Nov 12, 2015

Jake's South Inn, a bar where the great outdoors is in, complete with knotty pine, Westerns and fishhooks

Jake's South Inn: A past of many names
The hairy guy's report:

A movie version was recently released of "A Walk in the Woods," about two unprepared guys who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. Harry has been reading the book. And on a bright autumn day, he was at a chapter in which the guys got stuck in a roaring snowstorm and barely made it to a modest shelter for the night.

Visions of snow were enough to make Harry think he should get out of the house and do something grand amid the last of the fall colors -- see a bit of the great outdoors, hear the wind rustling past his hearing aid, feel the sun warming his receding hairline.

It wasn't enough to actually make him do that. It was enough, though, to get him out to explore another bar -- where he got his fix of nature by admiring knotty-pine walls and watching TV reruns of Westerns. And he got to see a friendly, familiar face, someone he'd met in his earliest days on the trail of local bars.

For 19 years, Joni managed Jake's Corner Bar, the downtown place on Third owned by her brother. Her tenure there ended this year when Mike sold the place. Since then, it's been going through subtle changes, such as being relabeled as the slightly more upscale-sounding Jake's Corner Lounge.

Joni, meanwhile, headed south, to her brother's other place -- the spacious Jake's South Inn, on Farragut at 18th. 

Jake's South has been around longer than any of us, under a string of names. The city directory for 1893-94 lists a saloon there owned by Michael Bizewski. Since Prohibition
Afternoon delight: Westerns on TV
ended, it's been Urban's Tavern, the Farragut Bar, Club Polka, Sandy's, the South Inn and Dawg Pound before taking the Jake's name. But while the downtown Jake's is in an obviously very old building, Jake's South has managed to cover up signs of its past.

Joni says some of the regulars from downtown have followed her to Jake's South. But, she adds, "I've met a lot of new people here."

Her secret to tending bar is nothing complicated: "Be your friend, listen to your problems."

Harry wanted to forget his problems, however minor they are, not talk about them. He also wanted a beer. And a game of shuffleboard. A hamburger would have been good, too.

He got two out of three. The menu consists of bagged snacks and candy (but Joni says plans are to eventually add something more substantial), so no burger.

Beer was no problem. All cans are $1.50 until 6 p.m., $1.75 later. On tap are Bud, Bud Light and
Drink specials
Killian's (mugs $1.25, shells $1). And there are lots of bottled beers.

As usual, Harry asked for a Manhattan. Joni conceded a lack of vermouth but Harry agreed to an ersatz version of whiskey and maraschino cherry juice (along with a couple of cherries) for $3.

And the shuffleboard table ($1 for a 15-point game, $1.50 for 21 points) is in good working order (friendly advice: shooting toward the west, you can get some dramatic arcing shots but overdo it and you'll fall over the edge). Also available are two pool tables ($1 a game), four dartboards, an Elvira pinball machine (Harry, an amateur, racked up 765,270 points) and some sort of electronic game console.

Darts, pool and shuffleboard league teams show up on weekday nights. Friday and Saturday nights include karaoke and dancing. The bar is open daily 10 a.m. (noon on Sundays) to 2:30 a.m. Jello shots are two for $1.

The decor at Jake's South includes those clean knotty pine walls (covering every available
Ceiling tiles at Jake's South Inn
inch of wall), polyurethaned tables with collections of pennies, hunting tags and fishhooks, and ceiling tiles over the dance floor/darts space with an array of ads and personal messages, some fancy, others simple. An old traffic light is mounted on a wall (it works; Joni says she thinks it gets turned on for last call but she works days and isn't sure). The Westerns on cable are the usual afternoon fare for a TV over the bar.

Harry, by the way, made it home in time to take a nap before heading to a poker game. Three hours later and up $21, he called it a night. The Appalachian Trail will wait for another day. 

See Doc's report: Both hospitality and history at Jake's South Inn

  The particulars:
  Jake's South Inn
  615 S. Farragut at 18th

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