It Just Might Work: Tiny bars

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Tiny bars might be the next tiny houses.

by Daniel Wirtheim

I get too comfortable at my neighborhood dive. I mean it’s nice, there’s seating for everyone and a jukebox, but what I find lacking is a real view of the city, a sense of adventure. Tight and maybe interconnected strips of tiny bars might be the right injection of downtown excitement and innovate business our cities need.

If prospective bar owners chose to lease tiny storefronts across the downtown area, rather than holding down a larger location with higher overhead costs, bargoers wouldn’t need a designated driver to cross the city and they would come to expect something exciting with each night out.

There could be some type of membership system or partnership between the small bars. A member might be able to keep a tab open in one bar and be able to use it across the city — maybe a book that gets a stamp at each tiny bar. Marketing these things would be easy because it’s different and more exciting than anything we’ve seen before in Triad nightlife.

Tiny bars should champion individuality. Each one should be entirely distinct from one another to give it that “we’re innovative” kind of feel. It’s difficult to do that with the size of most neighborhood bars. The kind of decorations those dives get away with would look horrible in a tiny bar; bar owners would have to think hard about using space.

There might be one based around a single music group, or one based on a famous historical figure, or even just riffing off of the history of the building. And a tiny bar would already be packed with seven people inside, which makes it seem lively. And that’s part of the fun.

Once tiny bars reached critical mass, they would be competing with one another for the best theme and we would find ourselves in a pub renaissance. It’s an exciting prospect and really not too abstract. Look at the Silver Moon Saloon or the Black Lodge in Winston-Salem. These tiny bars always have a crowd. There’s demand for this kind of stuff — tiny houses have a huge following and why shouldn’t tiny bars be next?

  • Steve McLeoad

    And what they accomplish? Bars don’t create wealth, rather they rely on the wealth and disposable income of the local citizens in order to thrive. The idea that bars and restaurants create a vibrant city economy is backwards – they are the end result of such and which can only be derived from a local industrial/manufacturing base that provides living wage jobs for its citizens.

  • Steve Fowler

    What do you mean “It just might work” it already is! As was referenced in the article, Silver Moon Saloon & Black Lodge,( and I would add Single Brothers to that list), are Camel City tiny bars who have been at it, at least in the case of S.M.S & S.B. for a good number of years now. So looks like its already been done at least in Winston.

    • Brian Clarey

      Totally. And ever been to Ocracoke? The bars are like living rooms.