Monday, July 29, 2013

My Pain Is Your Gain -- YUENGLING GIVEAWAY

Here's your chance to win one of four cases of Pennsylvania's own Yuengling beer.  As you may (or may not know), I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, which was a great place to be raised. HOWEVER not a great place to visit when you now live in Nebraska and Mrs. HitThatDive wants to make the 2,000 round-trip to visit family.

So, I figured, why not make a HitThatDive contest out of the whole thing...My Pain Is Your Gain, definitely will be your gain. Here's the deal...

Take a picture and have the words Hit That Dive somewhere in it.  It can be handwritten, on a shirt, written in Sharpie on your passed-out buddies face, made with old beer cans, even a short video...basically anything you want...as long as the words HIT THAT DIVE are clearly visible in your submission.

Then, share it on the HitThatDive Facebook Timeline and tag yourself in it.  It's that simple.  If you're picture is judged to be on of the top 4 creative/original photos, by the lowlife degenerates here at HitThatDive...you will win yourself an entire case of Yuengling that I am bootlegging back from PA on Sunday.

Start sharing your pics anytime you want starting now...but the cut-off is Sunday when I cross the Nebraska/Iowa line sometime on Sunday night...I will keep you posted on that one.

No limit to how many times you send in a submission.  If you're out of town and win, you pay the freight to get it shipped to your house...I did the hard part for you!  Here are a few examples to get you started.  Good luck!

Taken today in Pennsylvania

Already sent in by the G-MAN!

Friday, July 26, 2013

BAR-M Corral, Loma, Nebraska -- REVIEW

State Road W
Welcome...sort of
Loma, Nebraska 
402 545 2174

(Editor's Note:  Never in the three years of HitThatDive has one review ever stirred-up such a shit storm of comments! I've been called everything from an awful person to hilarious....from a horrible parent to "spot-on".  One comment said "Loma is fun, I see no harm in this article it is the truth"... to "We can tell that you have no respect for people.  Apparently there is no middle ground on this one)

I don't know where to begin?  Rarely, if ever, am I at a loss for the proper words to describe any variety of shit-holes, dumps, dives, juke joints or regular old neighborhood bars...but this one has me baffled. Usually this is where I give a little background on how I decided to review a bar in the first place...you know...the backstory.  So I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

In a recent conversation with HTD co-directors of research, Mark and Becky, they told me about an odd little bar in a small (like 40 people total small) "town" that is best known for being the fictitious Snydersville, Nebraska in the Patrick Swayze film "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.  Sounds fine enough to me...I'll have to get there some day because Mark and Becky are never wrong on out-of-the-way bars to review.

Bar-ish
Then last week I was catching-up with fellow dive aficionado, ace reporter, and all around good egg Cara Pesek from the World Herald.  Cara also mentioned the Bar-M, and painted such a vivid picture of a bar so dirty and gross, complete with a mean owner that once denied her and her friends the chance to shoot a game of pool because she (the owner) was folding her laundry on the pool table, that I KNEW I had to make the drive out there the second I had a chance.

PROS: It's a one of a kind experience.  Great afternoon road trip destination.  
CONS: Bad things happen in this place...I just know it!

First Impressions:  Turn off 92 onto "Road W" and go for, I'm guessing, six miles or so on a dirt road.  Pass the creepy little cemetery on the left and you're almost in "downtown" Loma. Originally, this was a Czech settlement in a region known as Bohemian Alps.  Mistake one...I didn't heed Cara's warnings about the place and threw "Scuba Jr." and one of my daughters into the car with me when I left the house.

Cash only
Have you ever seen the movie with Kirk Douglas called The Final Countdown?  At some point in the movie, an aircraft carrier enters a vortex and everyone in it is transported back to December 1941. Obviously, that vortex is now just before the cemetery in Loma, and it sends you back to the year 1909.

I park the car next to the bar, and we take a stroll down the main drag, my daughter quickly points out that there is "No Chance" 40 people live in this town.  We look at the few buildings that are still standing, including a church still in good shape, and ponder if the Bar-M Corral is even open.  A handmade sign in the front door, behind a dirty old screen door, claims that they are indeed "Open". I give the front door a try and it opens...dear God...this will give the kids nightmares for years.

