WTGW: Special Saturday Sports Edition

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OK, so I’m breaking protocol here, but I kind of feel like every time the four of us visit a new place together we have to review it now. Because, well, why not.

So this story actually starts out with a little lesson in customer service … in the form of how NOT to treat potential new patrons to your establishment. This past Saturday was the annual Ohio State/Michigan football game, which anyone from Ohio knows is almost bigger than a Bowl game for our fans. Plus we’re Browns fans, so usually by this point in the season this is about the only thing we have to look forward to in terms of football. But don’t get me started on that.

So anyway, off we go to Firehouse Pub in downtown Cuyahoga Falls … and back we went to the car about 10 minutes later. Because nothing says “welcoming environment” like having he bartender rudely yell “WAIT OUTSIDE, WE DON’T OPEN TIL NOON” at you as you walk in the front door. Funny, the website said you open at 11. It’s 11:40, and the big game starts in 20 minutes. And your front door was unlocked. But silly us, we’ll definitely stand out in the 25 degree cold for the next 20 minutes waiting for you to finish setting the place up. Was there a wild kegger bash in there the night before that you’re still cleaning up from? Were you getting brand spanking new tables and chairs delivered and they still needed assembled? Because last I checked, “setting up” a restaurant for customers in a sports bar really just involved making sure they were clean and maybe had some silverware. God forbid we can’t witness that.

(Sidenote, rest assured once we got settled in our actual spot for the game I wasted no time in tracking down their Facebook page, where I discovered a post about “make sure you come out and see us for the big game” and commented on how we tried to do so and were turned away. I give them credit for actually replying to said post and having a nice exchange with me about the time they open and apologizing for the bartender’s behavior. It doesn’t make me want to run back any time soon, but I at least appreciate the gesture.)

So with that bad taste in our mouths we set off on a search for another place that would let us spend our money eating their food and drinking their beer. I know, you wouldn’t think this would be super difficult, right? Unfortunately the biggest hurdle we faced was that other people had been smarter than us and planned further ahead (hey, we tried!) and with time running out before kickoff most places were already standing room only. We thought we’d be either forced to eat wings standing up near the door to one of these establishments, or actually try the food at someplace a bit on the shady side like the Melody Inn.

Until Shane remembered Sidelines. **and the sky parts**

Located on State Rd just south of the Rt 8/Rt 303 interchange, Sidelines is a little spot that has been no less than three other names in the past 18 or so months that we’ve lived in the area. It was a sports bar, then I think another sports bar, then most recently a Mexican restaurant. And each time we would exclaim, “Oh, that place on State Rd is open again now as (insert name here). We should go check that out!” And by the time we got around to remembering that, it would close again. I’m not sure what the curse is that’s on the building, but I hope for Sidelines sake it’s been lifted.

Because this place is actually pretty cool.

First of all, it’s bigger than it looks from the outside. Although it I owned the place I would open up the big room in the back with some sort of roll-up windows or something so that when patio season hits it makes it a better spot for those of us trying to enjoy the few months a year we can actually be outside without coats – but that’s just me. There is a tiny patio on the front of the building, but – much like our favorite Muskateer’s – it faces a rather shady looking rent-by-the-week motel. Now that I type that, I’m beginning to get a complex that all the places we like the most seem to be located fairly close to this type of establishment. Hmmm.

Other than the view from the patio, one of the first things we noticed about this place was that they served extremely cold beer. Like ice crystals forming on the top of the glass cold.  Certainly there are worse ways to get our attention. The waitress was very cheerful and helpful, and put up with us being indecisive about our seating arrangements so that we all had a view of the game. Even though the place did start to fill up a bit as the day wore on, she was still attentive and easy to catch for refills of ice beer. We did sample our usual round of fried appetizers, burgers and wings – and while the food was nothing particularly out of this world, it wasn’t bad by any means – especially considering the place is still getting it’s feet wet in terms of serving customers. We were a little confused in that the menus we were given didn’t seem to have a lot of options, but claimed they were still under a “soft opening” and would be expanding the menu soon … but when we asked our waitress she said they had in fact had the grand opening already and the menu would remain as printed. OK. All that being said, I do think it would be worth a trip back just to see if they did expand the menu later and to check on how things are going after a few months of being open. And hopefully the sign still has the same name on it at that point.

"I don't always pose with cardboard cutouts, but when I do ..."

“I don’t always pose with cardboard cutouts, but when I do …”

So all in all I think we ended up salvaging a pretty good day, despite our rocky start. It’s strange to be kicked out of a bar at the beginning of the day and not the end. Some time after the game ended we left Sidelines and actually somehow ended up enjoying a few rounds back at one of our WTGW picks from the summer – River City Bar & Grille over in Stow. While not quite as memorable of an experience as the last time we were there, it was still a good place for a few drinks and some good conversations. And then, in true alcoholic fashion, we ended the night by picking up munchie food to take home – although instead of our usual run to Sheetz, we ended up at a specialty popcorn shop. What? Does this mean we’re real adults now? Ha.

But in all seriousness, Metropolis Popcorn, located in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, is truly one of the hidden gems of the area . I had never even heard of it – other than driving by the downtown area and seeing the name on the side of the building – until about a week ago when Shane and I decided to meander through the downtown district on a rare day off. We popped in (see what I did there?) and after a few samples we were hooked. And started telling everyone we knew about the place. The flavors are incredible, and they’ve come up with ones that I wouldn’t think would taste good but are actually truly amazing. Hello, Dill Pickle? And the Thin Mint made us all go “oh wow” – and not just thanks to the alcohol we already had in our system. Seriously, good stuff.

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