Last Call: Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Mac’s on 7th
2600 W 7th St, FW

7th Haven
2700 W 7th St, FW
Communication Breakdown

Look around a lot of bars these days, and you’ll find more people talking by text than actually interacting verbally. Texting certainly has advantages: It’s less intrusive than a phone call, a convenient way to exchange bits of information, and the best method for conducting secret conversations. But folks —there are rules.
While I was bartending last week, a friend sitting four feet away texted me her drink order. The next day, a relative stranger wrote me a short message saying I should be aware of his “needy and feely” nature. I hope he wasn’t expecting a return phone call after that one.
Giving someone your number in the dawn of the virtual age is much less threatening than it used to be. Chances are, the guy (or gal) you meet while out on the town will choose to type a quick note. This can be nice, as it’s possible to text practically anytime and anywhere. My co-workers in the service industry sometimes type with one hand while writing down orders with the other. This infuriates the powers that be, but in truth, they are equal offenders.
Even my mother is doing it. She, like me, uses proper punctuation. This, however, is not a rule. Abbreviations save time but don’t necessarily make things clearer. “It’s really easy to misunderstand a text message. You think it’s a joke, but they may be angry,” said Kristina Morland, who bartends during the days at Sardines.
Missed meanings are common when there is no voice or body language to carry nuances. Texting is no way to carry on a serious conversation. I especially didn’t appreciate the guy who once broke up with me via text message. Sometimes it’s nicer just to call.
But, back to the bar: When you have your bartender’s attention, avert your eyes from the phone for a minute. Nothing is more annoying on a busy night than waiting for customers to finish their notes so they can specify what kind of Chardonnay they prefer. — Caroline Collier
Gin Joints
It was a gray afternoon, one of those Texas midwinter days that can’t decide if it wants to turn its face forward toward spring or back to winter (assuming one ice storm and a few days of frost constitute “winter”). Half the people in the office were either out sick or coming down with something, and the news about the news business was as unrelenting as February weather in some other, more northern climate. Perfect time to slide out of the office and console myself with a late lunch and the stranger-companionship of a bar.
At Montgomery Plaza, the bar at Mac’s on 7th Street was high-ceilinged, the décor dark wood and stone and sleek metal, a perfect spot from which to watch any interesting weather roll in. (It would have been a terrifying perch from which to experience the 2000 twister that helped bring about some of the development around Montgomery Plaza, as Nature selected some old buildings for vaporization or damage beyond repair.) The cup of seafood gumbo that was lunch was fantastic, dark and spicy and complex. The house gin was Tanqueray, so my drink, with tonic and lime, was as crisp and clean as a white button-down shirt under an expensive suit.
Still, it wasn’t much of a place at that hour for either considering or leaving behind the woes of the world, which seemed the thing to do if you’re drinking at lunch. A faintly melancholy mood called for grittier surroundings, folksier folks — and cheaper drinks.
I didn’t have far to go. Just across Carroll Street, the door to 7th Haven was propped open to the temporarily mild weather. Wooden stairs led up to a roof deck. Inside, the decor was the classic black-and-red that looks better in dim light, with faux leather and faux leopard-ish upholstery, walls plastered with signs that joke about drinking (“Warning: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers want you to call them at 4 a.m.”). And the friendly bartender was already jawing with a couple of obviously familiar customers. The house gin was McCormick, a soft old t-shirt compared to the toney crispness of the $6.50 Tanqueray & tonic, but the McCormick’s was only $2.50.
It’s nice to have lived in a sweet burg like Fort Worth for a while. At the Haven, I could easily remember sitting in the same spot to eat Rose and Danny’s great burgers and plate lunches when the place was the Station Grill (Rose and Danny moved down the street to the M&O Grill, where the food’s just as good and the surroundings much cuter, their diner taking on the retro look of the Leonard’s Department Store Museum next door.) Before that, it was a donut place. And judging by the shape of the building, surely a chain fast-food joint before that — Arby’s, maybe?
From the roof I could look in all directions, remembering when it seemed that the development along West 7th Street would never take off, finding the height on the Montgomery Plaza building that marks where the historic floodwaters reached in 1949, wondering how much of this boom will be left when the current bust is over. And thinking I’d like to come back here at sundown, sometime between the average last freeze date (March 15, for all you tourists, or it was before global warming) and the average first mosquito night, and figure out, with a cheap gin drink in my hand, how of all the bars in all the world, I’m glad Fort Worth walked into mine. Here’s lookin’ at ya, kid. — Gayle Reaves

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