The Bar Tab

Joe Blue’s
1420 S. Alamo
Mixed drinks: $3.50-$4
Joe Blue’s is a brand-new bar at the Blue Star Arts Complex owned by Joey Villarreal, proprietor of Joey’s and the Blue Star Brewery. Because I like both of those established watering holes, I had high expectations for Joe Blue’s, but was disappointed on my first visit because of the quality of service. It’s a pleasant and stylish space, subdued and classy without being pretentious, very much like the jazz bar it purports to be. But it’s never a good sign that the first reaction to the service is, “Damn, this bartender sucks.”

I’d first gotten word of the poor service a couple of nights previous to my trip from a friend who related a weeknight visit. After standing at the bar for some time and being ignored by the staff, he was finally served after pulling out a wad of cash.

Now I don’t think it’s out of line for a bartender to be slow in serving a patron if said patron’s demonstrated they’re a crappy tipper, but at least get the first drink out of the bottle. It’s a simple but crucial action that endears customers to an establishment. Unfortunately, the mistake was repeated on my own trip to Joe Blue’s.

A group of us went on a Saturday night, with my girl and I first to attempt to order. The college-age bartender was too busy chatting up a couple of ladies seated next to us to notice we were thirsty. Quite a bit of time passed before he got to us, and then a long, parched span of waiting trickled by before our drinks arrived. He belatedly realized that there were others behind us looking for libations, and I’d swear I saw a flash of panic cross his face. Another bartender materialized and between the two of them they managed to get us all served, but it was a slow slog. I thought it wise to order a second round when the youngster finally gave me a total — well after the others had been served and billed.

The prices are more than reasonable for reasonably well-mixed drinks ($3.50 for a well rum-and-coke; $4 for a call), and the 12-ounce Lindeman’s Peach Lambic is a steal at $15. I just don’t know if the shabby service is worth putting up with for a smooth-jazz atmosphere and competitive pricing.

— Lupe Flores

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