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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin

“The Dirty Dog” huh?


I remember my grandfather when he was disappointed with someone who was not in the room used the phrase “that dirty dog”. A dirty dog is defined as a low and sneaky person.

I, however,  think that most dogs are lovable

hugged dog

including dirty mutts.


So where did the DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE get its name?  Is there a deep meaning behind the name?. Is there an underdog story here? Probably the only honest answer will come from knowing proprietor Gretchen Valade and understanding that her response to such a silly question would be, “Why not?”.

The answer “why not” could explain the success of the joint. The Dirty Dog required a lot of “why nots” on its journey to success. For many people the very existence of a jazz club on the Hill in Grosse Pointe would be considered a long shot. However, Gretchen Valade had a conviction that everything is possible. Let’s just do it! With limited space but with unlimited will, Gretchen gathered the people necessary to create one of the world’s great spaces to hear jazz. It would be the best! And so it was built with first class acoustics, warm lighting, a great kitchen, and good sight lines for the guests, along with a green room for the musicians. Oh, and while they were at it, they included a meeting/waiting room.

Gretchen and her friend and cohort Tom Robinson began their task  of converting a toy store into a jazz club. There were skeptic, but construction started and the job of assembling the right people began. Tom took care of all the how tos while Gretchen concentrated on the why nots. Why not give a jazz joint an English pub feel? Why not hire one of the region’s great chefs, André Neminis? Why not have the floor managed by Willie Jones, one of the community’s best?  Why not add guys like the lovable bartender Carl,and why not staff the kitchen and floor with agreeable and capable people? Then they decided that they would get the best local and national talent to play to a small and intimate room, and while they were at it, treat the musicians with respect.

Eight years later we can see the results. Gretchen’s query “why not” permeates every detail in the place and luckily she has impeccable taste. Enjoy the results. Why not?

John Osler

Here are some shots of the Dirty Dog construction courtesy of Tom Robinson.



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