The hangout. The go-to place. We all have one. But why? Why have one place that you go to repeatedly? What is the allure to going to the same location, having the same experience over and over? Where is the fun in that?
The answer is:
Familiarity breeds well, familiarity. In other words, sometimes you just need a place that you can count on. Your happy spot. Your own version of “Cheers”.
We have lived in our new location for 2 years now, and while we enjoy eating out at all different types of places, we didn’t have our hangout. And we missed that.
Growing up, I had a few places that were my hangouts. The Tewksbury Inn in Oldwick NJ, used to be a great bar and restaurant. The Inn was old, and the bar was an enormous old-fashioned wooden bar. The bathrooms were labeled “Bucks” and “Does” and there were deer heads mounted on the wall wearing hats, Hawaiian leis and smoking cigarettes. You could get a burger and a pitcher of beer inexpensively and listen to local blues or bluegrass musicians. But, as time went on, it was sold. The deer heads came down, and matching wallpaper and curtains went up. And so did the prices…. you can check it out here, but it ain’t no hangout…. $33 entrees, sheesh.
There was also Bernie’s Hillside Lounge in Chester, NJ. Bernie’s has been around for a long time, and used to host some well-known jazz musicians, like Bix Beiderbecke. I used to go there to listen to the Blue Sparks From Hell, a local band that played R & B, swing and blues. Frontman C.J. Tucker, was both talented and entertaining. Sadly, Tucker has passed away, and the band is no longer playing. But check them out on YouTube. Listen to one of their best songs “Caledonia”. Bernie’s is still growing strong, playing music. Stop in.
The Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ was a haven for great music. It was the place where everyone went to dance and drink. Sawdust on the floor, and plenty of graffiti in the restrooms. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Buddy Guy were some of the notables that played here. I danced the night away many time, reveling in blues and R & B. I have a term for places like this. It was my “clean dirty bar”. Tidy enough to just barely pass a health inspection, but gritty, colorful and raw. Loved it. It had closed for a time, but since has reopened, and back to being a roadhouse. I haven’t been back in years, but may take a trip to see if it’s still dirty.
So back to why we like our hangouts. Sometimes we need to go somewhere that doesn’t change much. After a day or a week of challenges, we all need to have some continuity. And a hangout offers that. My requirements for a place to be a hangout are:
Casual Atmosphere-nothing fancy. I want to be able to go right from the horse barn in my horsey clothes to the hangout. No cloth tablecloths. No coordinating curtains and wallpaper. Just tables and a bar. Fireplace is a plus.
Great food with entrees under $20-yes, it can be done. A hangout offers well priced entrees cooked superbly, plus burgers, salads and soups. And some specials. No overdone plating, no foam, no pyrotechnics. Just fine fresh food cooked well.
A large selection of beer, wine and spirits- an extensive and changing craft beer list is a must. With so many craft beers, local wineries and distilleries opening, I want to see an establishment support local products IF- and only IF- they are quality. And hard cider. Love hard cider.
Friendly staff- without a doubt, one of the most important features of a hangout. Personable wait staff who know the menu, and are pleasant and chatty go a long way with me. And a bartender who will remember what I like to order. Remember, I can go anywhere, so if you get to know me I will be back. No surly or pretentious attitudes at a hangout. No way.
We finally discovered our hangout here in Bucks County, PA. Becker’s Corner is located right near the beautiful Lake Nockamixon in Quakertown PA. It meets all of the above requirements, and we head there whenever we don’t feel like cooking, and we just want some time together. We have gone there with friends, and we now run into people we know. And they have hard cider on tap. Perfect. Give this place a try. You won’t be disappointed. And hey, we may meet at the bar.
What is your hangout? What makes a place a hangout for you? Share your place, spread the word. Everyone need a place to hang out.