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Four months ago, during the tail end of Game Four of the Rangers/Cardinals World Series, I walked into a near-empty Paschall Bar on the third floor of the building above Andy's in Denton. There were all of 10 people there, looking stoic in front of the custom bookshelf-lined walls, occupying various stylish couches and chairs, sipping on beers and Manhattans and talking quietly while the game slowly came to an end.
Despite its successful soft opening on October 6, it seemed this place was at best one of Denton's charming little secrets, patronized by the curious and the hip, and at worst, in line to be the next independent club to disappear into the pantheon of businesses that just couldn't make it in the new capitalism of giant corporate interest.
Fast forward to early February, and Paschall, the newborn baby of the boys from Midlake, looks like nothing less than a Denton success story. It's packed with what seems like way more than its capacity of 49, three people deep at the bar, and I feel lucky just to get a table, let alone one with a chess set on it.
Come to think of it, it makes perfect sense this bar would succeed. It emerged just as the gentrification of the industrial sector two blocks southeast of the Square was happening, but while every new restaurant and venue in the area screams at potential customers with giant, colorful signs and quirky college names like Mellow Mushroom and Ramen Republic, Paschall keeps itself a secret. No signs, nor any hint that walking the two flights up the obscured staircase next to the Andy's entrance might lead to one of Denton's coolest new bars.
Yes, it's a little more expensive than a typical Denton bar, but its prices pale in comparison to your average upscale Dallas bar while exuding twice the aesthetic charm.
Two minutes into my arrival, the waitress is already maneuvering her way between and around the circles of standing patrons, dropping off my Shiner with a smile and a "Can I get you anything else?"
It's hard not to be a little jealous of the people who probably got there early and are now sitting by the window, consuming drinks, conversation and a third-floor view of the Square boasted by no other bar in town.
Paschall, open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday, is not big enough to have live shows, which might seem ironic given its ownership, but the music playing on the sound system is a veritable Ph.D. workshop of great artists from Bob Dylan to Radiohead.
And besides, the overall feel lends itself more to that of a hideaway. A place to escape Denton within Denton.