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1187 Ira St. at University Avenue. 404-752-7912.
Who says every Atlanta bar has to have air conditioning? Or that every place touting itself as a disco needs an actual dance floor? At Speakeasy, they dispense with the frills and pass the savings on to you!
This hole-in-the-wall in the struggling Pittsburgh community has been going strong — well, surviving, anyway — for around 40 years. The noticeably sloping floors are bare concrete, the seating options consist of small booths and a few second-hand stools, and the painted cinder block walls are largely free of any visual distractions. Near the front door, several square mirror panels have dropped off the wall and no one appears spurred to find replacements.
Speakeasy has added a few upgrades backing the last few years. For one, they now serve real liquor with your choice of mixer in plastic cups — a marked improvement over a selection once limited to 40-ounce bottles in an Igloo cooler behind the bar. A hand-written sign claims that the special of the day in the back kitchen is a pork chop, for those willing to call their bluff.
In recent weeks, the bar has even installed a small bandstand that, on weekends, accommodates a cover band. At other times, there's a DJ or music from the digital jukebox, which is stocked with soul classics by Aretha, Percy, Otis and the Godfather of Soul. Perhaps the most remarkable update is the addition of a projection TV screen for showing sporting events.
And yet, Speakeasy somehow effortlessly maintains the atmosphere of an underground bunker, its windowless walls and curtained doors shutting out most traces of the harsh Southern sun even at noon, when the bar opens for business. Inside, under the glow of artificial light, with a Jack and Coke in your hand and Marvin Gaye competing with the hum of three large fans, you could easily imagine that time has stood still.
And therein lies the allure.
Murph's Lounge & Deep South BBQ
1679 Joyner Ave., Marietta. 770-422-4465.
Located just off South Cobb Drive in south Marietta's bedraggled Fair Oaks community, Murph's opened in the '70s, around the time National Geographic dismissed the area as "the redneck capital of the world."
Occupying a rustic, wood-sided building with no visible marquee, this thirtysomething-year-old tavern can appear a little foreboding on initial approach. Its only welcoming feature is a hand-written sign tacked to the outside wall reading "Biker Friendly."
Inside, the place has the homey jumble of the living room of someone who wasn't expecting guests. On one visit, there was a dirt bike parked on the small dance floor. The stage — barely large enough for a three-piece band or one-and-a-half Italian tenors — and a nearby waitress station appear to be used mainly for storage. In a back corner, behind the pool tables and next to a pinball machine, sits an electric stove that apparently never quite made it out the door to the salvage yard.
The area behind the bar is a joyful riot of bottles, bumper stickers, license plates, girlie calendars and mirrors. Aside from its threadbare carpet, Murph's is relatively presentable for a biker bar, with clean table tops and no discernible mustiness.
According to the barmaid, the hog-riding segment of the clientele has greatly decreased over the past decade. These days, Murph's owner Glen Hickman is trying to attract new customers by bringing in a big smoker and hosting monthly Boston Butt cookouts on the cement patio behind the bar. The rest of the time, the kitchen offers the standard bar food, as well as barbecue sandwiches and even steaks.
Although his bar doesn't feature much live music any more, Hickman, who sports a black leather biker's vest while at work, remains proud of the fact that Marietta native Travis Tritt was signed to his first record deal at Murph's back in the late '80s.
Killin it. So damn sexy
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…