Dive Bars Among Relentless Progress
With huge population growth comes an inevitable toll on a city’s dive bar community, Charlotte serving as a prime example given the relentless influx of residents to the area. Nestled among the fresh apartment complexes and converted condos, a few hardy Charlotte dive bars can still be found, some of them literally dodging the world developing around them.
Visibly, The Thirsty Beaver Saloon is probably the city’s best example of its growth, an entire apartment complex built quite literally encircling the small plt of land still occupied by the dive bar. When the owner decided not to sell, plans moved on without them, around them and towering above them, the dive bar still intact like a divey one-room schoolhouse. Fellow threatened dive bar, Tommy’s Pub, relocated after its land was sold in 2015, reopening after a hiatus in 2017, bringing every faded decoration and regular with them.
Originals do exist without the imminent threat of relocation, of course, like Smokey Joe’s Café, a dive bar that looks a bit like an Old West general store mixed with the interior contents of a trunk found on a pirate ship. The result is one of the densest collections of dive bar decorations in the city, every inch covered in some kind of framed photo or beer sign. And of course every city has a local karaoke institution, in this case Jeff’s Bucket Shop, a subterranean dive bar with a neon sign with the name of the bar and a traced hand pointing downward.
Growth can sometimes make hunting down a dive bar more difficult in cities where neighborhoods transform on a regular basis, but in Charlotte those gems do still exist, even if they sit quite literally in the shadow of the progress on their doorstep.