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The Bar Tab 

Coyote Ugly
409 E Commerce St
Well $4; Call $5

I’ve never seen the film Coyote Ugly for the same reason I don’t play in traffic — I don’t have to experience it to know it’d be painful. The trailers for the movie gave the impression the national Coyote Ugly Saloon chain was a sort of Hooters with an attitude, and the San Antonio franchise fulfills the expectation. It wasn’t as bad as I dreaded in terms of cheesiness, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to warrant a return visit, though not for a lack of effort on the part of the bartenders working the sparse crowd with enthusiasm the night a friend and I visited.

The downtown location on Commerce Street places it directly in the path of tourists, and the majority of customers appeared to be prematurely aging visiting businessmen in the officially sanctioned, mid-level management outfit of pastel knit shirts, casual slacks, and dress shoes. There were female customers as well, with two ladies emboldened by alcohol deigning to clamber on the bar to shimmy with the staff, and the amateur performance was painful to watch. I’m all for big, beautiful women confident in their big-beauty-ness, but when I see a female dressed age-inappropriately, I want to run and whisper, “Ooh, girlfriend, maybe you shouldn’t.”

The drink prices aren’t too steep considering the location, well drinks running $4, and a call $5, a little above the average range in SA. The bar offers specials every night that top out at $3, and $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon on Wednesdays, meaning there’s still someone stupid enough to pay for Pabst Blue Ribbon. I was most surprised by the staff, who managed to defy my expectations. Despite the over-PhotoShopped obnoxiousness of the print and web promotions for the bar, the ladies were charmingly average, friendly without betraying a hint of mercenary intent, a testament to their performance skills. The level of dancing and singing wasn’t much higher than what you’d find at a karaoke bar, but the energy was impressive and eased the pain of leaving generous tips.

My buddy and I won’t be going back, content to leave it for the tourists who aren’t adventurous enough to explore the city. The bar is inoffensive and average, following the formula of modern chain taverns to the letter, but if it gets a local girl’s tuition paid, what the hell.

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September 9, 2020

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