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Hal & Al’s Adds Some Nightlife to the Southside

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The blue paint on the exterior of Hal & Al’s Bar is bright enough to make anyone do a double-take when driving by. The only problem is that you might not normally have too many reasons to make the trek down Parsons Avenue to notice it. After spending some time off the radar, the secret is slowly getting out that Hal & Al’s is worth the special trip. Their weekly event lineup keeps people entertained and their drink menu keeps people happy on the cheap. We recently chatted with Manager Dan Ores to find out a bit more about this new Southside spot.

Walker Evans: The location at 1297 Parsons has been home to some other venues in the past. What was appealing to you about reinventing this space?

Dan Ores: Well, I have been in this industry for a while. Before I did this I actually worked for the House of Blues for 12 years. I opened the Cleveland venue and I opened the Chicago venue back in ‘96.

The building that houses Hal & Al’s was home to a place called The Closet, and it was a Nascar bar for awhile too. There is a lot of history here. Even further back it used to be a movie theater, called “The Paris Theater”, I believe.

WE: Very cool. The location is a bit remote from many of the more established “nightlife” areas. Has it been a challenge to get people to come down to try the place out?

DO: I personally think this is a great location because of that challenge. Every time people hear that we’re on Parsons they cringe a bit at first… it’s understandable, but I think it’s a little ridiculous at the same time. I mean, if you’ve driven by here before you’ll know that we’re actually in a good spot with close proximity to the German Village and Merion Village neighborhoods. I used to live right up the street on Gates. I love this neighborhood, I think it’s fine.

WE: Yeah, the Parsons corridor is definitely an neighborhood that has been on the decline for quite a long time, but its great to have a couple of new businesses willing to help breathe a little life back into it.

DO: Oh yeah, I am down for the challenge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been two and a half months so far and it’s definitely been a slow start. I have read a few books on slow nights… let’s put it that way. But the word is getting around and people are coming in to enjoy the atmosphere, the beer selection and the music. It depends what kind of mood I’m in, but I like to play a lot of different kinds of alternative music. It’s kind of like CD101, but with a little more of an edge to it.

WE: Yeah, I’ve noticed on your website that you guys have a lot of special nights. Can you talk a little about some of those… which ones are the popular ones?

DO: Tuesday we have the open mike night, with a $50 prize at the end of the night. We have a screen set up where you can text and vote for your favorite musician. Our iPod night is similar with the texting and voting as well. We give you a half hour to play whatever you want with your iPod, and then at the end of the night we have prizes. Last night I gave away a pair of tickets for the upcoming G Love show. We have good crowds for that night, and the interaction is fun. Last night it was such a mix, one minute you are hearing Death Cab for Cutie and then next thing you know you are hearing Guns N Roses.

WE: Sounds like fun.

DO: Yeah. Also, on Fridays we have a night called “The Beat Oracle”. Basically you come in and we have all the lights dimmed, and they play some weird stuff on DVD’s and experiment with electronic hip-hop ambient dub music. If you come here with a group of friends it would make for nice background music.

WE: Sounds pretty unique.

DO: Definitely. On Saturday we have all original music… no cover bands and never a cover at the door. We’re booked solid through October. This Saturday we have Failure Savvy and next week is My Favorite Shadow. I try to make a point to showcase different genres of music every week. If I don’t do something different every day it starts to feel like I’m just like eating the same sandwich everyday. It’s going to get boring and stale and you’re going to get bored with it. I need to mix it up, especially with a location like this and still being a new venue.

WE: Has the response been pretty good so far with people who have stopped in?

DO: Yeah! Last week the iPod night had a great crowd and a nice mix of people… one of the owners from Milk Bar was here, and a bunch of people from Bodega. People come to hear music, but they also love the beer selection. I have this thing at the top of the cooler that I call “The Top Shelf”. It contains Busch, Coors Original, Stroh’s, Milwaukee’s Best, Blatz, and Burger Beer, all for a buck apiece. We also have some really nice beers too, like Rogue, Dogfish Head and Bell’s.

WE: Cool. We’re already looking forward to the Columbus Underground event we have coming up next week.

DO: Yeah, we’ll set up some cornhole and make some pizzas and have a great time!

WE: Excellent. Thanks again for taking the time today.

More information can be found online at HalAndAls.com.

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