You know those two guys at the bar always jawing about what they'd do differently if they owned a bar? Well, they made good.
At the New Face for an Old Broad event in November 2010, the Broad Avenue Business Association staged the old Town & Country Locksmith building as a restaurant space in the hopes that someone would see the potential for a real restaurant. Bryan Plunk and Jim Shannon were those someones.
The longtime drinking buddies had been planning to open "their" bar for more than 10 years. When they first hatched the idea, they called Shannon's brother to share the news and solicit a name. "Jack Magoo's," he replied, and that was that.
Plunk thought Midtown needed a sports bar or, rather, his sports bar. "I looked in Cooper-Young and downtown, but after spending some time at Three Angels and the Cove, I thought Broad Avenue was the perfect spot," Plunk says. "I finally said to Jim that if he was ready, then we should just do it."
They spent about six months renovating the 100-year-old building and opened last September. Inside, you will find a downstairs bar and an upstairs bar. (Upstairs is known to get a little rowdier.) There are 26 TVs and three more are on the way. Football and basketball are the big draws, but patrons can watch anything they want — from wrestling to softball to the Tour de France. Plunk is excited about the Olympics and plans to provide a lot of coverage.
Magoo's isn't limited to sports. There's live music every night and trivia on Mondays and Thursdays. They also host special events that include bringing in contestants from popular TV shows like Hell's Kitchen and RuPaul's Drag Race.
The new patio has seating for 50, an outdoor bar, several TVs, and a stage for live music. Magoo's also embraces the artistic side of Broad Avenue. Looming over the patio is one-half of a pink Cadillac that was installed by Shawn Young of Kingfish Metalworks. (The other half will soon be installed in the upstairs bar.) The patio will feature a bar inside a converted school bus.
Magoo's kitchen stays open until 1:30 a.m. The menu features hot wings, tamales, salads, vegetarian dishes, and more. The sliders, known as the Magoobers, are the big sellers. All burgers are hand-formed, the chicken is hand-breaded, and they make their own wing sauces and salad dressings. Other hot menu items include bacon-wrapped shrimp, house-made chili, and Miss Sherry's tamales. "Miss Sherry used to work at the post office, and I told her if I ever opened my bar, I would sell her tamales," Plunk says. He plans to expand the menu before football season with more vegetarian options like portobello mushrooms and vegetable kabobs.
General manager Mike Turner is also very proud of the cocktail menu. He says the secret to a good sports bar is good drinks at good prices. To that end, he can make over 3,000 cocktails and will happily create custom shooters based on a customer's outfit or favorite color. Lately, he's been experimenting with beer cocktails, which he says are great for summer. "You can slam them without getting hammered," he explains.
After he perfected his barbecue beer cocktail, a customer challenged him to top himself. He jokingly said that a chicken ramen cocktail would be his next creation. Even though he was kidding, he couldn't resist creating it. Believe it or not, a PBR, some celery bitters, and celery salt actually taste a lot like chicken broth. "And it's vegan," Turner notes.
If he's on duty, Turner will happily make a "Mikeytail" for whoever asks, but there are also 23 beers on tap and 33 available in the bottle.
As for Plunk and Shannon, they're still those two guys hanging out at the bar. "Jim and I are here every night," Plunk says. "It's our favorite hangout."