Best Weekend Party Spot Shifts Down South Railroad to Eighth & Rail

Rail-AwardIs it just me, or has Downtown Opelika’s Eighth & Rail become the cities number one nighttime party place.  The past several weekends Friday and Saturday Nights are packed with a mix of younger (most are younger than me) and old gathering to meet friends, grab a drink or two and enjoy some of Mike Paterson’s Sushi or Cheesecake. The entertainment this weekend was exceptional with Larry Mitchel on Friday and the Krissy Andrews Band on Saturday. And if the beer seemed a bit colder this past weekend, it might be the upstairs coolers recently acquired from Auburn’s now closed Supper Club. Then Tiffany behind the bar is like no other bartender in the area! We love us some Tiffany!  There has certainly been a shift from what was big downtown to what is big now. Add to it, the fact you can grab dinner within a few steps of this South Railroad Tavern and you have the perfect meet before or after your meal. Of course they did win the “Best Night Spot” in the Reader’s Choice this year!   So, I guess I’ll see you their next weekend!

2016 – No Resolutions!

43857815_mI mean really, do I really ever keep any of them?  Last year I was going to post here once every day. Gosh, I have a real job and that takes some of my time. So going forward, no promises, just post when the writing bug hits me. Probably more than once a week but for sure, not every day.
This Blog has taken many directions in the 15 or so years I’ve been writing it. Last year at this time, I was doing some auto post from various newsfeeds, which as I look back, didn’t do anything to enhance the site.  This has never been a venture to make any money, I don’t sell anything or have any particular agenda to promote. So, I’m just going to write what I feel at any particular point in time.
Ahead, maybe more about the people I meet along the way, similar to what I did in the early 2000’s.  You can get your hard news from other media outlets, so I don’t need to repeat that stuff here. Now, just my words about things I think regarding the subject close to me. It says it in the header, Cold Beer, Racing, Broadcasting. Gosh, there’s plenty to talk and educate you about in those areas.  Let’s see how this works going into 2016.

Café 123 Begins Sunday Brunch

Well for those of you that have said, “I wish Café 123 was open on Sunday” you can rejoice now.  Beginning this weekend (Sunday, January 3rd, 2016) the doors are open for Brunch from 10AM until 2PM Central time. I plan on grabbing a few friends and heading down to check out the new Sunday menu. Based on the quality of the food and service, I suspect this to be another great dining experience from the Café. The fact that Shannon Weldon, my favorite server is working brunch had nothing to do with my decision to hit them up this first day! Well, maybe…

About My New Year’s Eve in Opelika

Just a quick post about New Year’s Eve in my life in Opelika. There’s an event for the kids at Niffer’s by The Tracks (I have no young kids, I’ll pass), Point of Sizzle is playing at Eighth and Rail and a Cider tasting at Midnight at the Red Clay Brewing Company.  Generally, my friends and I call this Amateur Night and stay close to home. Since I’m within walking distance of the house and maybe it won’t rain I’m pretty safe out there. Happy New Year and On to 2016!

A Trip North – Oh Canada!

December held a quick trip to Canada for me with a visit to BroadView Software’s world headquarters and a chance to catch up with co-workers on various projects.  The unseasonable warm weather, with daytime temperatures around 45 degrees was just fine for me. After all, it had been that the previous week here in Opelika.  My trip began Sunday evening at the Atlanta Airport Hilton Sports Bar.  I was able to catch the last bit of the Army-Navy game.  As luck would have it, I was sitting next to a Delta Pilot and former P-3 Orion Pilot from the Navy.  I use to talk to those guys while they were on station at sea while on Board the USS Bowen (DE-1079).  Of course, after their 12-hour mission, they would return to base and leave us continuing our cruise, weeks away from a port call.  My new Navy friend and I were outnumbered at the bar, that was definitely pulling for Army in the game.  However, Navy won and I headed up to the room for some sleep before my flight to Toronto.     

