1956 Buick), but certainly nothing anyone could afford for their home!
Thank you for letting me, at 68 years old, vent! I don’t need a “pat” on the back, as I am still living off the gracious income the wonderful people of G R have allowed me and my family, so we all will be forever grateful.
Well, at 68 and with COPD, back to watching Judge Judy and listening to the furnace turn on and off!
Rick C. Ritter