The mirror over the pool table says, "Believe or Leave," and one look at the grizzled regulars drinking at 11 a.m. confirms that you're sitting among die-hards. There's a red plastic Elmo head near the cash register, but most of these folks were born before Sesame Street was created. The crowd shifts in the fall when students and those new to the neighborhood invade the dark woody confines of the bar.
Margie's in her seventies and rarely makes it in these days, but bartender Diana, with her gravelly Marlboro-marinated voice serves as a perfect stand-in. She's quick to spin a story about her West Virginia childhood or dispense misguided wisdom like "Suck down that drink so you can walk better."
If you're hungry, you'll have to settle for Cheetos or Doritos, but if you're up for a little entertainment, there are two pool tables, a Super Cherry Master slot machine (for amusement only), and a 13- inch color TV circa 1980. While you'll be tempted by the kaleidoscope of colors and endless flavors of Schnapps lined up on the backbar, you don't want to miss Old Style on tap at $1.50 a pint or all domestic bottles for $2.25 a bottle. Discerning palates can still score Heineken and Beck's bottles for $3.
On your way out, don't forget to steal a glance at the Old Style sign hanging over the entrance. Unlike the ubiquitous plastic versions advertising "cold beer," Margie's sign is a one-of-a-kind red steel neon version with German style lettering that's been illuminating the sidewalk since 1969.
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant