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  • Jaye Marie Carolan. Photo: Tom Wesley

This Trans Woman Ran a Bear Bar in Detroit For Four Years, But Now She’s Ready to Move On

The Hayloft Saloon originally opened in 1980

By |2022-10-17T12:55:53-04:00October 17th, 2022|Michigan, News|

Yes, Jaye Marie Carolan is the trans woman who owns the bear bar. 

She bought the Hayloft Saloon four years ago, knew exactly what it was — a gay bar for men — and promised that wouldn’t change. Now she’s selling it. 

I’m not in a hurry to sell it,” Carolan told Pride Source. “I don’t need to sell it. I’m just trying to get a little bit of my life back.”

The bar was sold to Carolan in 2018, but it opened decades before, in 1980. Leonard Lippert was its original owner. He owned the bar for 16 years, opening it upon his retirement from Manufacturer’s Bank in Detroit, and sold it in 1996 to Ron Harrington. Harrington was living in Florida and running the bar remotely by the time he sold it to Carolan.

“I don’t know of another bar in Michigan that caters to just men,” Carolan said. “They’re all alternative. There was no bar left just for the guys, for guys to be guys and go meet guys. And I wanted to keep it that way.”

Not that the Hayloft isn’t open to all. “It’s a place where men meet men, but everyone who walks through the door is very welcome,” she said. “But I do not promote it as anything other than that.”

The Hayloft is actually not Carolan’s first bar. Originally from Bay City, Carolan would often come to Detroit and became a regular at Gigi’s on Saturday nights. Soon after, she discovered Adam’s Apple. “I’d go in the afternoons and have a couple of cocktails, and I fell in love with the bar,” she said. 

When approached about buying Adam’s Apple at the start of 2014, Carolan didn’t hesitate. “It was the first one that I bought because I love that place,” she said. 

She had long run a family business that she told us she didn’t care to discuss and said she cashed in an insurance policy and used the funds to buy the bar. “I’ve always lived pretty well, but I’ve never been wealthy by any stretch,” she said. “I had the insurance policy to take care of my family in case anything happened to me.”

But by this point, Carolan was divorced and her kids all grown. “I had all this cash, and I didn’t know what to do with it. So, I thought, ‘Here’s something that can be an investment and I’ll have some control over it. What the heck? I’ll buy the bar.’”

Buying Adam’s Apple was a decision she’s never regretted. “I really enjoy being a bar owner,” she said. “I like the people. I have a lot of fun with it. If I could go back and change it, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d do it all over again.”

With the Hayloft, however, she could not have known that COVID-19 was on the horizon and would hit just two years later — or that she’d have to close down for months. 

Despite various pandemic-related challenges, Carolan persevered, pouring money and time into renovating the space. 

But today, Carolan, at age 68, said she is ready to sell. The Hayloft, located at 8070 Greenfield Road, is 2,200 square feet and was built in 1951. The bar, including the business, liquor license and real estate, is being sold for just over a half million dollars. 

“It’s probably a bad time for me to want to sell it, because I’ve put so much money into it,” said Carolan. “I’ve got all the major stuff done now, and it’s really in a position where it could make some money.” 

It’s not all about the money, however. She’s just ready to not work quite as tirelessly. “I’m still very involved in the family business. And with the two bars on top of that, I have no life anymore. Something had to go — and I’m not going to give up the Adam’s Apple, because that’s my heart.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael has been with Pride Source since 1999 and is currently senior staff writer. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.
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