By Ian Perrotta
Recently the business district on Conant has received a shot in the arm from an onslaught of new shops. And thanks to Skipper’s Hamtown, it’s about to get another one, only this time it’s a double shot, straight up no rocks.
Skipper’s Hamtown is the latest bar to occupy 9735 Conant, which used to house Chill and Mingle. After renovating a few things and completely scrubbing the building of any traces of nicotine, the non-smoking bar is now open for business. But make no mistake about the new owner – when it comes to tending bar, Nolan ‘Skipper’ LaFramboise II is an old pro.
If the name Skipper sounds familiar, it might be from his days back in Delray when he worked at the famous Joey’s Stables. For 10 years he waited on regular Joes as well as notable folks like Henry Ford II and Gordie Howe. He also owned Skipper’s Downtown/The Stray Dog Cafe in Detroit from the early 1980s until 1996. After a decade-and-a-half of semi-retirement, he’s ready to get back to his roots.
“I want to have a neighborhood ‘almost-dive’ bar with occasional entertainment and community events and fundraisers,” says Skipper. “Bars aren’t just places to drink. They’re gathering places where people meet and converse about whatever affects them the most.”
Skipper says informal gathering places are vital to neighborhoods because they spur action and involvement. With far too many bars not offering the opportunity to walk in and have a good conversation with the person nearby, he hopes Skipper’s Hamtown can change that attitude.
“When people start talking to each other,” he says, “it allows for understanding. You can learn a lot about people that you wouldn’t expect to at a bar.”
With an assortment of bottled beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea and six non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, customers are bound to find something they like. There is also a pool table, dartboards, a jukebox and other electronic games for entertainment.
“It’s going to be a friendly and comfortable place,” says Skipper, “so come on by for a good drink and a great time.
Skipper’s Hamtown is located 9735 Conant Ave at Evaline and opens at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with expanded hours to come soon.