Bar of the Week: Flamingo Bowl
Where: 1117 Washington Avenue
Web site: flamingobowl.net
Has St. Louis become a city of nihilists? Has the loss of our great treasure, the Bowling Hall of Fame, sent us into a deep spiral of apathy towards all things ball and pin? Sadly, dudes, this could indeed be the case, as evidenced by the poor attendance as of late at the Flamingo Bowl. Owned by Joe Edwards, who also owns the swanky Pin-Up Bowl on Delmar, the Flamingo Bowl seemed primed for success when it opened in late 2007.
As manager Vance Ivory explains it, they're just in the summertime slump that happens when people would rather be outside frolicking in the fresh air, rather than stuck inside, bowling. Ivory may have a point, but the fact that you can't even get a parking spot at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday tells you that the people are patronizing Washington Avenue bars in force; just not at the Flamingo Bowl. So, why isn't business booming? We have created a list of pros and cons. Just as you must eat the meat before you can get your pudding, we'll do the cons before the pros.
The prices. You'd better be loaded when you come to bowl or drink because these prices will have your blue-blood boiling. The cheapest beer on the menu is $3 for a PBR and the price of one hour of pool is $15! Seriously? The pool table doesn't even vibrate! If you are looking to bowl here, the daily walk-in rates are pretty low, but the reservation rates are $30 to $50. Not to get all Sally Struthers here, but $50 could feed a family for a week (if they ate exclusively at White Castle).
The decor. Yep, for whatever reason, people in St. Louis adore Jimmy Buffet and all of that Margaritaville nonsense. Capturing that kitschy Florida beach style would seem to be a great marketing ploy -- for the boomers. The Gen X and Y crowds may get more of a tacky South City lawn vibe from all those flamingos and hula girls in their sterile glass cases. Also, those who are allergic to pastels should probably wear sunglasses to avoid the otherworldly glow radiating from the walls and the floors.
The vibe. You really never know who is going to walk through the doors. Business people, club people and even an older couple straight from Boca Vista, clad in matching Hawaiian shirts. The couple stayed for approximately two minutes before leaving. The problem is that the scene here is pretty fuzzy. Should you dress up or down? Is this for the sophisticated or rowdy? The image has yet to be defined for the Flamingo Bowl. There are no themed event nights and no live music here, so it hasn't really attracted a following.
Pros: The bartenders. The staff does not match the surroundings. They are saucy and hilarious, giving the Flamingo Bowl it's only breath of minty freshness. One of the bartenders' favorite moments was watching one of their own, Seth, dance atop the bar, as seen on their MySpace.
The drinks. Bartender Roy Richardson has created a truly life-altering concoction (for fans of Pabst Blue-Ribbon anyway) called the PBR-tini. It's a generous pour of PBR into a chilled martini glass and garnished with a fanciful Camel cigarette. Now, that's class! Other interesting drink offerings include absinthe, recently made legal again in the U.S. of A., and a selection of aged rums. The White Russians, otherwise known as Caucasians in Lebowski land, are creamy and stiff. They also have happy hour prices Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and drink specials for industry folk on Sundays.
The entertainment. The mysterious Palm Room in the Flamingo Bowl will now feature DJ spins on Friday and Saturday nights. The main room will still pump the digital jukebox, which features personal favorites from the likes of The Who and Opeth.
The best part about a giant, empty bar is that you can get really obnoxious with your friends and you don't have to worry about anybody wanting to fight you. So, if you're willing to shell out the dough, it's worth it to go and make this place your own.
The Verdict: The Dude abides.
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