Dumps, Dives and Holes: Welcome to the Johnsons

A regular night at Welcome to the Johnsons is a bit like going to a distant relative’s house for a holiday no one particularly knows the genesis of. It’s loud, drunken, and packed with overly friendly strangers. But unlike the utter undesirability that is the extended family celebration, Welcome to the Johnsons offers an upside: cheap drinks, low lighting, and the option to leave. 

The decor is exactly that of a late ’70s suburban family’s basement. Cacophonies of patterned linoleum tiles comprise the floor, and the bottom half of the walls are covered with wood paneling. Christmas lights cling up and down the walls framing old family photos, mirrors, and various kitsch. The chunky wooden living room set with plastic-covered cushions sits opposite the bar, and a random selection of chairs and small tables accumulate toward the back (including a cool working Ms. Pacman table). The back room houses the pool table and very decent jukebox. In fitting with the suburban rec room theme, they’re the only forms of physical entertainment in the place.

During the daytime or early evenings, it’s best to snag a seat at the wrap-around bar, preferably next to the window. The little area is secluded enough that people won’t try to constantly talk to you, and I’ve found that sitting on the sofa can make you quite tired. In general, it’s better to come to this bar earlier. I mean, it gets packed! And not with people you want to be packed in with, either. It’s usually a combination of young tourists and Greek life-oriented college students. One time I was sitting there, and as sundown approached some sort of activity-related tour group flooded in wearing matching monogramed t-shirts, all of them drunk. It was rough. 

Another reason to go earlier in the day is the awesome happy hour! Opening at 3PM on Mondays through Thursdays and 1PM on weekends, Buds and all well drinks are only two bucks until 9PM. PBRs are two dollars at all times, and a beer and a show runs seven dollars. If you go, get there early, and bring a little cash and a friend or two. It’s a great pregame spot before the club, or a good place to catch up with an old pal on a summer afternoon. 

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