Last days - Culture - Detroit Metro Times
There's not a single customer in the bar tonight. Just like most of last night. Just like most nights before that.
Steve Francis, the bar's owner, sits at a table by the wall, huddled inside his wool sweater, with a blanket covering his lap. "Cold," he says, simply. "Costs too much to heat."
It's Friday night at Steve's Place, one of the oldest, loneliest dive bars in Detroit. It manages to be both legendary and obscure, a place that most people have heard of but not many visit, except those loyal few who check in now and then to see if its elderly proprietors are still improbably in place behind the bar.
"Nobody in here," Steve says, meaning not just tonight but always. "Sometimes there are birthday parties, the bachelor parties once in a while. Occasionally, a few lovers come in here. But now, very bad. No business."
It's dead quiet apart from the little television above the bar and the sounds of the night seeping in from outside — the loud clang when a car drives over the thick metal sheets covering potholes in the street, the clipped words of stray conversations among people passing by, the shouts of a riled homeless man echoing among the tall buildings.
The dim light in the room comes from small sources — the flickering television, the single light bulb inside a frosted globe hanging from the ceiling, the soft glow behind the old bar's liquor bottles and the strand of colorful, year-round Christmas lights strung along a wall.
Steve and Sophie, his wife of 50 years, are the bar's only employees. Both are in their 80s, though Steve says he's not even sure how old he is exactly, because he has no birth certificate. The frail couple takes turns working; one naps in the apartment upstairs while the other one works the bar, from a little before the lunch hour to 2 a.m. or later, every single day of the year but Christmas.