Bulldogs at play: An Athens time capsule

Remember sitting out on the deck at T.K. Harty's Saloon in Athens?

Remember sitting out on the deck at T.K. Harty's Saloon in Athens?

I’m off today as usual, but I came across this piece I wrote for the Constitution 28 years ago in the archives and thought any Dogs fans who were in the Classic City around 1983 would get a kick out of it. It originally ran Sept. 23, 1983, with the headline, “Bulldogs at play: Where to party in funtown Athens.”

Several things strike me about it now: Much has changed, especially the prices. Also, we thought two dozen nightspots was a lot back then; now it seems like there’s that many bars and clubs in one block of downtown Athens. The Normaltown Flyers and Dirk Howell are still around, but I think the only surviving nightclub mentioned is the 40 Watt, and it’s long since moved to a different location. Man, I miss T.K.’s.

Anyway, I remember my brother Tim helped me do the legwork for this piece; I don’t think I exactly had to twist his arm. Think of it as an Athens time capsule. And for those who around UGA back then, I hope it brings back some good (if hazy) memories. …

ATHENS — This home of the University of Georgia is a partying town. Especially after football games.

Bulldog fans searching for post-game celebration can pick from well over two dozen nightspots in the Classic City. The entertainment includes balladeers, rock, country, new wave, oldies, jazz, strippers and disco. Places reserved for nothing more than serious elbow-bending are numerous, too.

On game weekends it’s best to arrive before 9 p.m., to avoid the rush. Also, bars in Athens stop serving at 1 a.m. on Friday nights and midnight on Saturdays.

Around half of Athens’ clubs are in and around the city’s charming downtown. Adequate parking is available at most if you get there early.

A good place to start a barfly’s tour of Athens is T.K. Harty’s Saloon (549-5052, 95 Hoyt St.). Located in a restored railway station a few blocks north of downtown, T.K.’s is the oldest nightclub in town now that the Last Resort, a legendary club founded as a coffee house in the mid-’60s, has closed.

The nicest thing about T.K.’s is the deck, where balladeer Bruce Chrichton accompanies himself on acoustic guitar. (He also plays before the game on football Saturdays). Beer ranges from $1.25 to $2.75 for a pitcher, mixed drinks are $1.50. A lot of students congregate here, but it’s actually one of the more sedate spots in town.

On the edge of downtown in the History Village hotel complex is another club located in a restored building. It’s called Bixby’s (546-0410, 295 E. Dougherty St.) and the stone and brick walls are remnants of the old Athens Steam Co. A small room decorated with lots of hanging plants, it features the jazz-pop of Bystander, an Augusta group. Beer is $1.25-$1.50, mixed drinks are $2.25-$3 and the crowd tends to be older.

A more raucous time can be had nearby at the Mad Hatter (549-4046, 450 E. Hancock Ave., in back of the Athens Flea Market). This place has a large disco dance floor, a small lounge equipped with large-screen TV and a 1,200-capacity ballroom in back (with one wall painted red and black and decorated with a Bulldog banner). Sidewinder will be rocking Friday and Saturday nights for a young crowd. Beer is $1.50-$1.75, mixed drinks are $1.75-$2.50 and there’s usually a cover charge.

Around the corner is the 40 Watt Club (548-9288, 382 E. Broad St.), mecca for Athens’ New Wavers but not exclusively devoted to that brand. In fact, this weekend the club features the country-pop-bluegrass harmonies of the Normaltown Flyers (one of Athens’ finest groups) and Athens rock pioneer Mad Dog Melton and his Dixie Grease (who might be familiar to UGA alumni from the late 1960s and early ’70s). Beer is $1.25-$1.75, mixed drinks are $1.75-$2.75 and there’ll be a $3 cover charge. Seating capacity is 200, but occasionally more than 500 folks have been squeezed in; don’t dawdle getting there.

The newest arrival on the Athens club scene is a familiar name to Atlantans: the Buckhead Beach (549-4921, 244 Oconee St.), located in what once was the B&L Warehouse. “After we sold the one in Atlanta,” said general manager Scott Hadly, “we were looking for a property and Athens just seemed a natural. We were drawing predominantly college age in Atlanta.”

