Parks & Rec: No, not the TV show

Well, at least it's not the 80's.

Parks & Rec, 2020

I'm going to start this blog with a disclaimer: I did not like this place, at all. "But Mark," I hear you shouting, "Then why should I even bother reading this?" Because I feel like there is a market for it. And a dude in his 30's who enjoys craft beer and more intimate spaces most definitely is not their target audience. 

Coins, 2020

Branching off of the popular Downtown St. Pete bar of the same name, Parks & Rec Tampa opened in (as far as I can see) 2019. The bar covers an outdoor area, mainly used for giant beer pong and Jenga, an indoor area with a handful of arcade games and a DJ, complete with TV's showing ESPN (because, of course you would), and an upstairs second story with pool tables, air hockey, and a few more games. I counted no less than four different bars, which was impressive for the size of the space used. The entrance to the bar is adorned with security who seem to be standing around the front, and a skeleton dressed for Gasparilla on a couch. But that's not why you came here.

Basketball, 2020

Lets talk about the positives here: The game selection is legit and the placement of those games is nice. When we went (Sunday afternoon) it wasn't too crowded either. While I would comment about the food, I didn't try any, so I can't. There did seem to be a game for just about everyone, from shooters, to sports, to pool and air hockey. You'd be hard pressed to be bored if you're coming solely for the games. The decor of the location was also nice. It wasn't trying as hard as Gen X Tavern, which is a massive plus. Unfortunately, that's about where the positives end. 

Liquor, 2020

First, allow me to state that if I ask for a recommendation from a bartender, I don't really want to hear a "well, this is popular..." especially when you don't even sound confident in the selection yourself. I'm going to go on a limb here and say that the drinks that they make here have next to no alcohol... Which wouldn't be as annoying if they weren't so expensive on top of that. Their shots are $10.00 a piece, which wouldn't feel like as much of a slap in the face if they didn't taste like the bottom of a bag of sugar. To give you an idea of how weak the drinks are, I had my buddy Brian, who hates the taste of alcohol, try one, and he was able to put it down without any issue. On top of the weak alcohol, and it is entirely possible I just came on an off day, but none of the staff seemed very friendly, and seemingly all of them looked like they'd rather be anywhere else. Add to everything else, this incredibly goofy late 80's to early 00's theme. Complete with a menu that uses the Saved by the Bell background, music that nobody in there is old enough to remember (and if you are, you probably don't care), and overall generic tugs of nostalgia (Look everyone, we have a NES logo floating on the wall! Remember when those were big??). I love the 90's, but every bar that wants to pull off this 90's theme seems to be scared to fully commit to it. This bar is no exception. And if you like a good beer, good luck. I think Reef Donkey was the only beer worth drinking in the entire place (they claimed to have draft lines somewhere, but I never saw them), but hey... Truly (seriously... Who drinks those?).

Shot, 2020

"But Mark, you said there was a market." Indeed, I did. And I think that my experience here is more so just me being old and bitter (and having three overpriced, weak drinks). But if you are new to bars/drinking, and you're looking for somewhere to come with a big group of friends, I think this place would be perfect. I wouldn't necessarily suggest Red Star Rock Bar or the Ybor City Wine Bar to a 21 year old. They're small, intimate, and meant to drink with the friends you already have, not so much to make new ones (not that you can't). Whereas other bars are dark, dingy, small, and intimidating, Parks & Rec is open, bright, and fun. There's no pressure to buy another drink, you don't have to go out of your way to befriend your bartender (you should, but this is a skill learned with time). Honestly, the whole time I was there, the only thing I was thinking was, "This is a great bar for students who go to UT or USF."  This would be the type of place I could also imagine families bringing their kids to and letting them enjoy the games while you sit back and watch some ESPN (no, really... That's all that's on). You might even feel compelled to grab a drink and just remember how terrible the juice from your childhood really tasted... Especially once they add that one splash of alcohol. Unfortunately, you'd need to be rich to catch a buzz here.

Party Hard, Friends, 2020

Things to know before you go:
- There is no parking lot. You'll be parking in one of Tampa's infamous paid lots, or parking north of Kennedy and taking a hike.
- The space itself is actually put together really nicely. At no point do you feel like you're being suffocated. 
- Bring a group of friends and have fun playing the games. There are no shortage of them.
- If you're over about the age of 25, probably best you find somewhere more your speed.

Was I way out of line with how critical I was of Parks & Rec? Do you have a favorite arcade game? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt. Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!

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