During a Christmas celebration, David Bedford pitched his idea of opening a bar to Nick Walsh over some Bud Light and Chinese food.
A couple years later, that idea became a reality in the form of 120 South – a new speakeasy-styled Mt. Pleasant bar at 120 S. University.
The high-end cocktail lounge opened last week, with Bedford and Walsh as managers and head bartenders.
Bedford, who was between jobs and considered moving to Detroit or another big city, said a conversation with Aimee Goudreau, who is now a co-owner of the bar, pushed him to start an establishment of his own.
“I was talking to Aimee, and she said, ‘Why don’t you just open your own bar?’”
Goudreau and two co-owners put up money for the bar, which under construction and development for about a year.
The bar boasts numerous cocktails and “tapas,” appetizers served on a small plate, in addition to other foods and drinks.
The building includes a bar area, several booths and a lounge area. The atmosphere echoes to the 1920s and 1930s, with mugshots of notorious gangsters like Al Capone and Charles “Lucky” Luciano framed above some of the tables.
Each bartender is decked out in formal work clothing.
Chris Stovak, another co-owner, said the debut last week was highly successful. He said his goal with the bar was to make it feel like it’s located in another place.
“Chicago and New York are probably the top two cities people have said [the bar] reminds them of,” Stovak said.
Brad Swanson of Mt. Pleasant said he is searching for a restaurant to take his in-laws – who he says are in their 70s and from Sicily, Italy – when they visit town this weekend, and is testing out 120 South based on the recommendation of a friend.
After trying a drink and sitting in the bar for a time, Swanson said he feels confident his in-laws will enjoy themselves.