By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
STEVENSVILLE — Michael Wittlieff finds himself walking through the former 5 O’Clock Sports Bar and Restaurant at least once a week.
The former general manager of the sports bar has had aspirations of selling the business and having a third party renovate the place to its former glory.
At 5000 Red Arrow Highway, the former Stevensville sports bar is fastened into a heavily-trafficked area in Southwest Michigan. With Red Arrow Highway alongside it and the I-94 bypass a few yards to the north of it, Wittlieff said he was surprised there have been no aspiring restaurateurs up to the challenge.
“All the bids we had were just on the property, so we decided to liquidate the interior,” Wittlieff said. “I was hoping someone would pick it up and carry on the tradition as a restaurant. We took a bite waiting on that and are now going at a different angle.”
In mid December, Wittlieff and others placed everything in the building on the auction block in an online liquidation sale through Biddergy.com.
There are still signs left for the auction, alerting drivers to pick-up locations for sold items.
When the sports bar closed in May of 2015, Wittlieff said there was a potential buyer in the works. However, the deal fell through.
“That was a gentleman out of Chicago, but he ended up walking away,” Wittlieff explained in an interview Friday. “That was the catalyst to close. But it was also coupled with the economic times. When the nonsmoking law came through, we lost more than 40 percent of sales.”
While many in the community believed the location was being sold to make way for an Olive Garden, Wittlieff said those rumors were not true.
Lincoln Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer said he’s heard of the Olive Garden rumors before 5 O’Clock eventually closed, and related them to wishful thinking.
However, the fact that the former sports bar has remained uninhabited for more than a year and a half is puzzling to Stauffer.
“It’s a great location, that’s for sure,” Stauffer said. “I have no idea what they’re asking for, but it’s probably worth it. It’s a big building at a nice location.”
5 O’Clock Sports Bar and Restaurant is also across the street from the Stevensville Meijer. The sports bar hosted large gatherings on Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day and was known for making everything from chicken wings to prime rib.
The restaurant, formerly known as Win Schuler’s, was closed by the Schuler family before opening again in January of 2006 as 5 O’Clock.
Wittlieff said they bought the restaurant in June 2004, but had to wait 16 months to open due to licensing complications with Lincoln Township.
With no new deals in place to buy the property or the building, Wittlieff said his weekly trips are more of his way of making sure the place is kept in good order.
“Well, I would like to see the building repurposed. It could be a banquet facility,” Wittlieff said. “I do miss all the regulars and the food.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 2, 2017)