Where Everybody Knows Your Name

This morning, David Coggins published a post on his blog, The Contender bemoaning the closing of a staple West Side Manhattan watering hole, The Rusty Knot. Click through to read. I had visited the bar several times when I still lived in New York. They made a mean Michelada. The context and emotional connection David felt to The Rusty Knot is something I can certainly relate to.

When I was young and single, I would meet a group of friends nearly every Thursday night at the same exact spot, Plug Uglies on 3rd Avenue in Gramercy Park. Plug’s was a typical neighborhood bar with a few TV’s showing sports, a pool table, shuffle board, and one of those video machines with various card games, etc. It was dark and comfortable, and simple. It was home.

My friends and I would park ourselves in the front corner near the video machine, and drink for a few hours before heading next door for a greasy burger. Again, I was younger, thinner, and could handle the Friday mornings at work. The bartenders were all young and attractive women, most of whom would serve us Bud Lights and well shots throughout the evening for a mere $20 or $40. We would double or triple that number with tips. Aside from our Thursday visits, we’d usually end up there on a Friday or Saturday, as well plus I held several birthday parties there, a cousins reunion, and both St. Patrick’s Day & New Year’s Eve more than once.

As friends got married and maybe moved away from the city, the frequency of our visits to Plug’s dropped until they stopped completely. A few years back, the building was purchased and was torn down to make way for another luxury high-rise. Plug Uglies moved from their spot at 257 3rd Ave to number 256, across the street. They kept the shuffle board, and from photos it seems to have a similar feel. Though I would bet the smell of cigarette smoke & spilled beer baked into the wood is long gone.

I haven’t found a new bar here in Pittsburgh. In fact, I haven’t even looked. I wouldn’t mind finding a spot I could visit once in a while for a drink and some people watching. Bonus if they have a video card machine.

Me. 2004? With favorite bartender, Tanya.

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