Last Call: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Back in 2008 …

The big news in Barland this past year was the ado about — for lack of a better nickname — Carroll Street Corner, a cluster of bars at the intersection of Carroll and West 7th Street by Montgomery Plaza on the near West Side. With three bars all within drunk-tossing distance of one another — and another joint within empty beer bottle-tossing distance — you’re bound to have a little drama. OK, a lot. And that’s not even taking into account the restaurant-bars in “Monkey” Plaza (and I use that term lovingly). At the fulcrum of the soap opera was Matt McEntire, who owns the building that houses Poag Mahone’s Pub and the one that houses the restaurant-bar formerly known as the Bronx Zoo Restaurant and Sports Café. “Formerly known as” because McEntire and ex-Zoo owner Tommy Gallant could not agree to a new lease, one that would have increased Gallant’s rent by a couple thou. Whether or not the upped rent was warranted was an endless source of debate. Some folks claimed that McEntire was angling to open his own pub along the lines of his former endeavor (in Poag’s current location), The Shamrock Pub, and price Gallant out. Others claimed that McEntire merely was trying to keep the rent in line with the building’s increasing property value. The comments section of a post on local Fort Worth architecture blog Fort Worthology ( got particularly nasty, with some posters referring to McEntire as “slime” and “a crook.” In rebuttal, one poster defended him, calling him “smart” and a “shrewd businessman.” Long story short: McEntire plans to remodel the Zoo space and do another Irish pub, bringing the total of new Carroll Street Corner clubs to, well, four, with the others being Poag’s, Lola’s Saloon (the joint within empty beer bottle-tossing distance, on West 6th), and the most recently (re-)opened 7th Haven.
The big news in all of Clubland, however, was the ado about the non-smoking ordinance. Come Jan. 1, smoking will not be allowed in bar/restaurants whose food sales account for 60 percent or more of their total take. Smoking everywhere else, including bar-bars, will still be permitted. Note: By “Jan. 1,” the cops mean one minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sad, laughable even, but true. Can’t you just hear ’em now? “Freeze! Drop the square!” – Anthony Mariani

More Year-End Observations
1.) This past year witnessed the first indications of SoDo’s transition from Cowtown to … Northern Mexico? Sí, cabrón. Eavesdropping on the long weekend lines waiting to get into the ultra-stylish nightclub Embargo, you’d be forgiven for thinking that English is a second language here. You should have heard the cheers — and seen the rumbaing — that erupted every time DJ Danny West mixed into his playlist a Vicente Fernández tune. And after enough mojitos, a gal was able to collect the numbers of every Tomas, Ricardo, and Javier in town.
2.) Out by Texas Christian University, lining up your quarters didn’t guarantee you’d get even a single game of pool in at Tiff & Andi’s Place on many nights. After Andi refinished the lone table by covering it in royal red felt, every blue-collar person within walking distance scooped up his or her chance to rule the royal-red-felt roost. Bartender Dave played “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon ad nauseum, establishing an appropriate soundtrack to the less-than-professional ranks around the eight ball. Winning never amounted to much, but cheap drinks and the ability to walk home afterward were both priceless.
3.) Jukebox? Unplug that thing! Contrary to popular opinion, not every liquor aficionado is qualified to select songs for an entire bar’s consumption. Cody Admire, one of the best bartenders in town, took over the Blue Grotto in late 2008, and when he wasn’t too busy mixing martinis, he was mixing songs via his handy laptop. Like the ingredients of a tasty cocktail, music needs to be chosen carefully yet courageously, and Admire, an excellent musician in his own right, performed valiantly.
4.) Despite trying its best to be hip, Halo Lounge suffered from its proximity to TCU. The narrow room was often overrun by khaki pants, polo shirts, and testosterone. But no one can blame Halo for trying. Kenny and Scott remain two of the hippest, friendliest bartenders in town, and on the nights when DJ Echo kicked up the party atmosphere with his Soul Train mix, he perhaps even encouraged many of the way-too-old minglers to take their chances with the youngsters. And lechery, dear future alcoholics of America, is Bar Behavior 101. – Caroline Collier
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