Farewell, Ted & Jo’s Oak Bar

It’s not too often I hear, “Last call!” on a Wednesday night these days, but I have a very strong feeling that will occur next Wednesday.

My living room is closing.

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Ted & Jo’s

I was slogging through another unfulfilling, unrewarding day in cubicle hell Wednesday when one of my best friends called with the bad news that Ted & Jo’s, our favorite bar, is closing its doors after Wednesday, March 26. The landlord apparently asked for an exorbitant rent increase, and meeting it wouldn’t have made business sense. After all, as much as I adore the place, it’s still a business.

I’ve lived in Hoboken for seven-and-a-half years and actually started going to T&J’s even before that, when I still lived in Manhattan. It’s been more than a place to eat and drink: It’s been a combination of family, home and comfort. Sure, Hoboken has loads of other bars, but I just can’t see getting the same warm feeling from any of them that I get the second I walk through the doors of T&J’s.

And I thought the closing of the deli near my office left a void. They don’t even remotely compare.

I’ve known for about 48 hours now, and I’m still stunned. The idea that I’ll never be able to tell people to just meet at T&J’s is unfathomable, as is the idea that I’ll never walk in, hang my jacket and see my pint of Guinness already being poured.

I also can’t believe I’ll never repeat this scenario: Sitting at the bar, waiting for a perpetually tardy friend of mine who said she’d be there around 9, then receiving a panicked phone call just before 10 (when the kitchen closes) and ordering a Balsamic chicken and house salad for her just under the wire, only to have her fly in at 10:25, wearing a hat that could occupy a parking spot, dump everything on one plate and scarf it down. If you know who I’m talking about, I’d say my play-by-play call was pretty accurate.

Yet one more scenario I’ll actually miss: trying to watch a game and having a certain bartender who likes to occasionally wager a dollar or two (or several) ask me to look out for the score of some obscure college basketball game. “No, I have no idea who won the Furman-Austin Peay game. What was the spread?”

Oh, what the hell? While I’m picking on the bartenders, I’ll miss the history teacher who couldn’t explain how World War I started, too!

One of the things I’ve always liked about T&J’s is that its atmosphere matured at the same rate I did. Naturally, I use the term “matured” in a very loose manner.

But when I first started going, around nine years ago, what looks like your nice, quiet establishment certainly had its wild moments, usually on Thursday nights.

Those of you who know T&J’s as quiet and sedate weren’t there for the days of escapades including bartenders wearing no pants under their aprons (didn’t do much for me, but the chicks dug it), blow-job shots (whipped cream piled high on strawberries, no hands allowed) that led to marriage proposals, red-thong night, commando night, bartenders humping the bar and Lord knows what else I was too drunk to remember.

It’s definitely a mellower establishment now. But I’m more relaxed, too. I’m past the days of needing to pound drinks and yell all night, although I still have my moments — last Saturday, for example, when I held an impromptu Iron Maiden concert accompanying the new digital jukebox.

But T&J’s has a great owner, a great staff and a great crowd of regulars. What more can you ask for in a bar?

It was home. And it will remain home, if only for the next few days.

It’s sad. My first home bar, from even before my freshman year at NYU, was The Dugout, on Third Avenue and 13th Street in Manhattan. The Dugout was an utter and complete dive, but I was 18, they didn’t card, and frozen mugs of Meister Brau were $0.75. I always thought I’d bring my kids to The Dugout for a beer. Sadly, while still a bar, The Dugout is no more. Several years ago, its absentee owner decided to sell and gave the staff — and, by extension, the loyal patrons — about 36 hours’ notice to pound our last frosted mugs.

I also always thought I’d bring my kids to games in my seats at Yankee Stadium, which I’ve had since 1997. But that’s not going to happen unless I adopt some really quickly, and I don’t think my cats or my roommate would be too thrilled with that, nor have I discussed it with my girlfriend. This is the last year for my beloved ballpark, and God only knows what kind of prohibitive price increases are in store when the new Yankee Stadium opens next season. Frankly, I’ll be stunned if I get to keep my tickets. And even if I do, it won’t be the same as box 611. Hell, even if the new Stadium has a box 611 and I end up sitting there, it won’t be the same as box 611.

And now, yet another place I always thought my kids would experience with me is days from being just a memory — well, a plethora of great memories, but still.

It’s obviously more than just a bar to me. I met my girlfriend there. I’ve made several friends through the years who I’d never have met if it wasn’t for T&J’s. It’s been our headquarters for meeting potential new people for our beach house. Everyone’s birthday celebration ends up at T&J’s at some point. It was my headquarters for several Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (and far too many Irish Car Bombs). It was the place many of us went to seek solace, refuge, news, comfort and companionship after 9/11 (rest in peace, George).

It was home. And not being able to go home next weekend, or the weekend after that, and so on, truly sucks.

It was a great run. Thanks for everything, Gerry.

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11 comments on “Farewell, Ted & Jo’s Oak Bar

  1. Munson says:

    Well said “9”

  2. Phil Lima says:

    The building that housed the Dugout has been demolished and replaced with a yet another blandly designed hi-rise condo. 😦

  3. Chris says:

    If you need kids to take places….Lou will rent his out….don’t get all worked up about it!

  4. suzanne says:

    for those of us who have been there throughout the years. i think it was very well said dave. just imagining not having our living room to go and hang out at is unfathomable. it’s the place most of us met. it’s the place those we’ve lost still are (god rest there souls). this is a huge … very sad occasion. and i’m not happy about it.

    as i’ve always said … you’re either with us .. or against us. and in this case you either get it or you don’t.

  5. Zen says:

    The first time I read this, I didn’t even realize whose blog this was! We have a mutual friend in common – Hogan! When you mentioned the debauchery you forgot the night of the paddle and of course the headlight contest.

  6. ansky says:

    Kids?? Who knew..? But as in the 4th comment, I guess I don’t get it. The few times I’d been to your favorite bar, I didn’t get it. Certainly not my bar of choice. Maybe another bar will take it’s place, one who CAN afford the higher rent, and it will become your next favorite.

  7. meb says:

    Couldn’t have said it better. I should listen to your stories and rants more often. Seriously though, we’ve shared many drinks and bombs, and if you think about it, this is where we had our first Guiness together and now it will be our last(at TJ’s of course). A bittersweet ending.

    Thank you, Ted & Joes for all the great times and memories (at least those that i retained). And I’m sure I speak for many when i say that Hoboken feels a little empty tonight. You guys may be gone but the heart and soul of Ted & Joes lives on.

    thanks again

    • Carol says:

      I’ve never even been there, and you’re making me cry!!! i have a living room bar, too….and the thought never occurred to me it could or would ever close!!
      i’m so sad for you!!

  8. […] Irish wake: Last call (forever) for Ted & Jo’s My favorite bar, Ted & Jo’s, officially closed its doors Wednesday, but there was a farewell party for staff and regulars […]

  9. […] I moved to Hoboken in September 2000, and I have loved my 12 years here, but it’s just not the same anymore. It really hasn’t been the same for me since Ted & Jo’s, my absolute favorite bar and living room, closed in March 2008. And while I still have several friends here, many of my closest friends have let “real life” run its course, married, had kids, and moved elsewhere. Hoboken in July 2012 for me is nothing like Hoboken in September 2000, or any time between then and the untimely demise of T&J’s. […]

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