You know when you've landed a biker bar when there are rows of motorcycles parked outside and a muster of leather inside. Just the same, when you get to a sports bar you’ll find Gator or Seminole bumper stickers on SUVs parked outside and team colors inside.
So it's no wonder that there are so many bars, each catering to an obvious demographic.
The Corner Bar and Grill draws bikers, sports fans, aging rock n’ rollers, tattooed 20-somethings and middle aged couples sharing appetizers over beers around the rectangular bar. Above all that they cater to karaoke, seven days a week.
There’s something other than beer and quesadillas that brings this diversity together: karaoke. Getting drunk and singing Sublime, Neil Diamond, U2 and Bob Marley favorites has a universal appeal.
There are few bars that cater to karaoke singers like the Corner Bar does. Here karaoke singers can belt out their favorites songs seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The bar, 2116 E. Bay Dr., is fittingly placed in the corner of a strip mall.
Inside the distinct dive obligatory mirrored beer signs next to framed photos of employees and customers give off a bit of its personality. The televisions are large and plentiful enough to satisfy sports fans, but easily go unnoticed while karaoke’s on. There’s a dedicated pool area in the back with the standard deer hunting game next to the classic Ms. Pac man. One game, though, really jumps out: a live lobster crane game that costs $2 per play. If you win, the kitchen will cook the losing lobster free of charge.
The kitchen closes at 2 a.m. and offers an extensive local diner-meets-T.G.I.F. menu. There are appetizers, burgers, salads, chicken, fish and eggs. While they cover all the standard choices, some standouts include a catfish sandwich, coconut shrimp, mac-and-cheese wedges and sweet potato fries.
The sweet potato fries are a steal at $2. Most meals are a reasonable priced between $5 to $6.
When I got there one bartender darted from one side of the bar to another taking orders to busy night alone. We have to confess that there wasn’t any taste of alcohol in the screwdriver ordered. Ditto for a rum and coke and a vodka red bull.
Okay so, I'm and most of you for that matter are probably spoiled by dive bars that make cheap, strong drinks. So this was disappointing. At $3.25 each, drink prices aren’t outrageous, but Largo has many other bars that offer them cheaper and stronger.
After things had slowed down later in the night, a vodka red bull was made with noticeably more liquor.
Specials include $1 drafts on Monday and two-for-one wells on Tuesday.
Wednesdays feature “Mexican Night” with $2 margaritas, $2.25 Coronas and $5.00 quesadillas. Ladies’ night is Thursday and hospitality night is Sunday.
The Corner Bar is currently undergoing some renovations. One side of the bar, joking referred to as the “VIP area” by staff, has new black leather benches and a lighted bartop. According to the bartender, the other side is getting the same makeover and the main bar counter is going to be completely replaced soon.
Although it succeeds as a dive bar, the Corner Bar has enough interesting touches to make it a must-visit for anyone. Bartender Leslie Whalen credits most of these touches, such as the lobster game and interesting Asian warrior posters in one corner of the bar, to the owner.
The karaoke draws some talented singers and many times it was easy to think the jukebox was playing. It ran nearly uninterrupted all night with a constant queue of performers.
Whalen affectionately laughed about memorable past performers. One comes in a few times a week and only sings Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” and she hears a different rendition of Kid Rock’s “Picture” every night.
For other bars offering karaoke, check out these locations:
Bent Elbow II (Thursday nights.)
Dee's Den (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.)
Sports Rock (Tuesday nights.)
Sportsters Bar & Grill (Thursday nights.)
The Little Pub (Friday and Saturday nights.)
Tomfoolery Lounge (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights.)