I became smarter and smarter each day as I found my reservations at a Holiday Inn Express next to our offices. And there between the office and hotel, a Texas Brisket bar like soFullSizeRender (10)mething out of west Texas, but without the smoke you might expect in an old Texas bar.  The music was Country Blues one night, Rock another (from the owners iPod collections) with lighting by Edison lights hung from the ceiling. A few skeletal animal heads could be found hanging on the walls. I believe I heard a Duck Call when the kitchen had food ready.  One of the reasons I enjoy a trip to Canada is to try some of my favorite and/or new Canadian Beers not found here in the states.  I started with a local brew Steam Whistle and worked thru Prison Break Pilsner before settling on Alexander Keith’s IPA.  A friend said this was pretty much a Hipster Bar and since I’ve been called that a few times recently, I was just fine.   It’s a great place and I look forward to my return in February. It’s the AAA Bar at 138 Adelaide Street East if you make it to town.  Tell them that old guy from Alabama sent you, I suspect they will know who I am.

I also worked in my first every professional Hockey game, as the Maple Leafs hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre.  The boss scored some great seats and it was exciting with a final score of 5-4 going to Tampa.  The game went to overtime with some three on three play in the final five minutes.   Oh Canada – How much I enjoy a return trip to the north.

Bomb Threat at OHS A Hoax

From the Opelika Police a few minutes ago: On 12/10/15 at approximately 1:50 P.M., the Opelika Police Department in conjunction with the Opelika High School and Opelika City Schools administration began an investigation into a bomb threat that was supposed to occur today, Friday December 11th at Opelika High School. The threat was received through an anonymous group messaging “app”. Opelika police with the assistance of Auburn Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Department conducted a thorough search of Opelika High School and no explosive devices were located. The investigation lead to the identification of a male suspect, who is a student at the high school. Contact was made with the suspect and his parents at approximately 1:30 A.M. this morning. The suspect was arrested for Terroristic Threats, a Class A Felony, and a search was conducted of his house. No explosive devices were located. This case is still under investigation. There are no active threats to Opelika High School at this time.  

Opelika’s Music Town Records Celebrates Black Friday


It’s been a number of years since Steve “Redman” Penland and his partner owned a record store in Auburn. Actually that was 1970-71 and it was called “The Record Shop”. Apparently the LP Tapestry by Carole King was the best seller of 1971.  In those days we were still playing vinyl records on the radio too. Your life revolved around that setup for the next song and cueing the record to be ready. My how times have changed.  I was looking at a DJ setup last night that was a long way from the single turntable we would take to Sock hops in the sixties. All the music was digital and you could match beats on a song with a quick check of a menu.  I have to admit, although I have a stash of Capital Records Promo LP’s from the old WJHO, I don’t have a turntable any longer and they just sit there.

However, we obviously did something right in our early days of music listening, as the resurgence of Vinyl has brought back the record store again. Yep, real records. Anniston has two stores, Montgomery one and Opelika has one as well. Black Friday is a special day for these home grown record stores.  There is a special release of music that can only be found at these stores.

The group/website known as Record Store Day began working with stores, labels, artists, managers and distributors to make sure that independent record stores were part of that biggest shopping story of the year. That independent record stores were on the radar of discerning gift shoppers across the country.  One of the ways to do that is to create special pieces, available at record stores, for the holiday shopping season. And to have their release date be Black Friday.

So this Black Friday, Music Town Records at 109 South 8th Street will be open from 8AM until 8PM with special releases, Black Friday Offers, Live music and more. And this store in Opelika is an official Record Store Day location. Music Town has also taken the Record Store Day Pledge: “The stores with this mark have signed the Record Store Day Pledge, which means they have agreed to act in the spirit of Record Store Day, and sell the commercial Record Store Day releases to their physical customers, on Record Store Day; not to gouge them, or hold product back to sell them online.” You should probably check it out!

