Spec's downtown on Smith is always busy on a Friday afternoon with patrons arming themselves with enough adult drinks to make it through the weekend.
Today was extra special. Booths were lined up out front and employees had on special Spec's Cheese and Wine Festival T-shirts.
Except Spec's had a real party pooper of a sign out front, announcing it wasn't pouring any wine.
"Attention Customers. Wine tastings have been Postponed until further notice. But enjoy all our food samples, hourly drawings and do not forget to register to win a gift basket!" the hand-written sign on wipe board read.
Inside the store, servers were valiantly pushing piles of cheese at customers. One server, astutely recognizing the less-than-thrilled reaction, called out that he had "appetizers! And hey, they're not cheese!"
Asked why no wine, two employees in different parts of the store gave completely different answers.
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"We're protesting what they're doing to us on Washington Street," one said as he rushed down the aisle. Washington Avenue is the center of a storm of debate because the proposed Spec's there falls too close to a school according to regulations. The issue is momentous enough that, however briefly, KTRH owner and conservative talk show host Michael Berry announced on the radio the other day that he agreed with Quanell X that Spec's should open on Washington since it is a responsible member of the business community. (Not to mention being a prominent radio advertiser.)
Toward the front of the store, another employee denied that the Washington dust-up had anything to do with it. He said it was because Spec's was tired of getting complaints from customers about some of the wine pourers they'd brought in -- Spec's isn't allowed to pour itself under state liquor laws -- and while they were working up new procedures, they decided to do without. "They say they're rude," he detailed.
Look for cheese to go on sale at Spec's in the next week or so. They're probably not going to have much of a crowd for it tonight.
And if you can snag one of those orangey-yellow cheese/wine festival T-shirts, do so. They have collectable written all over them.