Living in Hoboken for the better part of 10 years I have learned that one of the things that defines your experience in town is the bar you associate with.
Each bar has it's own varying "reputation" if you will. Some bars are guido hangouts. Some bars are for the snobs. Some bars are dives. Some are neighborhood pubs. Some are irish hangouts. Some have a great music scene.
When I first moved in to town, I didn't know anyone. At my 9 to 5 job I met some co-workers who lived in Hoboken and they marched me over to Hennessy's bar, which was located on Newark street, in between River and Hudson streets. It was one of many irish pubs in town, with a decent weekend crowd and strong group of regulars. I became part of the regulars, friends with the bartenders and those early years were filled with drinking, laughs and comraderie.
Hennessy's changed owners, and the bartenders there moved to midtown to a new bar called "Farside". Farside was "our" new home. All the regulars from Hennessy's moved with the bartenders to the new bar, along with hanging out at Moran's. We were a motley crew of non-conformists, some locals and some yuppies. We liked to drink, play darts, listen to Patrick Fleming and play late night card games. Many a holiday we spent together, plenty of adventures outside of Hoboken we had and we had the common bond of the bar that kept us together. New faces would show up and old friends would leave, but we always had Farside.
Then Dipper's opened up in late 2001. It used to be Dooley's, a bar that I would go every once in a while to order some food or watch football. I didn't frequent Dooley's very much - the "regulars" didn't go there, and we didn't really know the bartenders. After Dipper took over the bar, he took on my friend Joe as a manager. Joe handpicked the new bartenders, bringing in "people he could trust behind the bar". He approached me about bartending, and I was very interested. I saw how much fun Goody and Kenny had at Farside, and wanted to have that same fun also. To me, the money was secondary. I had my 9 to 5 job - I was just looking forward to having a good time.
Like I wrote before, every bar has a reputation. Dipper's, to me, was a neighborhood pub. It was located smack dab in the middle of town, and looked like its decoration budget was $500. You didn't take someone to Dipper's for its "scene", you took someone there because you either knew a bartender or knew a patron. Dipper was very involved with making sure we treated the customer right. He set up "comment cards" and would ask customers what changes he could make to make the bar better. Some he attended to, some he disregarded, but he would always be willing to listen.
It was cool to be at the bar when it first opened, because all the bartenders had so many ideas to try out. We had bands that would play at the bar, we tried theme nights, martini nights, shot nights, ladies nights, dart leagues, Golden Tee league, football clubs (Go Birds!) and trivia nights. Some worked, and some didn't. But it was still very exciting, because Dipper just let the employees do whatever they wanted - as long as if we were generating a profit.
The bar wasn't about making money, it also a social scene for many of our regulars. Dipper's is easily responsible for many marriages, friendships and of course a few break ups, too. Oh, I had my share of good girls and psycho girls that I met there. But I want to take this time for a special shout out to some of my coworkers who made the last 1500+ days special:
Joe: You took a chance on me, and I always appreciated it. I think until the day we die, we will both chuckle over the 'Twin Story'.
Teresa: T - you and I, bartending Friday nights. Listening to Rage Against The Machine and Beastie Boys, having a blast behind the bar. I will bartend with you any day of the week.
Chris: I think you were the most underappreciated bartender at Dipper's. You were like the unofficial owner of the bar and the hardest working bartender I ever saw, plus having a spot-on Rodney Dangerfield impression always made me laugh.
Tom: We had our ups and downs, but I have to admit that now the ride is over I'm proud to have worked for you. My only complaint is that for the last 4 years I had to explain why you called the bar "Dipper's". Meh!
Heather: Heather, you are easily one of the nicest people I know. If I had a nickel for every person you charmed (I'm looking your way Nikki & Jay), I would have a bag of nickels. You can have your choice of bars to work in town - you would have a legion of people who would go there just to visit you.
I have told people before that our bar, like Farside and Hennessy's, was like a "Cheers!" kind of pub. A place that if you were the bartenders knew your name (and your favorite drink), we would get you drunk and show you a good time. The bar could be hit or miss. Some nights we would get a great, fun crowd and some nights it was D E A D.
The demographics of Hoboken is changing, and the type of bar-goer is changing along with it. Less and less 20-something college graduates are moving into town, only to be replaced with 30-something homeowners with a more discerning choice of venue. Bars like Trinity, Lua, 3 Forty and The Madison are popular for a reason - they attract the crowds because of the way they are designed. I remember The Madison when it was a non descript sports bar, that was never very popular. But, once renovated, it became the bar to be seen at.
Dipper's would never be those bars, nor did we ever want to be those bars. The last 4 years we did well enough, and Tom made a tidy profit from his sale. Contrary to any rumors, Tom sold the bar because he lives in Virginia and has a booming business with the U.S. Government. His orginial idea to buying the bar was that he hoped his children would want to run it eventually - but they didn't. They had other aspirations in life. So, he sold it at a very nice profit. That's it. It's that simple.
It is an end of an era. A slice of my life that is over and I enjoyed most of it, with a few minor issues that were an annoyance. No matter what other ignorant people can write about Dipper's, it wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was the home away from home for a lot of Hobokenites over the last 4 years. It will be missed.