Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bar #16: Madison Square Lanes

There's a bar in Lakewood that doesn't bowl for compliments with flashiness and gimics.  I've struck this bar more than any other in Lakewood.  But it's been a while since I've been there and have been pinning for it.  I couldn't spare another week.  So this weekend after the Spooky Pooch Parade we went to bar #16, Madison Square Lanes!

True, Madison Square Lanes doesn't have a tap.   For every rule an exception must be made, and there is something exceptional about Madison Lanes.  The bowling alley offers a bar, snack bar, bowling (of course,) pool, and a random assortment of arcade games.  What pulls all this together is Mike the owner.  He is always willing to help out and remembers the people that come in.

Your beer options cover both your normal options in canned form and a number of Great Lakes Brewery beers in bottles.  This is the first place I had the hipster iconic beer, PBR.  Since then, I have probably drank more PBR then any other beer.  The funny thing about PBR is that it's not very good, it's like a alcoholic water with a hint of beer.

They do have a variety of smacks you can order to be made from the bar.  More importantly, they have Sam's Smokies!  The best generic meat product in a plastic jar that money can buy.

I used a specific red ball back when I used to bowl more often.  It was the perfect weight and the holes were exactly where I wanted them.  This ball bumped my mediocre 130 average to a respectable 180.  The trick was that there was a chip in the finger hole that forced me to bowl better.  It also, made a mildly painful dent in my finger.  Mike wouldn't sell me it.  Turns out I wasn't the only one using it.  The combination of pain and a false sense of skill lead me to buy a new ball and shoes.  My finger felt better but my score did not.

Tonight, I used my red ball of awesome one last time.  One last time because it had two chunks taken out of it.  It left a dent but not in my score.  It seems if your ball randomly bounces it becomes less effective at hitting the pins.

Who is Mike you ask?  Mike owns and runs Madison Square Lanes.  He is what makes the bowling alley worth while.  He remembers the people that come to the Lanes and is usually there to offer advice on bowling and the individual lanes.  Thanks Mike.

Madison Lanes also has some other games.  There's a pool table.  You can get the feel of an amusement park with a classic quality skee ball game, sorry no game tickets.  You've also got the options of eating ghost clothes, jet skiing, and dancing.  You can also play your favorite backyard game, corn hole, but in an electronic folly ball version.  

Lastly, the bar has a juke box with a weird mixture of hits from over the last 60 years.  I usually make it my job to monopolize it for the entire time I'm there.  Primarily this is to prevent other people from playing bad music than my own skills as a dj.  Don't worry if you see me there I won't play anything off of the Best of Bread album.

I'm naming Madison Square Lanes as bar #16.  I go there to drink and have a good time with my friends.  This bar makes me happy and you should give it a try.  Tell Mike I sent you.

Awesome: Customer Service, Bowling, Juke Box

1653 Westwood Ave.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Random Stuff

First, I'll have a booth at the Spooky Pooch Parade this Saturday, October 20th. My dog daycare and training facility, Pawsitive Influence will be located in the back left corner. My wife's store Rustbelt Revival will have dog beds, hand made jewelry and vintage items for sale as well. She will be offering a discount, so it's worth the visit just to check it out. If you have a dog there will be plenty of free stuff and activities for your furry family member. Plus, there will be a bunch of dogs wearing costumes. Registration starts at 12:30 and the parade starts at 2. The parade will walk from St. Charles Green to Caribou Coffee and back. Check out the details at
Second, “Facebook now requires page administrators to pay to promote updates if we want our content to be seen by all our fans. If we do not pay to promote our posts, only about 10% of our fans receive updates on Facebook's home page feed.

However, there is one thing you can do to keep receiving posts from your favorite pages. Hover your mouse on the "Like" button to the right of our name. In the drop-down menu select "Add to Interest Lists." Then create an interest list (and make a name for your favorite sites). When you select that interest list you will see ALL of our posts and you won't miss anything!” -Carnegie Museum. If you want to make sure you're seeing all my posts and those of your favorite Lakewood businesses on Facebook you'll have to go through all this now.

Third, let me know how think the blog is going. Am I missing topics you think should be addressed like bathrooms or the type of free peanuts on the bar. I haven't seen anybody give away free nuts yet. How do you like the shirts, are there any changes you would like to make them even better? Do you want me to come up with any of those 1-5 scales on stuff? Is anyone on Google+?

Also, we decided that hard cider goes well with bacon.  What do you think is the proper beer to compliment bacon?

Check out these links:

If you have dogs:

If you like Handmade Jewelry, Metal Smithing & Vintage Items:
If you are looking for Wedding/Shower Invitations, Favors & Photography:

If you are looking for print design services such as logos, advertisements, promotional materials, etc.:
These pay for the blog and the beer I have to drink to make it possible. So check them out and I hope to see you on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bar #15: Jammy Buggers

How do you pick a bar when your only deciding factor is that you haven't been there?  My first time picking a random bar I just used a random number generator website and counted my way to O'Donnel's Pub.  This week I decided not to leave it to chance by instead leaving it to you, the readers.  Two bars were neck and neck till the final hour but Thor's voters rallied hard tripling his votes.  I owe Thor Platter a beer for picking bar #15, Jammy Buggars.

