When the former owners of Knox Street Pub sold their business last summer to eventually open Glass Boot Biergarten, not much attention was paid to the business they left behind. The Boguses renovated a liquor store to open a restaurant and bar with a massive patio, only to have the place close months after opening.
But back down McKinney Avenue, their old pub continued to thrive, and while most of the changes to the place in the past year have been subtle, the part bar, part restaurant, part dance club deserves a some additional attention, if only for this awesome plate of chicken wings.
Ryan Ferguson took over the space, but he was hardly new to the business. Ferguson had worked at the bar for years as a jack of all trades and the go-to guy if you needed a quick brew while you were out on the patio.
Ferguson set out to update the space while maintaining the original character, so he decorated like most dudes decorate when left to their own devices -- he bought a really big TV. Now you can count blades of grass on the turf as you watch your favorite football team out on the patio, with a sound system that will shake your eardrums as hard as Tony Romo's spine rattles when he takes a big hit.
There's a series of custom bar-height picnic tables if you want to grab a seat outside, and the rickety barstools that were literally falling apart inside have been replaced with sturdier hardware. Some of the space got a new coat of paint, but otherwise the place looks a lot like the old Knox Street Pub.
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The menu has gotten some love, too. Ferguson says he hopes Knox Street will eventually become as much of restaurant as it is a sports bar. The chicken wings are fried up perfectly, especially if you ask for them extra crispy, and they're drenched in a sauce with a vinegary bite and enough spice to light up your nostrils without ruining your whole night. Bonus: the blue cheese dressing with plenty of funky chunks.
The burger's no slouch, either. Made from beef that's ground onsite, the grill master in the back manages to get lots of burnt bits on the exterior crust while keeping the insides an admirable shade of juicy. Wash it down with a few hundred domestic bottles and you and your Lyft driver can call it an evening.
Unless, of course, you've got some dance moves (or no dance moves) you want to show off. Friday and Saturday nights a DJ lights up the place and drunks of every flavor come to party. With the spinning lights and throbbing music it's hard to reconcile the late-night scene with those beautiful wings served from the kitchen moments ago. But reconciliation is overrated, especially after midnight.
If Knox Street is anything, it's a jack-of-all-trades bar as much as its owner. When Cleveland plays the bar turns into an all out Browns backers spot to the tune of more than a hundred. They'll be there this weekend, no doubt, wrapped up in parkas and pretending they're back home. I might be too.