Now that we've finished visiting new churches and bars every week, we're taking a look back at where we've been. This was the second bar we visited and was originally posted on January 9, 2016.
Let's deal with the sad news first. I was told there would be pinball. When USA Today recommended this place, they said there was pinball. Yelp reviews mentioned pinball. But there were no pinball machines in the bar.
I asked Stephen, a patron who's been coming to the place for over a decade, about the pinball machines. He assured me the bar had, in the past had the machines, "The old kind where the number turned over, not electronic scorekeeping," but we didn't see any.
Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" was playing loudly. Though I'd read that the place uses DJs on occasion, it was pretty early in the afternoon, and the bartender seemed to be the DJ.
JFK had a toothy smile that actually lit up. Little naked lady statues are also scattered about the place along with posters celebrating bands and B movies of the past.
We asked a couple of high school English teachers, Stephen and Tawnee, our first standard question, "What makes for a good bar?" Stephen said he liked the dark atmosphere of the place and that the staff was awesome. The bartenders were personable, and he felt they were obviously treated well by the management because they stuck around for a long time. (Paris, who was tending bar that day, has been at The Shelter for sixteen years.) Stephen said the drinks weren't all that good, but he liked the music they played.
Initially, her answer to the question was one word, "Depth." She said that until recently her church had a pastor with great knowledge; he had a doctorate, and his sermons were a real education. She thought her parents were bored on occasion, but she really appreciated the teaching. But, she said, the church leadership had fired him, and she missed him. She didn't always agree with what he said, but she always left feeling she'd learned something.
Paris did seem concerned about his customers. He greeted several customers by name as they came in (a bit of a Cheers touch there), and earlier, before the bar got busy, hugged a customer who seemed a little down.