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Check out Clarkston venues on Party Bus

From left, Keith Patten and Tammy Bishop of Fountains and Jim Melema of Buck Shots, along with three other Clarkston venues, are working together to offer free Party Bus service. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
January 19, 2011 - Local bar owners don't want patrons to drive to their establishments – they want them to take the bus.

"Come to our place, have a good time – we'll be accountable," said Keith Patten, owner of 24-7 Limousine and partner of Fountains Golf and Banquet Center. "If you're drinking, we don't want you in a car. We want you on the bus."

Fountains, Hamlin Pub, Mr. B's, Buck Shots and Mesquite Creek are teaming up to offer the Clarkston Party Bus Pub Crawl, about 7:30 p.m.-2:15 a.m., Fridays starting Feb. 4.

"This will help bolster business and take care of people, so they can go out and have a good time at all these places," said Jim Mellema, owner of Buck Shots Bar and Grill.

Patten found many clients hired his limo service to go bar hopping out of town to Birmingham, Detroit, and other communities.

"How many leave the area to go someplace else? Five hundred? A thousand? I thought, come to Clarkston and we'll take care of the transportation," he said.

Plans call for free rides along the circuit, as well as transportation home for $10, within 10 miles. The group hopes to partner with another transportation company for patrons who live farther way.

"It's a great idea – where else can you go and get something for free? No where," Mellema said. "Most people going out worry about how to get home. This is a no brainer."

The bus, holding about 25-30 people, will be furnished like a limousine inside, with music, drinks, and entertainment.

"It's be really cool – my worry is people won't want to get off," Patten said. "The object is to keep the Clarkston people in town, while keeping them safe."

The business owners want customers to visit each other's venues.

"Our biggest competition isn't each other, it's Novi, Birmingham, Detroit," said Tony Vitale, owner of Mesquite Creek. "We share a lot of the same guests. There are so many unique venues in Clarkston, all offering something different. This is a great opportunity to spend the entire evening in Clarkston."

They hope to expand the service to more venues, including concerts at DTE Music Auditorium, Saturday night, as well as weddings and parties.

"The possibilities are endless," Mellema said.

The party bus route starts at Fountains, 6060 Maybee Road in Independence Township.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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