Barhopping with the Kids
I know, it probably doesn’t sound like a good parenting thing to do, but that’s what they wanted to do, so that’s what they did. Heather and Chris, with a couple of their friends in tow, met us at our Hotel-from-Hell to escort us to Downtown Gainesville for a night of hitting the bars for cheap drinks and as many laughs as we could squeeze into the night.
“We need to eat first,” Teri told Heather. “Is there a place Downtown to grab a bite to eat?”
Heather gave her mother a blank stare. “Um, not really. I mean, there’s bar food, but not what you would call a real meal.”
Amanda, one of the friends that is more like family than some family members, said she had taken it upon herself to make reservations at Harry’s, a Cajun restaurant. Heather just replied with, “Okay, so there’s one restaurant Downtown.”
When we arrived, however, we discovered a multitude of fine dining restaurants intermingled with the bars and shops. “Heather, look at all of these places. How did you not know these were here if you come here so often?”
“Because I come here to drink, not eat. I only looked for the bars.”
I suppose that’s the logic of a college kid.
We still had a thirty minute wait when we finally did arrive at Harry’s. Not a bad amount of time to be honest in a day and age where fewer and fewer dining establishments take reservations to begin with. They were even willing to call us when the table was ready as opposed to give us one of those vibrating buzzers about the size of a brick that jar your whole body and flash bright red lights telling you to get your ass to the hostess table before they give your table away. This worked out great because Downtown Gainesville was holding their First Friday Fest and we wanted to walk around a bit while we could still walk the straight line.
I don’t know if your area has these, but they are gaining in popularity in our neck of the woods. If done right, they can bring a sense of community to an area as well as business. I’ve seen some that were mere drunken bashes and not worth returning to and to be honest, I was expecting the Downtown of a college town to be just that. However, I was very mistaken. While they had booths selling trinkets and businesses pushing their advertising, they also had a rock climbing wall for kids and a grass amphitheater in front of a stage where they actually had a decent band performing. They weren’t gearing it for the college kids who probably were practically broke, but rather for the whole family with music that appealed to all. If I had brought my camp chair, I would have joined all of those who sat in chairs or on blankets. As it was, we wandered around, browsing the expensive but massive snow cones and the kettle corn.
By the time we reached the far end of the festival, Harry’s called with news that our table was ready. No more time to explore. It was now time to eat and I am always ready to eat.
I would highly recommend Harry’s if you ever get to Downtown Gainesville. The people are awesome, the atmosphere fantastic and the food is out of this world. I couldn’t even eat it all, and that’s saying something. I ordered the Jambalaya to go with my Jameson and I think they sent me three orders of the stuff. Needless to say, our college kids had leftovers to take home.
The kids showing us around town
After that, we went barhopping. Of course, we were with college kids, so they knew where all of the cheap places to drink were. The girls had a shot with the kids and I enjoyed my whisky while sharing a laugh or two. The first place we stopped was Sweet Mel’s. Apparently there is a Naughty Mel’s, as well, but we didn’t go there. I figured I’d save that trip for when the kids weren’t around.
Afterward, we went to an all beer place, but it was standing room only and while college kids may enjoy that, my old feet need a chair. Besides, Char is not a beer drinker and I had already been drinking whisky, so mixing was out of the question. I had learned that lesson the hard way.
We ended our night at the Vault with a live band. They were nice enough to discount our cover charge since there was so many of us. It was mostly standing room only as well, but we were able to find a small booth in the back that we could surround with chairs so no one was standing. We were just cramped.
I’m not sure whether it is my age or my tolerance level, but I don’t understand putting a loud band in a small place where no one can talk to each other. I want to communicate with the people I am out with without screaming directly in their ear. I like music, but not at concert levels unless I am actually at a concert. We had a drink and then hit the road, my ear drums throbbing and my chest thumping. It was enough noise for one night.
All in all it was a great night with the kids and we will go back and do it again. Perhaps with more of a game plan next time so most of the night is not spent wandering the streets. However, that’s not such a bad thing. At least I can hear what’s being said.
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