28 FEB 05: FEELING A DRAFT
The drivers in front of me went through the gates, so I tagged along behind them. I'd seen ads promoting Johnston Mill Loft apartments, but until my visit the other night I didn't realize it was a "gated community." Perhaps the residents have lofty incomes to match.
An old textile mill on First Avenue was turned into Johnston Mill Loft apartments over the last couple of years. Yet some aspects of the conversion have me puzzled. There was a ramp into the main building for disabled people - yet once you walk inside, you have to climb flights of stairs which might not be suitable for current college dorms.
I wasn't looking for an apartment when I visited the other night. I was seeking the sports bar promoted as part of the complex - the one which required special city zoning to be built. No signs pointed to it inside the main building. And there was no noise to give it away -- and you couldn't blame the TV schedule for it, since the Westminster Kennel Club show was over.
After getting my exercise climbing up and down flights of stairs, a resident steered me in the right direction. "The Draft" was one block down from the loft apartments on First Avenue. Residents on upper floors must have fun, watching people try to walk home after having too much to drink.
It was a slow weeknight at The Draft, as the few parking spaces along the side of the building were mostly open. Who knows what this place is like around the first of the month -- after some people at the nearby Wilson Apartments get their government checks....
Several billiard tables were active as I walked inside The Draft, but otherwise the spacious sports bar was mostly empty. I took a seat at a center table, so I'd have a good view of a basketball game on the main big-screen. With a full-sized basketball court on the floor, I could start my own game if the one on TV became boring.
There was no one at the door to direct me to a table, and I wound up waiting several minutes before a server noticed me. But at a sports bar, that's really no big deal - especially if the TV screens have channels with "crawls" on them, so you can prepare for an informed conversation when the server shows up.
At last a server named Sierra showed up, apologizing for the wait. At my request, she brought out The Draft's menu -- and proceeded to brief me on most of the items. If someone had turned down the sports bar's sound system, I could tell you what she recommended.
The sound system at The Draft struck me as odd. This sports bar did NOT have audio from any games turned up - but instead played a lot of "techno-pop" music more common at European discos. If one of the TV screens was showing soccer, I might have understood this....
"The Draft mix," the music was called by a recorded voice at one point. For all I knew, the managers were waiting for Columbus State University cheerleaders to show up and start a routine.
I ordered a chicken breast sandwich for dinner, and it was worth the $6.95 price -- as the chicken was much bigger than the bun. Are you paying attention, Burger King? Your "chicken tenders sandwich" does NOT have to be in three or four pieces....
Unlike other sports bars, The Draft also has a small dessert menu. Yet a problem developed when I asked Sierra for the brownie and ice cream dish. The can of whipped cream apparently ran out, and completely covered the brownie. But I went ahead and took it - since I don't normally check for meat inside fast-food burgers.
"I heard it was buy flowers for your server day," Sierra told me toward the end of the evening.
"But I - I thought Valentine's Day was...." I presumed she was playing with me. Wasn't a four-dollar dessert with an added tip enough for her?
Sure enough, she was having fun about buying flowers. I doubted anyone with a flower cart would roll into First Avenue sports bars after 10:00 p.m. on a weeknight - but then again, I've had someone knock on my door at 2:00 in the morning selling beer.
All in all, The Draft seems like a nice place to visit to watch a sports event. It's closer to my house than the Sports Page or Smokey Bones. The food prices on the main menu seem reasonable. But you'll have to make up your own play-by-play for the games on TV - and try to make them match the beat of the music mix.
BLOG UPDATE: More details emerged Sunday about Advance Fast Tax manager and suspected criminal Clarence Martin Jr. It turns out he spent ten years in an Alabama prison for attempted murder. We hope none of his tax customers wound up owing money to the I.R.S.
An Auburn police officer says Clarence Martin Jr. almost shot him in the head in 1988. Yet Martin was able to leave prison on parole after ten years, after a doctor convinced officials he had less than a year to live because of leukemia. There's either a quack doctor somewhere in Alabama, or we all need to find Martin's faith healer.
So how did Clarence Martin Jr. get a business license to operate Advance Fast Tax on Second Avenue in Columbus? Because it was in the name of his dad, who runs a tax office with the same name in Phenix City. We expect police there will check for tanning beds sometime today....
BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Jamie Foxx DID win the Best Actor Oscar Sunday night for "Ray." And the Best Picture of 2004 was "Million Dollar Baby" - which I mistakenly thought was about the children of Bill Gates.
Now other items from a wet weekend:
+ A security firm was hired to watch over Habitat for Humanity headquarters in Americus. After all, those Millard Fuller supporters know how to swing hammers with great precision....
+ The new tower for WSWS TV-66 near Cusseta came crashing down, one day after the front-page story about it in the Ledger-Enquirer. So did the rain cause this - or some upset Lee County advertisers?
+ The final day of the college softball "Leadoff Classic" was rained out - and even though Georgia was unbeaten, the championship was awarded to Oklahoma. Who made this decision, a bunch of spiteful Auburn graduates?
+ Instant Message to Americus pastor Bobby Fawley: Last year's Super Bowl was played on February 1, not the third. In Houston, not New Orleans. And the federal fine was $550,000, not 550 million. If your guest "greatest preacher" on WHAL can't get the basic facts right in his sermon, maybe he's not so great after all.
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