Old Dominion University

Have a Nice Day Café
December 2006
by Marc B. Zawel

Most college students today only know of the 1970s through retro TV shows. So it’s fitting that coeds at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia celebrate the Me Decade at an over-the-top throwback bar like Have A Nice Day Café. Located near the Virginia beaches that hold the country’s largest naval base, this bar is all about bell-bottoms, disco and tie-dyed shirts. It’s also all about gorgeous women, something even the serious-minded sailors can agree upon.

The Scene: Just inside the entrance of the bar, beer is sold out of the back of a converted VW Bug. Two things are immediately clear — this place pushes nostalgia and cheap beer like Tony Robbins pushes self-help seminars. Decorated like the physical embodiment of a VH1 special, the bar is filled with disco balls, smiley faces and caricatures of Kiss (and kitsch). Plasma televisions playing period movies hang from the ceiling and a huge, color-changing dance floor dominates the main room. The cavernous space has views overlooking the harbor. If you don’t feel like partying all night, check out the booths and pool tables in the quieter lounge in the back.

Girls at the Bar: There’s no shortage of attractive women here, and some of them, perhaps in the spirit of the ’70s, aren’t afraid to show their feelings. “Let’s just say the bathroom gets a lot of activity,” says Brian Barzoloski, the general manager. Guys aren’t complaining. “They should call this place Have a Nice Night, because it’s one huge meet market,” says Dan, a junior education major.

When to Go: At a bar that’s only open three nights a week, options are obviously limited. But bartenders say that Tuesday nights draw huge college crowds, so get there early. Occasional theme nights are also popular, particularly the Naughty School Girl event, when ladies dress in ways that would never be appropriate in public. “It’s huge and absolutely scandalous,” Brian says.

Dress Code: Most guys sport the club equivalent of business casual and wear nice shirts and jeans, while women abide by the “less is more” mantra. Just make sure you don’t don period costumes and look like a Saturday Night Fever extra.

At the Bar: In keeping with the theme, there are plenty of past-their-prime cocktails on the menu, like the previously popular Harvey Wallbanger (a screwdriver with a dash of Galliano). But most patrons stick with more traditional staples, like shots of Jägermeister, Crown Royal cocktails and cherry bombs, a house specialty made with citrus vodka, Cherry Pucker and 7-Up. If the three bars get crowded — and they will — keep your eyes open for the cute cocktail waitresses doling out colorful neon shots under the club’s black lights. And, as a last resort, you can always find that old VW.

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