Jukebox Skipping

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Return of the Infamous "Five Bars in Five Nights"

As of 10:30 tomorrow, I am without my family for more than a week.  Why is the important?  Simple...it's the return of "Five Bars in Five Nights".  Where am I going, you ask?  I'm not sure yet...but check back starting on Thrusday for a recap of tomorrow night's dive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hit That Dive Music -- NICK CURRAN AND THE LOWLIFES

Now the ONLY Place for Hit That Dive Updates...

...is right here!  Due to an extreme lack of interest from the HitThatDive page on Facebook, and the HTD Twitter account...I have decided to focus all of my efforts in one place (and one place only).  HERE!  Maybe people will still read it, and maybe they won't...but one thing is for sure...I'll still be out rating bars everywhere I go! 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day -- REMEMBRANCE

Somewhere between your 5th hotdog (and 10th beer) take the time to raise a glass to those that ultimately gave everything for this country.  Heroic sacrifices from the men and women of the Armed Services still allow us to honor their memory...anyway we choose. Cheers.   

Friday, May 27, 2011

El Chapultepec, Denver (LoDo) -- REVIEW

Looked cool from the outside
1962 Market St
Denver, CO
303/295-9126

In doing some research when I got to Denver, I quickly came across a bar named El Chapultepec…an apparently well-known dive right in the shadow of Coors Field. In doing my research, I also found out that the owner was a “dear” friend of Ella Fitzgerald, once carded Bono of U2 (because he was with some underage broads), was “boys” with Frank Sinatra and the kicker…once wrapped a pool ball in a towel and with one swing, knocked some dude's teeth right out of his mouth! Not to mention, Jack Kerouac used the men’s room in this dive for a place to get cleaned up…LET’S GO!!

First Impressions: Through the superb navigation skills of my wingman for the night “Moon”, we made it to the front door, walked in and were immediately underwhelmed. Keep in mind it was a Monday night around 8:30ish or so, but damn this place is empty and dead. I can’t help but notice that if there were crickets in the corners, they would have easily drowned out any of the nonexistent atmosphere this place was giving off. “Hey Moon…are you sure your iPhone didn’t send us to the wrong place??”

No bartender to be found
The Bar: It’s a dive, there’s no doubt about that. It has diner-type bar stools and some booths on the right side of the dark barroom. A few signs of note are scattered about; “One Drink Minimum Per Set”, “Cash Only. No Credit Cards” and “Water is for Paying Customers Only”. OK…so friendly it is not. Moon noted that they have, arguably, the worst collection of “top shelf” booze ever. Screw it…I’ll just have a draft beer. Wait? What’s that you say mean-looking bar guy? No draft beer after 8:00 p.m.?? But I’m looking right at the five taps. Screw it…bottle it is.

The Crowd: There were a grand total of 6 people seated throughout the bar. Of course, the really drunk guy next to me kept wanting to know what I was doing with my phone (trying to take pictures wino!) so I never really did get any good shots from inside here. The people at the bar were as nondescript as the vibe in the bar. Maybe the ghost of Francis Albert Sinatra will show up soon to liven the joint up…because so far this sucks.

Still no bartender
Service: Keep in mind I use the word “Service” here for no other reason than to keep continuity with the other reviews that I’ve done. How to sum it up? When not standing outside doing nothing, the James Harrison lookalike seemed as interested in serving drinks to us, as the real James Harrison is interested in congratulating Roger Goodall for some shrewd ideas when it comes to protecting “defenseless” football players. He had nothing to say, rarely seemed to wait on people, and seemed as mean as a snake. Other than that…I have no complaints.

Prices: The word on the street was that you could get a draft beer for $1.50…of course I’ll never know…they don’t serve draft beer after 8! Moon and I stuck around for a grand total of three beers which cost us a total of $8.75, which works out to be $2.91 a beer. Maybe not the worst price I’ve ever paid, but it sure is weirdest.

Food: I didn’t see any signs of food, yet a lot of my research says that they do serve Mexican food here. My question would be, from the looks of the place, would you really want to eat here?

