Welp, after not even a year, Uptown Tavern is no mas, making it the third bar to occupy that Camp Bowie/West 7th space since — what, 2010?
I don’t really have an opinion about the closing. Of course I feel bad for anyone put out of work, but now that it’s gone, I have no problem remarking that I thought Uptown Tavern was an unfortunately generic bar with decent food, pretty good service, and a happy hour crowd. What kind of happy hour crowd? A fun one? A dour one? Who knows! My handful of visits never left me with much of an impression. At least the space’s original booze-slinging occupant, The Wild Rooster, reminded me through its décor, band bookings, and vibe of a child trying his or her hardest to emulate an older kid’s walk and talk, which is a cute way of saying the Rooster was vaguely reminiscent of, if still totally unrelated to, nearby Lola’s Saloon.
Would it be accurate to say that an atmosphere as dry as a dead steer’s skeleton sunk Uptown?
Here’s a related question that’s worth asking: Do the drinkers who frequent the West 7th corridor even want or need a dive bar? After all, Lola’s, The Grotto, and, to a lesser extent, The Abbey Pub all kind of qualify. Sure, they’re a little walk from the neighborhood’s main action, which would be the area hemmed in by West 7th Street, Fred’s Texas Café, no man’s land, a.k.a. Lancaster Avenue, and Magnolia Motor Lounge. But even within the district, places such as Durty Crow, Foch Lounge, and The Local don’t extol contemporary me-too-must-haves like “scratch kitchens,” a billion beers on tap, and plus-signs in their names. In other words, these joints aren’t really dives, though they’re typically pretty crowded with the type of drinker coveted by dive bars (bargain hunter, not too fancy, probably a smoker). And none of these places are made to look cobbled together from cultural memories and/or assumptions of basement rec rooms, ice house archetypes, or corner pubs weathered by time and cigarettes.
I guess the answer probably lies in a host of additional problems. As I said, I “went Uptown” only a few times, and that was when the place was only a couple of months old. I guess a more interesting question is “What will become of the space now?” I can only speculate, and it may even be the case that the bar is merely wrapping itself in another cocoon of renovations. If there’s already a new drink-centric establishment in the works, I hope its owners go for something a little snazzier. There have been three dive bars in that spot already, so maybe going diving is not the best route.
Personally, I’m always in favor of new bars, so whatever comes next I will surely drop in as long as it sells alcoholic beverages. But hopefully it’s something new. A fourth iteration of the Wild Rooster model doesn’t sound like a recipe for longevity, no matter how much I loved those barbecue tacos or how much I liked looking at that wall of album covers. –– Steve Steward
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