Drinks, conversation, and fun: that’s what Downtown’s Torch Bar & Grill is all about! And with close to 5,000 ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page, it appears there are a whole lot of fans of this tiny pub nestled in an old building in Buckham Alley.
Serving Downtown Flint for over 60 years, the popular eatery and watering hole originally opened as Kemp’s back in the late 1940s, the name changing in the 70s to The Torch when it was owned by Bud Polling. Ron Sims has been the owner since 2006. Just a few minutes’ walk from most Downtown offices, the eatery is the perfect place to unwind after a hard day’s work. It has become a meeting place for lawyers, bankers, judges, cops, tattoo artists and college students. “You see pretty much everything here,” Ron smiled. “It’s more of an institution than a bar, and I’m not an owner, I’m a caretaker.”
Kathleen Gazall, a lifelong Flint resident, is a regular Torch diner. She works Downtown and has a strong interest in Flint’s revival. She is chairperson of the popular Buckham Alley Fest, and many of that committee’s meetings are held at The Torch. “The atmosphere keeps me coming back,” Kathleen said, “because it feels like home to me. Everybody is great, both the patrons and the bartenders.”
What makes The Torch a place where on a busy Friday night (well, almost every night), hungry people pack the house? “It’s the only place you can get a Torch Burger,” laughed Kathleen. “It’s a bar burger, nothing fancy,” said Ron Sims, owner. But, boy! What a burger! The half-pound specialty is handmade using fresh-ground beef delivered by a local supplier every morning. Never frozen or pre-formed, the patties are cooked to order and served with the mustard, ketchup, pickle and onion unless otherwise specified. Feeling indulgent? Go for the Cheese Deluxe with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Or, build your perfect burger by adding bleu cheese and bacon. You can even get a veggie Torch Burger and of course, neither is complete without wedge-cut fries or onion rings.
The Torch has a staff of 13 and two dedicated cooks. Other than the unbeatable burgers, menu favorites include Friday night’s beer-battered fish and chips, sandwiches, salads and an assortment of appetizers. According to Kathleen, “From hipsters to professionals, The Torch is the place to be!”
PHOTOS BY NAARAH MYERS
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