Empty and boring
Entertainment: This is a Jazz bar, so the entertainment is really all about the band on the stage that night. They have a grand total of one TV, and a side room with a pool table. That’s pretty much it. Just before 9, a deadhead-looking “jazz” band started playing…and they were pretty good. I will say this as well, the acoustics in the bar are great.

Restroom: One of the top five worst restrooms of all time…old, dirty, smelly and basically falling apart. You can use them if you want, but my advise would be to find an alley instead of using the men’s room and take you chances that the cops aren’t just around the corner when you do.

Bartender Chat: I’m not sure the dude behind the bar actually talks to the customers, so I was forced to do something I never do to avoid being bored to tears…I spent my own money in the jukebox. At least after spending five bucks to liven the joint up just a bit, I was able to forget (albeit only for a little while) how miserable this experience has been.

Good lord!
How Far Did my $20 Go: When bars are this boring, I have an “out” clause before I hit my $20 requirement…and that is I have to be there for three drinks. I only had two, but I paid for Moon’s beer as well so technically that was three drinks. But, from what I can tell, $20 would have purchased me 6ish beers. Your money would be better spent picking up a six-pack at a local liquor store.

Final Impressions: Look, I can see how this “potentially” could be a fun with a great band and a big crowd on a Friday night. But, I have to call them I see them…and my trip here (ummmm how do I put it?) oh yeah… it SUCKED. This appeared to be a bar that is living on the “legend” of its past, and doesn’t seem to be all that interested in working hard for their customers on a nightly basis. I’m in Denver quite a bit and I know I’ll never go back here…it’s not the bar staff seems to care if anyone ever shows up here again in the first place.

DIVE-O-METER
3

Even the pool room was dead

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bugsy's Sports Bar, Alexandria, VA -- PREVIEW

The best sports (make that HOCKEY bar) this side of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is located in Alexandria, Virginia and owned by former NHL player Bryan "Bugsy" Watson.  Check in tomorrow when I backcheck Bugsy's Sports Bar.   


Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Martini Time!

It's 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and that can only mean one thing...

The OBar, Omaha -- "Coming Soon"

2640 Bob Boozer Drive
Omaha, NE 68130-2564

FULL REVIEW OF THE OBar HERE

One of the real hidden gems in West Omaha, Zogs, closed a few months ago...much to my dismay.  Although, it really shouldn't come as a real shock to anyone because they had a "for sale" sign in the men's room the last time I was there. 
 
But fear not, a new bar is ready to take the the spot of Zogs (née The Coast Saloon).  Oh sure, it's still right next door to a dayare and still a tad bit shady-looking, but if the new "OBar" is half as good as the old Zogs...it should still be a pretty good place to drink for cheap. 
 
Although I have no idea what their definition of "coming soon" is becasue when I took a look through the windows, it sure appears that they have a ton of work to do before they open the doors.  I'm not really a fan of the name, but what the hell, I'll give them a shot once they have a grand opening.   More updates on The OBar once I hear something. 
 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Two Fine Irishmen, Omaha -- REVIEW

Strip mall...again
18101 R Plz
Omaha, NE 68135
(402) 933-3990

Tuesday was Bunko Night at my house, I’m not sure what “bunko” means, but it must be a foreign term for "a gathering of women who sit around and get drunk on Bud Light and cheap tequila". Why is that important? It’s not, other than the fact that I knew I needed to get out of the house ASAP. I hopped in the car and started driving South…with no particular place to go (blatant Chuck Berry reference). I wound up near the area where the “Irish” bar Two Fine Irishmen is located. I was there on St. Patrick’s Day (and was less than thrilled with my experience) but what the hell…I’ll give them another shot.

First Impressions: Nestled in a cozy little strip mall , it looks like one of a 100 other strip mall bars in Omaha. There were a few people sitting at the patio tables in the front with a lovely view of a Goodwill store. I walked in and immediately thought, “Damn, this place is pretty crowded for a Tuesday evening,” (I may have been paraphrasing, but you get the point). And, it is bigger than I remembered from St. Patrick’s Day. So far, I don’t hate it…who knew?