My friends couldn't wait for me to be done with work at 8 so I met them.  When I told the hostess I was meeting people she sadly told me that trivia had just been canceled (the trivial man had a flat tire and wasn't willing to run his equipment to the bar.)  Jammy Buggars was nicely arranged with brick and wood work. There are three sections, the bar, dining, and game room.  Since trivia was unanswerable, we were in the dining room.  I let our waitress pick my meal as I couldn't make up my mind.  She was also able to both pronounce my second beer and understand my horrible mispronunciation of it. I also didn't write it down so if you know it, put it in the comments below.

 The owner came by and introduced himself.  Soon afterwards, my food showed up.  I ordered the fish and chips.  The fish was good, the breading was different than any I have had before, but in a good way. The overall report of the food from my table mates, that had mainly had the bbq, was that it was good but not spectacular. Jammy Buggers does have my favorite buffalo wings from the wing crawl. The sauce was a little thicker and had a good flavor. Plus the meat was definitely the highest quality of the crawl as well.  Obviously, better quality food has a higher quality price tag, but Jammy Buggars is striving for more than cheap bar food.

They of course have a higher quality beer list then just beers that you see during the Super Bowl.  My first beer was a Victoria Golden Monkey.  Its full of alcohol and tastes like good beer.  Basically it's as awesome as it sounds. But like this beer I think it is better if you've had a beer before you meet a gold monkey in steam punk attire. 

As normal, when I went off to take pictures of the bar I got sidetracked for a half hour. This time it was talking to the owner, Jim. Highlights of our talks were: gossip about the future of Sullivan’s (and no I'm not telling,) why doesn't anyone know that the Shamrock is awesome (we don't know,) Jim's worked real hard trying to make a great and unique bar, and yes, I do accept free beer.

The women departed. Johnny and I moved to the bar for free beer and to root on the Orioles. The beer was good I had another Weneaidfslahifhieaojflisjhfioe. We then got to try a new beer from Akron's Hoppin' Frog, “Natasha Rocks” America. It is a chocolate rye imperial stout. I don't like chocolate, rye or stout beers for the most part but this beer was pretty damn good.

The Orioles were not good but kept up a healthy amount of denial into overtime.  A worse baseball team was brought up, from one of the other bar patrons.  This one from Cleveland. No not that one, I'm talking about the one from the National League. The Spiders were Cleveland's professional baseball team in the late 1800s. During their final year in the NL they were so bad, partially their owner that both owned a second NL team and referred to them as a side show attraction.  That meant teams couldn't make money playing in Cleveland because of the extremely low attendance. The Spiders ended up playing most of their games at the opposing stadiums. The Spiders lost most of their games, officially achieving more away losses than any other professional baseball team ever will. No matter how bad your favorite team is, they will never be as bad as the Cleveland Spiders. That was also the Spider's last season and they are in no way connected to the AL's Indians.

The game was over and the bar was empty it was time for us to go. It was also the first time Every Bar in Lakewood closed down a bar. Jammy Buggers was voted as the bar on Detroit Avenue that we needed to go to and for good reason. Many different establishments have resided in the JB location: Nikos, Route 6, and Nikos to name a few. Jammy Buggers has endeavored to break the mold of the terminally closing bars of 15625. It's not simply a nice looking bar with good food and beer. Jammy Buggars is constantly working at making the food and experience better. You can tell they put effort into finding quality ingredients and a unique taste. I had a great time at bar #15. They won't have to be jammy Buggars to be open a year from now and you'll feel like one if you give them a visit.

Awesome: Customer Service, Craft Beer, Gastropub Food, Wings

15625 Detroit Ave

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bar #14: Manja

Different people see hipsters in different ways.  To some, hipsters are lazy people that apathetically like old clothing and random things ironically.  To others, hipsters are people that pay attention to what is cool before the mainstream knows about it and what should be cool again.  Manja is known as a hipster bar but is it cool or is it simply ironically bad.

There are rules to follow when going to a bar. Rule #1, don't show up to a bar the minute they open. To be a hipster you need a certain nonchalance. You can't be nonchalant during an hour defined by being happy. Manja rejects so called "happy hours", not only by having beer prices competitive with the other bars temporary price drops but by rejecting the happy hour time block altogether. Manja usually opens around 9. Unfortunately, I start work every morning at 7:15. Staying out late on weekdays is rarely a good option. This brings us to why I broke rule #1, I wanted enough time to get a good feel for the bar and catch, at least the beginning, of the comedy show that night.

