Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
From left, Brent and Sue Bogle of Flint and Terry and Casey Watts of Speake enjoy appetizers and drinks at Our Place Bar & Grill. The laid-back neighborhood hangout is gaining a reputation for its food, as well as for karaoke, bands, pool and friends.
A Neighborhood Bar Where Everyone Knows Your Name
By Patrice Stewart
Middle-aged men in golf shirts and visors greet each other with “How was your game?”
Women feel safe enough to come in singly and in pairs, pulling stools over to join friends at tables in this neat, well-lighted bar.
Waitresses, known for their friendliness, glide by crowded tables dishing out hugs with the food and drinks.
And, like the karaoke music this Wednesday, Pam Pittman weaves in and out, keeping a watch on guests as she picks up empty glasses and full ashtrays.
This hangout isn’t only for the young or the young-at-heart. All ages are enjoying this neighborhood bar.
It’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
If you visit Our Place on Wednesdays or Saturdays, you can sing karaoke with D.W., or Darryl Weidman. “With this crowd, you’ll hear a wide mix (of music),” he said.
“I wanted a ‘Cheers,’ ” said Pittman, and now she runs Our Place Bar & Grill.
Our Place is attracting people from the Burningtree neighborhoods, who know they won’t have far to drive home, as well as many from Falkville, Eva, dry Cullman County and other spots a few exits down I-65.
“Everybody knows everybody,” Pittman said.
“And those Burningtree folks are nice people and down to earth. I had thought they might be a snooty, country-club set,” she said.
The location, where Magnolia Grill formerly was, is in Mallard Village at Alabama 67 and Indian Hills Road Southeast.
One of those driving from Cullman was Jeb Stuart.
“All they got in Cullman is Wal-Mart, and you can’t drink at Wal-Mart,” he said.
Decatur doesn’t have that many places to go, either, said Joe Earls.
“This is a good local hangout,” said Earls, who lives nearby and visits about twice a week. “A lot of the same people drop by ... You can sit down and relax with a beer, and it’s not real loud.”
Pittman figures there’s room for more bars in Decatur. Our Place stayed crowded during the months when The Brick downtown was closed after a fire, but now many of the younger set have gone back there. But not having a cover charge doesn’t hurt business.
“There’s a good range of people here, a lot of 21-year-olds and a lot of older people, too,” said frequent customer Jerry Lyon of Decatur.
Pittman, a native of the Anniston area, and her husband, Johnny, a retired government employee, used to live at Smith Lake. They moved “into town,” she said, referring to Somerville, “and I just needed something to do.”
They originally started Our Place with another couple, renovating the building themselves, but then bought the others out.
“I’ve been all over the world, and I wanted people to have a place to come and feel welcome and at home,” said Pittman.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Jerry Lyon of Decatur plays pool at Our Place. He said he sometimes drops by for lunch, as well as on Friday or Saturday night, and likes it because there's no cover charge.
While her husband is the owner, coming in to handle paperwork, she runs the business with the help of a day manager, night manager and others.
“I thought when we opened that I could sit at the end of the bar and be the ‘hostess with the mostest,’ but it didn’t work that way,” said Pittman. “I’m an active person anyway, and I’m up running with the kids.”
And her customers say they appreciate the “clean atmosphere.” Perhaps her past work is one reason for that.
“I used to have my own cleaning service,” Pittman said.
“I’d never had a bar before, but so far it’s been great.”
Our Place opens in time for lunch. Then there’s “happy hour” from 3 to 7.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, there’s karaoke with D.W., or Darryl Weidman, who has his own following.
“With this crowd, you’ll hear a wide mix (of music),” he said.
One minute a thirtysomething guy in jeans will belt out “I Wanna Be a Rock Star,” and the next a man several decades older sings to the country tune, “She’ll never grace the centerfold of Playboy magazine.” You might even hear some smooth crooners a la Tony Bennett or Dean Martin.
Our Place alternates bands on Friday nights. Black Randall is a favorite, usually playing every other Friday night, with other groups in between.
Sabrina Barringer, who said she’s one of the regulars, drops in three or four nights a week for music and games.
“Everybody who works here is very nice, and the people coming in are, too,” she said.
If the older bunch of Our Place regulars miss their usual dinner and a drink or two, Pittman starts fretting.
“If I don’t see them for a while, I get worried something’s happened to them,” she said.
The laid-back hangout, which will be one year old Saturday, is gaining a reputation for its food, as well as for karaoke, bands, pool, friends and fun.
Wayne Hizenger of Huntsville, who said he’d heard about Our Place for several months, said he enjoyed the food and atmosphere.
Other first-timers agreed.
“It’s a fun place to go to enjoy yourself and have a good time, with no trouble,” said Sue Bogle of Flint.
“We liked it because it’s a good, friendly crowd,” added Brent Bogle.
Pass by on Thursdays and you may notice rows of motorcycles lined up outside. A sign inside says, “Not All Hogs Go to Sturgis; Some Go to Our Place Bar & Grill.”
“Our location is outstanding,” she said. “It keeps people from having to drive into town.”
Pittman is the kind of bar manager who will take your car keys and get you a room at a motel if she thinks it’s warranted (she’s done it).
“I watch everything, and we call taxis and do what we have to do,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of good customers — people who come in day in and day out to eat, drink and socialize.”
And that cozy everybody-knows-everybody feeling? Our Place has that, too.
Smoking vs. no smoking
People have told Our Place Bar & Grill owner Pam Pittman that business is good for the summertime.
She is a bit worried about fall, though, because many of her patrons are reacting negatively to the city’s new no-smoking ordinance that will take effect Oct. 1.
She expected cigarette smoke to go along with the alcohol, and she’s tried to clear the air with smoke-eating equipment. There’s also a deck outside.
“The no-smoking issue is not in my hands now,” she said, “and I’m afraid a lot of our small businesses may be going out of business. Then the city won’t have the tax dollars we’ve been putting in city pockets anymore.”
One man said, “The food’s good, the beer’s good, but if there’s no smoking, I won’t be back.”
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