Nov. 28 2012 12:00 AM

Tin Can DeWitt


When the Tin Can opened in Lansing two years ago, everything you needed to know about the place was scrawled in chalk in all caps right there on the wall: “WORLD CLASS DIVE BAR.”

Specializing in canned beer, well liquor and the notorious Tin Can Happy Meal (that would be a chili dog, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jack Daniel´s, thank you very much), the Tin Can has seen steady business since Day 1. And now the unassuming Little Dive Bar That Could has just spawned its second sequel earlier this month in the middle of a DeWitt shopping plaza: Tin Can DeWitt.

“There’s always going to be a Tin Can where people need us,” joked operator/manager Dave Sell. “Three years, three Cans. We don’t rest on our laurels.”

Yes, this is the third location for the growing Tin Can franchise, which started in 2010 at 408 E. Michigan Ave. across from the Lansing Center in the Stadium District. The second location, Tin Can West, opened last year near the interchange of I-69 and West Saginaw Highway in Delta Township, anchored into a shopping plaza with lots of traffic. The Tin Can is part of 414 Entertainment, the same management team that owns and operates The Exchange (cocktails and live music), Omar’s Show Bar (gentleman’s club), Harem (night club), The Dugout (seasonal patio bar), Taps 25 (specialty draft beers), The Loft (live music venue) and Taco 911 (Mexican food).

Sell says that the DeWitt location is about the same size as the original (800 square feet), and will feature a menu similar to the west side location, which includes pizza, nachos, wings and fries — with plenty of room left for experimentation.

“Right now I’m working on recipe for bacon-wrapped tater tots,” he says with obvious relish. “If that doesn’t float your boat at 1:30 after drinking all night, nothing will.”

Sell says that the concept will remain the same: cans of beer, no taps and keeping everything cheap — the lowest priced beer on the list runs you $1.75, and well drinks are always under $3.50. There are also now-famous Faygo bombs (which Tin Can claims to have invented) and pudding shots (which Sell says they “perfected”).

He says business has been brisk since opening at the beginning of the month, with the big bump coming from the after-work crowd during the week between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

“It’s a whole new schedule to get used to,” Sell says. “Weekends are still good, but we’ve had some surprises, too, like the big business we get after the high school football games. DeWitt is a lot different from Lansing.”

With a central and a west location, the natural move would have been to move east to get closer to that built-in bar crowd in East Lansing, but Sell says they jutted north to stake a unique claim in the area.

“A big part of the reason we chose to expand to DeWitt is simply because there is no other bar in the area that doesn’t allow children,” he says. “I did my research at other places — they’re like day care facilities, with kids running around everywhere. At the Tin Can, you can drink and not have to worry about offending anyone.”

So no kids at all?

“Well, I take that back,” he says. “We allow children — they just have to be 21.”

Tin Can DeWitt
3 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday
Noon-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
13175 Schavey Road (in the Schavey Road Plaza), DeWitt