We were the only people in the bar for the first hour. We talked with John the bartender while we drank our first beers. He had two pythons, one of which is recently deceased. The snake's sibling may be acquired, you'll find a sign with a picture in the bar.Manja is a great mixture trendiness and college dorm room. This is seen by comparing the designer bar and hanging lights with the vintage couches and painting of Kramer. Pink Floyd was prevalent on the speakers but you can pick the music.
Some would say that a bar named Manja must have amazing food. However, Manja is so ironic that it offers nothing to eat all. Most of the beer options are working class cheap beers like PBR. I added the renowned Yuengling to my beers on tap list. Yuengling had been one of the most sought after beers to move to Ohio. The demand was so high that it was unable to handle starting sales to our state. A year ago Yuengling decided that was enough and opened an entire factory in Kentucky just so that Ohio could partake. It seems to be a success because I rarely can find a bar that doesn't carry it. It's probably my favorite of the mass produced beers of the US.

After our talk of John's snake, we moved on to the Sociability Center to play Foosball. As mentioned previously, I am not good at Foosball. I did come up tied playing against Johnny 1 game to 1. John, paid for our games and also for the two games we played against him. Bar Rule #2, do not play the bar game against the bar owner; you will lose. I was happy that I scored a point, but after only scoring 1 point you can never accept the "good job" by your opponent without a scowl. The owner may be a vampire, which would explain why the bar isn't open while the sun's out and his lightning fast reflexes on the Foosball table.

Around 10, people started showing up, including the funny people. By 10:30 the bar had a nice crowd but the little voice in my head start complaining that I had to wake up in 7 hours for a 13 hour day. Unfortunately, I had to leave with the night obviously feeling unfinished.  I'll leave you with a To Be Continued on the tale of Manja so that I can go there while people are around.

Obviously, I would go back to Manja. It's got a hip and friendly atmosphere and crowd, cheap beer, and a great downloaded list of songs on the giant pay ipod.  Once you're tired of your old bar head over to Manja where the party's just beginning.

Awesome: Customer Service, Atmosphere

13373 Madison Ave

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bar #13 Bonnie and Clyde's Bar (Deceased)

One of the biggest hurdles that I have to watch out for while doing this blog is the raising of expectations. You hear these great things about a bar and the bar just gets better and better in your head. This week's bar is one such bar. I'd heard their food is great and have only heard about how wonderful the bar is. The question is does Bonny and Clyde's Bar do a bang up job or is this bar the unlucky #13?

Kelly and I arrive at Bonnie and Clyde's a couple minutes early and waste a couple minutes out front until Katie and Johnny arrive. Before they arrive we are met my new craziest old guy we've met at a bar. We're looking up the street seeing if we see them when suddenly there is a loud high pitched sound directly behind us. I spin around and am greeted with an old man with a giant gray/white beard on a bicycle. He was wearing a backpack with a single flower sticking out of it. He then motions to me if he can have a smoke. I say no, and he silent rides off up the sidewalk. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of my ninja, hobo friend.
Katie showed up next but Johnny wouldn't meet us for a while as he was thwarted by animals for the third time that day. The first was that he helped save a dog hit by a car that morning on his way to work (he didn't hit the dog.) The second was his car was attacked by a bird. This last time, a herd of 20 deer blocked off the exit from his parking lot.

The excitement never stops out front of Bonnie and Clyde's Bar as we approached and greeted by Bonnie, the owner. She was very friendly and excited to show us around her bar. She was one of a couple of bars that had invited us to come see them early on in the blog. She did not have a tommy gun.

They have two rooms with fun 20s style and they place was busy. The seating, even the bar seats, was quite comfortable, I've rarely found the seating worth mentioning and even rarer bringing up their comfort. There was paintings of Bonnie and Clyde's scenes throughout the second room. It also included some dart boards.
Bonnie then brought us back to a very nice hidden back patio. She took pride in it and it showed. We also heard a story about a woman that decided to move both above and next door the two bars at this location. She calls the police on a regular basis complaining about the noise. I'm not going to say that a bar patio is never noisy but Bonnie's is hardly one of Lakewood's rowdier bars and there's no speakers outside. But I would like to know why she moved into a location that was surrounded by bars?


My beer was a Lemon Berry Leinenkugel. I didn't hate it but I didn't like it either. It was a mixture of berry and lemons but really tasted fairly generic.

We put our orders in with our waitress with our hopes high after many accounts of how good the food was. I ordered the day's special, a ground beef quesadilla . A few minutes later, two more of our friends showed up, Beth and Yvette. They waitress immediately began to help them but disappeared when they said they were going to go look at the taps. They got their orders in within the next 10 or 15 minutes. 
Our conversations included exciting topics like: Everything tastes better with dog hair in it (no dog hair was found in or near food from Bonnie and Clyde's) and mechanical claw games that allow you to catch live lobsters.

A little while later they got their food. 15 minutes later I went to the bar to ask what had happened. The cook couldn't give any reason but our waitress was very apologetic.
Eventually, the food did come. My quesadilla was giant and good. Nothing that I would have complaints about as was everyone's food that came. It didn't quite live up to the expectations of the best food ever made but it never does.

Bonnie and Clyde's Bar is an overall solid bar with a good beer selection, food, and atmosphere. It's owned by a woman that really cares about her bar and making it a place to go. As a comparison to Bar #11, after I left Bonnie and Clyde's I was still happy and had good things to say about it. Basically, you gotta give Bar #13 a shot, you won't regret it.

Awesome: Atmosphere, Food

13603 Madison Ave.