This cavernous club, decorated with traffic signs and neon beer signs, has a raised dance floor, a long bar, a gameroom and bar in back and a very noisy college clientele. Capacity is 1,000, but it gets very crowded late in the evening. Beer is $1.50, mixed drinks are $1.75-$2.50 and there’s usually a cover charge. The Tams perform Friday at 9 p.m. and again Saturday starting at 6 p.m.

The coldest beer in town (and the nicest atmosphere) is available at O’Malley’s (549-3306, 271 Williams St.). This is yet another restored building (an old mill), located right on the edge of the Oconee River. The club’s extensive deck lets you sit outside while the water rushes beneath you. Live entertainment is booked occasionally, but mostly you’ll find students drinking and dancing. Beer is 75 cents-$1.25, mixed drinks are $1.25-$2.50.

Other attractions in the downtown area include Bourbon Street (546-6111, 247. E. Washington St.), a dimly lit club located in the basement of the Georgian Hotel and featuring all-nude dancing; the Frog Pond Lounge (546-8122, 513 W. Broad St.), a very small and extremely crowded room popular with the older crowd thanks to the vintage rock ‘n’ roll and country churned out by the two-man Dirk Howell Band; Daddy’s Dollar (543-6511, 230 N. Finley St.), a typical hotel lounge in the Family Inn featuring country-rock bands such as this weekend’s Joe & Tony; and the restaurant Friends (546-7693, 247 E. Washington St.) in the Georgian Hotel, which occasionally books acts in the old hotel ballroom. Gamble Rogers will perform next Friday night and Mike Reid the weekend after that.

Baxter Street, climbing the hill beside the high-rise dorms near Sanford Stadium, doesn’t offer much in the way of live music. There are a couple of lounges: Harry’s (546-7716, 494 Baxter St.) and Papa Joe’s (548-3481, 740 Baxter St.). Harry’s occasionally features entertainment and Papa Joe’s is beer and wine only right now.

Heading out Broad Street (which becomes the Atlanta Highway or U.S. 29-78), you’ll find Armadillo Palace (543-8847, 2194 W. Broad St.). Neal James performs Friday and Saturday at this 1,300-seat country-rock club. Beer is $1.50, mixed drinks are $2 and the crowd tends to be older than at most downtown clubs.

Students and alumni alike gather at the Fifth Quarter (353-9422, 2260 W. Broad St.), a sports-oriented bar and game room run by former Bulldog player Craig Hertwig and started by another ex-Dawg, Wayne Swinford. There’s a pre-game barbecue and two buses take customers to the stadium and back. Next weekend, the Normaltown Flyers will perform. The seats for the tables out front are old red bleachers removed from Sanford Stadium a couple of seasons ago. Beer is $1.25-$1.50 and mixed drinks are $1.75-$2.50.

The Night Owl Lounge (353-9328) at 3155 Atlanta Highway is a wild and wooly country-rock club with almost as many patrons sitting on cars in the parking lot as are inside listening to the band. Riverstreet plays this weekend. Beer is $1.50-$1.75 and mixed drinks are $2-$3. A mostly non-student crowd packs the place.

If you don’t mind driving a few minutes, you can also hit: the J&J Center (549-7009, Commerce Highway-U.S. 441), a 500-seat country music dance club featuring David Wills this weekend; Foxz (546-8209, 1294 Prince Ave, behind Allen’s), a bar-dance club located where Between the Hedges used to be; Brandy’s (353-1904, Jefferson Road in the Homewood Shopping Center), a lounge in a steak and seafood restaurant featuring guitarist Perry Mac (who does a pretty fair Willie Nelson) and pianist Jim Sherman; and the Lighthouse (353-7206, Lumpkin Street at Five Points), a restaurant-lounge featuring the Jim McKillip jazz trio.

Hit enough of these places and you’ll begin to understand why some folks in Athens think a Ph.D. stands for Party hard, Dammit.

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178 comments Add your comment

Dean Tate

September 26th, 2011
10:58 am

5th Quarter was my home away from home back in the ’70s. Football players, cops, rednecks and regular students all mingled. One night a drunk Athens cop began firing his service revolver into the wood floor to impress some ladies. Swino leaped the bar and convinced the officer to hold his fire. We all survived somehow.

OleSwole

September 26th, 2011
11:01 am

That article almost made me cry. I arrived in Athens in the spring of 86 and recognize many of those places.

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 26th, 2011
11:08 am

Hey you guys, GT is ranked 21 in the country, what are y’all?

