Barstool: Swaim’s

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The owners of Swaims

by Eric Ginsburg

I’ve been intrigued by Swaim’s since I first laid eyes on it.

For one, the neighborhood bar is technically called Swaim’s Grocery, a name that bears no resemblance to the current function of the business. I could tell the venue was small, but I had never seen anyone walk in or out of it, or lingering on the patio for that matter. What could this small pub in Winston-Salem’s Washington Park neighborhood possibly contain?

The intrigue doubled when I first stepped inside — this place is much smaller than I had imagined, with just a couple booths and the bar seats. It’s littered with old athletic trophies, and pennants ring the wall behind the bar, recalling a bygone era.

A biker sat at the bar with a few other loner types, conversing with the bartender. I could sense that it functions as a sort of neighborhood hub, with a respectable amount of grit.

As soon as I walked in I thought Swaim’s would make a bizarre destination for a first date, namely because it’s so cozy I figured everyone would hear every word whether or not they intended to. But over the course of the next few hours, with the help of a couple craft beers and several rounds of foosball, Swaim’s proved me wrong.

When I remarked to my date, also there for the first time, that I had initially feared Swaim’s might not have been the best choice, she responded without hesitation that she instantly appreciated its character. True enough.

Unlike some bars, where I’ve had strangers butt in at all sorts of undesired times, everyone that night left us alone. And that’s part of the reason we picked Swaim’s in the first place: We wanted to be by ourselves to talk, and figured the chances of running into someone either of us knew was marginal at best. In the immortal words of Dubya, “Mission accomplished.”

Swaim’s small size may actually be its biggest asset, once you feel comfortable there. Even a small platoon of people would dominate the space, so it’s good that Swaim’s has a relaxed attitude rather than that of a LMFAO music video.

The secluded feel and unpolished vibe raise its appeal as an unpretentious place to unwind. I couldn’t help but thinking that the porch would be a great place to lounge, maybe with a few friends in tow, once it warms up. I could definitely picture returning on another date, and I think she could too, if only to give me a chance to redeem myself on the foosball table.

Visit Swaim’s Grocery, a neighborhood pub, at 232 W. Acadia Avenue (W-S) or find it on Facebook.