The Elbo Room

1115 Magie Ave, Fairfield Ohio logo

Dive Score – 90.6 (What’s This?)

You know this bar.  You might not know this bar, but it doesn’t take long after being bellied up to realize that it’s familiar in all the right ways.  Located in a small shopping plaza in Fairfield, it’s easy to overlook, tucked away like a hidden oasis in the middle of an ever-changing world around it.
The bar was first opened in 1964 after the pizza place that existed before it was converted by its first owner, George Brockman.  I wasn’t around back in the 60s, but I feel confident that the bar looks and feels today exactly like it did back then.  It feels like a safe little getaway from the chaos of day-to-day life, and that’s one of the biggest things that made me fall in love with it the first time I stepped foot inside.

What To Expect

Here’s the really fun thing about bars like this: It’s so easy to set expectations because there are so few changes.  The bar is a time warp.  When you walk in the front door, you’ll see the whole space (other than a small patio out back). The bar sits on your right – with plenty of seating that usually features a handful of regulars laughing and enjoying the company of like-minded drinkers.
Behind the bar is a small draft system that features your standard Macro lagers and usually something a little more craft-like (lately, as of writing this, Astra from March First has found a lovely little home there.)  There are chips, beef jerky, nuts, and your standard bar snacks available if you happen to get a little hungry while you’re working your way through a mug of something cold, yellow, and fizzy.
Along the opposite wall to the bar, you’ll find a TouchTunes jukebox if you want to play your favorite songs (or create a little entertaining chaos with the songs that you know your buddies with you can’t stand…) and a machine to get your Keno fix while you’re imbibing.  It’s the space that a lot of folks would call a “dive bar” – which, as we’ve talked about previously, isn’t an actual category of bar as much as it’s a spectrum that all bars dip into at least a little bit.

The Experience

Queen of Hearts, some sort of mystery dice game, and the aforementioned Keno provide a backdrop of things to do while you’re drinking, but the real secret of a bar like this is to engage.  The bar is begging for conversations.  Too often these days, we find ourselves in soulless bars with drinkers who want to sink into a quiet bubble of solitude instead of chatting with each other.
That’s not the Elbo room.
Not that you aren’t welcome to lean back in your barstool and lose yourself in quiet thought as you stare up at the starry night painted on the ceiling… that’s ok.  But the folks at the bar most likely want to talk to you.  That’s why they seem to hang out here – it’s a social gathering spot, not a hideaway from the world.
It’s the experience you want when you want to get away without hiding away from the world.

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