Ray Rodriguez, co-owner of The Bar (554 South Broadway), which took over the former Atrium space last fall, has just introduced goldfish racing, an entertainment he offered for many years in a tiny bar outside of Sedona, Arizona. "It was just always a good time, and everybody enjoyed themselves," Rodriguez says. "It kind of makes for an oddity in the evening. It's loads of fun — you get people all riled up for something very minuscule. Everybody seems to enjoy it. You're bringing racing into your bar — that's what we're looking for. People want a good laugh, a crazy riled-up time, and just kind of get out there and root for something."
People buy in, pick out the fish they want and then race the fish along a course consisting of rails of water, he explains. There's a full bracket system, and the winner of each bracket gets a shot, then has his fish move on. The number of people who buy in determines the cash prize at the end of the night.
But even before the Bar started doing its weekly goldfish races, which start at 10 p.m. every Wednesday, PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — got wind of the new event and posted what Bar partner Phil Villotti says was a complete fabrication on its website. As a result, the Bar received numerous calls and over 300 e-mails from people who bought into PETA's accusations without confirming any of them, he notes. They do not blast water at the fish to make them go down the rails, Villotti explains. Instead, they use straws to blow bubbles behind the fish — which creates less turbulence than that created by the filter system in their tank. No patrons handle the fish, and the fish are kept separate after the race to calm them before they are put back into the tank. "Our concerns are that we take care of the fish because they're animals," Rodriguez says, "so we have a couple of signs. The only basic rules about this are that fish don't drink — but you may — so don't drop your fish into your alcohol. That's inhumane and inappropriate. And you can't drink the fish, although that is not necessarily the case, as we're going offer a live fish shot."
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But while it's called a "live fish shot," Villotti wants to make it clear that no live fish are actually featured in the shot. Think goldfish crackers instead.
Club scout: Looks like the Rockaway Tavern has hit the rocks for good. When the bar opened in the old home of the Triangle, at 2036 Broadway, in July 2010, former 15th Street Tavern owner Myke Martinez, 3 Kings Tavern co-owner Jim Norris and Kris Sieger were all partners in the place. But Martinez and Norris soon moved on, and in December, Sieger said that he was looking for potential investors. But now he's out of the deal, too: The Rockaway's windows are boarded up, and the spot is for sale or lease.
Francois Baptiste and Alvin LaCabe of 3 Deep Productions, along with Kevin Kain, just launched their Gold Standard parties on Fridays at 24K (1416 Market Street). Ladies get $4 lemon drops until 11 p.m.; not surprisingly, they recommend bottle service for guaranteed admission.