Nothing like a good staircase to build divey anticipation.
There’s something special about climbing a graffiti-covered staircase in search of beer that adds to the experience. Such is the journey required to visit Attic on Adams, a second floor Toledo dive bar owned, operated and one floor above Manos Greek Restaurant and owner Manos Paschalis. After a handful of names and approaches to developing the second-story space, The Attic has stuck, part of a revitalization focused on Adams Street near downtown Toledo.
Dubbed the city’s UpTown district, the area along Adams Street has not always been the safest part of town, though more recent efforts have built the neighborhood into a true destination. The Attic on Adams plays a part in that renaissance, the building once famously marked as an ex-brothel on the forms filled out by owner Paschalis in 1988 to take over what was once called the Top Hat. What followed was a string of attempts at utilizing the space to its full potential, including stints as Manos’ Upstairs Restaurant, Manos’ Back Porch, Pub St. George and ultimately The Attic in 2007.
Through each iteration of the space, the structure has remained the true draw, something The Attic has done well to accentuate. Outside, a sprawling back patio stretches into the ample parking lot that serves Manos Greek Restaurant and The Attic patrons alike. In black letters, “The Attic” is spelled out along the second floor of the attached building, the view from the rear of the space looking much more like Toledo dive bar heaven than anything else. From the basic windows to the wooden boards that separate patio from parking lot to the Budweiser sign glowing in the window, everything feels just rustic enough to be interesting.
That feeling is heightened by the staircase that leads up to The Attic itself, stickers and graffiti surrounding additional wooden letters spelling out the name of the bar above a portal to the green painted hallway upward. The fogged windows along the staircase feature additional bits of graffiti and of course more stickers before leading to a street sign covered similarly next to the main door. But walking in feels a bit different than walking up, the space certainly keeping with the rustic theme but in a much more refined way.
Exposed brick is the hero element inside, the floorplan of the space no doubt modified over the years but the roots as a second story home or office are obvious. Brick archways bisect two halves of a central bar that no doubt would have floated between two rooms in the original layout of the space. The large front room that can be seen from the parking lot turns into a sunroom of sorts, the large windows letting the light in to bounce off of the Toledo dive bar’s pool tables.
Another piece of the floorplan finds an exterior-facing patio off the side of the main room, this time with a closable door to keep out Toledo winters as they occur. Opposite the bar, there are even more nooks and crannies, a removed separate room that looks like it may have existed as a pair of offices at one point, now overflow seating sometimes reserved for private events. If the description feels sprawling and diverse, the space lives up to that depiction, like walking around an abandoned building that happens to have a bunch of chairs and a bar in the middle.
As one might expect, the bar decorations are thick throughout The Attic on Adams, beer posters mixing with local art mixing with signs offering bits of dive bar wisdom. A payphone can be found in between two of the rooms inside, its functionality a bit questionable as the top half of the receiver has been lost to time. String lights twist through some of the brick-covered elements and stained-glass style lamps hang from the ceiling in spots. The overall effect is one of a refined, comfortable dive bar that probably bears a little bit too much polish to be called divey.
The beer selection accentuates the space’s reputation, dozens of varieties available in draft, can or bottle, the inventory so intense that The Attic claims to tap or make available a new beer roughly every day. The beer menu feels a bit like the alcohol version of The Cheesecake Factory’s anthology of a menu, each variety given its due.
Put together, there are few more interesting, more comfortable, more compelling drinking options in downtown Toledo. As an anchor to the city’s still-growing UpTown district and host to things like block parties, tarot readers and the occasional magician, The Attic offers some of the standard amenities of an urban bar (exposed brick, lots of beer) in a package with the kind of character and authenticity that elevates the experience beyond ‘standard.’