I walk around my OTR neighborhood a lot. Often with a destination in mind, but sometimes, just to take a walk-about to blow off some energy. Every now and then I’m just walking and I find that a new place will have opened up. A surprise shop, or bar or restaurant seems to appear out of nowhere. Surprising because I think I’m paying attention and should be aware of new things before they happen. Surprising too, because I think “they” could inform me of their neighborhood upgrades so I’m not caught unawares. A postcard or a text would be nice.
Since these advance notifications are a fantasy of mine, I’m left to discover new places as they open their doors. Case and point, The Hub, on Main Street. Black out windows two weeks ago (and for the last couple of years) and then boom! Suddenly they are bar.
When I first saw the non-artistic easel out front advertising $5 beer and a shot I thought I’d come across one of OTR’s many temporary Pop-Up Shops. These fool me occasionally as I see a once vacant spot became a vibrant space, but it only lasts a weekend. Artists and Marketing people are excellent at pulling these off. The Hub fooled me because I thought it was only going to to be opened for a weekend, but it’s for real.
I stopped in to the shotgun bar (that is a long narrow space with the bar off to one side and bathrooms in the back) and found a surprise for a new bar in this part of town. The Hub is a regular bar that’s about drinks, not being the slickest place to drink. They didn’t over-think anything. The bartender said the owners of the space thought they could make it in that space as a bar. So they opened one. There used to be a trope in old movie musicals where say, Mickey Rooney would turn to Judy Garland and various extras, and say, “Hey kids. Let’s put on a show.” That’s what Hub feels like to me.
The space is dark. Opposite the 10 seat bar is a black wall with only a bit of color painted on it and only a bit of light comes through the grated windows. With the door open for the temperate weather, the afternoon sunshine spotlighted the low tech approach to drinking. It’s reminiscent of the now defunct Cincy by the Slice bar area which was right next door. That place was neighborhood hangout for the same reasons The Hub aspires to. In fact the $5 beer and shot references Cincy by the Slices’s Dolla Holla, a tall boy PBR and a shot of well liquor. Damn hardcore hipster activity if you ask me.
Side note, the other cool-kids special along these lines is PB & J – Pabst and shot of Jameson, usually for $5 which I see occasionally and always being bought by young dudes stretching their drinky dollar.
The Hub’s $5 might not last long, but while it does, at least I’m not locked in to PBR. I opted for local beer The Truth with a shot of Jim Crow (and, about two hours later, a nap on my couch). Their beer selection is decent, but not over the top. Same with the liquor. It’s very functional. There are plenty of other places within a few blocks for more complicated, higher end drinks.
There’s a bit of space to dance and they have a DJ on the weekends and I’m not going to begrudge the neighborhood bar for making money from the local tourist bar hopping scene. When I was there though, it was just the opposite. Jerry Garcia was playing on the sound system, UFC was on the TV and the few people at the bar were relaxed and open to a stranger at the bar (me). I like it there. I might not always have a shot, but a cheap, relaxing beer in a simple space with friendly bartenders and patrons covers all the social drinking bases.