In 2009, I did a post about 3rd Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. In the comments section, people started talking about the Dugout, an old dive bar on the block. I asked if anyone had a photo of the bar, but nothing turned up.
Just a shadowy glimpse of it in a quick scene from Taxi Driver.
Ask, be patient, and ye shall receive.
Three years later, Jason Fernau sends in the following photo.
Jason also shares his Memories of the Dugout, 1982-1984:
The Dugout was halfway underground, you had those 3 steel plate covered steps descending down to the doors, wide steps like on a loading dock. Then one more step down and you were in. My recollection is that the lighting was all fluorescent, and was really bright as well, much brighter than a bar should be. Daytime it was bright fluorescent and the view out the doors was the vista of the sidewalk with the traffic behind it. People walking by were viewed from the thighs down. So you might see a miniskirt and great legs, or a shuffling older person, or a whole dog pulling a pair of legs. Nighttime it was brighter fluorescent. But somehow that never was an issue. I guess it just fit the place, or kept out those who couldn't stand it.
The Dugout had one night bartender, Bob from NJ. It seemed like he worked every night, though he must have had a day off. The place was never busy enough to need more than him. I think sometimes in a crunch there was somebody else who would rinse mugs and put them in the freezer. Nicest guy you could ever imagine. Ready with a smile, did what was needed, when it was needed, and we thanked him every time and he thanked us every time for coming in. From the first to the thousandth time you ordered a beer from him, Bob would say "Frosted Mug?" as if the answer could ever be anything but "Yes."
When you entered, bar on the left, tables in the middle, an old steam table lunch counter on the right hand side, looked like it hadn't been used in decades. I just heard from a fellow patron who said you could get a Liverwurst sandwich there for $1.50. Bob must have made it behind the bar.
There were frames on the walls filled with collections of snapshots of customers in the place, not old, contemporary to the time, and I remember that I was in one. I felt good about that. Faces seated around the plain wooden tables they had, some with mugs upraised.
There was an older gentleman, Saul, black glasses, stained beard, anchoring the back end of the bar, newspaper in front of him. He was usually there. We always used to speculate if he really owned the bar. I never found out one way or the other. he used to let us buy him drinks and he never bought drinks for anyone. Maybe that was the proof that he owned the place, seemed like a good strategy from his viewpoint.
50-cent draft in a frosted mug. What a deal.