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.”
He and his wife Sophie, who run the place, could’ve retired years ago, but then what? They live upstairs; the bar is their home and this is all they’ve done half their lives. Despite worsening health and advancing age, their bar is going to remain here as long as they do. “I have no choice,” Steve says. “We’ve worked hard all our life over here. I work like slave over here. This is my job and my house.”
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