Lil Bo, previously known as Little Bohemia, in Traverse City, is once again full of smiles and laughter after a local family re-opened this downtown staple in July 2021. Here’s what they’re up to and what they’ve been serving since the summer opening of the Northern Michigan restaurant.

Traverse City native Jenni Scott has decades of memories from spending time at Little Bohemia. “I used to come here a lot, especially working in the service industry,” she says. “They’d stay open so those people getting out of work late would have a cool place to hang. I even worked here for a bit.”

So, when the neighborhood bar closed and went up for sale in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Jenni and her sister and parents stepped in to purchase it in April, becoming just the third family to own the West Front Street icon, which dates back to the early 1930s, beginning as a hot dog stand with bootlegging in the basement.

Food at Lil Bo in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

Owner of Lil Bo in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

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The restaurant reopened in July 2021 as Lil Bo, a longtime nickname of Little Bohemia. The Scotts kept the knotty pine interior and brought back the pool table, but the life-size Stormtrooper light above it is new. So is the custom bar with Michigan matchbooks, and Jenni and her brother made the tables topped with vintage recipes, Mardi Gras beads and concert tickets.

“We spruced up the bathrooms and put some paint outside, but we let it be what it wants to be, which is a bar,” Jenni says.

Chili, Beer & Food at Lil Bo in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

The full menu includes an olive burger—a nod to one of Little Bohemia’s most iconic dishes—along with po’boys from Jenni’s food truck Betty’s Hot Dish (she always recommends the pickle-brined chicken po’boy). Betty’s Cowgirl Chili, a six-time winner of the Downtown Chili Cook-Off, is on the menu every day (It’s got bacon, beef and pulled pork. Order it!) and so is a deviled egg of the day with funky toppings like crispy Spam and Thai chili sauce.

“I’ve loved this place for a long time,” Jenni says, “and it’s really good to see people laughing in here again.

Lil Bo is located at 540 W. Front St. in Traverse City and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., except on Sundays, when hours are noon to midnight. The scaled-down but dynamite late-night menu kicks in at 9 p.m. There’s live music every Thursday, football on Sundays and, in keeping with tradition, Service Industry Night on Mondays.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner