RIP Elephant Bar. We will miss that dry heave-inducing Kona Kooler and Chicken Lettuce Wraps combo over a post-work drink lament on a Tuesday.
I was fortunate enough to call Concord my work home for three years early in my career. As a community reporter for the Contra Costa Times, my beats were Martinez, Walnut Creek and, finally, the big berg of C-Town.
It was the late-’90s/early 2000s, a magical time for the hometown of Tom Hanks and Dave Brubeck, otherwise known as The City That Kyle Newacheck Built (<– unofficial Concord slogan for Millennials). The Brenden theater was showing Bring it On and Fight Club in full THX. The Tower Records couldn’t keep the Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up the Girl on the shelves and a little watering hole called the Elephant Bar (known to the locals as “Mini-Vegas”) had just opened off the 680 on Willow Pass Road.
The Elephant Bar was kind of like a funhouse mirror version of Cheers. If Cheers was a place where people drank all day and tried to solve their problems from a bar stool without ever really getting drunk enough to fall off it, Elephant Bar is where people could go mainline sugar cocktails with discardable pineapple wedges and completely
black out forget their problems — along with their phones, car keys, shoes …and sometimes entire outfits.
It was a maddening shit show cross section of depressed educators, functioning alcoholics released from the gray-walled county buildings in Martinez, third-tier traveling software salesmen and every guy/girl tribal armband/tramp stamp combo on their way to anything from seven minutes of bliss in the parking lot to a lifetime of contentment out in Clayton Valley.
Word came down over the weekend that Elephant Bar has shuttered four of its eight Bay Area locations including Campbell, Cupertino …and Concord. (Basically, if your Bay Area town begins with a ‘c’ and BART delays to your stop are more than 45 minutes…you got an Elephant Bar.)
Here then, by the numbers, is what went down at the Concord Elephant Bar between December, 1999 and September, 2016:
394,028: Cocktails consumed to celebrate “fresh ink.”
172,822: Number of over-the-legal-limit drivers spit out of EB and into the Krispy Kreme line past 11 p.m.
82,010: Number of cars with full back window Raider Nation stickers/Calvin pissing on the 49ers logo parked in the EB lot overnight/otherwise abandoned.
27,838: Bachelorette parties that missed their dinner reservations at Benihana. “Let’s just stay here…this soy ginger calamari is sooooooo good and we gots a Mammoth platter on the way!”
19,823: Match.com dates hijacked when someone went to the bathroom.
18,838: Number of EB seat pagers thrown in anger at an ex’s car as he peels out with the hostess who is riding shotgun and flipping you off out the back window (though you can’t really see it) of his murdered out 1992 Mazda 626.
18,048: Number of times a guy approached a group of female co-workers/bachelorettes and broke the ice with, “Now that we’re at the Elephant Bar…who wants to see my elephant trunk (or dick)?”
12,289: Number of FUBU jerseys worn there on a Friday. (The last was seen on Friday, Sept. 16).
11,619: Female patrons who met the CoCo County Girl of my Dreamz trifecta criteria: Favorite band: 311. Favorite piece of jewelry: My bellybutton ring. Favorite quote: “I don’t mind raiding the jar just to get a cookie.” — Da Brat
10,983: Conversations that started with, “Is that CK One I’m smelling?”
6,502: Number of Powerpoint presentations left unfinished by business travelers staying at the nearby Hilton Concord who decided to pop in for “just one drink.”
6,383: Concord natives/EB patrons who said they had recently moved out of the area…and by out of the area they meant Pleasant Hill.
6.287: Times one bro turned to another and said, “Technically it’s not date rape if you’re not on a date.”
5,369: References to patrons visiting from Solano County as “Bridge and Tunnel.”
3,046: Times the “idea for Uber” was written on a cocktail napkin by someone stuck there trying to figure out a way to get home to Antioch.
2,178: Bros claiming, “I’m taking that Jåger girl home and showing her my flair.”
1,389: Number of dried spots in the parking lot that vaguely resembled an Agave Margarita-Coconut Shrimp Skewers combo.
930: Number of guys who just got done working out next door at the UFC GYM mistaken for John Cena’s bodyguard.
929: Number of guys who just got done working out next door at the UFC GYM who actually were John Cena’s bodyguard.
831: Number of parties who had third-row seats to see Foreigner at the Concord Pavilion but decided to say fuck it and order another round of French Onion Ribeye Sliders and Jungle Coladas instead.
827: Conversations that went something like, “I love what you did with your MySpace backdrop. Mt. Diablo makes you look so sporty.”
747: Number of times a woman dropped her phone into the toilet while texting, “PLEASE COME GET ME THE FU—”
657: Times a fight broke out because someone scratched someone else’s BBS SR Anthracite matte black rims.
629: Number of guys that took your wingwoman out to go have her listen to his sick new system he just got installed at Seismic Autosound. By the time you stepped out to see where she was, you saw a red Acura Integra peeling out as “Blind” by Korn echoed into the night.
559: Sad cocktails consumed by some guy whose Nissan Cube was wrapped advertising a new yogurt shop in Walnut Creek. “This Tito’s Mule is on the house.”
286: Number of Yelp reviews like this:
237: Part-time personal trainers with frosted tips from the Sunvalley Mall 24 Hour Fitness who started a conversation saying, “Nice lats.”
178: Forever 21 dresses abandoned in the parking lot.
174: Penis straws found submerged at the bottom of the Bloody Mary mix.
68: Guys who got laid that night — in spite of their chin strap beards.
67: Guys who got laid that night — because of their chin strap beards.
34: Suspected Sebastian Janikowski sightings.
34: Number of people who remembered seeing Sebastian Janikowski the next day.
0: Fake IDs confiscated.
Cheers Elephant Bar!