Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 7 a.m.
Night Watch is a regular feature about bars and clubs by nightlife columnist Tara Nieuwesteeg.
2671 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
Call 954-566-7782 or visit mugsbar.com
I got a clear sense of déjà vu at Mugs, but only, as I realized, because I'd been taken there for dinner once by a lovely gentleman. Only it was called Christine's then, and was quite a bit more expensive.
Currently, Mugs does bear reminders of its predecessor--the fancy glass divider between bar and dining area; complete and utter cleanliness; the gourmet, fancy-schmancy chef. Sure, it had all the fixins of a sports bar -- dartboards, foosball, pool tables -- but there was something special about it. It's a typical sports bar, kicked up a notch.
When Marc, the scruffy, ball-cap-wearing, utterly youthful owner walked over to me and wanted to talk about the menu, I was slightly dismissive. He looked all of about 17 years old (he is 24, actually; his partner is 27). But I warmed up to him as he talked about the Christine's chef staying on and pointed out some delectable entrees: Penne al la vodka; penne garlic; chicken marsala.
The place was busy. College kids congregated by the pool table in the dining area; white-haired folks wolfed down dinner at the big wooden bar; a birthday party for a pretty brunet was ensuing nearby. She was wearing a big-ass felt top hat with the word "birthday" patterned on it.
"This place is great! A great local place!" she exclaimed as she leaned back in her stool. And almost fell out. Her friend leaned over.
"She'd say that no matter where she was," he said. "She's completely trashed. But I'll tell you in honesty: This place is great. It's already becoming like a Cheers; the bartender knows all our names."
I had to find out Marc's secret and how he had come to the sports bar biz.
"What'd you go to college for?" I asked.
"Journalism," he said wryly. Nuff said.
"We basically opened because we figured we had enough FSU friends to keep it in business," he said. "But, we get a lot of walk-ins, and older people tend to love the place--because we keep it so clean. I'm a little OCD about it, really."
The place had only been open since September 4. Marc was planning a giant Super bowl party complete with giant flat-screen TVs in the back parking lot.
"I'd like to advertise in New Times, but we're not at that level yet," he said. "Right now we're just at the putting-fliers-on-people's-doors level."
"I suspect not for long," I told him.