Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where have all the cool bars gone?

I had the pleasure, for several years, to have my own version of “Cheers”. I made most of my current friends there and the ones I already knew soon made it their home too. No matter what day or time you went in, you were sure to find someone you knew and some good conversation.

Since Ben’s closed a couple years ago, we have all been homeless so to speak, searching for a new place to call ours. We knew we could never replace it, but we thought we could find something close. Surely, we live in a large metropolitan area- there must be somewhere cool to hang out! Were we wrong. No one can come to agreement on one place that meets all our needs. All the bars are always too impersonal, too far away, too expensive, too “trendy”, too anything and everything!

Last night, for my friend’s birthday, we ended up at a new bar (fortuitously around the corner of my house) that may fit the bill. Bryan Street Bar is new, but looks old. It’s got plenty of room, while still seeming quaint. It has a pool table, washer toss, large patio (most important to the smokers), and great prices. It also had pretty good parking. On a Saturday night, around 1030, there were just enough people there that you had to look around for your friends, but not too many that you couldn’t get to the bar. The music was right, the lighting was dark, we were in Heaven. Could it be? Have we found the new Ben’s? Only time will tell. I personally know that many of the people who came last night did it under duress. It’s even further than some of the other place they won’t go, but if we can get enough of us there I’m sure we can make it work.

I’ve tried explaining Ben’s to people who never had the chance to go. It was more difficult than I expected. Instead, I’ve decided to list some of my favorite memories in an attempt to set it straight:

* Karaoke every Thursday and Saturday night may be your idea of lame, but with an impressive roster of talent and balls, it was really a lot of fun. I even won the karaoke championship several years ago. Yea me!!

*Costume party every Halloween. They always had neat themes and very interesting prizes, not just the usual bar bucks. They also gave away grills, coolers, a lawn chair, a towel, beer cozies, t-shirts, and sometimes just a handshake. Past themes included 70’s porn, Comic book hero’s and villains, and the 7 deadly sins. My Miho costume from Sin City tied with Ash from Army of Darkness for the Comic Book year, and my sister won for deadly sins as the UPS driver from “Seven”, complete with Gwyneth’s head in a box.

* I got my kick-ass giant Beer Wolf from the auction we held after Ben's closed. He lived in the ladies room and kept the drunk boys out when they got confused. Here he is in his original habitat and partial glory:

*Riotous games of Tumbling Tower (the off-brand Jenga). Many a bottom were exposed and pranks played based on what the blocks told you to do.

*I met one of my best friends there. I had seen him before during an episode of the Gong Show that was held in partnership with the local talk radio station. He kept yelling out to all the contestants and being a general jackass. They pulled him on stage and made him take off his shirt, though I’m not sure he remembers a lot of that night. One evening during Karaoke, his friends kept daring me to sing to him, replacing the name Fernando (of ABBA fame) with his- Sergio. I did and it was very funny. Even more funny was a couple nights later when I learned his name was actually Paul. A friendship of high jinx and fun followed.
I miss you Ben’s, we all do, but it’s time to move on.


  1. That is indeed a kick-as giant Beer Wolf (clearly a thing of which there aren't enough in this world).

    Glad you found a bar that may suit your home base needs. While Ben's does seem like a gem, the new place sounds like it has potential.

  2. Thank you! He now resides in my apartment, scaring off intruders and a few choice friends.

  3. I think it has more to do with you getting older than it does a reduction in cool bars.

  4. That certainly crossed my mind, but I don't think so. Bars across the city are closing left and right. Everytime a new one opens, it's always some odd "concept" bar. Ick!

    The biggest problem is laziness. My friends are too lazy to drive 5 extra minutes to somewhere relaxing and fun.

  5. Dude! That's across the street from my apartment. I've been meaning to go. I'm so glad it's cool. When are we getting some beers?

  6. I get paid tomorrow- you name the time, I've already named the place!!

  7. Did you seriously get the Beer Wolf? I'm coming over immediately.

  8. Oh yes! It was quite a heated battle. Thankfully, I had my girls around me who stood up and told the other bidder to "quit it!"