The Damned Dart Players At Phelans

Posted: December 10, 2009 in Dive Bar, STL: Soulard
Tags: , ,

This is a story from back in the before time; long, long ago.  It was requested that I post this one, so here it is:

Years ago, Chris and I used to go to Phelan’s on a weekly basis.  It was our home bar.  We both worked retail and we’d kick 10pm like 5pm for normal folks.  So, we’d head out and watch a game, play some tunes on the jukebox and put back three or four beers, or even get their $7.99 steak special, but I think I’m ahead of myself.

Let’s skip back even from there a bit.  There was a Monday night where  he and I decided to head to Growler’s Pub on Lindbergh to enjoy some Monday Night Football.  If my memory serves, this was the last MNF of the season, and we wanted to watch it with some fellow drunkards.  Well, we got there and it was packed.  Way too packed to even think about the fact that 4 $5 beers costs a total of $25 including tips.  So, we turned around and headed out.  We kept trying to find somewhere, but it was always packed.  Let me also say, this was in the time when I had just renounced my tea totalling ways, and still lived in Crestwood.  So, Chris says, I know a place and we piled into his truck and headed out to Soulard.

We got to Phelan’s.  This place was great.  It was full of history, a former speak easy.  It was a small corner bar, our style.  It was quaint, kitschy, and best of all there were free chicken wings.  Well, we put back some Budweisers and wings and watched the Western United States Who’sie Whatsits Play the Northern States Ballbombers or something.  Either way, Dennis Miller was still calling the game.  It only took this singular night for us to become hooked.

Now back to it being our bar:  We spent many a night there.  Remember in 2004 when Jimmy Edmonds hit the dinger in game six of the  NLCS to force game 7?  Chris and I watched it at Phelan’s.  Remember the MNF when Brett Favre threw for like a gazillion yards and 22 TDs after his dad died?  Chris and I watched from Phelan’s.  We’d gotten to the point where the bartenders knew us personally, and gave us a certain amount of deference that made a newly to the bar scene fellow happy.  We were even handed the remote control to the TV when we’d walk in.  We had power and I thought we’d earned something.  Turns out, we were wrong.

Flash forward about a year now.  Chris and I showed up to Phelan’s for our Monday Night Football jaunt and we were stunned to see the place packed to the gills with dart players.  Now, we’d never seen this place packed save at 11pm on a Saturday Night when the pub crawlers would end up there.  We were beginning to theorize that it was a front for the mob…because our little amount of drinking surely didn’t pay the bills.  We see all these dart players drinking from iced buckets of beer.  I’ve never seen anyone there drink from a bucket.  So we were intrigued.  Now here’s where the story gets a little bit fuzzy.  I know that we knew how much the buckets cost, but I don’t recall how I know this information.

So, after we’re polishing off the first of many rounds for the night, I tell Chris to go get us one of those cheapie buckets instead of us buying round by round.  I was unemployed at the time, so this was a cost cutting measure.  He comes back with two beers.  Somehow something went wrong along the way.  So, I ask him what happened?  He tells me that our friend, the bartender, the tv remote control hander overer tells him she can’t give us the deal.  It’s only for dart players, and furthermore, it’s their goal to get dart players in there!  WHAT!  What about your loyal base.  Your two guys that keep you company when it’s empty.  We get a slap in the face.

So, we finish our round and walk out the door.  As we’re leaving after only two, which has never happened, the bartender yells back, they won’t be here next week!  So, Chris says, I know a place, and we ended up at the Shanty a couple blocks away.  This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the firepit.  One day, I’ll have a firepit in my backyard as well.  We tried going back to Phelan’s a few times, and it was never the same again, never.  So, my advice to all bars, keep your regulars as happy as your newbs.

For photos of the Shanty and Phelan’s see my previous entry.

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