The Bar:   I am using the term "bar" here very loosely.  Yes, technically there is a bar with roughly 8 rickety old stools and a few assorted beer signs and old bottles scattered about for good measure. However, other words that could have been used for this section also are: flea market, flop house, hobo paradise, vagabond vacation, or mother of all dumps.  It's hoarders meets the wild west.

Betty!
In all honesty, I was a bit unnerved by the lady sitting at a table reading and watching a western movie on a really old TV, that I'm not sure I really took in just how "unique" this place truly is.  Why so unnerved you ask?  I was sure that it was a set-up much like this place where the witch tried to bake Hansel and Gretel in the story by the Brothers Grimm.  Note to self...do NOT let the kids out of your sight for a second.  Oh, and I think all she sells is beer in cans...that's it.

The Crowd:  Let's see...there was me.  Scuba Jr. My daughter. And, the old lady owner (Betty). End of list.

Service:  How to best describe this one.  For the first minute we were in there, she never once looked up from her book or said anything. Awkward . Finally, I uttered the first of two things they were spoken the entire time we were in there.  Asking her for a beer was the equivalent of poking a hibernating bear with a stick...oh sure...she seemed too groggy to do much damage.  But, not unlike a half-comatose bear...there's just always a threat that something bad can happen at any second.  My biggest fear?  That's easy...that she was going to lumber over to the bar and out of nowhere she was going to just start cackling and saying , "You're all doooomed!! HAHAHAHAHA". Of note...that never happened.

Is that you John Wayne?
Price:  Word on the street is that she will sell you a beer for $1 if you drink it outside...and for $2 if you prefer to drink in the luxury of the Bar-M.  I'm not quite sure what I paid, I handed her a $5 and received back two one-dollar bills and an odd assortment of dimes and nickels for a can of Bud Light. So, I assume the beers are a little more than $2 inside these days, but I never did ask about the outside price.

Food:  Two children to bake into gingerbread cookies is my only guess.

Entertainment:  Two old TVs, the pool table/laundry table, and enough items for a rummage sale that you could spend hours going through just one part of the boxes along the walls.  Here's an even better thing to do, dare one of your jacksass buddies to drink water from the sink in the bar that says "Do not drink this water."  I assume that water is used to make potions to turn people into toads...but again...that is only a hunch.

Or what?
Bartender Chat:  As I mentioned earlier, only two things were said while I was there.  I ordered a beer and the second was asking bar owner Betty (aka "Sweaty Betty from what I learned on Facebook yesterday) if I could take a few pictures.  I believe her response was "I don't care", but don't quote me on that one.

Restrooms:  I have failed you on this one.  There was no chance I would leave my ever-increasing scared children alone...even for a quick picture.  But, I did find a blog post from a woman that was born and raised in Loma, and she has a few good pictures of the bathrooms here.

How Far Did My $20 Go:  For the first time ever, I only made it through one beer.  As my children's blinks of S-O-S became more rapid as they looked at me with a pained expression, I knew it was a "one and gone" sort of afternoon.  My guess is, if you take your beer outside, you can get close to about 15 of them...not a bad deal.

Take. Us. Home.
Final Impressions:  Like I said, I made two mistakes.  One I brought my kids...and two...I was completely unprepared for what was behind the dirty screen door when I got there.  I guess that's my way of saying...I AM GOING BACK HERE AGAIN!  Yeah it's awful.  Yeah it's dirty, and yeah Betty is the opposite of friendly.  But where else can you go anywhere in this country for this sort of bar relic experience?  There can't be too many quite like this one.

My advice, get a group of friends to drive out here one afternoon...there is strength in numbers after all.  Leave the kids at home and send me an invitation to hitthatdive@gmail.com...I would love to tag along with anyone heading that way.

We hopped back in the car, drove back through the vortex by the cemetery and were given a cheerful wave by a farmer on a tractor. It was at that moment that I wondered was that all just part of a bad dream...or was I hallucinating from winning a five dollar bet from Scuba Jr. and drinking a glass of water from the "Do not drink the water" sink? I may never be quite the same.  In any case...HIT THIS DIVE!

