Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tap & Cork

It was complete accident that I stumbled across this place. Whether it's a happy accident or not remains to be seen. On my night off I decided to take a trip down to the Riverfront when I found Tap & Cork. A beer, wine, and sake bar sounded intriguing, certainly nothing I've seen in this down before. I finished off my coffee and went inside.

Three staff members were on the bar for (if my poor memory serves me well) about six or seven people. One of them, a young man with a short ponytail and sagging pants, greeted me in a monotone voice and asked me what I would like to drink.

"Umm, can I get a menu?" I asked him.

He then explained that they didn't have menus to give out, because they just opened. This is no excuse! The owner should have seen to it that a bar menu was printed out and available so that customers can know what they want to order or try. Instead, they've apparently decided to display all 50 varieties of beer and wine in stock on the wall and in glass-doored coolers. I was hoping this meant the staff members were knowledgeable about what they had in stock, so I asked about their sake selections.

I was wrong.

The bartender chewed on that question for half a second before running to fetch his colleague on the other side of the bar. Thankfully, this man had much more personality and his pants were secured at a decent height. He rattled off a rather limited selection of sake and poured a shot of Ty-ku Black for $6.

To be fair, this is a bar for sake bombs. They probably don't expect to get a lot of orders for straight sake. This still does not excuse them from being able to do so. Would it have been hard for Mr. Saggy Pants to pour me a shot of the sake in one of their refrigerators? I think not.

A group of three next to me were being served sake bombs by a tattooed female bartender who moved slower than a frozen turtle. Granted, it must take some concentration to balance cups of sake on those chopsticks, but her other movements should have been more efficient. She also spend a lot of time touching, flipping, and playing with her hair. Anyone with any training in the food & beverage business should know that this is a bad idea.

At least I liked the sake. It wasn't as sweet as what I've tried before, and I'll probably never buy that brand again due to the expense, but it was a good drink. I then ordered a shot of Gekkeikan sake. The friendly bartender explained to me had almost twice the alcohol content as Ty-ku (24% compared to 14%), and that it was rumored that the production of Gekkeikan involved vodka, but the company kept a tight lid on the real process. True to expectation, this shot tasted stronger than the last, but still had the sweeter finish that I had come to expect. Again, nice sake, but would be hesitant to buy again.

My check came out to $12 even. I tried to leave a $2 tip for the friendly bartender, but unfortunately Mr. Saggy Pants picked it up as I was walking out the door. His farewell was just as enthusiastic.

I tried to do my homework upon arriving back to my dorm room, but there is almost no information about this bar. This can only partly be explained by the fact that it's brand spanking new, as the owner can't be let off the hook. I was hoping for a company website or something.

No such luck, but I did manage to find two articles past promising that the place would be coming "soon." The problem? One of them from The New Times sets a grand opening in mid-November, which I can safely say did not happen. The other, from FTL Collective, makes a similar "Coming Soon!" announcement in late June of last year, but no date was set.

I loved the idea of Tap & Cork. I thought it could have been a pretty awesome place to hang out. Unfortunately, I have a strong impression that the staff just isn't trying hard enough. No menu in sight, no company website, and finding an address or phone number on Google was like pulling eye-teeth. Doesn't the owner want people to come to his bar? The first step is to let people know that it exists and is open, and providing them with important information such as what you serve. Being "new" is no reason not to work hard toward this goal. If anything, you should be working harder.

If the owner takes the time to promote his business more, set up a website and menu, and train or replace his employees, I can see this turning into something great. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in the short time I have left in town. I won't be coming back.

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