Where: 7643 Pacific St.
When: noon to 2 a.m. daily
Info: 402-391-3060; InterludeLounge.com
* * *
The classic cocktail lounge concept does not belong to Omaha alone, but, boy, do we love those things around here.
Their inherent modesty and coziness is in line with our peaceable Midwestern preferences, so I guess it makes sense. We don't need anything fancy. Just a comfortable chair and conversation partner.
The Interlude Lounge is a pack leader among its peers, giving folks a cushy place to sit around and enjoy a generously poured beverage while soaking up the spirit of 1966 — the year of the 'Lude's birth.
Scott Piotrowski is the fourth owner during the Interlude's long run, taking over in 2009 after a 10-year stint with the Dundee Dell. He admits to not messing with the style of the place much since he stepped in: “It has character and authenticity, so I don't fix what isn't broken.”
The result is certainly a time warp effect, where you settle into one of the original rolling lounge chairs, red and boldly grommeted, and reflect fondly on what Grandpa would have ordered. Soon enough you're drinking brandy, betting your Keno numbers and chatting about crop yields and Cornhuskers with friendly regulars, some of whom Piotrowski says have been customers longer than he has been alive. Even your bill arrives delightfully handwritten on custom Interlude stationery. Classic.
The Interlude is more spacious than it appears from the street, with plenty of cocktail tables and chairs perfect for when you want a place where the background noise doesn't interfere with your conversation. The lantern-style light fixtures and archway architectural elements certainly could have inspired the eventual decorators at Olive Garden-type restaurants.
All legal ages seem to frequent the 'Lude, but at different times of the evening. Happy hour is generally a 40-plus event, and Piotrowski says the age range declines as the night progresses, with the late-20s crowd taking over after midnight.
As a professional nightlife connoisseur, one of my tests of a place's moxie is how my server or barkeep responds to my perennial question: “What's good around here?” An awkward pause is a terrible answer. “Everything is good,” is just as bad. An immediate, “How about a mule?” from my Interlude staffer was an ideal comeback. Confidence in a product, any product, makes it taste better. And our Moscow Mules, a concoction of vodka, ginger beer and lime, served in a no-nonsense copper mug that keeps it all fresh and icy to the last drop, were gosh darn delicious.
The Interlude's promotional gimmicks are also traditions with which Piotrowski continues. Pull Tab happy hour is a crowd favorite (Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.). Your drink orders come with a five-slot pull tab card, used to determine your drink price. You may unveil one spot, which will say either full price, half price or 50 cents, and that's what you'll pay for your drink/round. Drinking and gambling: a classic combination.
And, in one of the best customer appreciation offerings I've ever heard, the Interlude orders in a mighty platter of fried chicken and a side item to share with its guests every Sunday at noon. Get it till it's gone.
It all goes to show that a good drink at a reasonable price never goes out of style, and Piotrowski recognizes that value: “We take pride in pouring a stiff drink.”