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Simplistic delight at Phil’s Bar and Grill


Bartender Sara Hayes relaxes after a busy shift at Phil’s Bar and Grill in Clive with a book and a Moscow Mule in the lounge area.

Bartender Sara Hayes relaxes after a busy shift at Phil’s Bar and Grill in Clive with a book and a Moscow Mule in the lounge area.

A lot of bar owners contrive all kinds of different gimmicks to lure patrons into their establishments. They come up with clever names above front doors, snappy logos on their products; they tout signature drinks with sexual names and drinking games to draw the college crowd. But there’s just something about the places that keep it real. There’s just something about a bar that doesn’t try too hard, that’s simply named after the person who owns it or who created its legacy. There’s just something about a place like Phil’s.

New managers Krista Jackson and Paul Seaton seem to get that, and although they’ve changed things around a bit to fit their own tastes, they didn’t rename the place Paul’s or Krista’s or Cheers. It’s named after Seaton’s brother who, as manager, had once filled the entire place with clocks. “That entire wall,” describe a classy blond bartender named Sara Hays. “Clocks,” she said with a sweeping motion of her hand.

But who wants to be reminded of the hour during R-and-R time? The clocks had to go.

The old, tattered piano still remains against the back wall and looks as though not even Beethoven himself could put a tune to those old keys.

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“But they are in tune, actually,” Jackson laughed. “And a girl named Jen Wilson plays it every Thursday night after karaoke, and we turn off the radio, and everybody listens to her on the piano.”

Other than that, the piano is more for looks and conversation, much like the corner lounge area of the bar near the windows, where couches surround a fireplace encompassed by a wall of books, the spines of which show titles of almost anything — from Danielle Steel’s steamy dreams to the Holy Bible. Again, mostly just for looks… and conversation.

But such attributes are not gimmicks. Rather they are the remnants of the bar’s history. For years it was called The Office, which is likely where it got its den-like atmosphere fitting for a scotch and a cigar. But it’s not The Office. That was just another clever name. It’s Phil’s Bar and Grill. Simple as that. Most of its patrons are regulars who work in the area and more recently a few orphans from fellow Clive bars, T.R.’s Sports Bar and Grill or Murphy’s, both of which closed their doors about a month ago.

On a hot day, it’s a cool, dark spot to chill and a quiet place for friendly conversation with a pretty bartender who grew up in Dallas Center and looks like she walked right off the pages of “Martha Stewart Living” magazine. It’s good for a game of pool or a bite to eat from a common menu of hamburgers, pizza and the occasional prime rib or streak.

Simple, easy and everything a neighborhood bar should be. CV


Phil’s Bar and Grill
9956 Swanson Blvd.
(515) 270-0959
HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 12 p.m.-2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-close
HAPPY HOUR: 3-6 p.m. every day
KITCHEN: Bar food anytime
ENTERTAINMENT: Karaoke every Thurs. 6-10 p.m. and live music once a month


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