Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Want The Bells And Whistles, Or At Least The Fish.

There used to be a restaurant in my area that was my favorite place to go out to eat. The food wasn't that great, the place was painted in shades of brown that looked rather dingy most of the time and sometimes I wondered about the attention paid to cleaning the place. However, back in the day when dining out was fun, we'd wander on up to that place for fish fries or for a middle of the week burger and fries.

There were evenings when there was no room in the parking lot and we'd have to park down the road. Sometimes the line of people waiting to get in would be out in the parking lot. It was the one place locally where it was best to make reservations. Even then sometimes there'd be a wait for your reserved table, you had to get into the building in order to tell the hostess that you were there. Wasn't always easy when folks were waiting, they didn't like the idea of letting you in the door ahead of them.

After reading that, you're probably sitting there scratching your head and wondering what the hell was the attraction? Why go somewhere that appears to have nothing to recommend it? Well, you see, there were the fish tanks. I think there were 8 of them set into the walls in the dining areas. Some of them were set in a manner that they created a nook where 2 or 3 small tables were set up. For us, this was amazing. I'm not sure any of us, in this small city, understood that leasing of fish for restaurants was a big business. At least I didn't and no one ever mentioned it to me.

What surprised me about my fascination with those fish tanks was that I have never been interested in owning a home aquarium. I don't ever remember bothering to look at the tanks or the fish my friends spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on. Up until the tanks in the restaurant, my experience with fish was of the edible kind. Mostly haddock, whiting, pollock, trout, perch, bass and the occasional bullhead. I even know that in Massachusets they don't have bullhead. They have horned pout. Same fish, different name. Confusing? Yeah!

When the place was really busy, you'd have a long wait for your food. A wait that no one ever complained about because we'd wander around and stare at the fish. I was competely enthralled by those tanks. They were filled with lush vegetation and some of the most beautiful and the ugliest fish I'd ever seen. No matter how many times we went there, I honestly don't believe I got to see all the fish that lived there.

One night we were going to have a burger and fries. When we got there the place was closed. It seems that the manager, in an attempt to build the Friday and Saturday night bar crowd up, introduced a game called beer pong. He discovered, hopefully to his dismay, that 21 year old booze filled kids and fish tanks don't mix. Since these weren't his tanks nor his fish, the cost to replace what got damaged was prohibitive. It wiped them out and they were out of business.

A few months later someone else reopened the restaurant with the same not so great food, dingy interior, inattention to cleanliness and no fish tanks. I don't think he was open 6 months. Which makes me wonder about all of us that ignored the possibility of ptomaine poisoning just to watch those fish. To the best of my knowledge, no one got sick. Except maybe the fish who were stuck watching us


  1. we used to have a drive-in restaurant which hasn't been in operation for a few years now. It was an after lounge hangout, good times, great burgers, and a great fish tail sandwich! All the good places are long past including the drive-in movies. Last movie I saw at a drive in was E.T., the extraterrestrial.

  2. Bella,

    We still have our drive-in theater, but you're right, all the good places have passed into whatever place dead favorite places go.

  3. Sherry,
    I must have led a sheltered life. What the heck was beer pong?

  4. Sherry:

    A few years ago, my wife and I found a steakhouse that provided very little attractive dining ambiance, silverware and plates that sometimes looked like they should be washed again, and a workplace that could have used some scrubbing. But damn, it had the best steaks in town! :^)

  5. My experience has been that the best food is always found at the "hole in the wall" places that dot the landscape...If your new to an area always ask the locals and if your lucky you may get the location of the place they all go to.....Yes the 22.50 14oz Ribeye at Sagebrush is an OK steak but give me the 9.90 10oz t-bone at Waffle house anyday.....

  6. Mister O,

    Beer pong is a game played by setting up 6 to 10 16 oz plastic glasses of beer on 2 ends of a long table. Same amount of beer on each end. Then ping pong balls are thrown with the goal of getting the balls in the cup. The person who gets the ball in the cup then has to chug the beer.

    The game results in people getting drunk and a lot of spilled beer. Spillage means that another cup is set up and has to be paid for by the contestant. Too much beer, both chuged and spilled can lead to extremely stupid behavior where more than just the person gets smashed.

  7. Whit,

    In this case there were people who went for the food, we just seemed to go for the fish tank view. Burgers were great and they had a good fish fry.

  8. TAB,

    Well, I have to say I never would have recommended that place for the food. Except the burgers and the fish fries. Mostly what drew so many folks there was the fish tanks.

  9. Sherry:

    My wife and I eat at a Chinese restaurant that has a fish aquarium at the entrance. We always stop and talk to our favorite fish on the way in and out of the restaurant. :^) They are interesting creatures to watch.

  10. Whit,

    As you can see some "routine" site maintenance went awry. LOL, thanks for the new comment on this post. It appears the "routine" maintenance ate some things.

  11. I feel sorry for the owner and his miscalculation on beer pong and fish.

  12. Beer pong and expensive fish tanks can't be a good combination no matter how you add it up...


  13. Skinny,

    The restaurant was being operated by two brothers. One had control of the kitchen the other had the barroom. The profit for this kind of establishment comes from banquets or the bar.

    There was a perfectly usable room there for banquets. It needed nothing more than a good cleaning and a coat of paint. Unfortunately, they had champagne tastes when it came to how to make that room more attractive and were planning a major remodel instead of doing the minimum until they made the money. They chose beer pong instead.

  14. PaulV,

    Beer pong and exotic fish just don't mix. They should have had the one fish tank that acted as a divider between the bar and dining room removed. It was the largest and had the most expensive fish in it. I guess hindsight is always 20/20.