|Ole Tyme: Old in a very good way|
We've been to Ole Tyme Broadway a few times. Ambrose and Mary Owczarzak are always happy and smiling. We always enjoy the visit.
That's what it's like -- a visit. They're good hosts, with good drinks and good food. Though we really hardly know them, it's like we're visiting friends instead of going to a bar.
Face it: Some people just aren't suited to running bars. They're not talkative. They don't want to work for themselves. Whatever. And that's fine, unless they end up running a bar. Others enjoy it and they're good at it, which is even better -- like this couple, who've been at it for years in the South End and have children who've followed in their footsteps.
And one of the best things about them is that they'll try new things.
Take the pool table. According to some sources, pool tables have a green surface because the game was originally played on grass. (Poker tables are usually green as well, though we doubt poker was ever played on grass.)
At Ole Tyme Broadway, the new pool table is done up in black and white, with a gray -- not green -- surface. It's fine. And the cues (also new) are straight.
Frankly, it's no big deal, but it illustrates the way the place is run.
It's an old bar, dating back to the 1930s, but Mary and Ambrose aren't content to keep their feet up and stick with old stuff.
They've jumped on the trend toward craft beer, with a wide assortment of bottled brews.
We tried a sip of a drink we'd never heard of: Barenjager Honey & Bourbon. Mary admits she was skeptical about anybody buying the stuff but Ambrose suggested stocking it to see. (Turns out it's one of four varieties of Barenjager honey liqueur, which is made by the makers of the better-known Jagermeister.)
It was sitting behind the bar next to a bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey, which Mary says is Ole Tyme's top-selling shot.
Getting into the spirit of giving things a try, we also got a bottle of Moose Drool brown ale, at $4. It's from Big Sky Brewing in Montana, which also makes something
Moose Drool sounds even less appealing than Ivan the Terrible, but maybe all the good beer names are already taken. (A good slogan might help. "The champagne of bottled drools," perhaps.)
The children of Mary and Ambrose (who is still known among old-timers as Junior, to differentiate him from his father, also named Ambrose) -- run Meats and Mooore on Wenona, Governor's Quarters and Arbeitoer Hall, also on Wenona, and O's Pub on Midland Road in Auburn.
And though their part of town has seen better days for business, the parents are bullish on the future for bars. (That old song about the neon lights being bright on Broadway was about another Broadway. The only bright neon here is the sign on the back wall from when the place was called the Broadway Bar.)
"They always say your bartender's your psychiatrist," says Mary. "If you're having a bad day, you figure 'I might as well have a drink' and you might meet somebody's that's having a great day and you end up laughing and turning a bad day into a good day."
Says Ambrose: "There's more pressures today in the world than there's ever been.... I think bars'll be here forever."
Ole Tyme Broadway is open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. On Sundays, people come in
|The scene inside Ole Tyme Broadway|
There's a full menu -- two, actually, with a separate one for breakfast. Burgers come in three sizes (and the buns are toasted). There are daily specials. It's all good food. Ambrose mentioned that the cold weather has kept people from venturing out, but a bowl of Ole Tyme soup (the hairy guy's wife was impressed with the chicken and dumpling soup) would be worthwhile.
Bud and Coors Light are on tap. Each is $2 for a 16-ounce glass, $1.50 for a 9-ouncer.
Ole Tyme Broadway is a big place, by the way, If you drive up in front, you'll see four doors. Take the one on the right, which goes right into the bar (which for years was known as the Broadway Bar). The third one from the left puts you into the adjoining dining room. And the two doors to the left go to what once was a market and for a time a separate bar, the Hide-A-Way Lounge; it's now a banquet room. (The building's second floor once housed a bowling alley.)
And if you're really up for some fun, the large, almost opulent tiled men's room has one of those power hand dryers that blasts the water away.
See Doc's report: At Ole Tyme, it always seems just like (yes) old times
Ole Tyme Broadway