Note: As this issue was going to press, Worhals suddenly shut its doors, leaving promoters scrambling to reschedule shows they had booked there. The owners could not be reached for comment, and Worhals has since deleted its Web site and Facebook page. Nightfly will return next week with a visit to somewhere we hope is on firmer footing.
Enrique, our bartender/beer connoisseur for the evening, has torn his jeans right up the seam. An impromptu sparring match on the floor of Worhals shortly before our arrival pushed the fragile stitching beyond its limits.
It's probably too early to be drinking on a Sunday night, but half-empty beer glasses litter the bar at this small, dark room across the street from the bus station. Our discussion about re-engineering the crotch of Enrique's jeans continues.
2016 Main, #101, 832-804-6110, worhals.com.
None of the ten or so patrons on hand looks too handy with a needle and thread, so our suggestion is duct tape. An older couple is tucked into the booths by the DJ stand, a line of guys sit further down the bar and the agitated Mo, Worhals' resident barfly, is managing to yell over the hum of the TVs. Even if sewing were an option, all ten of us are no doubt past our ability to handle sharp objects. Especially Mo.
And yet, despite the risk of some serious crotch exposure — not to mention a lack of needle and thread — Enrique is wary of our solution.
"Breathability," he says. "You'd compromise breathability."
"One should not sweat water glasses, man," the bartender explains, with an enthusiastic gesture. "Fuckin' water glasses!"
His logic makes sense, though. Sweating from your goods sounds a bit worse than an exposed crotch, especially given that he's handling our beers.
And oh, how many glorious beers Enrique has been handling. From hoppy local IPAs to darker, meal-in-a-glass palate-crushers, Worhals is a beer-lover's wet dream (103 taps' worth), and even bills itself as a "Craft Beer Cafe." It's a good thing he and his employers seem to know what they're doing.
Worhals has taken up residence on the ground floor of the historic 2016 Main building, precisely on the same spot Sammy's used to be. Owners Bob Tatum and Margaret Weymer indeed cite Andy Warhol as the inspiration for not only its slightly transposed moniker but its unique beer selection and music-heavy calendar. As a frenetic, ever-evolving circus full of art, beer and chaos (even with just ten people inside), it's certainly true to the spirit of its pop-artist almost-namesake.
These days Worhals, which opened in mid-September, hardly resembles its previous resident. A full facelift and a vibe that suggests the proprieters just threw everything against the wall to see what might stick have the bar feeling a bit like a crazy uncle. You're never quite sure what you'll come across.
Many nights Worhals is a music venue, featuring jazz, blues and Monday-night songbird Joiko. Sammy Relford, "the" Sammy of Worhals' previous incarnation, performs here, and Scarface even played Halloween night with his friends the Flamin' Hellcats. Tonight, though, we're in neighborhood-bar mode, a feeling Mo is only helping to hammer home. He's sitting alone at the bar, yelling at anyone who will listen (and even those who won't) that he wants the damn game on, now.
The game doesn't even start for another hour. Someone buys Mo a shot, which acts like a tranquilizer; soon after, he disappears out Worhals' double doors and into obscurity.
Even with the lack of Spazmatics, one pesky reminder about the Sammy's of old persists. The bathrooms still lie just outside the bar's doors, as inconvenient as ever. Right now they're sure making us regret those three beers we've downed since Enrique's saga began. He's the best beer-slinger we've ever seen, even if he is pissing off the scores of people unlucky enough to grab a seat away from the bar.
He busies himself by lining glasses up left and right based on our preferences — nothing that tastes like IPA hairspray — creating a veritable buffet of beer across the wide expanse of the bar. His focus is impressive, but it's making him oblivious to the other customers, who are becoming quite agitated.
"I hate tables," Enrique laughs, noticing the elderly couple shooting daggers in his direction.
It's easy to see why. He's going to have to hold his pants closed in order to service them.
Sizing up the six glasses he's lined up, we decide the monumental task cannot be conquered without a trek to those damn bathrooms. Enrique sizes up his tables, which are all sizing him up as well.
We sigh in tandem, weary at the idea of moving past the comfort of the bar and the beer, which Enrique is now downing with Worhals' bandanna-sporting chef, Phil. But before he can make his way to those furious tables, he's met with the fury of a couple who have been waiting an inordinate amount of time to order their food.
We're met with a locked bathroom door. Awesome.
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But in the nick of time, between long sips of beer, friendly Phil points the way to the secret bathrooms. These are apparently just past the lounge area we didn't know existed. Fold-down futons, too.
Secret bathrooms past a hidden lounge. Behind a stage where Scarface recently performed, with a bartender pulling some 100 craft beers when not struggling with split jeans, but who owns his exposed crotch with gusto.
Worhals is already a winner. Andy would be proud.
Nightfly is out on the town again and looking for a good place to light. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.