Is there a Western New Yorker out there without a Mr. Goodbar experience in their past (except maybe one they don’t recall)? Probably not.
With that in mind, it was back to the future (but a little earlier) for our now middle-aged quartet.
Mr. Goodbar oozes character. Late 1970s, mid-1980s decor? Not sure. A carved American Indian watches over things. The copper-topped bar features holes where patrons undoubtedly ripped copper plugs out of the front.
Departing from its past, Mr. Goodbar has evolved into a craft beer destination.
An electronic screen displays 29 micro/imported drafts, four domestic drafts, 30 micro/import bottles, 15 domestic bottles and two cask-conditioned ales.
Owner Bobby Rabb bought the place in 2010 from longtime owner Dominic Massaro and installed multiple taps. Rabb selects beers by style, then dedicates a tap line to that style. He may change the brewery, but the style remains. Local breweries have a special place in his heart, too.
On our visit, we were treated to the “Mike & Marty Show: Live & Uncensored.” A real show? No. A bartending duo that had us in stitches.
Tall and lean, the tattooed Mike (who hails from Dallas) was the perfect foil to the short and stocky Marty, who we were led to believe loves Huey Lewis and the News – the reason for the night’s music.
Drinking to the tunes of our youth, we had a ball. And on a Tuesday nonetheless!
There is an art to bartending, and Magic Mike has the gift. Belly-achingly hilarious, MM was skilled at guiding this non-beer-drinker through the craft beer realm. I resisted at first, but MM provided suggestions and tastes with a side of comedy.
From Lindemans Pêche (a fruity, low alcohol lambic) and Dog Fish Head Namaste (yes, like the yoga term, flavored with lemongrass and coriander) to Dog Fish Head’s Positive Contact (made with Fuji apples and 9 percent alcohol), MM helped me navigate.
He served the Positive Contact with a flourishing wipe of the goblet, an uppercut motion and a fake French accent with a warning, “Be careful, dis is de heavy-hitter.”
A man of many talents, MM even cooked our wings at the bar-cum-kitchen set up at the back. Cajun Stout, Honey Creole and his Grandma’s “Southern Fried” recipe brined in pickle juice. Delicious.
Comedic relief also came from one of the bar regulars (self-identified as the Bar Rat) who nodded to me during Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright” and said, “Caddy Shack.” During “The Power of Love” it was simply, “Back to the Future” with a large grin.
Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” was our swan song. Had we been 20 years younger – and without that pesky thing called “work” – we might have stayed all night.
Nonetheless, if you haven’t experienced Mr. Goodbar, do so. And if you have, then pull a Marty McFly. While we’re all meant for our time, there’s nothing wrong with going back to visit the past every now and then.
Where: 1110 Elmwood Ave. (882-4000, www.mrgoodbarbuffalo.com and Facebook)
Scene: Local iconic haunt filled with character and characters.
Dress: You’re good to go right now.
Specials: $1 off micro cans on Monday; $1 off bottles of Full Sail Session Black Lager and Southern Tier Live on Tuesday; $1 off all hoppy beers on Wednesday; $1 off bottles of the KCCO Black Lager, Thursday; $1 off all import and domestic drafts on Friday; and $1 off pints of cider on Sunday.
Beer Club: Second Wednesday of each month; $25 beer tasting/food sampling. Beer events include “Brewer Cask Takeovers” and “Craft Beer Challenges.”
Hours: Noon to 4 a.m. daily.
Extras: Patio. Bouncers sport Boston Red Sox beards. Live music, karaoke and open mic comedy weekly.
Fun facts: The Campus Lounge (1950s-’60s) became Mr. Goodbar in 1968. Bartender Charlie Vara has worked at Mr. Goodbar since 1978.