The Blue Front Bar & Café in Glenwood serves up smiles, even when invaded by an army of out-of-towners.
It's always a mixed blessing for businesses when a tiny place like Glenwood (population approximately 300) swells with a goodly number of out-of-towners. Along with the money comes mayhem. That's what happened last month when the Glenwoodstock Folk Festival rolled into town for the weekend, and nearly 150 people camped out and decided they needed dinner.
When our party of nine showed up at the door of the Blue Front Bar & Caf€, the somewhat stressed bartender kept smiling and led us to one of the big tables in the center room, near the two pool tables. When two more friends joined us, the bartender did give out a sigh, then shrugged it off and continued our order onto page two.
It was a pretty serious order, too, with main dishes all around and stuff like onion rings and chicken baskets for the several kids in our party. There was not a baking potato left in the joint, so all settled for French fries.
"I'm not gonna lie, it'll be a while," our bartender-cum-waiter-cum-busboy said. "There's 10 tables ahead of you and I'm doing everything."
We added on three combination appetizer platters, hoping they'd come up before too long, and anyone getting a salad with dinner was invited to the salad bar (just the basics, but with five dressings). Drinks all around — full bar, Sutter Home house wines and four respectable bottled beers — started us off.
While the kids set about amusing themselves at the pool tables and scoping out the place, the grown-ups talked and sipped. A couple of regulars enjoyed watching the mayhem from their perches in the bar, taunting our overworked bartender in a good-natured way. The Blue Front is a regular haunt for locals who eat out, and a Thursday night yoga group meets and eats here each week.
At about 45 minutes, the kids whining from hunger, our appetizer platters ($7.50) — onion rings, deep-fried mushrooms, zucchini sticks and okra, jalape_o bites, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño-and-onion "Texas toothpicks" — arrived simultaneously with the entrees.
Our local friends pleaded with us to not get mad — the place is swamped, they cried. No problem, we all agreed, and dug in.
The rib eye ($16) was perfectly rare and tender. The weekend special barbecue dishes ($8.75), one brisket and the other pork, were smoky sweet and ample. The Mexican dishes — chicken tacos ($6.25), cheese enchiladas ($7) and enchilada-style burritos ($7.35) — were decently spiced and satisfying. The chef salad ($6.90) was fresh and tasty. The "Stevie" sandwich ($4.37), a grilled cheese with onions, tomatoes and chiles, and the chicken baskets ($6.75, large) brought smiles.
Garnelle Allred, who owns the place with her husband Bucky, ringing the cash register and doing her best to help out the kitchen, shouted goodnight across the room to her regulars. In all, the food was hearty, the ambience familiar-friendly and the whole experience a satisfying and fun adventure.
And stepping out into the street brought another treat of small-town living: You can see the whole Milky Way in the black sky above.
— Donna Clayton Lawder
Blue Front Bar & Café Hwy. 180 in Glenwood, not far from the turnoff for the Catwalk. 539-2561. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; bar opens 3 p.m. weekdays, 12 noon weekends. Take out or dine in, package liquors and full service bar.