Tavern in the Grove was a dive bar in every sense of the word.
It was neither retro-cool like Club Deuce, nor frat-boy cool like Ted's Hideaway. On the contrary, Tavern in the Grove was more authentic than that.
It was the kind of bar that would have felt at home behind New York City's Port Authority bus terminal on Ninth Avenue, where the taverns are filled with graveyard-shift employees having a beer in the morning while the rest of the world is sitting in a cubicle. Those same bars fill up at 5 p.m. with office staff wanting an after-work brew.
Tavern in the Grove was the most democratic of places -- where both young college students and old drunks could get together over a few cheap beers served in plastic cups.
See also: Best Dive Bar 2013 - Tavern in the Grove
I once made the awful mistake of having to pee there. I recall the bathroom at a hostel on a dusty road from Nairobi to Amboseli being cleaner -- and that was just a hole in the floor.
That's not to say Tavern in the Grove had no charm.
You could walk into the tiny bar any time, plunk down on a slightly wobbly stool, and strike up a conversation with the guy or gal next to you. Regulars were friendly and unpretentious. In fact, the bar's walls were plastered with the faces of the people who frequented Tavern in the Grove. There was beer pong and $1 beer night. Since 1987, Tavern in the Grove was a cheap and easy place to get a pint. There's a space for that kind of place in this world of $20 cocktails and celebrity DJs.
This past Saturday Night, I spotted a sign out front that said, "Tavern's last night open. $3 beers."
The bar's been sold to a group of investors by the owner who, according to a local source, "didn't care about the place". The new owners aren't going to change too much -- just clean up the bathrooms and make some general repairs. Which, if that's the case, is a good thing, indeed.
Tavern in the Grove closed for renovation this past Saturday night. No word on when it's set to reopen. I'm looking forward to a slightly cleaner -- but still recognizable -- version. Maybe they'll bring back live jazz. That would be awesome. As the bartender working on Saturday told us, "I only hope they save all the pictures on the wall." I'll drink to that.
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