The Spot: Down-home bar was Utah's first private club

Bar exam • A joint that's unpretentious and affordable? Yup.
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Sometimes you visit a bar — especially if it's been hyped by the media or friends — and it's a total letdown with overpriced frou-frou drinks, a droopy atmosphere, and employees and patrons who are snotty or pretentious.

The Spot is the opposite of all that. In fact, it's down-home cool.

For example, customers who arrive on bikes bring them directly into the bar. And at the door, guests are greeted by Dot, the resident canine, who is extremely friendly and enjoys a game of "catch the ice in your mouth."

The décor has an unpretentious, worn-around-the-edges feel. Curved black booths topped with strips of red lights offer space for bigger groups, but couples and singles will feel at home at the small tables and bar.

There are other kitschy additions — lights that look like tiny lava lamps, sparkling silver streamers over some of the pool tables, and fire-engine-red ceilings and walls decorated with tin signs.

There's a jukebox that will download any song upon request, a plastic-tip electronic dartboard and the popular golf game Golden Tee. The bar also has free wi-fi and numerous TVs, including a 55-inch screen for sporting events.

Drinks here are affordable. When I mentioned the words "signature" and "girly" to AJ Galway —the friendly bartender — he made me a Bahama Mama cocktail ($5). My husband had a shot of Maker's Mark ($5.50) and a bottle of Red Chair Ale from Deschutes Brewing ($5.50).

When we had our drinks, we picked out a kick-ass jukebox selection and played a couple of free games of pool.

The Spot serves a selection of appetizers, hamburgers, and grilled and cold sandwiches, plus there's a vending machine with snacks.

Galway said the building was constructed in 1961 as a Chinese restaurant. In 1971, it reopened as The New Age of Aquarius, supposedly the first private club in Utah with the club license number of 0001.

"The building was originally covered at the top to resemble a tiki hut," Galway said. "But now it just has the very strange-looking spires that you see. We keep looking for a decorative way to display them but so far have been stymied."

The name comes from one of the original partners, Damon Carr, who had seen a club in Florida with the same name.

Galway describe the bar in three words: clean, bright and fun

"We would like to have an outdoor area that people can use in the spring and summer," he added. "And we hope to keep up with the times and stay around a very long time." —

The Spot

A casual, low-key, neighborhood bar serving well-priced drinks and food.

Where » 870 S. Main St., Salt Lake City

Open » 4 p.m.-1 a.m. every day

Info » 801-355-7768;