In a name
This particular Saturday was the epitome of middle-class, semi-suburban life. Little League opening day and pictures, a kid’s birthday party, buying school uniforms—about all that was missing was a visit to Home Depot, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond, and I’d complete my day of domestic responsibilities.
I say semi-suburban, because I feel like I live my life straddling the line between the urban—working and often playing downtown, living inside the McCarran loop, fairly meshed with the metropolitan side of Reno life—and the suburban—Costco, kids’ sports, and yard work on the weekends. If I had to pick a place that symbolizes the semi-suburban landscape, it has to be Viewcrest Center.
What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Viewcrest Center? You’ve probably driven past it. Sitting nonchalantly above McCarran Boulevard where Kings Row crosses, the aging strip mall—not quite run-down, but not hip either. I managed to find time for a beer on this most semi-suburban Saturday, at Chewy & Jugs, one of the bars nestled in alongside the church, yoga studio, pizza place and other businesses in the center.
I remember Chewy & Jug’s being popular with the college crowd during my University of Nevada, Reno days, a nearby alternative to the most popular bars closer to campus. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but it didn’t feel much like a college bar when I visited. An assortment of apparent regulars occupied about half the bar, enjoying banter with each other and the bartender. People walking in were greeted by name—my wife’s comparison to Cheers isn’t far off. Like Viewcrest Center, Chewy and Jug’s has that well-worn, settled-in feel—it’s been there a while, it’s a neighborhood joint, not fancy or hip, but not a dive either. The retro beer signs and assorted old junk and memorabilia decor sort of dictate this mid level of fanciness/dive, I’ve decided.
Without trying, I wandered in during happy hour, and it’s called that for a reason—$2.50 for a pint of local Brewer’s Cabinet imperial brown ale, called Dirty Wookie, definitely brought more joy to my afternoon. A dozen taps of decent craft beer options are available, but an ice-filled box of longneck macro lagers looks to be the more popular choice here. While I fiddled with my phone and sipped my beer, I noticed a Jack Daniel’s tap, though, so despite the mild crowd now, perhaps things get a little crazier later. At happy hour prices, my planned stop for one drink becomes two, and I could still afford to lose at video blackjack too.
We had dinner plans later so I wasn’t eating, but if that wasn’t the case, I might have considered some bar food from the dubiously self-proclaimed “world famous” grill. In addition to eating, sports betting, pool tables and a few TVs round out the possible pastimes to engage in while you drink. And despite the smoking ban, there’s still a cigarette vending machine, situated conveniently next to the door so you can grab a pack on your way out to the sidewalk smoking area.
Never one to let curiosity slide, I asked about the bar’s name. The bartender explained that the two former owners simply used their college nicknames to name their bar. I had hoped for a better story, but I guess it’s appropriate—not too fancy, not too run-down.