If you happened to be driving down Hemphill Street last Sunday evening, you might have noticed that the parking lot and patio of the Stampede was unusually packed.
The occasion was an informal celebration to honor AIDS activist and Fort Worth Weekly covergirl Rhonda Mae Cox (“Standing Tall for AIDS Victims,” Jan. 2, 2008), a sweet transvestite who has spent the past several years putting on benefit shows to help keep the AIDS Outreach Center’s food pantry stocked. The huge bouquet of red roses and the gleaming plaque given her by the Stampede staff was a complete surprise to her.
“They say there are three forms of communication: telephone, telegram, and tellaqueen,” Rhonda Mae said with a chuckle. “If you want something to get out, ‘Tell a queen!’ This time, though, the lines were down. It was a complete surprise.”
Most of the staff of the outreach center, including executive director Gary Isaac and nutrition center director Tom Berwanger, mingled among Rhonda Mae’s longtime friends and fans. Stampede owner James Allen also served baked chicken and new potatoes that he’d prepared himself. Remember: Rhonda Mae’s Wall of Food benefit shows kick off every Wednesday at 9 p.m. – sharp – at the Stampede. – Jimmy Fowler
Having recently moved to the ‘burbs, I’m now not as quick to just hop in the wagon and hit all of the old hangouts downtown. Different story when I was within stumbling distance of them. But now that I’m way the hell out by Meacham Airport, I have absolutely no desire to drive I-35 late at night, and I’m way too poor and cheap to take a taxi. My only other option is try to trick someone into staying sober and driving my ass to downtown and back, but, as you can guess, that ain’t gonna happen.
So don’t blame me for going corporate. With the exception of Tumbleweeds Sports Bar, all of my new local taverns – Boston’s Gourmet Pizza, Dublin Square, Joe’s Crab Shack, and a few others – are chains. I was a little depressed about the fact at first – I’m all about the ma-and-pa joints. But after one too many sober nights out in the wilds of North Fort Worth, I cashed in my principles and bellied up to Dublin Square, and you know what? It was pretty much like sitting at any other bar. There are TVs, there’s beer, there’s food, and there are bartenders and servers. What’s not to love?
“The chains are so corporate,” my friends say, even though none of us is really sure what constitutes a “corporate” watering hole. The beer at Bennigan’s or any other chain is as cold as the beer at any independent hangout. What matters most is the quality of service, and if there’s one thing that most chains can challenge indie bars on, it’s service, as my experiences at the aforementioned hangouts have proved. (That’s one benefit of hawkish floor managers, I guess.) Boston’s is a clean, dimly lit restaurant with a sports-bar section that is always packed. Dublin Square is smaller and has a warm wooden interior staffed by a swarm of bartenders and servers, which is always a plus. And Joe’s has a great patio and good food. If you close your eyes while sitting there and sipping on a frosty beverage, you might even believe you’re downtown. Whether I like it or not, I know I do.
621 Hemphill St, FW.