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Rude 'tude at the Hydeaway

As single bars go, the focus is on volume, not ambience, at this S Howard meet market.

By AMY ABBOTT

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 2000


You may feel awkward giving your Pontiac to the valet but don't worry, they have a designated parking area for non-Beemers, Hum-Vs and limos, too.

Though the parking lot is segregated, the crowd is mixed, but don't bet on that for your drinks. This is a busy place and aggressive drink-jockeys, rather than skilled mixologists, staff the bar. Slamming out drinks with enough lime garnishes to strip a lime tree in one night, these guys are about quantity. They're not trained in the art of conversation, and they lack tact.

One bartender made the mistake of forgetting who stiffed him and gave me a quarter back to alert me of my stinginess. I had actually paid for my drink and tipped $2. After several minutes of trying to get his aloof attention, I explained the situation. He just said okay and stated women are the ones who usually stiff. His way of making it up was to include me in the scant selection of girls he was flirting with.

Scant is the operative word when it comes to the number of women at the Hydeaway. Wednesday night is ladies' night, but you can't tell. There's no drink specials worth drinking and it's a swordfight everywhere you look. Five eager men to every woman wearing passe animal prints. They even match the pool table that's topped with brown zebra felt.

Unfortunately, the dismal situation is only compounded by the lack of space. A narrow, dark room with insets in the wall to sit in constitutes the main bar. Small, pressed mirrorlike metal strips line the walls like shingles to give the illusion of depth and space.

The side patio isn't any better, with less room and less attentive bartenders. They have to pop through a door from the main bar to serve anyone. The sporting event of the night is usually projected onto the wall across the alley.

The only place you can take a sip without fear of someone slamming your elbow and chipping your tooth is the front patio.

A tent adorned in the style of a wedding reception is set up out front with chairs and tables. Black and white gossamer fabric drape from protrusions and flow down the sides. It's a nice place to kick back, but the tables mostly serve as writing surfaces for people exchanging numbers on their way out.

Though recently nominated as one of the best singles bar by a locally based Internet site, the fact it didn't get into the finals denotes it's not all it used to be.

A few perks about the place: great music and the other bars on the strip to choose from to drink your awful memories away.

HYDEAWAY

720 Howard S Ave., Tampa

HOURS: 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday; 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

CALL: (813) 254-5540

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