Posts Tagged ‘college park’

Ok, I know, I know–why is a twenty-five-year-old man so concerned with College Park?

No, it’s not to scope out under-21’s and talk to them. I have OKCupid for that. Nor is it to speak on social media and, in turn, create memes out of my fellow Terps. They do that on their own. Since I live a literal hop, skip, and a jump away from UMD, I find myself in the area more often than I like to admit than not. I also still conduct a teeny bit of business in the area, therefore I’m invested in places where I can (cheaply) talk turkey. So, when I heard that a Denny’s was opening in the area, I was both cautious and enthusiastic. Growing up in Baltimore, the only Denny’s within a twelve-mile radius was this run-down spot near North Point Road that’s now a Sudsville laundromat near an almost deserted K-Mart.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger...but almost exactly the same. Think about it.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger…but almost exactly the same. Think about it. About five minutes from here resides the Gentleman’s Gold Club. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Suffice to say, I’d heard of it, knew what it was, but I’d never had it. But, I always wanted it. Like some slightly below average Holy Grail, I searched high and low for a Denny’s. Whenever I found one, there was always something a bit…better to do/eat. But, recently, I couldn’t avoid my cautious enthusiasm about the place any longer. So, after a long day at work, the family and I drove down Route One, past the Enclave, past the Taco Bell, to a little slice of Americana: the Denny’s of Greater College Park. While I didn’t expect five-star dining, what I got exceeded my lowest expectations in terms of “SMH.”

When we walked in, we were three of (including the staff) maybe twenty people in the restaurant. I chalked it up to finals, but it stuck out in my mind; the place just opened not too long ago. Ke$ha and Bruno Mars played from the sound system, so the idea of this being a slice of modern Americana was kept intact, albeit a bit glittered and puffed up. Our waiter, a young woman in her twenties, was pleasant but forgot the bare necessities (making sure your tables are properly equipped with silverware, keeping your menus accessible, keeping your order pad on your person, checking back on your customers, making sure your customers aren’t ready to torch the place because the service they’ve gotten has been below sub-par, etc). When we finally did get her to stop and get everything in order, she was quite apologetic for everything (that’s a plus to alleviate my negativity) and took our orders. I had the “Red White and Blue” French Toast. The family had kid-sized spaghetti and the Cheesesteak Omelet, respectively.

About forty minutes later (after a slew of “mishaps”), our food arrived. My “red white and blue” was replaced by butter pecan and cinnamon. My eggs were cold and my sausages were more mushy than my cats food. The omelet lacked, well, most of what it was supposed to have (you know, peppers, onions, taste–that sort of thing). And our beverages were…unique. We got flavored lemonades. The “mango lemonade” was some Minute Made that was (supposedly) squeezed fresh with a giant glob of mango syrup at the bottom. I stirred and I stirred, but they just don’t make water wet enough to dissolve the “mango” into the drink in any way. I’d understand if it’s puree; puree isn’t supposed to flat-out dissolve into things. But, it was literally half-a-cup full of syrup.

The only thing that came out remotely like expected was my kid’s spaghetti.

Upon paying my check, the cashier asked me how everything was.

“Uh, it was…cool…kind of different,” I hesitantly said, biting my tongue.

“Well, it wasn’t no Ruth’s Chris, was it,” the cashier cheekily asked me, sensing my disdain.

And in the back of my mind (and the front of it), I answered honestly.

“No. No, it wasn’t,” I retorted as I walked out, head-shaking family in tow.

Did I expect Ruth’s Chris? Heck no. But, I at least expected something better than what I got. Maybe it’s some post-open jitters that they’re still trying to work out. That’s entirely possible, just like Terrapin Turf before it (expect a part three of that series at some point, probably in the fall of ’14 with my old a**). Personally, I probably wouldn’t go back for a while, but if you’re in the mood to wait around and possibly get the wrong food, check it out.

At least the pancake puppies were divine. Even though by the time they brought us syrup, the puppies had gotten a bit cold.

