BY GABE BERMAN
You can’t judge a book — or a bar — by its cover. I should have remembered this old adage when I pulled up to Slackers Bar & Grill at 995 State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. It’s positioned near a supermarket in a less-than-glamorous strip mall. The windows are too tinted to see inside, and I thought for sure the square footage of the bar would be on par with that of my walk-in closet. I was guessing the old-timey bartender and a couple of gruff patrons would be less than happy with a young whippersnapper barging in on their dingy drinking spot.
I reluctantly entered and was relieved by how wrong I was. Slackers, named after one of the owners with the last name Slack, is well lit, clean and about the size of a regulation basketball court. The 20 seats at the bar and the 20 surrounding tables are filled with a laid-back bunch of locals in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
Twenty-seven HD flat screens are tuned to sports, and the Touch Tunes jukebox is piped through a massively powerful sound system. The two dart boards see almost as much action as the four pool tables and Golden Tee 2010 video golf game.
Although she’s young, Melodi Gondar possesses the skills of a veteran bartender. She’s confident and good natured, and regardless of how busy her bar is, she makes time to chat with everyone and will never let you stare into an empty glass for more than a minute. On Mondays, margaritas are $4, and a huge crowd gathers for karaoke from 8 p.m. until midnight on Tuesdays. Play poker on Wednesday nights while ladies enjoy 2-for-1 drinks. A battle of wits ensues during the trivia contest on Thursdays.
Melodi and her coworkers dress up on Fridays for theme night. Last week they sported skimpy soccer outfits to welcome the first day of the World Cup; previous Fridays have seen everything from leather and lace to hippie gear. Deals continue on the weekend: Long Island Iced Teas are $4 from 7-9 p.m. on Saturdays, and Bloody Marys will help nurse a hangover on Sunday for $3. Happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when doubles of Smirnoff are $5, domestic longnecks are $2.50 and house wines are 2-for-1.
Due to the ratio of alcohol to food sales, smoking is permitted, and many customers take full advantage. Nonsmokers won’t need scuba gear to breathe, however. Huge smoke-eaters do quite a proficient job at keeping the air breathable.
If you’re accustomed to a swanky singles scene, you should know the crowd at Slackers definitely doesn’t dress to impress. And remember, that old adage says opposites do attract.