Now, many of you may not be familiar with McClearys, at least not the one I'm speaking of. Many people I've encountered didn't realize that there was even a second McClearys in town. Well, the one on Orchard is not second best. In fact, it has always been cemented in my mind that the McClearys on State Street is the second one, but I suppose that's not a argument for today. I'm here to talk about the McClearys that is FIRST in my heart.
McClearys became a stomping ground for me about nine years ago or so. The bar is the ideal place to enjoy a pitcher or two of beers all to yourself. You may be thinking that I said that about Jim's Alibi (LOOKING FOR AN ALIBI, 05/05/09), and you are probably right. The difference is, the jukebox at McClearys had a better selection and it was much quieter. The times that I did pop in to reflect by myself provided an opportunity for just that. The seven people in the bar with you were also drinking their sorrows away, which I happily obliged and let them. Often in these periods of reflection, my handy notebook would be near by and the writing would just flow. I would spend hours here, alone, and usually stumble home to the basement where I was staying at the time that was a block away.
Don't get me wrong, McClearys is not just for the alcoholics and the people down on their lives. It is an enjoyable place to just kick back and have a good time. In fact, sometimes you even realize that you're just going to McClearys to remind yourself that life is not that bad. You look around you and see the four men in their fifties drinking alone that are certainly on the precipice of death. In that instant, their appearance reminds you that you are either A.) seeing your future or B.) I've got to pull myself out of these funk. I'm better than this... And with that, McClearys is usually swept out of your mind, unless it's a Friday night and you're tired of the same old bar scene. Then McClearys will provide a nice reprieve. Unless you run into your friend's ex-girlfriend there. Then you just have to hear about him for two hours instead of just having a nice drink. In that case, you hightail it to the Navajo Room.
The Navajo Room is looking in the same small plaza as the Emerald Lanes bowling center. I have not been to this bar as nearly as often, but it has the same type of people as McClearys. Except here, they have suddenly turned into happy drunks singing karaoke. It's even more fun when, if you were at bank, you get to see your customers and they yell out, "Banker guy!" Believe me, it's a lot of fun. [Ed. note: No, it's not fun, those it is nice to be recognized as if I were some sort of celebrity. Except they don't know my name. It's like seeing Zak Efron and yelling, "Hey, High School dude!"] The karaoke is usually rocking right up until closing time, so the entertainment is worth while. I believe the one difference at the Navajo Room is that you might only see one good singer a night, while the rest of the time you are entertained with awful renditions of Skynyrd and Bon Jovi songs.
Smoke fills the air of this bar, so if you're not a fan, I'd recommend staying away. I don't have too much to mention about this bar, mostly because I've probably been there less than ten times in my life. I lived basically across the street from it for four months and don't think I found out it was there until after I left. With the right mixture of cheap booze, bad karaoke, and white trash women wearing clothes three sizes too small, the Navajo Room belongs in the heart of Garden City, but I'm not going to argue. It's one of those bars that are nice to visit when you are tired of hitting the same old hot spots every weekend.
I hope you enjoyed your tour of the Orchard Street Bar District. I will mention that though it is a place to drink your blues away, McClearys is good place to start your night and enjoy the quiet atmosphere. Just don't let it put you over the edge...
"Men are always willing to believe what they wish."- Julius Caesar