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Bars where Pete has had a Drink (3,198 bars; 1,474 bars in Seattle):

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

#886 - Jersey's, Shoreline, WA - 9/6/2009


In 1980, Dick Oldham bought a sputtering new bar across from the Kingdome parking lot called "Stanley's Ticker Tape," and renamed it "Sneakers." Of course, "sports bars" had existed for many, many decades in various cities, but Oldham did some things that few if any other bars in the country had done at the time. He got the idea to put televisions everywhere -- 10 TVs, so that patrons could follow simultaneous games and see them from anywhere in the joint. When lineman Reggie McKenzie was traded to the Seahawks, he flew in a chef to teach Oldham's crew how to make spicy chicken wings like they did back in Buffalo, NY (hence, "Buffalo Wings"). And he very actively collected an idiosyncratic set of memorabilia and autographs from local players/patrons and players from around the country. Sneakers (sold in 1996 and now "Sluggers") was often listed as one of the best sports bars in the nation.

Little did Oldham suspect, one must assume, that he was helping to invent one of the most ubiquitous and most boring bar themes across America.

Jersey's is one of these -- one of any number in every city and town. It has the TVs, the sports artifacts, and that essential set of old geezers carrying on as if they know much better than those yahoos actually filling the coaching and management jobs. But the space has no personality, let alone the appealing quirkiness of Sneakers' 15-foot-wide confines. And in sharp contrast to the personality of the Sneakers collection, the entire decor looks like it came from one trip to the mall, plus the blow-up props and posters from beer distributors. And they add pretty much every checkbox item for the current cookie-cutter sports bars -- the pulltabs, the plastic, electronic darts games, and the contraption of various disco lights hanging from the rafters for some godforsaken dance night.

I don't mean to single out Jersey's -- the food is fine, the liquor is the liquor, and there is nothing particularly out of sorts about the place. But that's exactly my problem with Jersey's -- exactly my problem with all of these places. A bar needs a personality, and decorating structures that could just as well be an Applebees with framed jerseys from a memorabilia store and football decorations from Budweiser is just no substitute for that.

1306 N 175th St (a block east of Aurora), Shoreline, WA 98133 - (206) 546-4054
jerseysgreatfood.com - yelp

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