242. Backspace Bar & Kitchen
The Keep On Hoppin’ Tour
Green Flash Hop Head Red IPA (draft) $4.95
I dunno. Does this place ever really have a chance? Will Key West ever embrace it? Will the locals ever get over the fact that it’s not Finnegan’s Wake anymore? Does it really matter all that much whether it’s an Irish bar or not?
Time will tell, so ask your clock. Or your iWatch.
It’s hard to keep a secret in the F&B biz in K-Dub, and word circulated pretty quickly of 11th-hour clashes and bitter schisms that left ownership scrambling and delayed the opening. Personally, I don’t give much of a hoot about such things — if two adults don’t see eye to eye, oh well, not my problem — but bad feelings around your neighborhood can make for a rough start for a neighborhood bar.
But my co-hoppers and I arrived open-minded and thirsty. Plenty of seats were available, both at the bar and around the room. 320 Grinnell has a classic architecture, and the new owners had not messed with that. There was a fresh coat of a yellow paint on the walls, light green paint on the doors and ceiling, bright white trim, and two orange plastic easy chairs out front. It looked great.
We stepped inside and I immediately had to admire the interior as well. I liked the colors, the curved and padded furniture, the bar, the lighting, and, oh yeahhh, the ceiling. I haven’t gone on about too many ceilings lately — seems like most of the best ones were in the Peace, Love and IPA Tour — but this one is niiiice. It’s like a big wicker basket, peaked and beamed, accented with a shiny silver vent ensemble. Really well done. If you had blindfolded me and brought me in here, I would never have known what this place used to be.
What’s really crazy about it is that the outside view looks like your typical two-story building, while the inside looks like a long and low single-story place. Pretty cool the way they pulled that off.
We took three seats at the end of the bar. About a dozen other people were here, scattered around the room. Hannah, whom we knew from her WOB days, was our barkeep. She was in Extra Cheery Mode. I think one of her bosses had encouraged her to be over-the-top-friendly, and she was taking it to humorous levels. The ultra-mellow, white-haired guitarist was a stark contrast to her pep.
I had a question for her. I noticed on the menu that a Kid’s Burger was offered. “Can adults order that too?” I wasn’t hungry, so it wasn’t like I was going to do it, but, for some reason, I just wanted to know. It would be kind of like ordering an appetizer, right? You’re not really hungry enough to chow down the big-n-juicy, but you’re peckish enough to want a few bites. But do you have to show an ID and prove you’re a kid? Is that stuff for people under-10 only? Under 12? People that age don’t even have IDs.
Trouble was, Hannah didn’t know. Why would she? The place was only a few days old. I’m sure whatever training sessions they had did not spend much time on the age prohibitions of menu items. It’s usually legal, but frowned on by management because they make less profit off a kid’s meal. She asked her co-barkeep, but he just shrugged. What Hannah should have done was bluff it: “Of course you can, dummy!” or “No freaking way, you moron.” Say it with confidence, shame the questioner into silence, and hope it never comes up again.
There was a chalkboard behind the taps. I was amused by the handwriting on it. Apparently there had been a problem with the spelling of the word “sandwich.” Different versions were printed quite neatly, with X’s over letters here or letters arrowed-in there. Funny.
We had a nice time at Backspace, but I needed to get to my workout, so it was a one-n-dunner. I got to Trekko, though, and realized that I forgot to hit the men’s room on the way out. I weighed the options and decided to swallow my pride, admit I was a dumbass, and go back in. Sneaking in was not an option because I had to ask Hannah where the restroom was.
I followed her directions, found the door, opened it, and WOWWW! Stainless steel everywhere! The walls, floor-to-ceiling, and the stalls, all gleaming silver stainless steel. Over the sink, silver portholes held mirrors. It was a damn cool room. Very glad I went back in. I had to wonder what the ladies room looks like…
ADDENDUM: June, 2015
Sign on the door says they’ll reopen in September, but, really? September? The worst month of the year in the F&B biz? Gonna hire all new staff? We’ll see ya in September and check it out.
ADDENDUM: August 2015
CLOSED. Any bets on how long it will take to open another bizniz here?