If there’s an award for the most polarizing personality in Fort Worth, I’d like to nominate Tim Love. Foodies seem to love him, and service industry people seem to hate him. Personally, I don’t have an opinion, because I’ve met him only once, and that was eons ago, on opposite sides of The Moon’s bartop, me looking on in amazement at the empty tip line on his VISA receipt and him walking away after 10 Patrón shots (dressed and chilled, of course). Would a hotshot chef stiff a bartender? Surely not. I probably just missed him dropping cash into the tip jar, right?
I dunno. I’ve left plenty of abysmal first (and second and third) impressions on people, and I guess I’d like to give Tim Love the benefit of the doubt. After all, I’m one of his best customers: I eat at The Love Shack, and I get drunk way too often at The White Elephant (and I’m looking forward to eating at The Woodshed). Weirder still, I’ve never even seen him at any of his own businesses. Whenever I spot him, it’s at someone else’s place. The fact of the matter is, no matter your opinion on Tim Love, you will probably eat a Love Burger at some point this year, most likely on a Sunday, because Dirty Love Burgers soak up hangovers pretty handily. At least they do for me. So I try to be even-handed when it comes to Love. He employs a lot of nice people, and I’d hate for them to get behind on rent because somebody told you their boss is a jerk.
Still, I wasn’t crazy about the rumor going around a few weeks ago, that Love and some investors had bought The Oui Lounge, especially when I heard that they were turning it into a ’70s-style lounge, which is sort of like buying Bigfoot and telling people you’re turning it into a “monster-style truck.” I filed this piece of info under Why Can’t People Just Leave Good Things Alone? and drove by Bluebonnet Circle a few days ago hoping to catch a remodeler in the act. Turns out that nobody remodels at 1 a.m., so I called Love’s assistant the next day for some details. He was pretty tight-lipped, which was ridiculous given that five other people had asked me about “Tim Love’s new bar” the previous week. So I waited until the new bar opened its doors.
If you remember the original Oui, you’ll recall a bar that was bright enough in the afternoon and ominously dark at night, a ’70s carpet bar divided into three areas: the bar, the pool tables, and the jukebox, with Conway Twitty and Stevie Nicks sailing out of the P.A. to middle-age professional drinkers, fortysomething TCU alums, and college kids learning how to act at a bar. In its new incarnation, The Oui has lighting that’s about the same. The color scheme is still brown on darker brown, and the original bar remains. Beyond that, though, the Oui Lounge is dramatically different, and none of the changes appealed to me.
For one thing, all of those dividing walls have been knocked out, and the place is now one big, echoing brown-and-black room, its floor space cluttered with black retro leather furniture (’70s-style, I’d guess), meaning the seating is either round or low to the ground — my roommate said the chairs looked like “black blood cells,” so that should give you an idea. There are some tall tables by the bar, and there’s also a stage, though there’s no sound booth or equipment of any sort. The stage currently houses cocktail seating, and I imagined Ashley McWobblyheels clutching a vodka-soda, laughing loudly at some bro’s dumb joke and doing a gainer two feet onto the concrete floor. If I had to guess, someone who put money into this place said, “Oh, we should have live music,” and that suggestion is probably what led to ripping out the Oui’s partitions and with them its secret, intimate atmosphere. Sadly, the vibe feels cold and thrown together.
Still, this was a Thursday, and The Oui was packed with TCU kids, with a male-female ratio any single dude would enjoy, so, obviously, Tim Love’s peculiar ideas of what a ’70s dive should look like are right on the money for making money. Or maybe those kids just don’t know any better. At least the bartenders were nice. –– Steve Steward
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The Oui Lounge
3509 Bluebonnet Cir, FW. 817-927-9209.