DIVE-O-METER
A league of its own!


One of a kind!



Thursday, July 25, 2013

BAR-M Corral, Loma, Nebraska -- PREVIEW

Here's a sneak peak for tomorrow's review of the BAR-M corral in Loma. And the best part?  This picture isn't from the bathroom...that's part of the bar!




Friday, July 19, 2013

A Few Rounds With -- MALONEY'S PUB


1830 N. 72nd Street
Wendy. She owns the place
Omaha NE 68118
402 502 1880

I sat down with Wendy Bettin, owner of Maloney's Pub, to find out more of what it's like to be a female bar owner, the going rate for black market food stamps, bad pickup lines and if she's seen the door-to-door pork chop salesman lately?  Let's get right to it!

HTD: So there’s 10 questions, simple stuff…there’s no wrong answer.  Would you consider Maloney’s a dive bar?
WB: Ummm…that’s a good question?  What do you think the definition of a dive bar is?

HTD:  I would  say that everybody has their own definition.  But here’s my thought…it’s not so much how it looks or where it is…it’s more based on the people that are in there.   It’s a more blue-collar crowd that seems to determine, to me, what makes a place a dive bar. 
WB: I hang out in nothing but dive bars.  So, yes, I would consider it a dive bar because I don’t  hang out at non-dive bars. When I go out of town and stuff I never want go to the hot club, I want to find the neighborhood bar and see the locals.  You know?

HTD:  So your bar is a dive bar then?
WB:  I would say it is, yeah.

HTD;  Question two…have you ever purchased stolen pork chops?
WB:  Hahahaha…almost, but nooooo. (More on the story of the stolen pork chops can be found here.)

HTD: Has that ever happened since then?
WB:  No it hasn’t.  (To the bartender) Zack, have you been approached to buy any stolen meat lately? 

Zack: Meat?  No.  I do get offered to buy food stamps all the time lately though. 

HTD:  What’s the going rate for food stamps???
Zack:  $150 for $500 worth of food stamps.

HTD: If you can’t buy booze with it though, therein lies the problem.  Let’s get back on topic, worst pickup link you ever heard?
WB:  They’re ALL bad.  Can I tell you the best pickup line ever? The best pickup line I ever heard was a really good one, and I’ve never heard it before or since then. I thought it was pretty original; this was before I got married obviously. 

HTD:  You’re married to a cop too, right?
WB:  Yeah, so that kind of alleviates some of the getting hit on.   SO this guy comes up to me and says, “You know who you remind me of?  My sixth wife.”  And I ask him, “Wow, how many wives have you had?’’ And he says “5.”  You get it?  I would have been his sixth wife…I thought that was a good pick up line!

HTD:  See, I always like “is your shirt felt?”  (Feeling the sleeve of Wedny’s shirt.) Now it is!  Now THAT’S a bad pick up line! Other than you, how many ginger female bar owners are there in Omaha?
WB:  I’m hard-pressed to find a female bar owner…that’s under the age of 70 Yes.  I think I’m the only one, but if I’m not, I’m definitely the youngest one.  I would love to meet another ginger female bar owner.

HTD:  Let’s make that happen.  All right, describe the typical Maloney’s regular?
WB:  It’s hard to describe, because we really run the gambit of 21-50.  College students to construction workers…I would say the average customer is 21-35 single, no kids.  We have a pretty equal 50/50 split of men and women too I believe. 

HTD:  I would assume a lot of women come here, because it’s not like some crusty old dude is running the joint or anything. 
WB:  I always wanted to create an environment where girls feel welcomed.  Because I walked into a lot of bars and been like, oh my god, I’m going to get raped if I don’t get out of here.  So I always wanted to create an environment where girls don’t feel like they’re going to roofied and dragged home. 

HTD:  Soooooo…it’s fairly roofie-free here then?
WB:  Absolutely.  But now you’re going to have someone write in and say they got roofied here. 

