The restaurants seem to come and go, which is, I guess, the nature of that business. A family run pizzeria was evicted from the space they had occupied for 50 years to make way for a Harris Teeter. New mixed-use construction has made the way for some new faces in the restaurant scene, and has rather unfortunately caused a complete dearth of good old dives. There used to be 3 or 4 taverns where one could be sure to find some interesting folks. These were places that reminded us that despite years of gentrification, we still had a good supply of rednecks in town. But they’ve all but disappeared now, replaced by gourmet pizza places and insurance agencies.
But one hold out remains. It is located in a small strip mall, virtually surrounded by businesses with signs in Spanish or Vietnamese. And when you walk through the door, it’s as though you have stepped into a time machine, taken back 30 or 40 years to a time when Formica tables were hip and it was not uncommon to see long-haired vets wearing motorcycle jackets and smoking cigarettes. The place is draped with American flags and other patriotic decorations – a slightly obvious snub to their culturally diverse neighbors. The walls are covered with a mish mash of paintings, zombie heads, funny signs and tee shirts, all covered with years of cooking grease and cigarette smoke. When smoking was allowed here, the place, and its patrons, smelled like fried cigarettes. Now it just smells like fried. A half a phone booth-sized smoking booth sits in the middle of the restaurant. I have actually seen someone go in and use it, despite mild temperatures outside where he could have gone and not been enveloped in a gray haze. He seemed almost defiant by choosing to use the glass booth.
The women behind the bar look as though they have lived hard. One is missing several essential teeth; the other, roughly 65 years old, has her bottle blond hair teased to within an inch of its life. You don’t need to imagine how she must have looked in her younger days, because several oil paintings showing her in various stages of undress, atop Harley Davidsons, adorn the walls. She was and is still a beautiful biker chick
They don’t serve hard liquor at the bar – just beer and box wine. According to local lore they were unable to obtain a full liquor license due to state law regarding the specific dimensions of the tables, which they missed by a fraction of an inch. It's probably just as well. If there was liquor, I can imagine it might get pretty volatile in there. They serve very simple food, most of it fried in sight of the bar, but it’s pretty rare to see anyone order anything. They are clearly not known for their cuisine.
The bar has a small stage and they have live music just about every night. I have heard some pretty talented musicians up there, though they are not bands I have ever heard of. I have lived in town for about 20 years and usually recognize faces when I’m out and about. But I don’t seem to travel in the same circles as the patrons here. They are all interesting strangers – characters every one of them. The restaurant’s slogan, available on tee shirts for sale at the bar is "Ageless Charm Without Yuppie Bastardization". Yeah. That’s exactly right.