Jukebox Skipping

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Werner Park, Papillion, Neb. -- THIRSTY THURSDAY

Beer for a buck?  Yes please!
12356 Ballpark Way
Papillion, NE 68046
(402) 734-2550

Yes, I know, Werner Park isn’t a bar…and even if it were…it would not be a dive bar. BUT, any place where I can watch sports (live in this instance) and actually sit at a bar and have $1 beers deserves some kind of review.

Keep in mind that I liked going to Omaha Royals games at Rosenblatt, and I am bit of curmudgeon, so the thought of now going to a Storm Chasers game in Sarpy County did not sit well with me. But I figured, what the hell, it was “Thirsty Thursday” which meant dollar beers…I am never one to pass up a chance to drink dirt cheap beer…so off I went.

First Impressions: Pulling into the lot, I wasn’t initially wowed with facility. But did I just see a sign for “free” parking? Yes I did! I hopped out of my car and was immediately greeted by a dude in Storm Chasers shirt “Great night for baseball” he shouted my way with a smile. I don’t remember that kind of greeting at Rosenblatt? Keep in mind that friendly Storm Chasers staff will be a recurring theme. Hey, so far, not too bad.

Sit at an actual bar and watch the game
The Bar(s): Not counting various concession options around the park where you can get everything from craft beer to rum on tap, Werner Park has two actual BAR options the Downdraught bar in the outfield and the Jim Beam bar that seems to be part of the club seats. Being a man of the people, I took a seat at the Downdraught and realized…you can actually pay just six bucks to get in here and drink $1 Bud or Bud Light draws or $1 cans of Busch Light. Oh yeah, and you can watch live baseball…for once in my life…I did not bitch about the “cover charge”.

The Crowd: The Storm Chasers have gone out of their way to create an atmosphere where baseball fans, guys out on the town, and families with small children can all coexist and have a great time. In my seat right behind home plate, I was sitting next to a group of men in their 60s keeping track of every pitch. A quick glance of the luxury suites showed people in their 20’s and 30’s drinking and having a great time. Here with your family? Grab your drink and head out to the “Family Fun Zone” you can still see the action on the field and you’re never too far from your next beer!

The more options the better
Service: I was here for several hours, and in that time, walked past several dozen Storm Chasers employees and just about every single person went out of their way to smile and say hello or ask if I was having a good time. And unlike some teams (Omaha Lancers) that use $1 beer night as a gimmick (but make nearly impossible to get a cheap beer), Werner Park makes getting a $1 beer as quick as getting a drink of water. I will say the lines at some of the concession stands seemed a bit long for food…but even after waiting for about 5 minutes to get some nachos…the woman working behind the register apologized for the wait. Not that I even cared…it was DOLLAR BEER NIGHT!

Prices: Not interested in the $1 beer selection (fools) you can get a domestic pint for $5 or a 24 ounce draft for $7. Higher-end selections, like Stella Artois, will set you back $8 for a 24 ouncer. Margaritas and a few other mixed drink selections will set you back roughly $7 a pop.

Food: There are many food options, everything from burgers and dogs to pizza and my personal favorite…Frito Pie. And the real kicker, the prices now seemed to be less at Werner Park than they were at Rosenblatt. I only had nachos for $4 and they were fine enough. The cheese was a bit bland, but if that is my only complaint so far, I can easily live with that!

Craft beer anyone?
Entertainment: Duh! Baseball. One thing that has not changed from games at Rosenblatt is the fact that the Storm Chasers still know how to entertain fans. The things that you always enjoyed between innings at Rosenblatt are still part of the show…the spinny bat races, the “race” (with the beer, corn and steak), the couple balloon pop, and the always bad ass flames in the outfield after a homerun. In chatting with Storm Chasers Assistant G.M. (and part time Steelers-watching football buddy) Rob Crain he commented that entertaining fans is something “that we always felt that we did well”. I agree. The difference is now the Chasers higher-ups have a venue that they personally designed and have taken entertaining fans to a whole new level. Oh…plus they are putting a first-place team on the field every night.

Restrooms: The only real downside of the restrooms is that they are a bit of hike from the club seats where I was sitting. Other than that, they are decent-sized, have TVs over each of the urinals (not that the women care) and even have those Dyson super-duper hand dryers. As dollar beer night wore on, the lines did get a bit longer. Coincidence? I think not. As a wise old man once told me “You don’t buy beer, you only rent it”.

Never miss any of the action
How Far Did My $20 Go: Including the price of the McDonalds Berm seating, you can park for free, get in for $6 and still have enough money in your pocket for 14 beers! Perhaps the best deal I have ever seen at any quality sporting event…ever.

Other Observations: Never before have I seen so many things that have corporate branding and that includes the foul poles and the seats. One aspect that I especially liked is that you can walk around the entire field and still be able to watch the game from anywhere. Want to get your exercise while you’re here? Three laps around Werner Park is equal to one mile. And, no matter where you sit (as long as you have seats and not sitting in the outfield berm) you are never more than 16 rows from the action, and there’s NEVER a bad seat in the house.

Final Thoughts: Even if you’re not a baseball fan, Thirsty Thursday at Werner Park should be a MUST on your list of things to do this summer. Bring your buddies, bring your kids, hell bring the whole damn neighborhood. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and it is more cost-effective than going to the movies…and you get A LOT more entertainment. The Strom Chasers have taken affordable entertainment to a whole new level…beers for everyone!
Dollar beer!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Werner Park, Papillion, Nebraska -- PREVIEW

Before any of you wise-asses reminds me...YES...I know this isn't a bar.  Or is it?  I finally got to experience Werner Park (on dollar beer night) and drank my way around the new ballpark.  Is a baseball park?  Is it a sports bar? Is it dirt cheap?  As best as I can tell it's all three...and more!  Full "Thirsty Thursday" review coming tomorrow. 