HTD:  After five years, is this what you expected from running a bar?  Now that you’ve owned it for five years because I was here just a few weeks ago for your anniversary party. 
WB:  Yes and no.  I expected to be rich…and I’m not.  BUT, I  did expect to last five years…I always thought I’d be able to make it and a lot of people don’t.   I have friends that have opened and closed bars in less than a year.  Is it what I expected?  I think it is.  I eventually wanted to get to the point where I didn’t have to be here every day, every single minute of the day.  And now I’m there.  And now I’m leaving for Okoboji as soon as we’re done here.

HTD:  Have you personally ever had to break up a fight here?
WB:   Yes.  Well I guess I never had to get into the middle of  one here.  Let me think about this.  Because I’ve broken up many fights at bars I’ve bartended at before this. 

HTD:  Well, let me rephrase the question.  Have you ever had to jump into the middle of a fight anywhere?
WB:  OH YEAH!  I mean, the bar that I bartended at before this place…I was just telling this story the other day.   These two guys start getting into each others face and start getting ready to punch one another. And one of the guys is wearing a hoodie and I grab him by his hoodie and I pulled him back and he just turned around and swung on me, and fell back and got up and I was like...I can't believe that just happened.  Did I really just get hit?  

And there were two guys sitting at the end of the bar that jumped and grabbed this guy, and the bar that I bartended at had brick walls, and they put him in a chair against the brick wall and they just started punching him so his head was hitting the brick wall every time they punched him.

I called the cops and they went to his house, but he didn't answer the door but they said they were sure it was the right house because there was a trail of blood leading up to the door and a bloody hand print on the door knob. I decided not to press charges because it sure seemed like he got his...but I had a really nice fat lip for a few days. 

HTD:  Wow you’ve been in more fights than I have!  That’s extremely impressive.  OK, what was this bar before you owned it?
WB:  It was called McGill’s, it was a quote/unquote “Irish” pub that did not have any Irish whiskey.  They didn’t have any Irish beer.  The inventory I got when I bought this place was seven bottles of Windsor and 20 cases of Budweiser. 

HTD:  So, it was more of a North American pub then it was Irish?  Sounds like it was an interesting place. Moving on.  When you’re not here, what bar do you like to hang out in?
WB:  I knew that you were going to ask me that because I read the last interview that you did.  I don’t go to a lot of bars, but when I did used to go to a lot of bars before I bought this place… 49er… Brothers… O’Leaver’s.  Those were my hangouts.

HTD:  Oh.  OK.  So you definitely have a certain type of bar you like.  I was told though last week that Jerry’s Bar is the new 49er.  Is that accurate?
WB:  I would say so.  Actually, that’s a better answer than those other bars, because I’ve been to Jerry’s
more times in the last five years than I’ve been to any of those other bars.  It’s close and I love Rob.  He’s super cool and a super nice guy.  You just meet a lot of bar owners that are douchy.  All they want to do is drink and try to fuck all the girls that come into their bars.  It’s hard for me to respect people that that.

HTD:  No.  I gotcha.  So what’s your biggest fear of owning a bar?
WB:  Ummm…being robbed.  Having one of my employees getting robbed.  Any type of scenario where one of my employees gets harmed…that just freaks me out.  If something ever happen, I would feel guilty for that even if I wasn’t here. 

HTD:  Mom guilt.  OK…you can’ t see these ones.  This is the word association portion of our program.  I’m going to throw out a word and first thing that pops into your head just blurt it out. 
 WB:  This is going to be great. 

HTD: Gingers.
WB: (laughs) ME!

HTD:  Whiskey.
WB: Jameson

HTD: Hangovers.
WB: Gatorade

HTD:  All  right, because this kind of came up the first time I was ever in here and I don’t know that we ever resolved it.  Man Boobs
WB:  George Wendt.

HTD:  Hahahahahaha  Did you see him at the Beerfest?  Axe Body Spray.
WB: Douchebags 

Last Call
HTD:  This is actually the last question.  What is it about your bar that you think people should know if they've never been here? And, who has OCD you?
WB:  No, I don't have OCD, I just like things clean. 

HTD:  Because that is the most orderly cooler in town. 
WB:  I am OCD about that.  I guess I would tell people that we have every Irish whiskey available in the state of Nebraska.   It's just a real laid back place, there's always something to do, there's always something going on, trivia twice a week, karaoke, we have volleyball there's never really ever a dull moment around here.



