Since the team started working on Dive Bar Tuesdays, one bar has been at the top of our list to get to sooner than later. It is one that we all discovered while working together and we had been attending for a while. The location was relatively central to where we all lived, the food and drink prices were right, and the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. Schedules did not align, especially since on Tuesday nights the bar was packed. Packed to the point people were making reservations. Reservations? In a dive bar? When Tuesday Night Trivia is so popular that majority of the tables in the place are set aside, something special has to be happening. This week we were finally able to make it to the Phone Booth Lounge in Kettering. It was much quieter than the last few times we tried to enjoy the calm atmosphere we were accustomed to.
The Phone Booth just exudes calm. It could be the fact that they have been serving customers for the last five decades. That’s right, they have been sitting there taking care of customers since 1964. The wood paneled walls and stained ceiling tiles tell that tale well. And not in a “this place needs an update” way. It is just comfortable, like a well-worn sweater. The bartenders are friendly, going the distance to help me find a whiskey I enjoyed (I was feeling some Bushmill’s) and rooting through the beer cooler for me. There were photos of bands surrounding the stage, and lit signs indicating all of the upcoming events being held there. There is live music all weekend, including a Blues Jam on Thursday nights. Monday through Wednesday they have beer specials and something different each night; Wii bowling on Mondays, trivia on Tuesday, and warm up the stage on Wednesday with karaoke. This month they will also be teaming up with the Dayton Blues Society for their Second Annual Youth Showcase on February 20th.
Their cocktail menu reflects their claim of being the Home of Kettering Rock and Roll. The shot list falls on the more traditionally named side, with Black and Blues, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Sweet Tarts. When you look over to the cocktail menu, however, the rock comes out. You can find some Sweet Emotions, possibly Blinded by the Light, or end up Knocking on Heaven’s Door. There is a list of beers, wines, and other liquors they have on the back, but it is not a complete list. There is one thing that they took down that I really enjoyed using to see all their beers; a beer shelf that hung over the bar. It allowed you to look at the selection of specialty beers and be ready to order on a moment’s notice. This is also one of the few bars I have been to where all of the liquor is not up where it can be immediately seen. The hiding of the complete beer and liquor menu may just be a clever ploy to get you to chat with the staff.
The food menu is a perfect complement to the space. It is all very comfortable food. You are not going to hit many surprises on it, unless you order the nacho platter without understanding what you are asking for. There was other food on the table, like hot dog pretzel bites and fried mushrooms, but we all turned our heads when the nachos came. It was big enough to serve the five people that were sitting there, and there were enough toppings on it to hold it all together. Even after nibbling on it for the better part of an hour, we did not finish it. It was one hell of a surprise to see on the table, and makes me curious as to what other surprises may be lurking in that kitchen.
Why is this place packed on a Tuesday night? It is definitely more than for just the trivia. Good food and good company are part of the equation, even if you come alone. You have great bartenders to talk with, and there is pool, darts, and on Monday nights, bowling to keep you occupied. You can admire the art show on the ceiling tiles through the building, some of which has been there for years. In the warmer months there is a patio for your enjoyment. For a low key night with friends, it is the perfect place to meet, get cozy, and hang out for a few hours.
The Phone Booth Lounge is located at 155 E. Stroop Rd., Kettering, OH 45459. You can call for information at (937) 298-8712.