Huge bar-area
The Bar: This place is big, as in a big room with a BIG bar that can easily seat 30 people. I lost count, but there are at least 25 tables and even a couch area in front of a fire place…great place to start a drunken hook-up I suppose? They have 11 beers on tap including Irish favorites Guinness and Smithwick’s. It is Irish(ish) enough I guess, and at the very least, the entire area looks to be clean and well-maintained…signs of good owners.

The Crowd: This is the area I was most concerned about after being here on St Patrick’s Day. But, much to my surprise there were all types of people sitting around the bar. There were guys in their 60’s, 20 year old backward-wearing ball cap douches, a family with small children and some regular schmoes thrown in the mix as well. The men definitely were the majority on this night, but who knows, maybe the chicks show up later and sit on the couches.

Service: I didn’t even get to sit down before the bartender asked me for my drink order…big thumbs up. The all female staff were like the Charlie’s Angles of bars…they were everywhere, cute and ready to spring into action to get you another drink at a moment’s notice! One was a tad bit grumpy, but she was also the most attractive, so I assume she was their ringleader. There was some dude that would show up from time-to-time behind the bar…I wasn’t sure if he was Charlie or Bosley? In any case, the service here can be summed up in one word. Great!

Fun for all ages
Prices: What I didn’t know when I showed up here, is that Tuesday is ALL DAY happy hour which gets you $1 pints, $1.50 bottles, $5 pitchers, $7 buckets and $3 well drinks. And again, just to be clear, that is ALL DAY on Tuesdays. The rest of the week their happy hour goes from 3-7 and, much like their all day happy hour prices, they have some great specials. Don’t take my word for it, you can check out all they offer at their website. Now these are real happy hour prices! Why can’t all bars do this? (Rusty Nail I’m looking at you).

Food: They have a huge menu, and by huge I mean there are a lot of food options and the menu itself seems too big by about a third size-wise. After looking at their menu for exactly 4 seconds, I of course ordered the wings. How were they? Good. Not great. I think they must bake them first, and then throw them in a fryer at the very end. The price was right, 13 wings for roughly $6. And I will say this; the “hot” sauce was very good. You can’t go wrong for the price…and with dollar beers…I’m fine with regular old good (not great) wings.

Can sort of see the fireplace
Entertainment: The usual sort of stuff including a pool table, dart boards and a punching machine. Have the hardest punch in Nebraska? They keep the name of the person who slugged the punching bag the hardest above the machine. Not wanting to embarrass the current record-holder, I didn’t play it. There is also a pretty decent-sized stage to the left of the bar where the owners of Two Fine (that’s what those in “West O” call it) have some type of live music four nights a week…and never a cover charge. (Got that Brazen Head Pub?)

Restroom: They are as clean and orderly as the rest of the bar. Almost upscale hotel lobby clean…OK...that might be stretching it but they are bright, clean and nary an odor.

Bartender Chat: My original bartender was great, chatty and seemed to like my “Scuba Steve” shirt. Not really sure that we talked about anything all that memorable before her shift ended, but she made it a point to tell the bartender just starting her shift to make sure she took care of Scuba Steve. Always a thumbs up to bartenders who keep taking care of their customers even after their shift ends!

Clean as a whistle
How Far Did My $20 Go: For the first time, maybe ever, there was no way I was going to spend all of my money here. For the grand total of $11.35, I had four pints and an order of wings. Had I just been drinking, my twenty bucks would have purchased me exactly 20 pints! I assumed that Mrs. HitThatDive would have been pissed if I drank 20 beers and had to be pulled away from her game of bunko to tote my drunken ass home…so I decided to play it smart for once.

Final Impressions: Want to open and run a successful bar in West Omaha? Use Two Fine Irishmen as your blueprint on how to do just that. Great service, great happy hour prices, and never a cover charge…it really is just that simple. Now, it still is tucked away in a strip mall, and from what I saw on St. Patrick’s Day, there can be a bit of douche element here…but don’t let that scare you off. This is one of the best bars in all of West Omaha! HIT THIS DIVE!