HitThatDive -- HAPPY HOUR

It's all fun and games until you HitThatDive...and THEN it's a party!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pheasant Bar And Grill -- FUNDRAISER

13909 S Plaza
Omaha NE 68137
402 895 3311


Longtime fixture at the Pheasant, Zack Hultquist, was involved in a firework accident on the 4th of July and lost sight in his right eye.  He now needs to undergo several surgeries including the removal of his right eye.  He has a three month old son and a fiancĂ© at home that will need to take time off from her job to help him while he recovers.

The Pheasant is trying to raise money to help pay some of his mounting medical bills, but more importantly, they are trying to ensure that Zack and his fiancĂ© can continue to provide all things that a baby requires.  And as a lot of us know, that can be some serious $$$!

HOW YOU CAN HELP:  This Sunday, July 21st, at 3:00pm The Pheasant is raising money with a $5 a plate spaghetti feed, silent auction, bake sale and a raffle.  

Now, I don't know Zack personally, but the first time I was ever in the Pheasant, he sat down next to me (early on a Sunday afternoon) and immediately bought me a shot.  I never did get the chance to return the favor that day, but hopefully enough people read this to help him out...which I'm sure would be far more appreciated at this point than a return shot from a stranger.

They have some great signed Husker gear to raffle off and, of course, a few HitThatDive shirts too! Check out the Pheasant's Facebook page for more updates.  Hope to see you there.


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.

DIVE-O-METER
3





Hurry back...maybe, perhaps some day. 



Friday, July 12, 2013

A Few Rounds With -- GARVEY'S PUB


153 Main Street
Springfield NE 68059
402 253-8600

HitThatDive stopped by the new Garvey's Pub, formally the Dew Drop Inn, in Springfield to ask first-time bar owner Garvey his impressions of owning a bar, his cure for hangovers and what are the chances he would give me a free beer on the house?

HTD: Do you even have a first name?
LG: Yeah.  Larry.  Larry Garvey.

HTD: Why a Bar in Springfield?
LG: I stumbled upon this Springfield location and immediately just fell in love with A) the opportunity of have a business on Main Street, and then B) a bar because I'm third generation at this so it comes naturally to me. And, the size of this bar was the deciding factor for me because this is a bar I can handle all day everyday by myself.

HTD: Which kind of leads to my next question, how long have you been in the bar business?
LG: So, this is the first bar I’ve owned.  But, both grandfathers, an uncle myself have all owned bars now…so I’ve been around this since I was a kid.  It’s what I know.

HTD: Next question…is this place haunted?
LG: No.  Not at all. 

HTD: I’ve heard rumors of the sort.
LG: I think in most bars, pubs taverns, tales become exaggerated when alcohol is involved.

HTD:  HAHAHA…I’m unfamiliar with that!
LG: Every sound, movement noise I’ve heard in here I can turn around and say oh that’s where that sound came from.

HTD: OK…favorite drink?
LG:  Oh, ice cold beer.  Has to be ice cold.  Looking for 33 degrees or below but yeah…an ice cold bottle of beer.

HTD:  So before I ever walked in here, had you ever even heard of Hit That Dive?
LG: Yes.  From Addy’s .  As far back as the old Addy’s location. 

HTD:  All right, favorite bar not named Garvey’s?
LG: Addy’s Bar and Grill

HTD: Tim would kill if you said anything else, wouldn’t he? I figured that’d be putting you on the spot. 

LG: That’s where I hang out when I’m not here. That’s where I get to go unwind and be me, yeah.

HTD: This question you already answerd for me before I had to ask it…what are the odds I can have a free beer right now?  (As I am drinking an ice cold free beer from Garvey)
LG: 100%  I think it’s fair trade…barter.

HTD: Fair enough!

HTD:  OK…best part about owning a bar?
LG: Succeed or fail…everything you do is ultimately your decision.  SO, um…if I reap the benefits financially from this I have something to be very proud of.   If I fail, again, I have one person to look in the mirror at and say it was nobody else’s fault but mine. 

