Jukebox Skipping

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sodbuster Saloon, Hooper, Nebraska -- REVIEW

110 North Main Street
Hooper, Nebraska 68031
Smoking laws are for sissies
402 654-3824

Since I'm not originally from this time zone, I'm always amazed at how some of the town names are pronounced in Nebraska.  You have your BeATrice, Nofolk (North Fork) and why is it Millard and not MiLARD.  In any case it was off for the night to the easy-to-pronounce town of Hooper...just like the Burt Reynolds movie of the same name.  Umm, what?  It's NOT pronounced HOOper but it's pronounced HUHper? Great.

Still contemplating what else I don't know how to pronounce, I decided to take the night off from reviewing and let Mrs. HitThatDive take the lead, accompanied by longtime HTD (and original fans) Mark and Becky. So, with that in mind, take it away all...I'll be sitting here right next to you in the Sodbuster, even if you can't see me because it's darker than midnight in here. 

Pros:  A night out without the kids! Mark did the driving...thank you!  
Cons: Heard more from the police scanner than we did the bartender. Smoke.

Oh, it's dark in here too
First Impressions:  Very smokey and no one is here.  The PBR sign is the brightest lighting in the place.  I think I might disintegrate in the sun after I leave because it’s so dark. Other than that, it's fairly quiet, a touch miserable and just as we sit down I'm reminded of something I haven't had to worry about after leaving a bar...where to hang my smokey clothes when I get home?  Mark thought it was dark; dark like the mood of an Englishman on his way to the dentist.

The Bar:  This place looks like something out of a wild west movie. It seems that no one has dusted in here since about 1930 by the looks of  a ton of beautiful antique bottles adorning the shelves above the bar.  Question? "Why is there a can of Raid just sitting on the counter behind the bar?"  It was July when we visited and the “We ID sign” above the bar was set at June 1st. To its credit they had high ceilings and nice fans.  Of note...for a "saloon" there were an odd collection of lounge chairs at tables strewn all over the place. 

The Crowd:  None. For the roughly 30 minutes that the four of us sit there and marinated in stale cigarette smoke, not a single person walked into or past the bar.  Keep in mind, that the other two bar/restaurants in town both had good crowd, so it's not like this was a ghost town or anything.  

People go here
Service:  Hmmm… "service".  The bartender got us our drink order and then promptly turned back to  I think she was watching “Treme”; whatever it was, she was really involved in her show...not us.  I thought it was funny that she handed Mark a bottle of water not a glass...perhaps the only amusing thing she did that day.   
her TV show.

Price:  Not sure, since Mr. HTD paid…at least I think he did.  I was a bit loopy since this was the third place we’d visited. (Allow me to step in here...yes I did pay.  AND, out of the three bars we visited on this fine evening, always with the same drink orders, this was the most expensive by about $2 a round.  Two beers, a Jack and Coke and Mark's bottle of water was $11.50.  By comparison, the same order at the One Horse Saloon just down the road was $9.50)

Food:  Other than the bags of chips and assorted candy bars, none.  Oh, wait, there’s a huge bag of peanuts on the bar.  (For all we know they had caviar and lobster in there too, but it was so dark and so smokey I guess we'll never know.)

Say Bloody Mary three times
Entertainment:  No music whatsoever: just the soothing sounds of the police scanner and “Treme”.  They also had a pool table and shuffleboard game along one of the walls.  (Oh sure there was more entertainment than that, the sounds of you three giggling about the service and Becky taking repeated pictures with her flash on were plenty entertaining to me.)

Bartender Chat:  None. (That's the truth).

Restrooms:  The walls were dark green with some kind of faux finish on them and the mirror was old and interesting-looking.  This is where I made the mental note that the place is probably haunted.  (Oh it's haunted for sure, next time I want you to say "Bloody Mary" in the mirror three times.)

How Far Did Scuba Steve's $20 GO?: Twenty dollars was enough for one round, so we decided to stop there and walk across the street to the AWESOME Office Bar and Grill where I watched my husband drink free, and several months expired, Red Stripe for the purpose of entertaining other people at the bar including the owner. 

Final Impression:  It’s too bad the bartender wasn’t interested in making chit-chat because I bet there is a ton of history behind this place.  It was entirely too smokey (I made mention of that fact at least four times in my notes) and dark and dismal.   There’s no real reason to go back, unless you want to see where a bar scene in the upcoming Alexander Payne movie “Nebraska” was filmed OR going to have a fun time at across the street at The Office.  We most definitely will be back to this great little town. Will I return to Sodbuster Saloon? Well, I guess that depends on how buzzed I am before we get here.


Hurry back...maybe, perhaps some day. 


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