Flint, MI—Pop Rox, a bar featuring candy-themed cocktails, neon lights and murals of famous 80s and 90s icons, has joined the downtown Flint nightlife scene.

The new bar is located in the former Eberson space, 130 E. Second Street, right next to the Capitol Theatre. 

While Pop Rox officially opens on March 10, at last night’s soft-opening, bartenders in pink bowties and reflective yellow belts offered guests drinks with names like “Lemon Squeezy” and “Pucker Up” from a bar lined with spirits and jars of candy garnishes.

“There was a lot of collaboration. You know, talking about ideas and ‘what ifs,’” said Jerrid Heidel of why he and co-owner Phil Shaltz decided on the bar’s playful vibe. “And so, why this? Mainly because I think it’s a fun concept. I believe that the fun and energy will pull people down here.”

Though the layout of the space remains largely the same as Eberson’s, gone are its former arcade games. Shaltz, who’d also been a partner in Eberson, said the games were removed to make way for a large dance floor, DJ booth, and a selfie-ready artificial hedge wall complete with a glowing “hello gorgeous” sign.

“The arcade thing, it went through its phase,” Shaltz told Flint Beat from Pop Rox’s upstairs VIP area, itself furnished with a wall-to-wall upholstered bench and shiny white coffee tables. “The last six, eight months, hardly anybody was playing video games, and it took up a lot of space.”

Pop Rox has a lounge area with a jukebox and retro-styled couches. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Shaltz has a stake in several downtown properties and businesses, including a speakeasy across the street from Pop Rox. He said he viewed Pop Rox as unique in Flint’s downtown bar scene thanks to its large dance floor and focus on entertainment.

“There is hardly any dance floors in the county,” he said. “For the longest time, I’ve wanted to be able to put something down here where people can dance. Because that crosses all generations, whether you’re 20 or 60, people are going to want to dance.”

When asked about the dance floor at The Loft, another downtown Flint nightclub, Shaltz said he’d actually spoken to Rodney Ott, the club’s owner, about his vision before opening Pop Rox.

Shaltz said that he viewed The Loft as a place geared more toward locals, and Pop Rox as a place that may draw more visitors from outside the city.

“What we’re hoping is we want a crowd from outside of the normal crowd that’s here,” Shaltz said. “The pie is only so big, and all we’re doing is slicing the pie between how many [local] people will come here. But we need to attract people from the outskirts to come downtown and experience it.”

To that end, Flint audio visual engineer Cj Barnes came on board to customize the Pop Rox experience. During the soft open, Barnes, who is image and entertainment director for multiple spaces Heidel and Shaltz operate, showed off his hard work.

“This space is unique because it’s interactive,” he told Flint Beat. Barnes said a quick command into his cell phone, and all of the lights over the bar turned from pink, blue and purple to a soft green. “The physical space is an enhancement of your experience.”

Barnes said the lights will soon serve to let guests know about drink specials throughout the night or indicate last call, so the bar team can focus on customer service instead of announcements.

He said he believed the space could be considered one of the only “smart” bars in the county given the tech put into creating its ambiance.

Pop Rox will open to the public at 6 p.m. on March 10, 2023. According to Shaltz, its starting hours will be 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. or 12 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....