I know there is this kind of perennial, low-wattage war of coolness going on between Seattle and Portland. Who has the best restaurants, who has the best chefs, who has the better places to eat, drink and be merry--it's been going on for years, from what I understand, and isn't likely to be settled any time ever. Cold Wars like this are good. They tend to elevate the cultures and scenes of both combatants. And I don't see anything wrong with giving credit where it's due when one side scores a major coup.
On Monday, Eater PDX reported on the opening of (yet another) coffeeshop--a second location for what is the apparently beloved Barista coffee bar. The post talked about the size of the place (1200 square feet), the copper-topped bar, the ample seating and mahogany-stained paneling: all pretty standard practice for a love-em-up handjob of a local favorite.
But then came the interesting news: Owner Billy Wilson's attempt at driving off the hordes of hipsters which can (and usually are) the most annoying thing about hanging at the local java joint. His strategy? Building his new Barista with no electrical outlets in the dining room and designing the floor with tiny little tables set at a height too low for working on your laptop.His intent here was to make the place unattractive for those ironically bearded, be-hatted and spectacle-wearing fellows (or ladies...) who always use the most popular coffeeshops in town like their own personal workstations--laying seige to tables, sitting for hours on one small cup of coffee, using their Macs and i-gadgets and apparently endless free time to watch old episodes of H.R Pufnstuf on Hulu and, I don't know... Shop for new, authentically distressed tee shirts advertising bands no one has ever heard of or clubs that never existed, I guess. And Wilson even claimed that if the joint ever got too full of skinny-jeans-wearing super-slack mofo's, he'd be more than willing to turn to the coffeeshop owner's nuclear option: shutting down the wi-fi.
Personally, I think this new plan is a work of subtle genius. But as with all good ideas, I'm not truly happy until it is taken to an absolutely ridiculous level. Thus, I've come up with a few tactics of my own for fighting off the various scourges of the bar and restaurant industry.
Now with 50% more flashbacks!
In Order to Keep Hipsters Out of Your Dive Bar:
Start charging $17 for cans of PBR, but offer your regulars two-buck cans of Genesee Cream Ale or Iron City Lager as an off-board special. Both are better beers and pair very well with cheap shots of John Power Irish whiskey.
In Order to Keep Faux Wine Snobs Out of Your Wine Bar:
There are only two things more annoying than someone who knows anything about wine: Someone who knows everything about wine (and can't seem to shut up about it) and someone who knows just enough about wine to fake expertise (and won't shut up about it). Getting the real wine experts into your wine bar is important--they're the ones with enough disposable income to actually afford some of those better bait-bottles you've got in the cellar. But keeping out the fakes has always been complicated. Until now.
My suggestion? Remove from your wine list all traditional grape classifications (merlot, pinot, chardonay) and list only the year, vineyard and regional appellation. Thus, the fake wine snob will be flustered--unable to go through his usual ten-minute spiel, questioning some poor waitress about the tannins in the syrrah or the acidity of the gewurtztraminer before just going and ordering the same pinot noir he always does. Meanwhile, the real experts will just order a $100 bottle of the '95 Cotes-du-Rhone and know that he'll be getting some serious bang for his buck.
In Order to Keep Uptight, Forever Dissatisfied Foodies Away from Your New Restaurant:
Refuse to serve anything with cilantro, lemongrass, mango or bacon. Say this is because of an obscure religious prohibition (snake-handler, Christian Scientist, Church of Scientology), and make your announcement via Yelp.
Alternately, don't use the words "organic," "local," "sustainable," "green" or "farm-to-table" anywhere on your menu. This will allow you to slip completely below the radar of the local foodistas and operate your business in relative peace.
In Order to Keep Bums and Panhandlers Away From Your Cafe's Front Door:
Mount speakers above your door and play classical music. Several businesses around the country have tried this technique and have seen some success. The only bums who stick around are genius bums, and if Hollywood has taught us anything, genius bums are the only good kind there is.
In Order to Keep Certain Restaurant Critics Away From Your New Brasserie:
Serve truffle fries. Or use celery in anything other than a classic mire poix.
Okay, so those are my suggestions. Now I'd like to hear yours. Leave your thoughts, hints, tips and strategies for making the Seattle dining scene better, brighter, more genius-bum friendly and hipster-free in the comments section below.