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Quixote Wednesday Update! Mitchell’s Tavern Review (unpublished)

June 10, 2009

As promised, here’s the original review for Mitchell’s Tavern.   Word also has it that the owner has been throwing his weight around in an attempt to get me to take down these posts.  For those of you who’ve followed this site long enough, you know that I don’t give up easily, and this isn’t the first crusade we’ve been down the road on.  I got confirmation this week that Kenneth (the kid who started the fight) was indeed friends with the bartender who was outside during the fight.  We’re less than two weeks away from Mike’s court appearance and I’m really interested to see how things pan out for him after such a bizaare situation.  More to come next Wednesday…

Location: Mitchell’s Tavern, 734 Sheridan Dr., Tonawanda 874-8907

Drinks: Top shelf and bottom shelf liquor with few in-betweens.  Five draft beers including Landshark Lager along with daily drink specials.

Dress Code: Sponsored team gear and cut-off muscle shirts or sweatshirts. 

Music: Open mic with Paul Dylan every Friday.

Scene: A corner bar that lets the mob mentality run the way they do business. 

 
     After discovering (or remembering after returning to the area for the first time in years) that Sheridan Drive forks to the left after Elmwood Avenue, the wife and I doubled back and found Mitchell’s sticking out like a sore thumb across the street from a convenience store.  My buddy Mike got the drop on us and was well underway working his talents as a single man on a new blonde friend at the bar.  We staked our claim at a raised table across from the bar on a trio of black leather stools.  Musician Paul Dylan crooned to a James Taylor in front of a small crowd eating and drinking across from a pool table that appeared to take up the better part of the dining area towards the front of the building.  
     I ordered a pitcher of Landshark beer and a double of single barrell Jack Daniels for $20 from a cordial blonde woman tending bar.  The Jack Daniels alone tallied up to $12, but it’s a smooth whisky and it was the best brown liquor I could find compared to bottom-shelf selections of Kessler’s, Jim Beam and Black Velvet.  Lindsay ordered a Grey Goose and tea for $4 and Mike was settling in to the evening with a pint of Guinness ($4).  A neat row of frequently ordered liquor bottles peeked back at us upside down from a well manufactured shot/drink dispenser gallows behind the bar.  Two flat-screen televisions broadcast a baseball game and a basketball game, respectively.  A row of daily drink special banners lined a wood-panelled border protruding from the ceiling and a Genessee clock from a former era advertized a slogan long gone: ‘Boy, could I go for a Genny now.’  
     At 9 p.m., it was as if a starting bell went off and a herd of people poured into the bar.  Most of them looked to be softball team players and we were surprised to see a couple drinking at the bar with their child in tow.  A few road construction workers drank to the end of a grueling work week.  Pat and I grabbed a smoke near a picnic table situated behind a side entrance along with a horde of softball team members smoking in unison.  A group of patrons played a casual game of ‘Can-Jammers’ (a frisbee/trash can hybrid sport) in the parking lot.  The entire bar was full once we headed back indoors.  Paul Dylan launched into his second set of the evening with a soulful version of ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones along with a skilled accompanying guitarist.     
     By ten o’clock, a drunken patron started yelling about losing his money clip in front of one of the two bartenders who took over during a shift change.  Having bartended before myself, I could tell that the person’s attitude (and inebriation) were going to escalate.  After looking around on the floor in front of him, he began accusing people sitting at the bar next to him on both sides and shouting obscenities.  Eventually, a girl came inside and told him that a man had found his money clip outside and the patron stormed outside and said he was going to beat the guys up.  I didn’t think anything of it until Lindsay wondered if Mike was involved since he went outside to make a phone call.
     Out of curiosity (and concern for my friend), I went outside with a cigarette in hand to investigate.  Five or six people surrounded my friend a few feet away from the entrance and the drunken patron in question threw a punch at him.  I jumped in to pry this person off of my buddy while a group of onlookers tried to egg the man on.  I immediately asked for the owner or manager on duty (one of the bartenders was outside with us) and was told that there wasn’t one.  Eventually, the Tonawanda Police were called and they arrived on the scene.  When the police showed up, the owner (Nick Christou) magically appeared from the kitchen and started apologizing to my friend and the officers who arrived.  
     My wife was so disgusted by the situation that she asked for my keys so that she could wait in the car.  It turned out that Mike found this person’s money sitting in the parking lot with his driver’s license and after trying to be a good Samaritan by looking for the owner, he got assaulted by a group of drunken regulars.  After talking to the police inside the bar while they filed their report, I went outside to check on Lindsay and had to put up with the same drunk swearing and threatening me on the way back in.  Eventually, the police told us that the best thing everyone involved could do was to leave the bar and go our seperate ways.  Lindsay and I drove home infuriated over the situation and I phoned Mike so that we could try and make sense of what happened.    
     What started out as a decent evening with friends turned into a nightmare at Mitchell’s that could have been easily avoided if the owner or the bartenders on duty (or outside during the altercation) had intervened.  Every bar/restaurant has to put up with violent patrons who start fights from time to time.  How they deal with it (or ignore the situation completely while watching the fight) is another matter entirely.  The three of us will never go to Mitchell’s Tavern again.  For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend the place to anybody for any reason.   In my ten years as a reviewer for bars, restaurants and other establishments, this is the first time something like this has happened to me or my friends and hopefully, it will be the last. 
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