Sam

September 26th, 2011
11:10 am

I was a student during that time and knew many of those places very well. The memories came flooding back. The one place that you sort of missed was Classic Sub Shop across from Russell Hall. While it was not a partying place, the food was good, beer was cold and the deck was a great place to watch folks walking to and from the stadium!!!

THanks for the memories

elvisaintdead

September 26th, 2011
11:10 am

I used to live directly up that kudzu-covered hill from TK’s.
Good times. Lost keys.
And there was nothing, *NOTHING* like the 5Q on a Friday afternoon.

GaTruth

September 26th, 2011
11:14 am

Leave it to a skanky GT fan to comment on a post about great Athens hang-outs. Why would they? Because GT has ZERO game day traditions and NO place worth talking about as a pre/post game hangout… at least no place where you don’t have to have a criminal record and a stash of crack to get in.

LawDawg

September 26th, 2011
11:14 am

“Also, bars in Athens stop serving at 1 a.m. on Friday nights and midnight on Saturdays.”

Ah, the bad old days. Seriously, though. As much turn over as Athens has had in terms of bars of restaurants since I left about 10 years ago, I am not surprised I only recognize a few spots on the list (and mostly from kicking around Athens during the dweekend days as a kid. Thanks for the post, Bill.

Oh, and Ramble On: You can brag in the unlikely event you beat UGA. Otherwise, no one cares what you do to the weak sisters of the ACC.

DunwoodyDawg

September 26th, 2011
11:15 am

Wow, Bill this really takes me back. I loved the deck at T.K.’s. I work with some young UGA alumnae, and always tell them they don’t have any idea how good they had it in Athens. When you think about it, downtown was relatively dead in comparison to today. I had some great times at O’Malley’s that I can’t remember. Drink’n'Drown and penny beer, now that was livin’.

GaTruth

September 26th, 2011
11:16 am

Living at River Mill was the best – walk to class, walk to the library, walk to the games, walk to O’Malley’s, stumble home. Best apartment complex EVER!

GaTruth

September 26th, 2011
11:18 am

Zoo Night at the B&L – $3 to get in and all the rot-gut liquer or $1 long-necks you can drink! Those were the days…

NiquePhotog

September 26th, 2011
11:19 am

I apologize for a fellow GT fan coming on here for no good reason since this article is not even related to football.

You do happen to be way off-base in saying we have no tradition. Our fight song and the Ramblin Wreck are just as well know as Uga. There is a whole Wikipedia article dedicated GT traditions, so go check that out if you don’t believe me. UGA doesn’t even have one of those.

DunwoodyDawg

September 26th, 2011
11:19 am

Oh, one more thing. Anybody remember how there was only one way out of T.K.s, and at 1:00 AM Athens finest would always be lined up to nail patrons driving out of the parking lot?

gomdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:22 am

RAMBLE ON !!!! SEEN THIS BEFORE LETS WAIT 5 WEEKS AND GIVE ME A CALL

dawgtired87

September 26th, 2011
11:25 am

Met my wife of 23 years at Omalley’s in 85.
@Ramble On We would be ranked in the top 15 if we started with your schedule. Stayed tuned my little friend.

Gdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:30 am

Ramble On, not sure if you have cable tv down in your partents basment, the rest of us are playing real schools with real football teams not folks waiting for basketball season. Beat a real football school and we will talk, unfortunately you dont have one on your schedule till thanksgiving and we know how that typically turns out. Is Gardner-Webb coming back to the joke by coke this year?

hammerhead

September 26th, 2011
11:30 am

My years in Athens were 85-89, so many of these places are very familiar. I definitely miss TK Harty’s and a couple of the other places are cool to reminisce over, but honestly, Athens is so much better now. Most of those places were dumps (and not even charming dumps). Anyone remember Gus Garcia’s Tex Mex Restaurant downtown? Loved that place for a cold beer and their “Mouth of Hell” Chili.

Gay Dawg

September 26th, 2011
11:31 am

5th QTR was where I met Randy one hot and huuimid night. Whew…I need a spritzer.

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 26th, 2011
11:32 am

I guess when you beat a team by 13 points that got clobbered by Vanderbilt, it’s time to reminiscence about getting drunk.

Gdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:34 am

NiquePhotog….if you have so many traditions why does it take full page ad’s in the paper or billboards to even get 35k in there???? Great traditions????nobody has even heard of them or give a crap. How is this tradition…riding MARTA to a home game?? how is this one…spitting on cars off of the downtown connector bridge????? PLease, sell that to the homefolks in New Jersey on the family vacation to Newark this summer!

Gdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:36 am

Ramble on, maybe celebrating beating your tails for 18 of the last 20 is a good reason to get drunk, or simply celebrating we don’t go to tech is reason enough!

gomdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:38 am

RAMBLE ON WRECK YOU’RE TIME COMING WHEN YOU PLAY REAL FOOTBALL TEAMS

gomdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:40 am

RAMBLE I HOPE YOU DONT THINK THAT WE COULD HAVE BEAT OLMISS BY 40 POINT CMR FELT SORRY FOR COACH NUTT

gomdawg

September 26th, 2011
11:42 am

RAMBLE ON GET YOU A REAL TEAM AND COME BACK

Still@theBAR

September 26th, 2011
11:45 am

Wish I could serve drinks at $2-$3 and make a living. LOL

I-DOG

September 26th, 2011
11:46 am

It is great to get an SEC win and one on the road. I thought the team showed slight improvement this week which is good, but I don’t believe we are of the caliber of any of Donnan’s last 3 teams yet.

We have quite a ways to go before we start talking about competing for the SEC East.

KEEP RICHT

September 26th, 2011
11:48 am

Ramble on……..Tech blows. Get over it, loser. hahahahaha (Thats me, whe i think about Tech, the ACC, your low attendance, your high school playbook, etc., etc.)

Still@theBAR

September 26th, 2011
11:48 am

It does seem after Tech 6-7 season they Prepared to Play Better this season. The Dawgs haven’t tried that GIMMICK just yet.

jrmdvm1

September 26th, 2011
11:51 am

I graduated in ‘76 and my favorite place was downtown and called Wall Street West. Drink and drown on Wednesday night. Great bands and a full pitcher on your table all night long for only $2.00.

Mtn Dawg

September 26th, 2011
11:52 am

Cool Bill. Being from Athens I remember and have frequented most of who you speak. Like you T.K.’s was one of my favorites. And the Last Resort. Man, those were the days. What was the big place on Thomas street just up from Athens Hardware and the same side. Big brick building. Can’t remember the name.

Thanks for the tour down memory lane.

Class of '98

September 26th, 2011
11:52 am

I worked at O’Malley’s for a couple years in the mid-late 90’s. Ah, those were the days.

evil empire

September 26th, 2011
11:52 am

remember that 81 schedule…those were the days…

Richt`s Hammer

September 26th, 2011
11:53 am

Is that where Russ was buried?

Marvin

September 26th, 2011
11:57 am

And its funny how much changed from time I graduated (in 1974) and 1983. When I was there the preferred watering holes included The Rail on Broad (later the Dog House), Your Mother’s Mustache (home of Mad Dog Melton and the Laughing Disaster – featuring Davis Causey and Randall Bramblett), Alan’s and the 5th Quarter (Normaltown). Venues change but the vibe remains.

DawginLex

September 26th, 2011
11:59 am

Christmas Wish List(for early October)

Alabama 28
Florida 14

Auburn 45
SC 43

UGA 27
MSU 23

All of a sudden, we would be in a 1st place tie in the East.

Also:

Braves sweep Phillies

I’ll wake up now

DawginLex

September 26th, 2011
12:00 pm

stillatthe bar

Matthew Stafford just called and wants to know when you will be sending your check

Told you that boy was gonna have a great year.

Fire Mark Richt

September 26th, 2011
12:01 pm

“Hey you guys, GT is ranked 21 in the country, what are y’all?”

We’re 9 out of the last 10 against GT, thanks for asking.

Still@theBAR

September 26th, 2011
12:01 pm

DiLex
the braves phillies thing is a HUGE Stretch. The others are always possible.

Still@theBAR

September 26th, 2011
12:03 pm

DiLex
It is still just 3 games in. I saw all the LOVE Matt Ryan got last year too. i am holding that Check until the end of the year.
You are seeing what Gailey is doing in Buffalo with a Harvard QB. LOL

LouisianaDawg

September 26th, 2011
12:08 pm

Thanks Bill. Anyone remember the Odyssey? Cold pitchers and pinball. Great place to go in the afternoon instead of class.

