“Art” and “Joe” top boys’ names in America—buoyed by popularity of local taverns


Left: Art’s Tavern owner Tim Barr; right: Joe’s Friendly Tavern owner Frank Lerchen.

From staff reports

Leelanau County has added another notch of fame to its belt.

First came the “most beautiful place in America” honor bestowed in 2011 by the Good Morning America TV show; then our peninsula graced the cover of Oxford University Press’s Essential World Atlas in 2021, now the two most popular boys’ names in America have their roots in beloved taverns in Glen Arbor and Empire.

Last year, 18 percent of all newborn boys nationwide were honored with the names “Art” and “Joe” on their birth certificates. “Art” for Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor, and “Joe” for Joe’s Friendly Tavern in Empire.

“This is another great honor for our region and a testament to the great experience that local residents and visitors, alike, receive when they visit our local restaurants and watering holes,” said Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce new president Stephen Brotschul. “This shows the popularity of Leelanau County not just in the Midwest but throughout the entire nation. People dream of being here while stuck in their workplace cubicles or in big-city traffic!”

“When they look down at their little Arts and Joes, they’ll feel that much closer to our County. We invite them to visit as often as they like.”

Art’s owner Tim Barr received the news just before closing time on Friday night when an official from the U.S. Census Bureau called the phone mounted on the wall on the south side of the restaurant. He was honored at the news though a little confused at first because the Census official asked to speak to “Art” saying “I have really big news for ‘Art’.” (The late Art Sheridan hasn’t owned the tavern in decades.)

Likewise, Joe’s Friendly Tavern owner Frank Lerchen got his call from the Census Bureau while watching a replay on Bally Sports Detroit of the Glen Lake School Girl’s Basketball Division 4 state championship game last month (his daughter Gemma played on the championship team). Amid shouts of “Go Lakers!” he explained to the Census official that no one named “Joe” worked at the Friendly. Still, Lerchen charmed the Washington, D.C.-based official and convinced him to visit Empire the next time he was in Michigan.

Barr and Lerchen both agreed to offer a free burger to anyone who named their child “Art” or Joe” last year.

M22 Challenge organizers Matt and Keegan Myers sought to capitalize on the news and will add another element to their popular mid-June triathlon. In addition to running up the Dune Climb, biking around the Glen Lakes, and paddling two miles in Little Glen, athletes will now sit at folding tables at the finish line and eat a burger from Art’s or the Friendly.

“M22 is a way of life, and savoring a burger from Art’s or the Friendly is a great way to enjoy that life,” said Keegan Myers.

Story update: Since this story published two hours ago, revealing to the nation that “Art’s” is actually owned by “Tim” and “Joe’s” is actually owned by “Frank,” the Census Bureau reports a dramatic surge in the number of boys named “Tim” and “Frank.” Those names have taken an early lead in the top names list for 2023. Stay tuned for more.

Happy April Fool’s Day!