Until next time, this is your (admittedly cynical) critic Speed on the Beat, the one who endures awkwardness and clusters so you don’t have to, signing off.

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At least it looked more promising than the first time.

For part one, click here.

To sum it up, my second trip to TT involved someone being thrown out and slow service with a highly anti-enthusiastic crowd. But, at least the gogo dancers had back this time. That’s a consolation, right? Anyone? No? Well, without further ado, here’s the long version.

IMG_20131020_004415I arrived around 11:45. I find getting to a place for “Zombie Time” (especially in a college town) allows you to see it for all its glory–or, in the case of The Barking Dog, lack thereof. Once inside, I saw the place was halfway crowded. A marked improvement over the grand opening night. However, it was still a bit discouraging, considering the “thousands” that apparently flocked to the spot over the past few weeks. Little did I know, the night would go down the tubes quicker than crowds began to disperse.

My first mistake? I decided to go to the non-island bar. People who remember Fe, you’ll remember this sort of thing didn’t really exist before the Big Switch. So, it was an interesting sight to see. In some ways, it was a gentle homage to Fe, since part of the bar was outside as well. But, nostalgia went out the window once The Wait began.

IMG_20131020_004834I’ve been to fully clothed strip clubs with better service. I went to the bar as soon as I got in and didn’t get a drink until 12:30. Literally, nothing I did worked. I was almost tempted to (with permission, of course) have a patron go topless to get the bartenders’ attention. But, I don’t think even that could’ve re-railed the train wreck of insanity. (Speed on the Beat Drinking Game: every time I say train wreck in this post, take a shot of 151. I’m sure you’ll have more fun than I did.)

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This is Dalivia. She works at the aforementioned Blowfish. She also makes drinks that kill people.

I began to think that it was because of, you know, me being a black male in a “club” which played techno remixes of “Problems” and “All Gold Everything.” But, alas, racism wasn’t the flavor of the night, just sub-par service and general douchery. By the time I received my drink, any buzz I’d accumulated from the Blowfish bar in Beltsville was long gone. As a sidenote, if you ever visit Blowfish between Monday and Wednesday, and some weekends, make sure Dalivia serves you. She gives some insanely potent drinks and isn’t all that bad on the eyes. But, I digress.

At 12:40, I was propositioned by a young man asking for a cigarette. He almost kissed me three times in 10 seconds. I’ve never wanted to punch a dude out more in my life. Not because he was (potentially) gay, because hate crimes are stupid and have no place in developed society. It was more that this guy  invaded my personal space like no other person has, made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, and tried to kiss me. Cooler heads prevailed and I avoided catching a case, and he walked away, eventually. I swear, I think it’s because I’m 5’7″-ish sometimes, that people think I’ll take what’s given. Nope. But, that’s another post for another time.

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Oh, I haven’t even gotten to the fun parts. At least five times an hour in TT, I saw someone get thrown out forcibly. Most of the people, well, they deserved it. There was one girl, who couldn’t have weighed over 110 pounds and wasn’t a complete train wreck, who suffered the same fate. I mean, bouncers that are ready to throw people out only two-plus weeks into the place’s existence rubs me some type of way. I mean, I know the last TT’s demise was predicated by a slew of bad behavior. Nevertheless, an almost authoritarian approach to kicking (possible) baddies out isn’t exactly the best option either–in my humble opinion. When I (somewhat) worked at Bentley’s as a (kind of) bouncer, there was the mindset of “hey, if they’ve had too much to drink, go to them and ask them to leave. If they don’t, bring in some other people to give that ‘fear in numbers’ vibe. If they still don’t, then you have a bit of authority to use reasonable force.” The people at TT weren’t really given those options and were tossed accordingly. Mind you, this is from an objective stance; I may have missed something, but I’m just telling you what I saw.

At 1:00AM, I decided all hope was lost, as I saw even the go-go dancers were headed out to get away from some of the randomness of the night. So, as I’ve done many times before, I made that potentially dangerous trek across Knox Road and then across Baltimore Avenue.