Dive-O-Meter
8.75

Not bad wings.  Great Bar!
Two Fine Irishmen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two Fine Irishmen, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Did I just die and go to heaven, or is an overdose of my allergy medicine playing tricks with me?  But I swear to God that tab says four beers and an order of 13 wings cost me only $11.35?  That can be right, can it?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Live it up today ladies, let your deadbeat husbands or sons drive for once.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rusty Nail Inn, Omaha -- ROUND TWO

Less cluttered than before
The Rusty Nail Inn
14210 Pierce Plaza
Omaha, NE 68144-1037
(402) 333-7370

I made my return visit to the Rusty Nail Inn (now billed on the signs in the bar as the Rusty Nail “Pub”) to see if my first visit was just an off night for the place, and to see if they did indeed improve their customer service…as the new owner had claimed.

I don’t make it a habit of writing an entire new review, I am lazy after all, so I decided to show where the Rusty Nail showed improvement, and where they still need some work (with recommendations). I figure if I'm still being somewhat critical, I need to offer a few improvement tips...that only seems fair of me.  

Improvements:
    Much better service!
  • Walked in the door and was greeted with a “Hello” from the bartender before we ever sat down (I had the old lady in tow to corroborate any of my claims). Kudos!  An ounce of customer service...things have already started better.
  • They seemed to not have quite so many bar stools crammed into the corners of the bar area.  Move a few chairs, get a better score.  Simple as that.
  • The woman behind the bar was a nice, friendly and a hardworking bartender…even if she did space-out for about five minutes between our last drink orders. In any case, she was a 100% improvement over the last person who waited on me here...and did not remind me of any of the Spice Girls.
  • Not really sure what we paid for drinks, but a few draft beers and a shot of vodka with Liquid Ice came to only $11 (and some change). I wasn’t sure if I was charged correctly, so I left a nearly 50% so I didn’t short-change the great server.
  • The “party room” in the rear of the bar looks like a good place to have a private party…and they will rent it to you for nothing.
  • The food still smells good…and is cooked by a younger version of Wilfred Brimley.

 Still Needs Work:

    Still a weird vibe.
  • In my first review, I noted that everyone sat quietly at the bar and that there was a “weird vibe” in the place. That has not changed. HOW TO IMPROVE: Have more music playing than just a radio station…do I really need to hear commercials through loud speakers when I’m out for a good time? SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENT: Pay a couple of bucks a month for satellite radio or Pandora. It will improve the “vibe” immediately. 
  • There are still no real drink specials. The happy hour is still just a $1 off alcohol 3-7 daily and a reverse happy hour on Sunday nights. HOW TO IMPROVE -- Come up with some additional specials. Anything! SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENT -- Dollar Bud Light draws. $10 buckets of beer. Liquid Ice shot of the day at half price. Something, anything that makes this bar standout. The location is not great to begin with, and there are no good reasons for new customers to check the place out. HAVE A BETTER HAPPY HOUR.
  • Empty.  The bar not my beer.
  • Have more of a variety of draft beers. Currently there are only four, and as Mrs. HitThatDive pointed out, the beers we had were pretty flat and on the warm side. If we were pounding a few pints in London that would be fine…be we are in the Rusty Nail.  HOW TO IMPROVE -- Add more tap handles.  SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENT -- Have your draft equipment checked/cleaned on a more frequent basis if adding more taps is financially not an option at the moment. If I want non-happy hour warm beer, I can go to the Draft House.
The lack of any sort of fun, and the dire need for more drink specials still needs some major work (in my opinion). Mrs. HitThatDive felt the same way I did about the lack of “vibe” in the bar…and she is far less picky than I am. They do have two free poker two nights a week and karaoke on Wednesday (if you like that sort of thing) so maybe that helps liven the joint up on those nights.

My first DIVE-O-METER rating for the Rusty Nail was a big fat 1. Feeling generous because of the great bartender (and because I had mistakenly written that they had closed), the second score comes in at a 5.5. Making the new Rusty Nail a DIVE-O-METER rating of 3.5. Still not great, BUT, showing signs of improvement a little at a time.

MORE SPECIALS!!!!!!!!