New Midtown bar Hammer & Nail draws inspiration from mid-century cocktail scene of Detroit

A new bar in Detroit’s Midtown district draws inspiration from the building’s 1960s roots. The mid-century-inspired cocktail lounge opened over the weekend.

For decades, neon signs have evoked the nightlife, crowding the streets of places like Times Square in New York City and The Strip in Las Vegas.

The Blue Hawaii cocktail at Hammer & Nail.

It’s fitting then that one of the most iconic neon signs in Detroit’s history is not that of a hotel or restaurant but rather the simple act of a hammer striking a nail. Once adorned atop the Professional Plaza building, the series of neon hammer-and-nail signs served as a beacon in the Detroit sky, signaling the building’s duty as the headquarters of the Carpenters Union.

It’s perhaps even more fitting then that one of the very signs representing Detroit’s working-class roots is now the centerpiece of an upscale cocktail bar in the city’s flourishing Midtown district.

The Professional Plaza, once vacant and then purchased by The Roxbury Group, has been redeveloped as The Plaza, a residential apartment building that opened in 2017.

Now The Roxbury Group is celebrating the opening of Hammer & Nail, a cocktail bar featuring classic cocktails from the "Mad Men" era and located in the lobby of The Plaza. One of the iconic hammer-and-nail signs was restored and installed along the back bar.

"Hammer & Nail was always a key part of our original vision for the Plaza," says Stacy Fox, principal of The Roxbury Group.

"We are excited to bring a full-fledged cocktail bar to Midtown."

Hammer & Nail, which opened on Friday, Oct. 18, features both a food menu and a drink menu inspired by the era of the building’s construction. The Professional Plaza building opened in 1966.

The Roxbury Group can be credited with saving the building — and the sign — with its purchase and redevelopment of the Plaza building, staving off the previous owners’ plans for demolition.

Hammer & Nail is located in the lobby of The Plaza, a residential high-rise at 3800 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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