Hoboken: February 2006 Archives

Don't Forget To Turn Out The Lights...


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.

Yesterday was one of those rare days when I actually feel the load of life slip off my back and think that maybe, for once, things were going right.

If you have been reading the blog for a few months now, it seems that Lady Luck has been really pissed off at me for leaving the toilet seat down in our apartment of life.

But she can only stay angry at me for so long, I suppose.

As you know, I had leg surgery 2 weeks ago. It was to remove a titanium bolt from my tibula, which was put in there so the government could track my ever....I mean, it was put in there to fix a broken bone.

The last two weeks haven't been a lot of fun. Like, I couldn't take showers, for example. For two weeks. Oh, I could run the shower and lean inside of the shower and wash my hair - but I couldn't get my wound wet, for risk of infection. So every other day i'm leaning inside the shower, washing my hair and then I have to stand at the sink and bathe. I would take a washcloth and it was like I was an extra on the set of Deadwood. Showers are relaxing, this was tedious. Some mornings I would wake up for work - look at my hair and just say "Bleh, its good enough to get through the day" and go into work. I was regressing to a 3rd grade level.

But yesterday I was freed from the shackles of my staples. Dr. D (a great orthopedic doctor in Manhattan that Lisa recommended), removed the staples from my leg and I could instantly feel the skin expand. The staples pinched the leg for the last 2 weeks, and it was like instant relief, I felt so much better when walking.

Plus, he gave me the green light to walk without crutches. He said "No running, no jumping, stay away from pitcher's mounds..."

Yea, real funny, doc. I haven't heard that before.

The whole leg saga finally felt over. This whole crappy situation started last May and now it was behind me. No more surgery. No more titanium bolt. No more crutches. It was over. I was nearly skipping down Lexington Avenue and feeling great.

At the end of the day I went to Mad One Jack's for a haircut. My mood was already feeling good and going there made it even better. If you didn't read my write up about Jack's before - its simply a great establishment. You walk in and everyone is NICE. After going there for a few months - Jack, the receptionist, and other hairdressers all greet me with a, "Hi Furey!"

They are genuinely friendly. When I used to get my hair cut at a stylish Manhattan salon - I never got that. My old hairdresser, Barbara, was awesome and I loved to see her. She was probably the only reason why I kept going and paying that much for a haircut. But Jack is proof that there are people who can do just as good as a job - and cost less.

So while i'm chatting to Jack - he tells me that people read my article about his place, came into his salon and said, "Yea I read about your place from Furey's blog on www.philly2hoboken.com..."

I was tickled to hear that. It is very of cool to hear that. I get a lot of people who email and tell me that they like the site, which is always nice to hear a compliment, but even more cool to hear that an owner of a great hair salon is getting more business because of what I write. Kudos to Jack & Co!

After leaving the salon, I was feeling great. I'm the kind of guy who just walks down the street and i'm in my own world. My friends will walk within a foot of me and get angry that I didn't notice them. Hey, i'm just bad like that. But this day, i'm walking down the street, and taking in the world around me, it was just feeling like a good night.

I decide that I want do my usual routine of Wednesday sushi. I went into Sushi House - to try something new. I was going to get something to-go, and watch Lost at home. But, to my dismay, the sushi deluxe at Sushi House comes with a Manhattan Roll (Salmon), and not a Spicy Tuna Roll. I asked if I could substitue a Spicy Tuna roll and they said it would cost extra. Screw that, I went to Maru instead.

Maru, on 2nd and Washington, is in my rotation of Hoboken Sushi restaurants. I go to Sushi Lounge when i'm with a group of people, I get Robongi when I want take out, and I eat at Maru when I want to sit at the Sushi bar and talk to the chefs.

Before going to Maru I stopped at the liquor store three doors down from the restaurant. I grabbed a chilled silver can of Sapporo for $3.50 (something which angers me about Sushi Lounge where they charge me $7 for a pint of Sapporo!!), and went into the restaurant.

The super-nice waitstaff showed me to the bar, took the Sapporo can from me and poured it into a beer glass. I ordered up edamame and a sushi deluxe and read my newspaper for a bit while drinking the beer. I was amped, feeling good and you know that feeling of relaxation right after you have a sip of delicious, cold beer? You exhale and the worries just float away.

Once they served me the sushi deluxe, the chef mentions that he gave me a special pate roll to try and if I didn't want it - he could replace it with something different. I declined, saying that I was happy to try it.

So while I ate, I chatted with the chef, talking about Sushi Yasuda, Tomoe, and where he learned his skill. I found out that Tomoe is pronounced TOh-MoE-A. 020206.jpg I was pronouncing it TOh-May. That's nice to know. The chef, Terry, was a bit hard to understand with his accent and the music in the restaurant. I'm the type of person who likes to learn about things. If I drink wine - I really get into where the wine is made, what kind of grape is used and what kind of food should be paired with the wine.

So I started to ask him all sorts of questions about eating sushi. He went on to explain that there is "summer sushi and winter sushi" - times when the fish is better to serve depending on the season. I found the presentation of the sushi at Maru to be top notch. Unlike many other Hoboken sushi restaurants, Maru really puts attention into the details. Some of the sushi were ungarnished. Some had a light garnish. Others had a light sauce on top. One had a razor thin slice of lemon on it. I commented how I loved the seaweed they used for the spicy tuna roll - he went on to explain that there are "grades" of seaweed that places use. Maru used the higher grade seaweed, which should just crunch easily in your mouth, and not be chewy like many other lower grade seaweed.

I got on to the subject about how I used to write restaurant reviews for Hobokeni, and still do it from time to time. He said, "I thought I recognized you."

I blinked.

He said, "Yes, I read a website a few weeks ago about a guy who was going to go to Sushi Lounge and then saw a cute girl in the window at Maru and gave it a try..."

He was reciting my blog entry!

Are you kidding me? Not only is Jack at Mad One Jack's telling me about people reading my blog and coming to his salon, but now that Terry, the chef at Maru is saying he read my blog? Come on.

Well I was flattered, to say the least.

What a great day. I paid my bill, thanked Terry and told him that I would absolutely be back again.

I try to tell people about Hoboken, and Jack's and Maru are just two examples why I love this town so much. I don't feel that same closeness while I work in New York. The owners of stores there have seen me for 10 years and barely give me a grunt when they see me. Hoboken has that small-town experience, which is so very gratifying.

Mr. Rogers would be proud.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Hoboken category from February 2006.

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