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From the Desk of the Editor: What Makes a Good “go to” Bar?

June 3, 2010

Here’s my meta analysis of this blog, which for your sake I will keep short:

I am an opinionated person when it comes to a lot of subjects, but I am of the strong belief that my opinion is only my opinion.  You may have noticed the subtle twist that I don’t review bars, or review beers on this blog, rather I try to state facts.  Sure, my opinion may slip out here and there (and I apologize for that), but I always make the conscious effort to make the disclaimer that it is only my perspective. You probably noticed that everything just kind of seems awesome to me on this blog, particularly because I only write about things I like.

That brings me to today’s subject and a different kind of post.  The background story goes a little something like this.  I had a hard day that I’m sure all of us have had at one point in time.  Maybe you lost a lot of money in the market.  Quite possibly, the piece you submitted to the magazine didn’t get accepted.  Or, that person on the subway decided to grace you with their operatic singing your entire commute, then berated you for not giving he/she money.  Whatever it is, you’re kind of done for the day.

I had high hopes of going to a new bar today, in which my girlfriend was going to accompany me as I profiled the location, but I was, frankly, just done.  So we adapted to my mood swing and changed our game plan, and decided to visit our “go to” spot, Fanelli’s Cafe (here is New York Magazine’s Profile of this place complete with wonderful pictures, I love you NYMag.com).
This naturally begged the question, why is this place our default bar/location/fun maker/good time/happy land.  So, I present to you my analysis and perspective on what makes a place, that place.

Factor #1: Ambiance = Happiness – When I leave the corporate job (which, despite the fact that I enjoy it, can be too corporate), the last thing I want to do is end up at a place where it feels like people are judging the fact that my suit was less than a $1000 dollars or that my BMI is greater than 18.5.  Living in the monstrosity that New York City is, and nonetheless working in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, it’s difficult to find a place where people are not like that. When, I walk into Fanelli’s Care the wait staff smiles, the crowd is loud, rowdy, happy, yet respectful, there is no music whatsoever playing in the background at all and the decor is warm, woody, and quite possibly on the verge of dingy and divey.  The bar let’s the people and atmosphere do the talking.

Factor #2:  The Price is Right: The happy ambiance is always accompanied by the happy price point.  Why?  Because the glorious owners of the place want you to have a good time and not worry about wasting the money that you worked your butt off for.  New York is expensive enough.  My meal of choice, the veggie burger (which, I have to say is probably the best veggie burger I’ve had in NYC, think meaty texture, pesto, and an onion roll) is $7.95.  Feast your eyes on the delightful menu.  The beers mostly range from $5 (Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner Urquell) to $8 (Duvel, Sam Smith).

Factor #3: The Food: I don’t have to say more than, try the veggie burger.  And, for those that are not inclined to veggie burgers, the other food is quality.  I’m not a foodie, so don’t expect me to comment on the food.

Factor #4: The Beer: The beer selection is for everyone, and that, my friends, shows tact.  This is most likely the reason why Fanelli’s Cafe draws the crowd it does.  Budweiser, Heineken, Stella Artois, Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner Urquell, Duvel, Aflligem Blonde, Dogfish Head 60 (and 120) Minute IPA, and some local microbrews like Southampton Triple all grace the beer list.  There is even wine.  Anyone and everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this place.

Hmm, I guess that’s really it.  I am a simple man.  Oh, and the funny thing is that Fanelli’s Cafe is located in SoHo.  Who would have thought that?

Thoughts about what makes a place, that place?  Have a good weekend.

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