Barry O's, Omaha -- REVIEW

Greetings Barry
420 South 10th Street
Omaha, NE 68102-2802
(402) 341-8032

Any bar named after one of the greatest “jobbers” in wrestling history is always a place that’s high on my list to review. Oh sure, a bar named “The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz” would be even better, but now I’m just splitting hairs. I also wanted to stop here because the owner, Barry O'Halloran is not a fan of my reviews…and I never even reviewed his place. Well, I never reviewed it until now that is…Hi Barry!

First Impressions: It’s actually kind of Irish-looking on the inside…so far not bad. Keep in mind that I was in here during a work hours, so the place was empty. But, I was surprisingly shocked that it didn’t seem like a bad place to watch sports and have a few beers. DAMN…did I just say something “marginally” nice?

Fine enough bar
The Bar: Barry has seen fit to have 10 beers on tap, 40 bottled beers and some great high-end hooch for his house liquor. Something that you can’t really tell from the outside, there is some very cool-looking stained glass in the windows, which gives the joint a good atmosphere on a sunny day. Also of note, there is authentic Irish pub-looking woodwork all around the bar and cool beer stuff all over the walls. All-in-all…surprisingly not bad.

The Crowd: This is going to be a tough one for me to judge, because I’m biased. The only person in the bar was me, so obviously they have the best-looking, funniest, and biggest tippers in Omaha! From what I’ve read on Yelp and other places, this can get very crowded, like out the door crowded, so keep that in mind. It does look like Barry caters to the rugby crowd. For the record, I hang out with one rugby guy, and he’s a fun drinker…so maybe they’re the same way in here too. This category gets an incomplete for now.

Steelers stuff!
Service: Apparently the bartended did not know my true identity, because she was quite nice the entire time I was in there. There was some fairly mean-looking woman also behind the bar (I assume a manager of some sort) that did not even acknowledge that I made a joke about drinks being free because the cash register was broken…lighten up a bit lady. But, like I said, the bartender was very friendly and cute in a “I’ve-been- working-in-a-bar most-of-my-life” way.

Prices: I was drinking domestic draft beer and paying $3 a pint. In fairness, at places like the Draft House in West Omaha, I pay more than that…so the price of beer seems to be more than fair for the Old Market area. I didn’t see a ton of signs for specials, but they do have “Thirsty Thursday” which gets you $2 domestic beer, $3 micro brews and $4 imports. Again, not awful I guess considering the prime location.

Food: I didn’t eat, nor would I based on the this review from the local blog “Exploring Omaha”. On the other hand, come here to drink, there are plenty of other good food options all around the Old Market.

Alone in the bar
Entertainment: There are, at my count, 8 TV’s around the bar. And since Barry O’s isn’t the world’s biggest pub, it seemed pretty easy to get a view of just about every TV in the place. There is a dartboard (not sure how that gets used when the place is crowded) , and the now mandatory Internet jukebox hanging on the wall just under a knockoff version of a Terrible Towel! It’s always hard for me to complain about a place with Steelers gear in it.

Restroom: Small, no privacy and a bit dingy. If you’re looking for a place to catch up on today’s sports page, keep on looking somewhere else. But, in a nice twist, there is a Purell dispenser on the wall next to the soap…thanks to any bar that keeps us germaphobes happy.

Bartender Chat: I didn’t want to be a pest to a bartender who was getting the place ready at the beginning of her shift. Between cutting up assorted lemons and limes, running in and out for a smoke (and leaving me alone in the bar) there wasn’t a whole lot of chitchat going on. But the big question is…did I (or did I not) give myself a free refill as I sat in the bar alone??

Thank God for Purell
How Far Did My $20 Go: Even with no specials that I saw, or was told about, 20 smacks can get you six pints with a few bucks left over. Again, considering the area, that is not nearly as horrible as I assumed I was going to pay.

Final Impressions: I’ll get to that in a minute, I just have to deduct half a point for this from the Barry O’s website “Every one of our wines is personally vetted by Barry himself” including “Canyon Road White Zinfandel Hints of strawberry, cherry, and watermelon flavors while still remaining light with just a touch of sweetness to the finish.” His website goes out of its way to say how no nonsense this bar is, and then we find out that Barry “vets” the malt liquor of wine…White Zin! Even I know that stuff sucks!! But I digress…

Look, I wanted to bash this place just for the sake of doing it (making fun of places always offers more comedic material) but to keep my “integrity” as a reviewer, I have to be fair. And, Barry O’s (at least from my trip there) seems like a well-run place to hang out and have a few beers. My timing was bad, so I did not see the bar during primetime, but I have to say, I walked out of there mad at myself for not hating Barry O’s…even if Barry did call me “marginal” once.

6.5 (get rid of the White Zin and this would be a 7)

I didn't hate it...damn!
Barry O's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barry O's, Omaha -- PREVIEW

I finally had the chance to stop by Barry O's, the bar where the owner once called me "marginal" on Facebook.  To this day, I'm still not sure if that's an insult or not...but what the hell...I might as well go and see if he runs a marginal dive...right?

HitThatDive -- JUKEBOX

Thanks to a suggestion from HitThatDive aficionado "Chic", we realized that there is no where on the Internet(s) that has a collection of the best dive bar music ever assembled.  As fast as you could say "George Jones" we came up with a new Facebook group...HitThatDive--JUKEBOX.  Have a favorite song, feel free to stop by and drop a few quarters in the slot...a bar is only as good as the music it plays.