HTD:  Is that good pressure or bad pressure?
LG: Ummm…I think it’s pressure that keeps you moving forward.  Yeah…I mean that’s it in a nutshell, I make the decisions and I don’t have to wait.  I came from the corporate world so I don’t
have to rely  on input from a team, another source of management, outside forces. 

HTD: How is your day ultimately better or worse not being in a corporate world?
LG: About the same amount of hours.  I benefit financially myself from every minute I’m working here, I know it’s going towards me.  Not towards someone else.  In building my name, and I consider this location number one, the more hours I put in, I’m getting closer to Garvey’s Pub number two and so on down the road. 

HTD: OK…so what’s the worst part about owning a bar?
LG: You know, knock on wood, everybody I think would tell you working with the drunk people.  But, I’ve had really good luck so far.  I think a lot can be handled with a conversation as opposed to force.  Deling with drunk people, it’s not easy, but it’s part of the territory so you know what you’re getting into with this. 

HTD: Does that happen often?  (Editor’s note DUH!!!)
LG: No.  Like I said knock on wood it’s been pretty good.  I like to talk to people.  I like to form a
relationship with them.  So if I need to have that conversation, we have that relationship and there is respect there.

HTD: A couple of word associations.  I’m going to throw and a word or name or something and you throw out your first opinion.

HTD: Sidney Crosby?
LG: Nemesis   I’m a Blackhaws fan I used to have season tickets.  I couldn’t be happier that they won the Cup this year.

HTD: PBR?
LG: Coming back.

HTD: Weirdly, it’s a hipster thing now and the prices are going up.

HTD: Chicago Cubs?
LG: My heart and soul.  I’m going to die a Cub fan.

HTD: Come on…will they ever win the World Series again?
LG: I hope they do.  Loveable losers.  I don’t know how everybody in the world ISN’T a Cub fan because everybody can beat them. 

HTD: Hangovers?
LG: Two Gatorades.  A Banana and two Alieve. 

HTD: Omaha?
LG: Don’t tell anybody it’s here because our secret will get out. 

HTD: Last call.  Why should somebody hop in the car or have a buddy drive them down to Springfield to go drinking on a Friday night?
LG: It’s still the small town-feel bar where you want to go, and I classify it as a dive bar…that’s the places I like to hang out so I’m not offended by that.  Ultimaley it’s a small town bar with all the updates that you would not expect in a place like this.

Check out a video from Garvey's Pub right here!





Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Best Pub, Omaha -- REVIEW

9305 South 145th Street
No tell, motel/bar

Omaha NE 68138
402 932 1140

Admit it.  You've driven past this place before and thought to yourself one of two things.  One...is the damn place even open?  And, two...if it IS open...why in the world would I spend an evening drinking in the most nondescript bar in town that is attached to a fairly seedy-looking "no-tell, motel"?  On top of that, my track record of drinking in local motel bars is not a very good one, dating back to my days in Pittsburgh where a group of us got kicked out of a "motor lodge" by a pirate before we ever walked in the front door.

This trip to The Best Pub marks my second attempt to waltz in here for a few beers.  On my first attempt, too many visions of men who keep "The Gimp" in a travel trunk danced through my mind as I made a feeble attempt to open the front door.  I quickly decided to myself that indeed this place HAD been closed down and quickly hopped back into my car.  A note on Facebook a month or so ago from one of the bartenders let me know that they were still very much open...well then...let's try this again.

PROS:  Gail the awesome bartender.  $2.50 domestic draws. Good blue collar regulars.
CONS:  It really is kind of a dump.  Under "renovations" for months.  Restrooms are in the no-tell, motel. 
Inviting!

First Impressions:  This place still looks closed to me.  I pull my car into the lot and hangout for a bit. Yeah, that doesn't look too shady...a single dude sitting in his car, alone, in the parking lot Red Carpet Inn...waiting to see if there any signs of life.

