Somewhere on the edge of that concrete no-man's land that by now should be a gorgeous Commons Park lies a warm and friendly place called the Family Affair. Run by Bronco and "the wife" (Angela), the lounge is a cross between Archie Bunker's place (minus the bigotry) and a Mafia hang-out on the lower East Side.
The Family Affair has a '50s throw-back cafe in the front and an appropriately dark lounge in the back, with a side entrance for rock stars, people cheating on their wives, and folks who want to walk the straightest line between the street and a stiff belt.
The bar is homemade, like Angela's spaghetti special ($6, tasty, but in need of another two-minute blast from the microwave), and includes photos of drunken regulars, imitation art-deco lamps, and mirrored walls. Teddy bears and Barney Rubble hibernate among the bottles.
Judging from its appearance, you'd think this establishment would attract an older, chain-smoking group of seasoned lushes; surprisingly, this is not true (well, the lush part is, and the chain-smoking part, perhaps). Hipsters working in the area arrive for happy hour and sit among the blue-haired regulars. A post-theater rush brings in actresses (thanks to Shelly Reynolds), who now cling to the Family Affair like starlets to a casting couch. Speaking of couches, another fab feature of the Family Affair is the synthetic leather booths and stools—red (of course) and comfortable for the Jack Daniels sessions FA patrons often hunker down for.
The only real negative at the Family Affair is the gambling that goes on there—most of it legal: pull tabs galore ("Lush Life" actually made me my money back) and a stupid electronic trivia game that sucks in barflies with a sexy, scantily clad video vixen who appears on the opening screen. You can't win any cash on the vid machine, but it will give you vouchers for scratch tickets in the event you'd like to throw even more of your hard-earned money at the Mariner's convertible-roofed thimble-rig.
The main reason to hit the Family Affair is embedded in its title—the husband/wife team of Bronco and Angela. The little lady sits cackling in a closet office counting money while the big man pours giant martini specials (about four shots for six bucks). They run a tight ship, serve a quality product at reasonable prices, and are in love, baby (and funny as all hell).
Family Affair, Fairview and Thomas, 624-3382. Closed Saturday and Sunday (alcoholics need a break too, ya know).
Bar Joke: A grasshopper hops into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, "You know, we have a drink named after you here." The grasshopper looks puzzled and replies, "You have a drink named Fred?"