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HitThatDive’s 2014 Bar Of The Year

This was a strange year, even by HitThatDive standards.  I cranked out the lowest number of new actual bar posts since the first HTD “review” went live four years ago.  And yet, interest in all of this has never been at a higher point, in fact, as we roll into 2015…HitThatDive seems to have more momentum than at any time in its “illustrious” history (rimshot goes here).

What a year

First, a few notes about next year’s HTD Bar of the Year award.

  • HitThatDive will recruit a “blue ribbon” panel of somewhat buzzed judges to name the 2015 winner.
  • Starting in 2015, no bar can win the award twice in row
  • HTD will average four bar posts a month this year. so this time around there will far more competition for the “coveted” award. 
Now, with the rules of how this all works in 2015 written down…let’s get to this year’s winner. Wait, first, let’s take a look at some of the blog posts that really stood out on HitThatDive this year:

Here’s to 2015

They all are very worthy winners. But since, as the “rules” are stated now, the voting is based on a committee of one. And that’s me. And, for the record, there are no rules…and no sponsors I need to keep happy (feel free to help me change that last one)…so I can basically pick any bar I want.

Since this is the last vote based solely on my opinion (and emotions) the choice was a simple one.

Please put your hands together for HitThatDive’s FIRST (and last) back-to-back winner for “Bar of the Year” The Village Bar in Ralston.

It rained. But at least we tried.

The ironic part of my relationship with The Village Bar is pretty funny for several reasons.  First, in my entire life, I’ve never been a “regular” in any bar. Well, except for a few years when I was sort of a regular at Pizzeria Uno in a mall in Northern Virginia…but that’s a long story.

I’m still not what you’d call an everyday regular here either, but I do feel as if I’m part of The Village Bar “family”.  And in fairness to countless bars in Omaha, I’m lucky enough to feel like a regular in many great places all over town.  So, thank you all.

All in the name of helping the community

But, I mean…come on. In what other bar in town, that holds only holds about 50 people, can you throw street parties, provide a venue for my brother’s Rod Stewart tribute act, raise thousands of dollars just before Christmas to buy groceries for families all over Omaha AND hear the immortal words, “Hey Steve, what happens if someone starts bleeding in the bobbing for shots?”  I didn’t say everything we did here this year worked.  But it sure was fun trying!

Being a great neighborhood bar goes far past slinging cheap drinks, but that’s always a plus. It’s about creating a sense of community, while on occasion, trying to positively impact the community around you. And it’s about having a few (or more than a few) beers with friends.  It’s always about that.

The Village Bar, owner Brock Hatterman, The Village Bar staff, and every single person that calls this place their “home” bar have now set the standard that all other HitThatDive “Bar of the Year” winners will be judged against.

St. Patrick’s Day 2014

This time last year the Omaha World-Herald wrote:

Along with the good times, The Village has also held itself out as a community staple in other ways. In December, Gates and Hatterman teamed up to raise more than $3,000 in gift cards, presents and urgently needed household items for struggling local families. The pair then delivered the gifts to the families. 

“We’re probably the two most unlikely fundraisers you’d ever see,” Gates said. “But what you’ve got at the bar are a group of people who want to see their community get better and they’re willing to help out.” Complete strangers a year ago, the two struck up a rapport when Gates needed a place to launch HitThatDive’s annual Spring Stumble bar tour. 

With locally owned neighborhood bars dying off faster than most of us can keep track of lately, cultivating and ultimately celebrating the distinct role that the local dive plays in the lives of so many people may be the best ways to keep them in business.  Well, at least it better be…I do NOT want to go back to the days of being a “regular” in a mall bar!

The great Village Bar staff

In 2015, I’m back on the prowl like never before, looking for the area’s best example of what I perceive a dive bar should be. Every bar in town is eligible to win this year, whether you’ve been reviewed by HitThatDive before or not. Well, except for The Village, but I think I already made that clear.

So send in your bar stories. Stay active on HitThatDive’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Send pictures, emails. cards, letters, postcards…oh hell…just keep me updated about what your favorite bar is up to.  The more I know about the great things that are going on at your local dive, the more I can tell others about it.  And the more stories we can share as a bar community, the more likely we are to have our favorite places stay in business.

And to the back-to-back HitThatDive Bar of the Year winner…The Village Bar…congratulations for a job well done yet again.  So, now the question is…who’s going to win this baby next year?  We have 12 months to figure that out…so let’s get going!

Happy 2105 from HitThatDive!

Scuba Steve

Hit That Dive!

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