Eventually, while traveling to all the bars you will run into the -ests. The bar with the best food. The loudest bar. The bar with the cheapest shots or the cheapest people. This week I went to what may be the diviest bar in Lakewood. I went to bar #43, Madison's, expecting just a dive bar but what I found was a family.
I entered Madison's, running late, expecting that Johnny would beat me there. He didn't, so, I was alone when I entered. Madison's is the kind of bar that could get completely quiet when a new person enters. Tonight was drunk old people night and they didn't care that I was there even as I stared blankly at everyone expecting to see another Every Bar in Lakewood shirt. Everyone was over the age of 55.
They didn't seem to have any beer taps but had an area where taps should be. So I started of with a bottle of Yuengling. They had a 2 for $3.50 deal going on all their domestic and bottom shelf beers. So my second beer was a Miller High Life. It seems the high life tastes like fizzy, slightly tinny, water.
How Miller High Life saved Johnny's Grandmother
Johnny's grandmother had gotten sick many years ago and needed emergency surgery. Due to allergies she was unable to handle anesthetics. She sent her husband across the street to get the only thing that was going to get her through the surgery, a six pack of Miller High Life. After chugging 4 or 5 of them down she called on the doctors. It was a success. The operation still hurt but it never would have been able to happen if it weren't for her favorite beer.
Food includes bags of chips and free pretzel rods.
The bar took up two sides of Madison's room. Behind the bar was the beer, booze, a bunch of random stuff and a microwave. The room also had a tv, mp3 jukebox and table. Later we found a second room, it was mildly creepy because it's lights being off, showed signs of disuse and a sign naming it the Insane Asylum. Originally we thought that was a reference to the women's bathroom. It offered a pool table, dart boards and some old, awesome booths with pleather covering.
The crowd though drunk and old were very friendly. Throughout our time there various people came up to meet to us. A nice couple, Helen and Dave, enjoyed talking to us about their regular bar. There were two themes that were hit upon repeatedly while we were there.
The first was family. Their patrons know each other and over time care about each other. Madison's creates a comfortable environment to spend their evenings. They share their lives and become family. The family theme spread into the staff and ownership of Madison's as well. Lisa's, bartender, mom was in an issue of Nightlife and they had collected 30 issues for her. They showed the magazines off for years. The Madison family has also suffered a loss this year.
The second theme was change. The owner of Madison's passed away leaving the bar to his brother. As they say, with every ending comes a new beginning. Many are hopeful that Madison's future will brighten this year. Among possible changes that may come could be the opening of the second bar in the backroom. As much as Helen loves her friends at Madison's she is hopeful that changes will be coming that will bring in new options, new life and new customers to an old corner bar.
Lisa the bartender brings the same pride to her job that I've seen repeatedly at the so called dive bars. The pride of doing a good job, making her customers happy and showing them respect, along with pride in the business that she is part of is seen in her work. Lisa does not drink at work because it's disrespectful to her business and patrons. It is obvious that she cares about this bar.
Madison's is a dive bar. It's got a bunch of random stuff on the walls accumulated over the years. It serves your normal domestic beers plus a hand full of Great Lakes options. If you're hungry, they've got some random varieties of potato chips. What makes Madison's a bar worth visiting is everyone there, whether it be customer or staff, wants Madison's to be. We were welcomed by the people being paid to be their and the payers. They want their bar to be successful, to grow and, to bring in your business. This may not be the diviest bar but it may have been the most inviting. You should come check out bar #43, Madison's, they're waiting for you.
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British Chips, Victorian Booze, Robert Ebert, Elvis, Miller High Life, St. Pauli Girl, Mexican Bear, Indians
12401 Madison Ave.