Dec 7, 2014

Duso's: An old Midland Street bar with new lingerie, old signs, games, no food but $1 pints any old time

Duso's: It's been around
The hairy guy's report:

It was 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, or very close to it. We were on Midland Street in front of the Sawmill, long known as the Bon Ton.

The Sawmill's Facebook page says its winter hours have begun, opening at 6 p.m. except for 2:30 on Wednesdays. But the front doors were locked, and it was too cold to hang around outside. Looking for a place to grab just one beer while we waited, we surveyed the street's embarrassment of barroom riches.

Something about Duso's Bar called out from the next block. And there we found, mounted on a back corner wall, the slightly worn but still classy old outdoor sign from the Bon Ton. Maybe Duso's is where we intended to be all along.

The heat was on, the taps were working, dozens of brassieres were on display and the bartender's name was Leda. Clearly we wouldn't be going anywhere for awhile.

Duso's is an old place. But it's comfortably old, not run-down old. City directories show a saloon operating at its address at least as far back as 1893. The building's facade is obviously newer but much of the interior, including the long wooden bar and wood floor, look original.

And talk about comfortable: A pint of PBR is always $1. "All day, every day, until I'm no
Beth Dore, who didn't want her picture taken
longer the owner," says Beth Dore, who took over Duso's in 2008, after it had been closed for years.   
Also on tap were Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout, Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin and Leinenkugel Cranberry Ginger Shandy, each at $4 a pint. No light beers among them.

Plenty of other beers are in bottles or cans. A cooler holds various craft beers, along with rarities such as Tyskie (from Poland), Viru (from Estonia, and in a stunning bottle), Victoria (from Mexico) and Chimay (a Trappist ale, at $20 for an oversized bottle).

Part of Harry's routine is to ask for a Manhattan. He didn't get far this time, since Leda said the bar was out of sweet vermouth. But the backbar is filled with bottled booze of all types, including (and prominently displayed) something called Chicken Cock whiskey. A Jagermeister dispenser offers cold shots.

A pool table and darts are in the back room. The front has one of those electronic bar-top games, an old bowling game, an intriguing electronic poker table game (which, unfortunately, didn't work), and two pinball machines. (Harry, who hasn't played pinball in eons, tried the X Files game and ended up with an astounding 4,444,320 points -- easily 4
Some of the bras on display
million more points than the last time he played pinball but nowhere near the top scores on the machine. That's inflation for you.) And there's a working photo booth ($4).

If none of that interests you, there's that colorful assortment of bras hanging behind the bar. Beth says they went up for breast cancer awareness and they'll stay. ("Everything here is forever.")

They stand out amid lots of stuff such as a "Goldwater 64" bumpersticker and a mostly-obscured saying that turns out to read (as Leda was happy to point out): "Smoking an ultralight cigarette is like sucking a tittie through a sweater." The hairy guy, who smokes light cigarettes, learns something new every day.

Some bars are great places but just look, well, normal or ordinary inside. Duso's isn't one of those. It perhaps epitomizes the history of Midland Street.

Beth says she bought the Bon Ton sign at one of the antique places downtown. It's missing
The old Bon Ton sign
the neon, but still looks impressive. The Bon Ton was more of a lounge than a saloon but the sign fits right in at Duso's, sharing wall space with large, rusty signs for PBR and Blatz.

Even Leda, the able bartender who isn't anywhere near as old as the surroundings (and wouldn't likely recall the Bon Ton, and certainly not Goldwater), comes with some history: She says her first name goes back many generations in her family.

Duso's is open 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. Karaoke starts at 9 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and holidays.

There's no food besides popcorn. Not even potato chips. But the popcorn is free. And bringing in food from elsewhere is fine.

Is there a good crowd at night? "A great crowd," says Beth. "Not a good crowd, a great crowd."

Meanwhile, the Sawmill waits for another day.


See Doc's report on Duso's: You do that voodoo that you do so well

  The particulars:
  604 E. Midland

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the comment "No light beers"'ve got to love it! I miss My Hometown Bay City and smile to hear it is a booming place!