Where to?: Located next to Everybody's Pizza in Emory Village, Park Bench doubles as a college bar and tavern/eatery depending on the hour and day. Nighttime highlights Park Bench's role as the only bar within walking distance of Emory's car-less.
The Scene: The bar sticks to the trusted sports and alcohol-themed decorations in its two wide-open rooms. Speckled with a handful of booths and tables, seating is hard to come by on a busy night. The bar itself is located in the main room and is essentially the only place to get a drink if the Bench is even slightly crowded -- wait service is poor and focuses mainly on food orders.
Drinks: Under new management in 2003, Park Bench expanded its draught selection to 16 beers ranging from the earthy Natural Light to the more expensive Newcastle and Paulaner Hefe-Weizen from across the pond. They also serve eight different bottled beers and boast a full bar.
Eats: On the food side of things, Park Bench offers a solid menu. In addition to the standard wings, nachos, fries and burgers, you can enjoy beer-battered mushrooms, six different hoagies, salads and the popular Jagger's Pizza (named for the previous establishment).
Wallet Impact: Drinks normally range from $5-$8, however, nightly drink specials make it easier for the college crowd to get hammered and mate. It's not surprising that the $10 shot-pitchers on Thursdays and Saturdays are extremely popular.
Pizza, the pride of the Park Bench kitchen, ranges from $3.95 for an individual cheese to $21.95 for a large Chicken Florentine Special.
Clientele: Park Bench attracts a diverse crowd -- from families with young children and teacher/student meetings during mealtimes to a trendy and young college crowd at night.
The new management is proud of the diversity but acknowledges catering toward the Emory crowd. General manager Robyn Stewart says, "Our new drink specials have made things more rowdy this year, and most weekends we have been staying open close to two hours late. I don't close the bar, the customers do." While customers may run the drink service, the kitchen closes promptly at 11 p.m.
In the middle of all this is a smattering of middle-aged locals present throughout the week. Stewart says the Bench has served people from 6 to 60 years old -- but not all of them alcohol.
Playing around the pitchers: Park Bench offers a few classic barroom games -- two pool tables, Golden Tee video golf, and a basketball shoot-out game. One big-screen television and several other smaller sets show mostly sports offered on basic cable.
Promotions include trivia on Monday and Thursday, live bands Wednesday through Friday, and karaoke on Saturdays, but entertainment is left mainly to conversation and checking out Emory's freshest.
Park Bench: Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.-midnight. 1577 N. Decatur Road. 404-377-8888.
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