Last Call: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
College, Barred

Whoever thinks a college-area bar must cater to of-age students to be successful needs to take a lesson from Tiff & Andiís Place. The Bluebonnet Circle, near-TCU joint recently celebrated its first birthday, and you can bet that the color purple, Horned Frogs, and cheap drink specials had absolutely, utterly, completely nothing to do with its success.

There are two good reasons the titular owners have kept the kids at bay: One, neither Tiff nor Andi wants to get stuck breaking up fights between fraternity assholes, dealing with skipped tabs, or cleaning up puke in the womenís restroom; and, two, the owners know that if you live by the college crowd, you die by the college crowd. For TCU-friendly joints like The University Pub and The Moon, the profits flow like water when schoolís in session and students are hot on the hunt for stress relief in the form of dollar beers. But when summertime comes íround and all the brats have gone home for vacation, the cash register stops ringing, leaving student-dependent bars mostly high and dry. (Some in the summer even have the audacity to try to lure a more mature, less frivolous crowd. As if! Like Iím gonna start hanging out at your club and enjoying the ease with which I can get drinks only to be pushed aside a few months later by people who just started drinking a couple of years ago?! My ass. If you donít want my business all year long, Iím not gonna patronize your establishment at all.)

I admit: I was skeptical when the lesbianic duo first took over the space formerly known as the Boom Room. By not offering cheap booze, the owners appeared to be reducing their customer base by about 75 percent. To make matters worse, the building is huge, so even when a decent-sized crowd (30 to 50) is in the house, the place still looks kinda empty. Seriously, I canít recall the number of times Iíve sat at T&Aís bar and watched potential customers walk in, cringe at the emptiness (real or imagined), and walk back out. ďSix months ó topsĒ was my initial take. But Iím not very bright.

T&Aís hasnít prospered in a vacuum. The joint has had help, primarily from Bluebonnet Circle. The íhood keeps getting hipper, baby-step by baby-step. In addition to the honkytonkiní Oui Lounge, Heliotrope gallery, and the top-notch seafood restaurant Ocean Rock, a recently formed Bluebonnet community group regularly hosts art festival-type thingamajigs on the green space that forms the eye of the roundabout, while also continuing to spruce up said green space occasionally. So Tiff & Andiís doesnít appear to be merely surviving. Girls be thriving.

Salouiís Redux

Yíknow, before it was recently bought and renamed The Blue Grotto, Salouiís Stage Bar and Deli was the unanimous choice for ugliest Cowtown club of all time. But with its urine-hued siding, bright candy-colored trim, and white picket fence (!), the University Drive joint next to Sardineís Ristorante Italiano was so visually offensive that I thought it transcended mere homeliness and achieved a state of unique anti-cool beauty. Never mind my fascination with barns, New England cottages, and psychotropic drugs ó the hang-out looked sweet to me!

So in a way, Iím now a little torn to see that Fort Worthís ďstraightest gay guy,Ē dashing haberdasher Robert Coronado, has stepped in to give the place a much-needed but unsentimental Queer Eye makeover. Gone are all the insane touches that made Salouiís so damn kitschy. In their place are lots of nice, vibrant darks and a totally swanky-yet-welcoming vibe. Instead of the Rat Pack at the Sands Hotel, circa 1963, think The Bowery in New York City, circa last week.

Salouiís leather-lunged, dominos-playing regulars have also nicely been shown the door, replaced by assorted members of Coronadoís entourage (model-esque, all), other hot guys and dolls, and DJís. (I guess the sound of boom-siss-boom-siss-boom-siss isnít so 1999 after all.) Coronado says crowds have mostly been solid ó not too packed (except on weekends), and not too thin. In all honesty, however, 20 people seem like more inside: The room, moody and sylvan-like, is somewhat small, kind of like a medieval midget dungeon.

Come to think of it: The olde-English interior may be my favorite part of the building ... and it has nothing to do with my fascination with warlocks, warriors, and psychotropic drugs.

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