Bookies Bar & Grille is now down to one owner, and one owner alone as of Thursday morning.
Owner Jay Lambrecht, who was the majority owner in majority-minority partnership with Mark Jerant, bought out his now-former business partner this week after Jerant’s disparaging comments about a Tulsa police shooting went viral on social media.
“There is not a silent partnership. He has zero ownership,” Lambrecht tells BLAC during a Thursday morning conversation at the bar.
Since BLAC first reported Jerant’s comments on Tuesday, Bookies – and by proxy, Lambrecht – has faced a firestorm of criticism and threats of boycott.
Lambrecht’s only comments so far have come through a Facebook status on his personal page. Speaking more candidly, he says he realizes the uphill battle he now faces in regaining trust with customers – particularly black customers.
“I’ve worked down here (in Detroit) since I was 15. I’ve always tried to do right by the city because the city has always done right by me,” Lambrecht says.
Lambrecht and Jerant have known each other since they were teens, both attending University of Detroit Jesuit High School in Detroit. They co-founded Bookies – not to be confused with Bookies Club 870, an eastside punk rock venue – in 2003 on Washington Boulevard.
But, Lambrecht says, “people change, life changes. I think that over the years, Mark and I were business partners more than best friends – and I’m not saying that to distance myself away from this. I’ve got a family, he’s got a family. We don’t hang out at all socially – we meet once a week for business.”
When asked if he knew Jerant’s opinions about black citizens detained by police or any other similar views, Lambrecht says Jerant’s views “don’t reflect mine.
“The initial shock of what he said…me myself, it’s disappointing and upsetting to see those remarks,” he says. “I don’t agree with what he said. It wasn’t reflective of the bar, but obviously it is since he was an owner.”
Calling it “the biggest business transaction of my life,” Lambrecht and Jerant each agreed to part ways. Other than an apology released to media on Wednesday, Jerant has not been available for comment.
“Actions speak louder than words, and my first action was to figure out this split with Mark,” Lambrecht says. “The second action is rebuilding our reputation with the community, but more than that, trust.”
Lambrecht acknowledges that everything he says and everything Bookies does will be heavily scrutinized, but is optimistic about continuing to operate in Detroit.
“My bar is not out in the suburbs. The rest of my businesses [Lambrecht is a partner in Fountain Bistro, an eatery downtown, and a real-estate firm; Jerant, to be clear, has never had involvement in any of those ventures] are not out in the city. They’re here,” he says.