It sounds like something out of a country-and-western song: If heaven had a bar, what'd be in it? In my April 9 column, "Ultimate Bar (part one)," I imagined combining the best characteristics of my favorite local watering holes to create the supreme drinking establishment. The location would be within walking distance; the servers would carry themselves like Kelly, the bartender at the Tiny Tap Tavern; the menu would include full-liquor and tasty pub-grub like MacDinton's/J's Grill in SoHo; and the setting would include a patio or wraparound deck like Limey's in St. Pete and a postcard beach view like Caddy's on Treasure Island. I ended the column with a request for suggestions from you. The feedback, via e-mail and comments posted online, confirmed my suspicion that there was one feature that most people don't want in their ideal bar: toilet attendants. So we'll start the second round of essential bar ingredients with the pro's and con's of...
RESTROOMS: "My ultimate bar would not have bathroom attendants," writes Holley Sinn, co-host/producer Studio 10 on Tampa Bay's 10. "It's not that they aren't lovely, capable women, it's just that I've had the whole 'going to the bathroom by myself' thing down since about age 3. I really don't need someone to squirt soap into my hands so that I'll fork over a dollar, which I never have because I don't carry cash."
"Gigglecream," posting a comment online, concurs with Holley, but from a man's perspective: "The perfect bar would also not include having a guy in the bathroom who washes your hands for you against your will, making you feel guilty for not wanting to tip him," he writes. "It is the equivalent to homeless people who run up to your car with squeegees expecting payment." Ouch. Maybe a bit harsh there, Gigglecream, but I agree with both you and Holly that the ultimate bar doesn't need bathroom attendants, just clean bathrooms with plenty of T.P., paper hand towels and stall doors that lock. I also like when they frame the sports page over the urinals — a great feature with which you ladies may not be familiar.
By the way, CL (then Weekly Planet) was all over bathroom attendants in a 2005 cover story we published called "The Most Useless Job in the World." (We received more than a few letters, however, suggesting that the most useless jobs in the world were being performed by CL writers and editors.)
MUSIC: Considering my main gig is music critic, you might think I'd be partial to live bands at every bar in town. But even though this is going to piss off the local musicians I write about, I must admit when going to a pub I don't necessarily want to be greeted by a band — either playing covers or originals. I'm there to relax with friends and converse and hear good music, which can only be guaranteed on an ace jukebox like the one at New World Brewery in Ybor City or the one featuring Kelly's selections at the Tiny Tap Tavern.
Or the Tip Top Tavern in Bradenton, a place I frequented when I lived down there. Manatee County resident and Florida native Kellie Marx writes in a comment posted online: "Obviously it has to be [within] walking distance. ... have clean rock glasses and a jukebox worthy of the Tip Top Tavern with some Counting Crows thrown in for good measure. And I know it sounds elitist, but I'd like the happy hour(s) to apply to year-round locals only."
TV's/GAMES: I'm in agreement with Gonzalo Lever on this one. He writes via e-mail: "No TVs or pool tables. Encourage conversation, not the mind-numbing disengagement folks are used to." That's one of many reasons I'm such an enthusiast of Four Green Fields in Tampa. Like the traditional Irish publicans in the old country, the FGF owners refuse to pollute their bar with TVs, pool tables or worse, video games like Golden Tee, which tend to attract the annoying, frat-boy set (apologies to my pal Decker, an avid Golden Tee player).
CLIENTELE: Gotta agree with Gonzalo again on this point: "Very laid-back, come-as-you-are type feel, as multi-ethnic a crowd as possible; progressives and neo-hippies, crossed with Joe Diesel mechanics," he writes. "[With] as many chicks as guys, roughly."
Any other suggestions? If so, e-mail to [email protected].