Our beloved Saint Jan

September 26th, 2011
12:11 pm

It’s interesting that 1983 is also the year that slimeball Vince Dooley had Jan Kemp demoted after she exposed the remedial studies scam that Dooley was using to keep illiterate dummies in school.

Our beloved Saint Jan is now in heaven, but we still cherish her name.

DawginLex

September 26th, 2011
12:11 pm

Gailey must be part cat. That boy has at least 9 lives

DawginLex

September 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

beloved saint jan idiot

Anyone who would post anything positive about that lady is an idiot.

You don’t know the story because you were not there.

The truth is far from the headlines.

There were some kids that were in UGA that were a stretch academically but the school helped a lot of them and several of them graduated.

You spewing your crap just shows your lack of intelligence.

Bet you didn’t go to Georgia.

AltamahaDawg

September 26th, 2011
12:28 pm

Why the snub of the original Papa Joe’s on Baxter, Bill? Beer and wine in 1983, I bet to differ. And as far as live music, you obviously have never heard 35 drunk Sorority Girls singing Jimmy Buffet.

Pollyanna

September 26th, 2011
12:29 pm

1.DE Justin Houston – would have been senior 2011
2.RB Caleb King – would have been senior 2011
3.WR AJ Green – would have been Senior 2011
4-ILB Brandon Burrows RFr waited until Fall Camp for surgery lost for year
5-RB Dontavius Jackson transferred to UAB
6-WR Lonnie Outlaw – failed Qualify 2010, WR Ga Military
7-WR Walter Hill – kicked off team or would be Senior 2011
8-OL Chris Little – transfer NW C College then Southern U then ineligible academics
9-OG Ben Harden – would be Senior 2011
10-WR Logan Gray- Senior Transfer Colorado
11-DE Montez Robinson – would be redshirt sophomore 2011, kicked off
12-QB Zach Mettenberger – LSU,would be redshirt sophomore 2011, kicked off
13-DL Chris Mayes – Dream Team 2011 failed Qualify, MS Gulf Coast Nose Tackle
14-LB Kent Turene – Dream Team 2011 failed Qualify, Jireh Prep NC
15-DE Jalen Fields, failed to Qualify 2010
16-OL Brent Benedict, RFr. — Transferred to Virginia Tech
17-SS Nick Williams – Senior 2011, transferred North Alabama Strong Safety
18-OL A.J. Harmon, Jr. — Transferred to Alabama State
19-TB Washaun Ealey, Jr. – Transferred to Jacksonville State
20-LB Marcus Dowtin, Jr. — Transferred to North Alabama
21-FS Jakar Hamilton – Senior injured, transfer out
22-OG Kolton Houston R Fr NCAA eligibility
23-OT Jonathan Owens – Redshirt Junior 2011, medical disqualification
24-DE Jeremy Longo, Jr. — Medically disqualified
25-OL Tanner Strickland, Sr. — left program not playing senior year injury
26-OL Trinton Sturdivant, Sr. — knee injury
27-CB Derek Owens – flunked out bowl game transfer 9/26

dostadawg

September 26th, 2011
12:29 pm

Hey ramble on, does your mom know your on the computer??? You little “tech terd”!!

Pollyanna

September 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

I see our player number 27 has left the team since the end of last year, Sophomore CB Derek Owens. Dropping like flies. Next ?

jkc313

September 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

LaDawg Odyssey was favorite of mine and fellow Vet students. First Donkey Kong and PacMan machines in Athens and 75cent and $1 pitchers.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

September 26th, 2011
12:30 pm

Ramble On

Wow lets see

Western Carolina LOL Georgia Southern beat them by 30 points
Middle Tenn how could we forget that top 10 opponent
Kansas ah Kansas such a storied history Kansas has in football
UNC LOL has no coach and yet Tech just gets by with minutes to go

Boy thats a big and bad Tech team

Its ok they will still lose to a losing record UGA team in Nov

Ramble On Ramble On Ramble ramble on and on and on

DawginLex

September 26th, 2011
12:35 pm

pollyanna

We are all anxiously awaiting the day when you drop from our fanbase.

Mtn Dawg

September 26th, 2011
12:43 pm

@Marvin – Let’s don’t forget Coopers Drive In on 78 east. More a local dive with local color.