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As politically incorrect as she is, the girl isn’t completely dense with her (almost) equal-opportunity humor.

Waiting to get inside Cornerstone, I looked back over to Terrapin Turf. “This place can be amazing,” I thought. “But, its placement, and atmosphere may scare a lot of people away.” In College Park, most people go to Route One for cheap drinks, cheap thrills, and an atmosphere where they don’t feel segregated against for not being on the up-and-up. Ok, maybe “segregated” isn’t exactly the best word, but you get the idea.

TT is, in some ways, for the Rebecca Martinson’s (of “c-word punching soror letter” and BroBible fame) of College Park who want a DC vibe without DC prices. That is, when they’re not busy calling sorors c-words, offering up outlandish dating advice, and/or staying away from poor minorities. That’s not to say that TT itself isn’t to blame for its shortcomings thus far. The place is a train wreck of a pseudo-club at the moment, and half-hour drink waits, along with more tosses than Flacco when the Ravens are losing is ridiculous–new spot or not.

Shameless Plug Alert: Check out my new freeverse over something resembling the “Born Sinner” instrumental. Subjectively, it’s friggin’ awesome.

Now that the music’s out the way, let’s get into the feature presentation.

It’s me, it’s me. It’s the No-Fi King, Speed on the Beat back with entry number two (of over 9000) for Thee Arteest. Today kids, we’re going to talk about a new place for all you youngsters and hip cats to groove at called Terrapin’s Turf, or, Terrapins Turf, or TT. When a place already is trying too hard to make itself trendy right when it opens, you’re probably going to run into some craziness.

People in the DMV may remember a little club in DC called Platinum. It opened to a decent amount of fanfare and included lots of things that’d make you shake your head. Some of these included lots of bros, Middle Eastern women who didn’t even want to think about thinking about a Black guy, and overall douchiness. Oh, and gogo dancers. Lots and lots of gogo dancers. It was as if the worst things about a nightclub and the basis of a booty club rolled into bed and created some bastard child of a convoluted mess of a club. Suffice to say, the place has been shut down since late 2007.

Meanwhile, in College Park (which could’ve have been an album title from either myself or DK aka Wayne Watts), a bar by the name of Santa Fe was about three years away from closing itself. A landmark of sorts in the area, Fe offered an alternative to the Cornerstones, Bents, and Thirsty Turtles (the “original” TT) of the world. Live music, professional DJs, the whole nine. No knocks intended to C-Stone or Bentley’s, because I frequented/kind of worked/paid bartenders’ tuition costs at both of them, but Fe, in some ways, had them beat.

And, then the music stopped. Mostly because of sprinkler system issues.

Fast forward to October 2013. After a slew of rumors, false starts, and even rumblings of a Foot Locker opening up in the Fe spot, Terrapin’s Turf finally opened its doors. And, let me tell you. It’s not Fe, but it doesn’t need to be.

Armed with gogo dancers, a rave-like atmosphere, and that same damn island bar, the atmosphere is amazing. But, it seems that with this new atmosphere, we’re given similar situations to the aforementioned Platinum. I got into the club around 12:45, perfect timing as it was still “zombie time” and it was the grand opening. The amount of people standing outside of C-Stone and Bentley’s easily surpassed the total group in TT. That’s the first alarm of a prolonged death waiting to happen. Secondly, no one danced, or even looked like they were having fun. Like Platinum, it seemed like people were more concerned with how they looked versus having fun. While the drinks were strong, the atmosphere was dead enough to kill a vibe of Kendrick Lamar proportions. Third, while the bar looked amazing and the gogo dancers were hot–some of them, anyway–the vibe carried over to make every second in the place seem kind of life-suckingly horrible. Now, it could just be first week jitters. But, even Looney’s, Barking Dog, and that other sports bar where Vito’s used to be had better vibes, better crowds, and better people. Or maybe it’s just a case of “UMD Can’t Have Nice Things Because They Won’t Really Appreciate Them?” Either way, I give it a year, maybe two, before we’re looking at just another empty spot in Route One, wondering what could have been.