Monday, February 15, 2010

Alex's College Spot

The place that we now know to be Alex's was, in the 1960s, "Alfred Lunch". It was a diner, much like the Collegiate is now. At the time, Alfred was a dry county, and no beer or liquor was served at Alfred Lunch. In the early 70s, a man named Alex Spyralatos came to New York from Greece. He started working at Texas Hot, a diner in Wellsville. After a time, he bought Alfred Lunch. Alex applied for a beer license, and the diner quickly became a hot spot for the town, and began its transition from diner to bar. Its status as a bar was not cemented until the late 70s, when Alex's College Spot, along with Gentleman Jim's, purchased a liquor license, officially making Alfred a wet town. In 1986, the bar was purchased by brothers Stan and John Wisniewski, who are the current owners.

Alex's walls are covered in art, from paintings to busts and various neon signs. The first piece of artwork to grace the bar's walls was the orange neon Alex's sign that still burns bright today. Since then, all types of art have been purchased or donated, including a sculpture of mating triceratops, weighing in excess of 200 pounds. The sculpture, made by Alfred University alum John Blaha, stands over the entranceway, a short walkway often covered by sheets of plastic in the winter to keep the heat in. That's often not a problem, as frequent concerts and events such as Karaoke Night keep Alex's packed in the cold winter nights, and patrons often step outside to cool off.

One of the most popular events at Alex's is Mug Night, which takes place every Thursday night, rain or shine. A mug costs $23 and will get over-21 students one behemoth of a glass mug, resplendent with two dinosaurs, each toasting their own mug. The dinosaurs are a tribute to the notoriety of the triceratops sculpture. Each year the mugs are a different color, and students personalize their mugs with stickers, paint, or even glass engraving. For fans of Alex's College Spot, a mug is a worthy investment, as the various beers and ales on tap are as little as one dollar to fill the entire mug.

On any mug night, you'll find gatherings of friends and lone drinkers. How important is the mug itself, to the fun of Mug Night? Several proud mug owners were interviewed, and while their names are changed to protect their reputation, the answers are unaltered.

Q: Do you love your mug?
Jenna: YES! SO much! It's my best friend.
Mark: Yeah, sure. I like the cheap beer.
Katie: Well, it's not really mine, I'm just borrowing it. I don't go here.
Dan: Ha... Yeah, I love my mug.

Q: What kind of shoes are you wearing?
Jenna: Riding boots.
Q: If you had to choose between your boots and your mug, which would you pick?
Jenna: Oh... Man, that's a hard one. I don't know. I love my mug! But my shoes are italian leather, they were really expensive... Normally I would totally pick my mug, but tonight I'm gonna have to choose my shoes.

Q: What kind of shoes are you wearing?
Mark: Um, just beat-up sneakers.
Q: If you had to choose between your shoes and your mug, which would you choose?
Mark: [laugh] Do I have to walk home barefoot?
Q: Yes.
Mark: Wow, um... I think I would choose my mug. It's been with me through some times.

Q: Are you drunk right now?
Jenna: Not yet, but I'm getting there!
Mark: Ask me in a couple hours, it's early. [The time was 10:23]
Ella, Nancy's friend: Oh, ask her! Ask her! She's drunk!
Nancy: I might be drunk.
Dan: Uh... yeah... I don't know.

Q: Would you drink on Thursday nights if it wasn't for Mug Night?
Jenna: I would say no, but I probably would. Or I would drink more on the weekend.
Mark: Definitely, but not as much. Maybe I would just drink in my apartment?
Nancy: No, I wouldn't. It's too much for me sometimes, I'll go to Mug Night but I won't go out on Friday.
Ella: Yeah, you would. You always go out on Friday.
Nancy: OK, OK, fine, but I wouldn't drink on Thursday.
Dan: I don't know. I don't... I don't know. Sorry. Are there a lot more questions?

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