One delicious pizza, two pay phones and dozens of dancin’ Louisvillians is the perfect way to sum up our night bar-hoppin’ through Hikes Point, but a more succinct way may just be to say it was random.
Of course I can’t leave it at that, though — I’m sure you want all the juicy details and bathroom-wall graffiti my team encountered along the way. And I’m happy to give it to you, since it’s kinda my job.
Welcome to Part 2* of my neighborhood series, which took me and a handful of willing friends to Hikes Point, a small, bustling neighborhood located in East Louisville. Many people know it as “Where the T.J. Maxx/Baskin-Robbins is,” but we found a humble little village of people who like to stick close to home but welcome in strangers with open arms.
Our first stop had to include dinner, so we found ourselves at …
Pizza Place — 2931 Richland Ave.
This wasn’t my first rodeo with Pizza Place, because I love pizza and ice cold beer. And while on assignment a few years back, I discovered this Hikes Point prize that not only has some of the coldest beer in town but also a museum of tap handles.
We arrived around 6:30 p.m. and easily found a seat in the bar area. There were several families taking over the main dining area, but we were more than happy to sit by the bar, where there were TVs, Keno and no little people.
A UK basketball game was about to start, so we were debriefed on game-day specials, including buckets of domestics for $10 and some half-price apps.
We ordered a bucket of Michelob Ultra (same price as Miller and Bud = score!) and some potato skins sans bacon (that’s the price you pay for being friends with vegetarians) and took a look around the space.
My friend Holly immediately grabbed for the Keno and started picking numbers. She likes to gamble, hence the nickname Kenny (Rogers), so there was no surprise there. Kenny was tickled that every time she turned in her numbers, bartender Denise would kiss the ticket for good luck.
The tap museum has been somewhat downscaled, but there are still several rows and rows of taps all over the room.
We also ordered a specialty cheese pizza, and when all the food arrived, I was in cheese heaven. The potato skins looked like mini pizzas, as they used the same spices and such as they do for their pizza. Delicious. And then came the pizza, which I could not get enough of.
It’s one of the best pizzas I’ve had in the last year — with garlic brushed on the medium-sized crust and cheese oozing everywhere. It reminded me of Pizza Hut pizza from the ’80s, when you’d eat at the restaurant with your family — that was our special treat — and suck down a Coke from those huge red cups. The crust was buttery and crispy, and the cheese was nicely spiced and plentiful.
Before we left, I had to try a draft beer to make sure they’re keeping things cool. And indeed, they pulled a frozen mug from the freezer next to the eight taps and filled it with ice cold Bud Light (don’t judge). Perfect. And then we were off — to a little place called …
The Golden Nugget — 2922 Hikes Lane
This little dive bar was a short drive from Pizza Place and was situated between a Mexican restaurant and a liquor store. Sadly, its neon sign featuring a chunk of gold wasn’t on, so we almost passed it up.
It was about 8 p.m., and there were a handful of regulars filling up the jukebox when we walked in.
One gentlemen was certain that if he played more country music, he would have a successful evening of courtship. How do I know? Because he played the same song three times in a row and shouted: “Girls love this song! I’m gonna get lucky tonight!”
Golden Nugget has been serving Hikes Point for many years, and while the bartender was friendly, some of the regulars sensed we were interlopers. But they paid no mind — there was pool to play, after all.
The bar features nine taps, including West Sixth, and offers specials on Miller Lite pitchers all day for $7. We ordered domestic bottles again ($2.50 each), because I needed my brain cells to take notes and remember the experience better this time. (Well, until I ordered that Jagerbomb because I couldn’t stop yawning.)
We only stayed for one (two) drinks here, but I did spot the first of two pay phones in the women’s bathroom. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but it was a nice relic that fit right in with the bar’s atmosphere. We had no idea we were about to step back further in time when we found ourselves at …
Hikes Point Lounge — 3937 Taylorsville Road
This place is a true Louisville gem, and not much has changed since it first opened in 1960. Located in the same shopping center as Baskin-Robbins, just around the corner from Pizza Place, it felt like we were stepping back in time — in a good, refreshing way.
HPL is cash only, folks, and although some may be confused about the bright neon pink “Ladies Invited” sign in the front window, it actually had a purpose back in the day. Women weren’t really welcome in neighborhood bars back then, and owner Leonard Meyer, who still runs the place today, wanted them to know they had a place to go.
HPL also is a popular place for third-shift workers, since it opens at 6 a.m. each day. Although Meyer wasn’t there that night, we heard the story of him first opening the bar when he was 21 and putting five kids through college with it.
It was packed with regulars and several newbies, but everyone seemed to get along like family. There’s usually karaoke on Friday night, but for some reason it had been canceled, so Kenny loaded up the jukebox and we stayed for a couple of rounds. I also (accidentally?) ordered a pour of Elmer T. Lee for $7 because I couldn’t pass it up.
It was no surprise that we found our second pay phone here, but I forgot to see if it worked (I blame the bourbon). I had been to HPL before for karaoke, and now, after learning the story of its owner and legacy, I will be back more often. But we had one last stop to get to, which led us to …
Jerry Green & Friends Night Club — 2800 Breckinridge Lane
You think you know a city — and then you walk into Jerry Green & Friends.
I’ve been covering Louisville’s nightlife for over a dozen years (OK, much longer, but who’s doing math at this point?) and never knew such a diamond dance club existed — other than the now-defunct Jim Porter’s and sometimes Captain’s Quarters in the summertime.
And when I say “dance club,” I don’t mean millennials twerking on each other while lasers shoot through the air. I’m talking old-school, regal, dressed-up, fancy dancing with a crooner who could make your clothes fall off.
There’s no bumping and grinding because there is respect between dance partners — you have your space, he has his, like in “Dirty Dancing.”
Jerry Green apparently has been performing for years, and the club was formerly located off Brownsboro Road. Now it’s situated inside the Breckinridge Inn and attracts hundreds of regulars four nights of week when he and his band performs.
And on the off days (Sunday-Tuesday), there’s karaoke and great happy hour deals.
The place was buzzing with people — even with a $10 cover — and there was an overall feeling of community and unity beaming from the room. We did not partake in dancing, but we enjoyed watching others enjoy themselves. We also got yelled at for trying to move two tables together, so maybe don’t do that if you go.
Green sang everything from Babyface to The Temptations to Prince, and he had such a great stage presence that it was hard to take your eyes off him. This is another place I’ll visit again, maybe if I ever find someone to fill my dance card.
Here are more photos from our random night out in Hikes Point: