Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clark's Ale House Update 2

So now that the thought of Clark's Ale House leaving the corner of Jefferson and Clinton permanently is setting in for us all, let me bring up some pre-final thoughts on everything. I'll be doing another post this weekend, maybe another review of the place, and maybe some video and pictures from the final day and closing time (assuming I can grab a spot and they don't go past their maximum capacity on Saturday night).

I'm not going to dive into any legal issues or who's at fault. And I'm definitely not going to rebuttal or embellish on any of the theories given in the comments section of the Post-Standard article because for lack of a better expression, they're mostly glorified tripe. When you get down to it, it's a good move for the city and I think Ray Clark knows that. Salina Street needs as much help as it can get and the theater expansion should eventually help Syracuse get some legitimate shows and productions (increasing tourism, hotels, and even boosting nearby restaurants).

But, the bottom line is, one of America's top beer bars is closing. It's a bittersweet week for local beer and roast beef lovers, anyone who has enjoyed sitting at a table outside on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton while people watching, and anyone who preferred having a few beers on a weekend evening and socializing without having awful dance music crammed into their ears. Being that the news was so sudden and essentially blindsided everyone, including its owner and staff, the news and closing effects everyone just as equally whether you have been going there for 18 years or just 18 days. And without sounding too overly dramatic, the time left of its remaining days isn't long enough to enjoy it and let go at the same time.

A busy Clark's bar and serving station on Monday night.

I'd rather not turn this into a gossipy post, but the details I know are: The Landmark offered a spot somewhere in the building but it was turned down (I have a feeling it was an awful location or set-up), looking at the equipment up for auction is quite depressing, Clark's has used a secret recipe for their red onions on their sandwiches this whole time (I knew it!), and one of my friends asked Mr. Clark this week whether or not he'd be reopening anytime and he looked around at the crowd and replied "we might have to.".

So, although there are absolutely no plans for relocation at this exact moment, allow me to totally get ahead of myself, daydream for a bit, and make three suggestions for possible locations...

1) Hanover Square

I mention Hanover Square not because I'm biased, live there, and want to pig out on roast beef sandwiches several times a week, but because I think it's an area that has almost as much lunchtime traffic, excellent views and architecture, has J Ryan's and Bull & Bear just footsteps away, and it contains a couple of available, low-key, and yet easily visible locations close to the center of the city that could easily be turned into a quaint beer bar (the former Quigley's comes to mind).

2) South Salina Street near Wiseguys

If the grand-scheme here is to redevelop or at least heighten the activity of Salina street by 2012, which seems to be next in line now that the O'brien & Gere Building is complete and with the Dey Brothers project, Centro bus hub relocation, and the Landmark Theater renovation looming on-deck, what better way to usher in all of this redevelopment than with one of Syracuse's most well-known bars taking a bold step and leading the charge? It'd be more of a risky move than Hanover (at least in the eyes of out-of-towners because many people seem to be scared of Salina Street through Downtown at night for no legitimate or substantial reason, other than for petty excuses that I'd rather not dive into on this blog). Salina may not ever come back from its glory days several decades ago, but we can at least pump some new blood and life into it and do it at our own steady pace. A location here would definitely trickle out some of the foot traffic from Amrory Square (which the more I think about, tends to function like its inside of a small bubble).

3) The former Weber's location on Danforth St in the Northside

A bit of a trek from their soon-to-be former location on Jefferson St, but of anywhere outside of Downtown, this may make the most sense. A historic bar and front room, enough room in the back for remodeling and turning into a separated drinking and lounging section (not unlike the current Clark's setup), located in a place that was once known for its own sandwiches (reubens), and smack-dab in the heart of the city's once ethnically populated German neighborhood and brewery district.

And I list the former Weber's location with some hesitation, because my brother and I NEED to buy this place and reopen it as a German restaurant!

Just some random thoughts as we progress through the week. I'll be updating over the next couple of days. I also have some other reviews of restaurants just about ready to go and should be up by next week.


asdf said...

Just a quick note, I live right above Salina street and I can say from experience that the fear of the street is legitimate and avoiding it is perfectly justified. I see on a weekly basis people fighting (extremely loudly) out on the street both physically and verbally, and for whatever reason, the street seems to attract the most idiotic and inconsiderate drivers.

As for the new location, from what said today, the spot offered to Clark's was to move to the corner of Salina and Jefferson - I could not possibly imagine a worse area to move to. Loud buses and cars driving by all the time, tons of foot traffic and just being plain ugly in general, I'm not surprised the owner turned the offer down.

Jim Johnson said...

I believe 1/2 of the former Ambrosia building is also available as well, no?

I think it would be an amazing course of action if they did decide to take up residence on Salina. I don't know if it would be best for THEM, but it would certainly be good for Syracuse.

Either way, I hope they hurry back. I too prefer the atmosphere of Clark's to almost all other bars, being that I'm much wittier than I am good looking, thus a place that emphasizes good conversion is my kind of spot :P

Amanda said...

Meh, and I feel like the fear is incredibly unfounded. There are hundreds of places in Syracuse (proper and suburbs) scarier Salina St... Thornden Park, the gulley at the end of Van Buren, the criss-crossing roads in North Syracuse, Wegmans in Dewitt, Wild Wills, 7th North in the middle of the night, to name just a few. As long as you don't go looking for trouble (i.e., gang activity and drugs) and don't cower in fear of the "scary" downtown residents and don't leave valuable things in your car (EZ passes included), the fear is ridiculous.

FWIW, I'd be thrilled to see Clark's move in next to Wise Guys... both would benefit tremendously from eachother's business.

asdf said...

I'm going to assume we are thinking of different Wegmans because the one I visit in Dewitt (down the street from Target?) is one of the nicer Wegmans I've been to.

As far as crime goes, you seem to be assuming people only commit crimes when provoked. My car being broken into 2 times in 2 consecutive weeks in the Trolly Lot behind the MOST begs to differ. People don't break into 4 cars in one night by smashing both front windows when there are clearly no valuables in the car unless they are just looking to commit a crime.

I only consider myself a temporary Syracuse resident, so I must just be more pessimistic than others.

Amanda said...

I guess I'm just lucky then... I've parked my car in quite inopportune places (underneath "rape bridges," empty lots next to on-ramps, off-campus streets, and even along Salina) for lengthy periods of time with no problem. I've also walked to and from these places at the asscrack of assault o'clock in the morning and have never been bothered. Obviously fear and danger are pretty subjective, but I'd much rather be walking alone on Salina at 2am than down a dimly-lit street in suburbia at the same time... To each their own.

And have you actually witnessed the parking lot at Wegmans in Dewitt on a weekend afternoon? I'd rather deal with knife-wielding homeless men than the entitled special snowflakes in their giant SUVs with such blatant disregard for other human beings...

Jim Johnson said...

Heh heh... rape bridges.

I remember my friend bringing me to the Ukrainian Club bar and when we left, we had to leave by the back door, out through an alley under the cover of darkness. I remember thinking "Boy, this sure feels like a great place to be raped and murdered."