Friday Night Lights – Opelika Style

Friday Night Lights tonight with OHS vs. Hillcrest Tuscaloosa at 7:00 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium. Tickets are $8. Gates open at 5:30. Be there! Go Dawgs! That should just be the kickoff of a busy downtown Opelika weekend. Some Georgia fans will be arriving tonight for the Auburn-Georgia matchup at 11AM in Auburn. If you don’t have tickets, you can catch it on CBS. I suspect that restaurants will be busy tonight before the Opelika game and with weekend visitors for the Auburn game. Zazu’s has been open now for several weeks and everything I’ve tried has been great. Quick snack, the Shrimp & Waffles, yet, that’s what I said. It’s darn good. Plenty of choices downtown now, including that drink at the distillery or brewery on the north side of the tracks. See you out there. The Balcony Boys will probably start at 5PM at Niffer’s. (What Friday the 13th)
Jerry Katz is a former broadcaster and local blogger discussing Opelika events and people.

Opelika Ghost and Goblins Out Early This Year

44232554_mThe Opelika Fall Festival date has been changed to Thursday, October 29th, due to our current weather conditions.  The official Opelika night for Neighborhood Trick or Treating will still be on Thursday evening as well.
If you are not familiar with the Fall Festival, this is a safe alternative to Trick or Treating for our children.  Children 12 and under can wear costumes, bring a treat bag, and visit with local mascots.  Bring the entire family out to the Opelika Sportsplex to enjoy hayrides, prizes, games and entertainment.  Festivities will begin Thursday evening at 5:30 and ending at 8:30.  All festivities will be at the W. James Samford Jr. Soccer Complex.  It’s an evening where there is something for everybody. (Source: June Owens, Opelika Power)

Pharmavite – Opelika’s Talladega Connection

Adult_GummiesWhen Jamie McMurray rounds the turns at Talladega this weekend, he’ll have some Opelika with him.  Nature Made vitamins, with a manufacturing plant here is the sponsor of the #1 Chevy. McMurray and his team partner Kyle Larson, who drives the #42 Target car where at the Pharmavite facility in Opelika today as part of an employee appreciate event.  McMurray has one Talladega win and has a Daytona and Indy win in his list of accomplishments. Larson, the Rookie of the year in 2014 looks to make his second Dega run this year in the Cup Series.  Larson also has something going with his paint scheme this weekend to garner a few more fans. It’s Alabama Bear Bryant houndstooth. Looked like those in attendance today had a great time.

October Returns and So Does Capps Sausage

Thanksgiving-CanadaWell, first of all, Happy Thanksgiving Canada. It’s pretty much like ours, but without the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock. Celebration of fall and the Harvest for my friends from the North.  Now, I like the Thursday US version better, because after so much food and drink, I just want to sleep the next day. I can’t wait to make a few calls to Toronto on Tuesday to see how it’s playing out for members of the team.  Here in the states, Columbus Day, not a holiday for many other than some state and federal employees. Yea No Mail (aka Bills) Today! And the local kids are in class today.

Let chat about the weekend. Lots going on and I had a chance to see or speak to someone that attended most of the big events. Big crowds for the Think Pick Breast Cancer Awareness walk Saturday morning, as well as the Waverly Fall Boogie and Auburn Oktoberfest.

With all this going on, you may have missed the quiet annual opening of Capps Sausage out there in the county south of Opelika.  So buddy Redman and I headed out, got a chance to talk to Trey Capps on this opening weekend and of course score some great bacon and sausage for the perfect breakfast. Several years ago, friends and I went and I wrote an article for the OA News. Unfortunately, I can’t find that link, long ago lost from the pages of the paper.  If you are a fan of sausage, then make a note they are open three days a week; Friday and Saturday from 8A – 5P and Sunday from 8A – 12 Noon. They have a great selection of Cheese as well. The address is 555 Lee Road 100. Be sure to tell Trey we sent you!