After 10 minutes of looking like I was there to either buy or sell certain illegal "services", I decided to finally take off the training wheels and try the front door. 3-2-1 PULL!  SHIT!  No bar...just some creepy-looking steps leading downward.  Oh, and I love the paint color, early American primer and spotted red paint, I assume?  I walk into the empty bar and encounter two people and anticipate, at any second, I will hear "Sorry, but we're closed for renovations." Oddly enough I heard "welcome".

The Bar:  Surely this was designed originally as some sort of storage area.  Low ceilings, spotted unpainted walls, and no decor whatsoever. Basically, this looks like someone that gave up the dream of a really cool bar in their basement and decided they could get drunk no matter what it looks like as long as there's booze.  The bar itself seats eight people and does have a small but decent collection of hooch.  There also are four beers on tap and 12 or so loungy tables and chairs that would be the perfect romantic spot to take a date that you found minutes earlier on Craigslist before you check into the Red Carpet Inn and inquire if they offer a "short stay" rate (sheet deposit not included).  Of note, the only thing hanging on the walls was a flyswatter.

Under Renovations
The Crowd:  When I was there it was me and three dudes.  One of them seemed to be resident of the Red Carpet and the other two must have worked in the area detailing cars.  No complaints here, they were all cool to talk to, on a mission to get drunk after work and really didn't seem to give a rat's ass that a new guy was sitting at the bar.

Service: A lighted sign behind the bar, that almost didn't work, let me know that my server for the day was Gail who reminded me ever-so-slightly of "Deb" from Napoleon Dynamite.  Not sure why that is? Maybe it's because she mentioned that she also sold Mary Kay Cosmetics when not working here.  In any case, let's just say Gail was the definition of a hardworking bartender, and is the difference between this place being a truly awful bar or a decent-enough place to have a few drinks every now and then.  (Dude who owns this place...GIVE GAIL A RAISE!  I guarantee you she's earned it.)

Price:  Not sure if I was paying happy hour prices or not, but, I was sucking down Bud Light draws for $2:50 each in a decent-sized Cheers mug.  They also had listed $3.50 Captain Jerry, $5 Patron, $4 Jack and Coke and $1.5 Jello Shots.  The prices seem to be all over the map, but the beer was cheap and cold.

Paint optional 
Food:  Oh boy, about a million smoked sausage jokes just popped into my head.  So let's just say that they don't have food.

Entertainment:  Well, when I was there it was most entertaining thing to do was watch reruns of That 70's Show.  There also have a pool table and a wall-mounted Internet jukebox.  OK, so I lied, they have two things on the walls, a jukebox and a flyswatter.

Bartender Chat:  Being the only other person in the bar for the first hour I was there, I was able to talk to Gail about everything under the sun.  Nothing that makes for great review material necessarily, but it's always a bonus when you sit in an empty bar and have a bartender that can carry on a decent conversation to keep us both from being bored sitting in a windowless bar.  Oh, I guess there are two small window-well windows...but those gave off almost no light whatsoever.

Restrooms:  I'm not sure why I found this so unsettling, but, the restrooms are not technically IN the bar but are instead in the hallway of the motel.  Being extra careful to not touch ANYTHING, they were as bland of the rest of the place and cold as balls!  If it were not having to report on this section, I guarantee you that I would have just waited and used the ones in the Sapp Brothers Truck Stop ...yes...that actually seemed like a better option to me.

Yep...looks like a bar
How Far Did My $20 Go?:  At $2.50 a beer, you can get a pretty decent buzz going on I suppose.  Now, if you're here waiting for your date(s) from the "casual encounters" section of Craigslist you can suck down three beers for $7.50 and use $2.50 for an industrial strength condom from the truck stop.  That leaves you with $10 which should be enough to give Gail a decent tip and still have enough left over to pay for an hour or so for a motel room next door.  Good luck with that!

Final Impressions:  This place is pretty dumpy, it needs a ton of work that I assume the owners don't want to spend any money on, and it's located in a bland motel just off of Interstate 80.  Had it not been for the fantastic service from Gail the bartender, I could have easily ripped this place a new one.  However, if you want to check it out, call ahead and see what nights Gail is working, show up for a bit, buy some Mary Kay from her and leave a big tip.

