Alligator Jackson's Favorite Top 10 Huntington, WV Bars of All-Time
Alligator Jackson's Top 10 Favorite Watering Holes
10. Desoto's--- The little bar with the old car and the older divorcees was a virtual jungle filled with cougars. Cold beer and a full dance floor kept this little club in the K Mart Plaza in Pea Ridge hoppin' for over 2 decades.
9. Bojangle's-- This bar rocked downtown Huntington in the 70's and 80's featuring bands like Warchylde and VHF. The Mason jars full of Long Island Iced Teas rocked the customer's as hard as the classic rock music that the bar around the corner from where Huntington Bank sits in downtown Huntington was filled with every weekend.
8. Roper's-- The big ol' club on 3rd Avenue where Marshall girl's softball field sits cashed in on the country linedancing craze of the 80's. My ol' buddy RT was the manager and he kept the dancefloor full of hot cowgirls in cowboy hats and boots two-stepping on the dancefloor. Toby Keith even partied down and performed in the club that had Huntington dooing the Bootscoot Boogie in the early '90's.
7. Mad Hatter--- The ladies could get wasted with all of the well drinks they could drink for $5 on weekends, which meant the bar was packed with guys as well. The bar thundered on 3rd Avenue close to where The Joan sits now and then moved to 10th Avenue. John Keaton owned it after Steve Newman did and he tragically died in a shooting at a local bar a few yars ago.
6. The Varsity/ Union- Herb Stanley kept the ice cold longnecks of Budweiser rolling in the early 80's at The Varsity and 30 years later he still has an occassional quarter beer night at the Union. When Marshall University built the new stadium the legendary Varsity was reduced to rubble and a new legend - The Union - began on 4th Avenue. It has moved closer to downtown on 4th now, but it still keeps the cold beer and Herd spirit flowing.
5. Double Dribble- In the early 80's Vince Carter took a plain no frills bar and packed it wall to wall every weekend with partiers slamming down huge Sloam Dunk drafts for a dollar. He later cleaned it in a big remodel but it lost the charisma that the plain hollow bar brought to the corner of 20th Street and 3rd Avenue. It was a weekend ritual in the early 80's to stagger from The Dribble up to The Varsity and then, if still able to walk, round out the night at Boney's Hole In The Wall.
4. The Ragtime - "The House That Billy Ray Built" - True! Billy Ray made Ragtime Lounge a national treasure as it launched his career, but Bud Waugh's bar rocked many weekends before and after Billy Ray! The Short Order Band and Kenny Joe Johnson and Kentucky Rain were among the bands that kept The West End a-rawkin'! Of course, Billy Ray played for years and he packed the little white building full of the hottest women in the Tri-State. The local region sang along with his massive hits "Achy Breaky Heart," "Some Gave All", and "Where I'm Gonna Live" long before his album rested on top of the Billboard Charts for over a dozen week and sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
3. Robbys-- Robby's sat across from the Huntington Civic Center on 3rd Avenue and was the first huge (as in space) club in Huntington. Robby's was owned by Ceredo-Kenova's Don Robinson who pitched wit afw different major league clubs including The Pittsburgh Pirates. You never knew who you would run into at Robby's because at one time or the other everyone who went out in Huntington walked through those doors. It was a massive club with two floors and although it was considered "preppy", every social class and age group filled the dance floor. The Happy Hour and buffet was stacked on Friday's and Chef Bob's roast beef became a legend.
2. Jake's Bar- The original Jake's Bar on 3rd Avenue in Huntington rocked the are for over two decades. Jake's featured the cackle and limp of John Black and the tight blue jean shorts of bartender Becky but there were plenty of Cheers type regulars that frequented the bar like Butch, Beamer, Sarge, Ace, Dougie, and many others that kept Jake's rocking deep into the night. Other bars like The Warehouse would spill out around 2 or 3 and everyone would rush to Jake's for a few nightclubs. Jake's hosted everyone from college students to bikers but was a true working class bar. The big games were always on TV and the beer was always ice cold. Football Saturdays were celebrated with plenty of food and beer and there was rarely any trouble at Jake's. The bar started literally falling in before it was knocked down and I remember sitting on the bar stool watching an occasional rat scurry across the hallway but it was impossible to beat the atmosphere. Jake's moved and has changed hands but it has never been able to recapture the party but friendly environment that the original bar personified.
1. Davis' Place - No matter if it was owned by Felix and Penny or Beth, one of the other owners over the decades, Davis' Place was home to everyone from drifter's to lawyers. Happy hour brought every social class in Huntington together for a nice ice cold beer. Bartenders like Blondie and Becky became local personalities. Victories like Marshall winning the National Championship were celebrated by many and tragedies like 911 were mourned at the old bar known for the shuffle boards. Davis Place was bought and remodeled by Gifford Perdue and will likely remain a legend in Huntington for decades more.
Well, there were so many outstanding watering holes in Huntington over the years, it is hard to just list 10 bars, so here are some Gator Awards!
Best Bar to See A Band - Rocker's, Stoned Monkey, V Club - Rocker's had national acts like The Johnny Van Zant Band (current lead singer of Lynryd Skynrd) and Pat Travers. They featured many big indie touring acts in the 80's.
Cheesiest Bar - The Inferno - It was the disco area, lol, but phones on the tables to call other tables was a little cheesy even back in the 70's, but the big white club that later housed Roper's was a guilty pleasure at times.
Easiest Pickup Bar - Peter Outlaws - The bar at the Econo Lodge filled up with patrons from other Barboursville and Route 60 clubs as the night moved on and it was no doubt that the cold beer and tunes like "Atomic Dog" and "No Parking On The Dance Floor" helped usher in the AIDS filled 80's as many customers disappeared from the dance floor into a hotel room.
Best Afterhours Bar - Harry's Old Coachmen Club - Harry Hill, the one-armed owner of Harry's Old Coachmen club gave the bar a personality and the blackjack table and juke box (that featured AC/DC singing "You Shook Me All Night Long" which skipped everytime at the same place) kept the bar hopping until the morning light spread across the now Huntington Bank parking lot on 6th Avenue. Harry's had a little more light than most of the after hours did and if you weren't real intoxicated some of the other patrons could look a lil' scary but there were many of good times and new friends. The bar got raided a few times and finally Mayor Jean Dean pulled the plug on afterhours bars. After hours could not exist now because the bar scene is different. There were drugs but it was mainly fueled by cocaine which kept everyone in a happy partying mood. There were fights (I was in a few) but never any shootings.
Warmest Beer Ever - The old BW3 Downtown
Trippiest coolest Bands - Gumby's
Best Happy Hour - Mycroft's
Best Food - Calamity Cafe
Best hole in The Wall - Boneys Hole In The Wall
Best Place to Watch A Game - Verb's Dugout
Best Accent By a Bar Owner - Caz Tavern Off The Green, Ali from Rockers
Best Transition: from Valhalla to V Club
Rowdiest Redneck Bar - Kraut's Creek
Best Bar Owner Ever - male - John Black - Jake's Female - Georgie- The Copa
Well, that was a fun romp down Memory Lane, or should I say a quick stumble. I have always said that it was the people that made Huntington a great place and I was fortunate enough to meet several new friends in Huntington clubs and celebrate with many old ones. New bars will come and go and become legends but may the memories of the good times of the 70's, 80's, and 90's live on forever!