Since opening in 1979, GTC's has become a staple of the Ann Arbor college scene. They feature one of the largest shooter menus in town, along with a modest tap list. Charley's has several flat panel TVs hanging from the ceilings viewable from any seat inside the bar, showing college and pro athletics. Charley's has both interior and exterior seating, though as fall turns the weather colder, the exterior seating loses it's 'charm' and gains it's 'areyoujokingmemynipplesarefallingoffjustwalkinghere'. A little over a year ago, Charley's underwent a renovation, segmenting off several parts of the building. The top floor has since been filled with BTB Cantina, but the section on the west side has yet to be claimed.
Chuck's has one of the earliest Happy Hours in the Ace Duece, starting (on weekdays) at 2:30pm and running until 6. This features $3 pitchers of Miller Light, Killian's, Labatt Blue, and PBR, $2 tall beers (23 oz) of the same and a dollar off 'pub menu' food (pepperoni twists, onion rings, etc.) and mixed drinks. After 10pm, all of the above drinks go back on special but pitchers are instead $4.50, and talls are $3.25. Every night, there is a 'shot special' where one of the shots/shooters will be at a discounted price. Sunday nights are coin flips; after 10pm, you can flip a coin and if you call it in the air, your bill will be half off (only counts toward drinks bought after 10).
Charley's has karaoke on Tuesdays, supplied by DJ Stoo.
What to say about GTC's? The only real negative I can say about Chuck's is that after 10pm on Thursday-Saturday, it's pretty packed. Expect to wait in line to get in, unless you plan to arrive at 9:30 or earlier, and don't expect to get a table, either, especially when it gets colder.
While GTC's is rarely bad, it's rarely even close to spectacular. The prices are fair, but nothing I would really call a 'deal'. The beer list is uninspired to say the least, and it's generally too noisy to hear any of the TVs (though that's not really needed). Conversation is difficult from the noise as well, unless you don't mind yelling. Service is slow, more because of the number of people there than a bad wait staff, but I've waited over 45 minutes between sitting down and getting the pitcher I ordered.
While the crowd has it's negatives, it's also the reason why Charley's is to popular. You will almost never go to GTC's and not see someone you know. The fact that everyone seems to know someone and a friendly (if a little understaffed) staff, and comparably bright lighting make the bar have a 'happy' air about it, making it great for meeting new people.
The 'Longest Islands' at Charley's are quite popular. It's a giant mason jar (it used to be a hurricane glass, but people kept stealing them) filled with a selection from their various Long Island recipes. It'll ring in at $9.50 for 60 ounces.
Contributing, also, to it's popularity, is it's central location. It's right next to campus, it's very close to Greek Row, UTowers, and several other large student areas. On afternoons, it's a great place to get a seat outside and people-watch with a pitcher and a monster basket of fries.
I regard Charley's as a backup option every night. While it doesn't have a solid 'Must Go' night, it will never disappoint. I give GTC's three stars. If they were to add another special, I'd probably up rate them, but there's no real need for them to, since they don't have any problems filling up without it.