Longtime Down Under waitress Tina Vogel
chats with guests Abdel Vazquez and Glen
Collignon — just three of the interesting
characters you’ll find at this Clive favorite.
By Amber Williams
“The people.” That’s the answer every staff
member at Down Under gives when asked why they
like working there. The Iowa State Fair, the
airport, the Gay Pride parade — these are prime
places for people watching. But at Down Under,
the people offer so much more than something
interesting to watch.
It’s amazing the things you’ll learn from a
conversation with a stranger: a retired Army
captain and his school teacher wife; a gay Cuban
refugee and his blonde boyfriend of nine years;
a man they call “Lando the Experience” due to
his mad karaoke skills; a loyal blue collar
patron waitresses call Craigers who makes up
his own songs on a four-string guitar he found
outside the bar after a party bus passed through;
a recent Des Moines’ sexiest nominee some jokingly
call “Thor” (as in, T-Hor) who’s been a saucy
cocktail waitress and friend to the bar for
six years; and a psychic who hangs out one night
a month giving clairvoyant readings for $5 a
“We have a big variety of people here. It’s
a good place to meet people and make new friends,”
said bartender Brandy Mourlan. “It’s never the
same in here every night. I love my regulars.
They’re fun and like to joke around a lot.”
“And we’re good tippers,” adds Joe Curry, the
retired Army captain. “We’re good for revenue
because we’re here every day. She (the bartender)
knows I like my beer ice cold, so before I get
here, she’s got it on ice. And my wife likes
red beer, so her tomato juice is on ice, too.”
Much like everyone else you ask, Joe and Sandy
Curry come to Down Under over the neighboring
bars for the chill atmosphere — for the “good
food, good bands, love the bartenders, good
music on the jukebox and a nice place to smoke
out on the patio,” Curry said.
“This is my only day off in two months, and
we’re spending it here ’cause it’s a cool bar,
the bartenders are awesome and everyone’s friendly
— no one ever fights,” echoed Abdel Vazquez,
the Cuban refugee who works as a regional make-up
“We seldom get the same day off, so when we
do, we end up in a place like this, where it’s
kind of quiet and where the people are nice
and friendly,” added Vazquez’s longtime boyfriend
But, it’s not always quiet, according to T-hor
(waitress Tina Vogel). During football season,
the 15 TVs keep herds of fans on their feet,
and karaoke Wednesdays separate “the good singers
from the good drinkers,” Vogel said… which brings
us to Lando the Experience (Marlin Fischer).
Lando taps away at his laptop (which is marked
by a National Rifle Association sticker) at
a table by the wall, triple-fisting Coronas,
Powerade and Five-hour Energy shots. His story
involves sex with former Playboy Playmate of
the Year, Angela Dorian, a career modeling for
magazines such as GQ, Glamour and Esquire and
dabblings in acting on shows like “Dynasty.”
There’s more, but you have to go to Down Under
and hear the stories yourself. CV
8350 Hickman Road
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 2 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri.-Sun.
11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Happy Hour: Mon.-Fri. 2:30-6 p.m.
Kitchen Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 5-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sun.
Entertainment: Karaoke, Wed. 9 p.m.-1 a.m.;
Live music, Sat. 9 p.m.-1 a.m.; Psychic Suzanna,
5-8 p.m. every third Thurs.