For anyone who reads our stltoday.com blog, you know that all the Royale kids are big fans of Red Bones Den, up on the North side (Kossuth and Vandeventer). Bones' joint is like a drinking contradiction of terms. It's lit up like a Christmas tree and from blocks away, it beckons in the night. The lit palm trees glow in the window. There is a huge garden (not open at night) and a nice sized bar. The tables and chairs remind me of an old style soda shop, those red vinyl chairs with the heart-shaped backs. There's a small dancefloor, a nice juke box, and (Abbie's favorite), a disco ball. Above the bar, there's a picture of Bones with Muhammad Ali in the seventies. Above that, are a bunch of antique farming implements.
The place is gorgeous and immaculate, but it reads like someone's personality: inconsistent and fractured in places, boastful and yet shy, raucous and yet refined. Each time I have been there, the waitresses have been crazy friendly. Red Bones always comes over to say hi to us and talk about business. Last night, Diane came over and talked for quite some time-- about them closing for the summer, about their farm, about the Bonettes (yep, you read correctly), and about boat races. We invited the whole gang down after they close in July-- for a patio party at the Royale.
There is something so great about going into a bar where you are not a regular and being treated by family. There is something even better when, in this city, where the color line is so visibly marked and so many people stay on "their sides" the fact that color does not make a difference. Red Bones is just a good joint. And the people are even better. Everyone came over to talk to us, laugh with us. We even met our new friend Tomcat, and I have a feeling he's been called that since way before Hollywood co-opted the name.
My biggest sadness of the week though, Red Bones is closing down at the beginning of July for the summer. "Gone fishin'" as Diane put it. Won't be back open until Sept. So if you have an inkling, and you should hit, hit Red Bones Den before the bears sleep for the summer. In the course of my bar writing the last several months, few places have affected me like Slo Tom's, Red Bones, and Gino's Lounge. It will make you forget about the South side and want to keep migrating North.