‘Home Improvement’ star hops behind Michigan bar during surprise visit

FLINT, MI — It’s not every day that a celebrity stops in at your local watering hole.

And this time, it was none other than actor Richard Karn at Churchill’s Food and Spirits in downtown Flint.

Most well-known for his role as Al Borland in ‘Home Improvement’ or also hosting one of America’s beloved classic game shows Family Feud, Karn was in the mood for good bourbon and a good meal while in Michigan on Monday, Feb. 12.

“He’s a whiskey guy, so I was told, so he was in the right place,” said John Saites, managing partner at Churchill’s. “He was shocked by how many bottles we had behind the bar.”

Karn told Saites that this was his first visit to Flint, as he drove down from Frankenmuth for a night out to relax before a charity event on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Karn will be one of three celebrities at the Celebrities Celebrate Autism awards dinner, taking place from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth.

The other two celebrities making an appearance at the awards dinner will be David Newell, known for his role of Mr. McFeely on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Daniel Ruettiger, a Notre Dame football legend whose life inspired the 1993 film “Rudy.”

Saites is a certified master of whiskey, registered in Scotland, and he brings that knowledge and culture to Churchill’s, 340 Saginaw St., which boasts a vast selection of anywhere from 340 to more than 400 bourbons and whiskeys in stock at all times.

Saites said Karn told him all about his love for good whiskey and bourbon, and that conversation led to tastings of some of the bar’s finest selections.

Karn sampled Buffalo Trace No. 111, Eagle Rare Super Rare and the Bulleit Master Select.

Saites also joined Karn behind the bar for a few pictures with a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle in hand, which turned into about 15 minutes of delightful conversation with locals and regulars.

Karn was once a bartender, Saites said, and he seemed to enjoy his time behind the bar.

“He started laughing, as he used to bartend back in the day. Everyone was just in awe that he was there behind the bar,” Saites said. “You could see how he was enjoying being behind the bar again.”

Karn stuck around for more than three hours, enjoyed a few drinks, a meal and even stayed for the first few songs of local bluegrass band The Outfit.

“I was so glad to see him come in,” Saites said. “I always tell people, ‘You’ve gotta give Flint a chance.’ We’re up and coming, and we’re all working hard to get this city on the map. It’s great to see him come into town. People were just ecstatic.”

For those interested in trying the bourbon and whiskey menu, Churchills is open from 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Read more at The Flint Journal:

Consumers Energy continues plan reducing bills for low-income Flint residents

Kildee to serve as president and CEO of Community Foundation of Greater Flint

Life after Dr. Dre’s Aftermath: Flint rapper Jon Connor answers questions in new album

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