The Dive Bomber: A Note from Larry J's

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Last week, Megan from Screamer's left a note on my year-end post, telling me where some of the late Screamer's regulars have landed. Lots of bars I've visited, it turns out, and one I'd never noticed, Larry J's.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler
Feeling the need to see some friendly faces, I went in search of Larry J's, almost missing the bar on Weber Road because it's much closer to I-55 than I expected.

I entered the bar, an extended South City bungalow, and didn't see any familiar faces. There wasn't a lack of friendly ones, though. Mark and I discussed Keno; I've never played, and he suggested I keep it that way. The bartender chided me to visit them, joking with me like I'd been there a hundred times.

When my friends arrived, we moved to a table where we could see the people at the bar, who were celebrating a regular's birthday, and the dart game in the back room. That's when we noticed all the hand-lettered signs: several informing patrons that the bar now accepts credit cards; one on the can crusher reminding people to make sure the cans are empty before crushing; and one on the jukebox with a curfew. A professional sign in the parking lot ruled no motorcycles allowed after 8 p.m.

Communication's key.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler
Even away from the bar, the bartender maintained a fine level of service. She kept the rounds coming and sat with us a few times while taking our orders for hot mixed nuts and beer. When one of my friends and found herself in the ladies' room without toilet paper, the bartender was in the next stall, waiting to provide. But not in a creepy way.

Larry J's provided exactly what it should. Kindness, a smile and a place for friends to escape the craziness and the sadness. Which is exactly what a good bar does.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom and is a regular contributor to Gut Check. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives every Thursday.

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