Club 99: Muy Sabroso

Story and photos by Ellen C. Warren

Muy sabroso means very tasty in Spanish. Probably, the free tacos on Wednesday nights at Club 99 are muy sabroso ( I haven’t tried them, yet!), but so is the bar. It’s tasty, in the sense of many flavors. The jukebox serves up a choice of syncopated, highenergy, smoky-voiced Puerto Rican favorites as well as a wide assortment of familiar American artists. The clicking of dominoes, an institution of Puerto Rican culture, backs the clacking of pool balls. Spanish is spoken. So is English. It’s a world of mixed cultures with drink choices that range through several brands of rum to Pabst on tap.

Mac, a regular at Club 99, wants that last point to appear in the article. “Let them know they have Pabst on tap,” he suggests, “not many places do!” The selection of beers includes a wide variety of domestics and imports, several on tap and many more in a windowed cooler. Specials of the day appear on a chalkboard.

According to the owner, George Ortiz, Club 99’s clientele is a mix of people of pretty much all ages and nationalities. He’s owned the bar for about nine years and has a couple of sons who help him out with the running of the place. You can see a large, framed picture on the wall of what the bar looked like when he purchased it. Mr. Ortiz had the boarded-over windows opened up to give the club a much-improved appearance from outside and inside. The huge collection of trophies on display testifies to the enthusiasm for sports and games that’s part of Club 99’s atmosphere. A table made for Domino play is used nightly. Mr. Ortiz says there are about eight players regularly (four play at a time).

The bar also sponsors a Brewer’s game with tailgate party once a year and frequent golf outings in summer. There are trophies for all these sports, plus others, including basketball, softball and football.

It was a football trophy that was stolen from the bar during the last Pub Crawl. Keep your eyes open for a gold football leaning on a walnut base, the Fantasy Football trophy, which went missing during the crowded revelry. Club 99 would really like to have it back!

The bar has, in many ways, a family feel. There’s a big board covered with photos of clients, mostly celebrating birthdays or other events. Along the wall at the far end is a shelf displaying framed photos of family and friends. High on the back bar stands a collection of German steins, donated by a man who used to work there.

Club 99 opens every day at 1 pm. There’s an ATM on premise in case you arrive short of cash, or end up falling in love with the spicy salsa rhythms and stay longer than you planned. (Trust me, it can happen!)

Check out the beer specials, play a game of dominoes or pool, enjoy the blending of cultures. And stop by on Wednesday, after 5, for a taco or two, on the house!

If You Go:
Club 99
2579 N. Pierce St
Open 1PM

Riverwest Currents online edition – May, 2007