Simplicity Wins Out Over Sophistication In The Long Run
One of our local dive bars, the Poop Deck in Hermosa Beach, is celebrating its 56th anniversary this year.
Think about that for a moment – 56 years.
Eisenhower was president of the USA. Cars were actually stylish then and the only bikinis – crated just 10 years earlier – had yet to make it off the shores of French beaches.
But there really fascinating thing is not that the Poop Deck turns 56 but that there are thousands – tens of thousands, really – of bars across the world that have been around for at least that long. And if you look at them, by far the majority will be dive bars.
You never see this in new, hot trendy bars and clubs. Those with $15 martinis, “hand crafted specialty cocktails” and an “executive chef.” They go out of business every year or two. Or at the very least they go through a “re-branding” where they change the name, change the decor, change the drink menu and bring in another “executive chef.”
This is not to knock those places; sometimes I enjoy them thoroughly. But they don’t last for anywhere near 56 years.
Dive bars succeed because they are simple. They are like reliable old car that keeps on running because of a basic design. It’s the vehicles with all the intricate mechanics that break down after a few years.
Dive bars are basic. They serve cold beers and basic mixed drinks – a margarita is about as complicated as they get – for cheap prices. The decor is a collection of whatever neon signs and posters the beer and alcohol companies have given them over the years, scattered seemingly randomly about the walls and behind the bar.
The decor in a dive bar seems less like a business than it does a freshman guy’s college doom room.
Entertainment is a pool table, perhaps a dart board, and a jukebox.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. The real entertainment are the other patrons in the dive bar, particularly the regulars. And those regulars are comprised of the afternoon hardcore drinkers, the “heads-on-the-bar” people, the early evening drinkers and the late night people who are either the saltiest of the bunch, or a bunch of young and fun people who pack the place because they love to party in a casual place.
Dive bars are also timeless. They never change. Every 10 years or so, the people change but as for the bar itself it stays the same as if caught in a time warp. The only difference you can tell time in a dive bar is that the hair of the same bartenders has turned gray.
Everything else is essentially the same.
And that’s why places like the Poop Deck can celebrate being open for 56 years.