Ultimately, this place reminded me of the location of a little story I once heard was 100% true from my uncle's-brother's-cousin's best friend!  It goes like this...(Continued under the Dive-O-Meter Rating)

DIVE-O-METER

Gail -- 8
Bar --  1

GRAND TOTAL -- 4.5



Kidney storage cold?
"Dear Friends,

I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in Omaha.

The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day.
A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bath tub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call Omaha police. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call.

The business traveler calls the police who have become quite familiar with this crime.

The business traveler is instructed by the operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested.
This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real.

It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful."


Sure I'll excuse it...why not?


Monday, July 8, 2013

One Horse Saloon, Nickerson, Neb. -- TIME FOR ONE


205 Cedar Street
Nickerson, NE 68044
Buit in 1890
402 721-6701

Being a lazy creature-of-habit has its upside.  Most notably, I have never pulled a muscle, rarely miss a good happy hour, and even my bar reviews are written in template from so I don't have to put too much thought into writing any of them.

The downside?  None!  Well, OK maybe one.  And that downside is, for every bar I eventually getting around to writing a review about, I walk in and out of at least 10 other bars that I simply did not sit in long enough to write a review that meets my strict (rimshot please) 11 point review areas.  

So, after nearly three years of procrastinating on how best to write a review of a bar where I only had time for one beer, I came up with the cleverly titled HitThatDive's "TIME FOR ONE" reviews.  First on the block is Nickerson, Nebraska's One Horse Saloon.  

Cool ceiling
What Makes It Great:  Nickerson is small town America (population 369), but is an easy 30-minute drive from the suburbs in West Omaha. Owners Jim and Candice have made this old (and possibly haunted) building into a warm and inviting place for locals to gather on a summer evening, and still make a group of four outsiders feel welcomed.  

WHAT ELSE MAKES IT GREAT:


Prices:  Two beers, one strong Jack and Coke, and a can of pop (for DD Mark) set me back $9.50.  I'm not exactly sure of the breakdown on the prices, but a round of drinks for four people is pretty good in my book.

People: This is a bar, but also the town restaurant so there were people of all ages in here on a Saturday night.  This also is a stop on an upcoming poker run, so I'm assuming that this also is a stop for people out on for a weekend ride.

Food:  There wasn't time to eat, but from the looks (and smell) of everything, this is a great place for some good 'ole home cookin'!

Beer Garden:  Walk into the front doors, make a left past the rest rooms and you're in the beer garden.  Looked like a great place to have a few on a day that was a little less humid than it was when I was here.
Let's eat

Atmosphere: Think of what a small town Nebraska "Saloon" should look like in your mind...my guess is it looks almost identical to what you'll see when you sit down at the bar here.  

Signs:  Handwritten signs all over the bar that tell you everything from when happy hour is (4-6), to the price of Mike's products ($3.50) just add to the small town charm of this great little saloon.

A FEW OTHER OBSERVATIONS:

Comfort: It was a warm evening, and the bar was a bit hot and muggy and Mrs. HitThatDive noted that she did not find the bar stools all that comfortable (wuss). 

Restrooms: Potentially tricky to find at first, they were larger than anticipated and pretty clean. No problems here.

Vent:  They must fry a ton of food in the kitchen, because the vent leading out of the building in the beer garden had an excessive amount of grease oozing from it.  

Handmade signs
Shuffleboard: Might be a bit tricky to play when all the tables are occupied, but had I been here for more than one beer, I definitely would have demonstrated my lack of touch on this one to the locals.

Cash Only:  Feel free to bring your credit cards, but don't plan on using them while you're here. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Oh shit, I just remembered that owner Candice sent me an email a few months ago, here's what she had to say about her place..."I have a Great Dive Bar in Nickerson Ne ( Just north of Fremont)  Come check us out sometime.  We have great food including our Very own Chicken Fried CheeseBurger and we definitely qualify as a dive bar...The building has been here since 1890."

This is a great little place that I could have easily spent several hours in just hanging out in and enjoying the laid back atmosphere.  Should you Hit This Dive?  Absolutely!  My only regret is that there was only time for one beer.  My next trip back I will be sure to order a chicken fried cheeseburger.  
Clean
More signs












Needed time for one more!