By Patty Talahongva
It just might be the best-kept secret supper club in the area, but Michael’s Cafe at 5025 N. 7th Ave. is steadily building its reputation and a loyal customer base. It opened more than two years ago, a venture between Michael Carr and Ricky Barnes, both of whom retired from the Air Force.
The supper club is tucked away behind American Dry Cleaners, just north of Camelback Road; there is plenty of parking in the back. Tyrone Green is the head chef and manager. He brings more than 10 years of catering experience to this kitchen.
Green says Michael’s is geared toward the 35 and older crowd who want to have dinner and dance in a classy place. That means there’s a dress code for men. No tennis shoes, no baseball caps, and no athletic wear. It also means no kids. This is a place for the grownups to enjoy a night on the town.
Green likens it to the dinner club Ricky Ricardo’s character worked at in the TV sitcom “I Love Lucy.” For longtime Valley dwellers, think Jockey Club or even back in the day, the Playboy Club.
On this supper club’s menu is soul food with $14.50 entrees that include two sides. Barbecue brisket, southern fried chicken and Cajun catfish are just a few of the choices with such side dishes as jambalaya, dirty rice, fried cabbage and yams.
“The average bill for a couple is between $65 and $75,” says Green, “and that includes the cover and drinks.” Or you can order one of the starter items like catfish nuggets and make it a Cafe Special—with fries and a soft drink—for $9.85. He says it’s important that customers know they are getting their money’s worth when they dine and dance at Michael’s Cafe.
And diners will definitely want to throw down some dough for the peach cobbler or the sweet potato pie for dessert. The portions are generous and each costs $3.50.
Green says the location is ideal because of the light rail and the vibrant local business vibe. “Midtown is the way to go. We’re in the district with the art walk,” he explains, referring to the adjacent Melrose District. On First Fridays (and Saturdays) Michael’s have a special menu and puts up a VIP tent with vendors selling everything from cologne to clothes.
Michael’s Café is open daily for dinner, except Tuesday. Monday is karaoke night from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Wednesday is jazz night with shrimp scampi and steak specials.
Thursdays are Ladies Nights and they pull out all the stops. “Every lady who comes through the door gets a fresh rose,” says Green. They also get a free buffet, a chocolate fountain, and more pampering in the form of $5 manicures and massages for $1 a minute. Hennessy is also on special for $5. For the gentlemen there’s a $5 cover. A cigar company sells cigars on site and a live band plays until 10 p.m. and then the DJ takes over until closing.
Saturday is R & B classics for the first part of the evening and then DJ Willie B spins the tunes until close. Guests can purchase a VIP lounge area for $250 and that includes a bottle of their choice such as Grey Goose, Hennessy or Patron.
Sunday night is a little more casual and men can wear tennis shoes but no caps or athletic wear. This night features Chicago-style stepping. If you’re not familiar with that particular dance step you can learn from the crowd.
There are $4 well drinks all day, every day.
“We want this to be a place where people can let their hair down,” says Green. He wants every person who comes to Michael’s to have a good time, and a good meal.
This month, the owners are featuring a Queen of AZ contest. It’s open to any single woman 33 and older. Contestants must fill out a survey on the website and submit a photo for online voting (www.michaelscafeaz.com). The winner will receive a free dinner the night of the event, free admission for a year, a free website, business consultation, and personal relationship coaching. The winner will be announced on June 15 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Michael’s opens at 4 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays and at 6 p.m. the other days. Closing hours vary. For reservations call 602-248-2233.