This first location to find new friends is as old as this country itself. The first place to find new friends is your local watering hole, corner bar, tavern or whatever term you see fit to call them. I am not someone who frequents taverns often. Working in a bar two nights a week can be sufficient for the most part, but there is a lot to be said for the mix of people you can find here.
After bartending for over 23 years, I can safely say it is one of, if not the best place to meet a great mix of people. If you need a mechanic, you know one. If you need someone to take care of your lawn, chances are one will stop in. Need to know someone who works on the railroad for your child’s school report, yes one probably has stopped in. Not only are local bars a great place to meet a wide variety of people, but they are a great place to get the vibe of the city you are in.
One evening Margie and I decided to look into a few local places we had been meaning to try. The first up was a place called Phylos. I recall this place as a young man. The sign outside left us curious about what was inside. With slogans such as “Stuff to do” and “Stuff to eat” we wondered what was included in both. Coming inside it was brought to our attention immediately that this was a place where everyone seemed to know each other. After just a few minutes of feeling like outsiders, we were greeted by the lady behind the bar. Although her physical stature was modest in nature there was no doubt she was definitely in charge of the place. Wearing a shirt with the slogan I used to be a people person, but people ruined it for me, you could tell this lady came with an amount of sarcasm.
The people around us seemed more than willing to chat and were quite welcoming. We not only had our suspicions of the bartenders sarcasm confirmed we learned she was the owner, and had been for more than 3 decades. Lois as we learned her name was also doubled as the cook on the grill behind the bar. The food smelled wonderful although we did not try any. We also learned the rocket on the front of the bar used to be a feature inside that customers could ride. Now Lois claims she is saving it. “What for?” I asked. “That is my ride out of here one day!” came the reply. As we enjoyed our beverages the other customers asked a few questions in a genuine attempt to get to know us. Taking interest in everything from Margie’s cakes to my recent winning of a city-wide poetry contest.
Second stop was a place called GM’s Dog House. Margie and I were beckoned there for an East Allis Neighborhood Association meeting they were holding. An organization I am happy to belong to. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by a young lady, Dolly, who I had the pleasure of serving several years ago when I was a bartender at a bar down the street. If you are to judge by outside appearances, the Dog House would be something you may consider passing by. It seems like your normal local corner tavern. Once inside you discover it is bright, clean and has a great selection of beverages to choose from.
Shortly after saying hello to Dolly and her friend Paul, a gentleman named Robert who used to work on my car came up to say hi. He was there with his wife Amy, who had read my book A Happy Life for Busy People. Add this to the wonderful folks who were there for the neighborhood meeting and we knew just about everyone. Craig and his wife Robin along with Jon and his wife Marie who own another amazing establishment called Jonny Hammers. Which according to my lovely lady, has some of the best wings in town.
The first bartender we met was the Melissa, who owns the bar with her husband Glen. She was welcoming and very proud of the place, as she had the right to be. She informed us of some of the fun options for entertainment. They included a wheel you could spin to win prizes. Margie even won a free drink, while I won the chance to enjoy an evening with neighbors and my beautiful lady. We also had the pleasure of being served by Nicole who played a game of bar dice with us and also shared a smile and friendly word. Margie also informed me this place had the cleanest lady’s bathroom of any bar she had ever been in. What was supposed to be a quick stop turned into several hours of connecting with old friends on one side of the bar, while making new ones on the other.
Whether you drink or not, corner bars can be a great place to meet people in the community as well as get a great feel for the city. Something you will not find in large clubs or chain establishments. With an open mind and a little conversation you can make a great deal of new friends.
Local bars not your thing? Come back tomorrow to learn of another place where friends can abound!