The Jefferson Hotel
1423 Greene & Franklin
Jefferson, PA 15344
The second of my two stops in Jefferson, PA was at a place called the Jefferson Hotel (pronounced by the locals as the HOE-tel) a place that brings an immediate reaction when you mention that you’re considering going there for a drink…and it’s never usually a positive one. Comments range from “it’s not like it used to be”, “lots of drugs being sold there anymore” to “you know a guy was beat to death there two years ago. Right?” Keep in mind that I don’t know many people in town, so most of what I hear generally comes from my in-laws.
Unfortunately, when I hear comments like that I immediately think of Road House and the Double Deuce…so I’m going! Remembering the immortal words of Dalton, “Pain don’t hurt” I grabbed my twenty bucks, a cell phone pre-dialed to 911, and my wife who was a local (better safe than sorry).
First Impressions: Damn Pennsylvania smoking laws! I forgot just how smoky a bar can get on a Saturday night (note to self, leave these clothes outside tonight). This seems to be THE place to be on a Saturday night and generally seems safe enough at the moment. But, knowing the place’s reputation, you can sense just a hint of danger in the air. That is if you can handle the smoke long enough.
The Bar: It is a big, oddly shaped bar that looks like they added an addition onto it at some point since I was last in here nearly 10 years ago. Most of the seats were taken, but we were able to find two spots near the “To-Go” beer section. If you’re not from Pennsylvania, let’s just say it is HARD to buy beer in this state. You can only buy it from a beer distributor or from certain bars. Not in grocery stores or convenience stores (no wonder why I moved). But I digress…
The Crowd: A mix of regulars between the ages of 25-45 and is a combination of middle-aged beer-drinking good old boys sprinkled with the assorted bad-ass that I would not look at for more than a second (for fear of getting my ass kicked). There were a few more women in the place than I would have guessed…most of them “dressed to impress” as well. Huh? There quickly was (almost) a fight brewing as some really drunk dude was hitting on the wife of THE bad ass in the place. Several people talked sense into said drunk dude, and he went over and hit on a few grandmotherly looking women. Wise move my friend.
Service: We got the expected “Who the hell are you two” look at first from the bartender. But she quickly took our drink orders and was great for the rest of the evening at “keeping them coming” the minute we got to the end of a drink…just as it should be.
Price: Kind of what I expected, two bucks a beer. That seemed to be the price pretty much for any and all domestic bottles (although I have a hunch they charge more for Yuengling) . I was a bit buzzed when I got there, so I didn’t dare order a shot...my guess is those were in the $3-4 range.
Food: I didn’t see any being served when we were there, but, there was a sign for “Friday night steak night,” which, sounded pretty good. Too bad it was Saturday.
A/V: This is a jukebox kind of place…and I love dives where, if you’re not feeding money into the thing, there is NO music. There are a few TVs, so I have to assume this is the best place in town to watch the Steelers or the Penguins during the season.
Restroom: Finally, a trough urinal! Part of me thinks, a place really isn’t a true dive without one. For women who have no idea what this is, it’s urinal that accommodates anywhere from 3-5 men (depending on how wide they are) to all take a whiz at the same time. Charming, I know. Thankfully, I had the thing all to myself during my one and only trip. Trough aside, the restroom was ok, nothing too horrible, but no where to spend any more time than you have to.
Bartender Chat: Our bartender quickly pointed out that the 12 ounce bottles were the same price as the 16 ounce aluminum bottles “Why not pay the same and get more?” she reasoned. Thanks for the tip! Now, four ounces may not seem like a big deal, but if you do the math that’s the same as getting a twelve-ounce beer for free every 3 drinks…score!
How Far Did My $20 Go: Well on this evening there were two of us drinking from the usual twenty bucks. Even so, that’s enough for five beers each (of course my wife is a bit of a lightweight) so that’s more like seven for me….but who’s counting?
Final Impressions: I liked it, but even as a regular I would always be a bit on edge at this place. The staff were all women, so I wondered what happens when a fight does break out at some point? Like I said, a man was fatally killed outside here not that long ago by a few of the customers, so a big burly bouncer dude may be a good person to have on-hand during the weekends. Other than that, my wife (not really the world’s foremost connoisseur of dive bars) said she had a great time can can’t wait to go back next time we’re in town. Hey, any dive that my wife wants to go back to is A-OKAY in my book. My one caveat, this is ONLY for experienced dive-goers, I am going to say HIT THIS DIVE but do so with caution.
(Degree of Difficulty HIGH…only for experienced dive-goers.)