Sunday, November 23, 2014


Belly Up

Join The Club Car, a Clive time capsule

1/8/2014

Co-owner David Tasler acts as host at the bar/restaurant, made to feel like you’re on a dinner car — not only due to its décor (including 17 porcelain trains on display that were once Jim Beam decanters) but also because of its old-fashioned ambiance.

Co-owner David Tasler acts as host at the bar/restaurant, made to feel like you’re on a dinner car — not only due to its décor (including 17 porcelain trains on display that were once Jim Beam decanters) but also because of its old-fashioned ambiance.

The owners of Clive’s Club Car rolled the dice on what turned out to be a lucrative gamble when they bought the bar/restaurant 17 years ago. Compared to present-day Clive, it was in the middle of nowhere then.

“There was nothing out here,” said owner David Tasler. “There was nothing but a corn field across the street.”

Now the Club Car looks out at a bustling University Avenue west of the interstate, an infrastructure of freshly-mortared hospitals, clinics, hotels and the West Lakes Hy-Vee, none of which existed when Tasler and his wife moved in. The neighborhood had more tumbleweeds blowing down the street than it did cars. But all that changed seemingly overnight.

“We originally looked at that A-frame building on Eighth Street,” Tasler recalled. “It was near the railroad tracks, so we wanted to call it Club Car. When we decided on this place instead, we couldn’t get Club Car out of our minds, so we decided to keep it.”

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And a charming theme it is. Upon entering, it’s easy to forget that a strip mall parking lot is outside the door. Club Car feels like a vintage destination — something off the beaten path, the special secret of which only the locals are privy like a fine malt stashed in the bottom drawer that a barkeep only shares with the most loyal of his regulars.

Shaking off the cold at the welcome mat is like a step back in time to when people were pure and the quality of one’s products and services mattered more than the bottom dollar — a tragically rare characteristic personified first by Tasler himself.

Acting as host, he’s the first face his guests meet. Ready with a stack of menus in the crook of his elbow, he stands in front of a intricately-carved wooden ticket booth where he will store your coat if you’d like, with a gratuitous smile that leaves not a hint of distrust. Nothing could prick your confidence that he wants you here, he wants you to be comfortable and he knows you’ll return for a repeat visit. Genuine.

With a friendly hello, the once “smoking or non?” question of yesteryear has been replaced by “bar (left) or restaurant (right)?” Bar. And then “booth or table?” Bar, again. Though the menu is ripe with healthy, well-planned dishes fit for the most eccentric of modern-day diets (it’s famous for its gluten-free menu), this day we came for the drinks.

The hospitality was the same — booth, table or bar, dining or drinking. A look around showed a psteady flow of patronage even during a bar’s otherwise “slow hours,” where even the 20-somethings behaved with the maturity of a respectful adult. It was so pleasantly nostalgic that it seemed we should have been sipping our martinis in black and white. It felt safe, like the only conflict this bar sees is the innocent calamity of Dennis the Menace or the Beave.

If you’re looking for respect, it’s packed its luggage and taken a train to Club Car. Two tickets, one way, please. CV

Club Car Restaurant and Lounge
13435 University Ave., No. 200, Clive
226-1729
www.clubcardining.com
HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Sat. 4 p.m.-12 a.m.
HAPPY HOUR: Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m., Sat. 8-10 p.m.
KITCHEN: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 4-10 p.m.
CAPACITY: 50 in lounge, 230 total
 

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