‘It’s like a big living room’

Nick Baker

Akron bar features out-of-the-ordinary ways to entertain

Down in the Valley in Akron, a block away from the main drag of bars, sits a place called Tasty Jones. Only slightly removed from the noisy and crowded bars in the rest of the area, this spot serves as a perfect metaphor to describe the drinkery.

Tasty Jones seems like a pretty standard watering hole, and is rather quiet on a Monday night. But while the walls feature Cleveland Browns posters and a mannequin in an orange alternate Jamal Lewis jersey inhabits the corner. Instead of football on the TV or Journey coming through the sound system, there are flat-screen TVs showing “South Park.” There is a community iPod with music added by employees and regulars, which is more often played through the jukebox.

On the bar is a fish tank. About half a dozen fish, all called “John Malone” (except for one named “Darth Vader”) are named after and attended to by one of the bar’s dedicated regulars. He comes in every day to feed them, and when he can’t, he is sure to call.

On one side of the bar is a 30-foot bocce court with cornhole bags strewn about.

On some of the tables around the bar there are strange-looking games, which seem more like homemade versions of the game “Mouse Trap.”

To owner Jamie Jones, the whole attitude of the place is an intimate one, a comfortable and fun place that is always open to suggestion.

“I like that we can watch ‘South Park’ without turning on the jukebox,” Jones said. “And if the place was more crowded, we’d just have four more TVs on ‘South Park’ and sit around and do shots. It’s like a big living room.”

Jones keeps a multi-photo frame with employees and regulars on the wall, and claims to know almost everyone who walks through the door. As she puts it, this place is a “younger version of ‘Cheers.'”

Drinks are priced rather low, with no drink except top-shelf liquor going for more than $5.

“We sell cheap shit to good people,” Jones said.

The table games are one of the bar’s most unique features. At any given time, one could try his or her hand at a game of giant Jenga, which if built to the ceiling means free drinks for those playing, a dice game called “Shut the Box,” a pinball precursor called “Bagatelle,” a round of “Table Skittles,” which is similar to bowling, or classic steel-tipped darts, along with the bocce and cornhole court. Jones played a game of giant Jenga in England and used the idea when she opened her own place.

“They’re all kind of like old school English parlor games,” Jones said. “We can’t compete with pool tables and stuff that every bar has, so we decided to do something different.”

Not every night is as laid back as Mondays, however, and live music goes down regularly at the bar. The live music is dictated by performers, not Jones, or any other employees.

“If you just felt like jamming, then you can,” Jones said. “We let the customers take over the place. People wanted to play, so we bought a PA system. Whatever people want to do, we just do it.”

The bar often features performers from bands like Ekoostik Hookah and Waterband, and allows anyone who wants to play to do so.

Even Sundays have become “Disco Sundays.” Jones said, though, it was not always like that.

“They used to be Browns Sundays, but they’re not too impressive these days.”

Tasty Jones is an official Browns Backers locale under the name “BELIEVELAND,” and Jamie Jones represents the first “E” in the sign that hangs in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The bar has been open for a year and a half, since Jones decided to venture out on her own. She said she worked formerly as a bartender, but wanted to try opening her own place.

“You always look at your boss and think, ‘I could do that better.’ So far, it’s always worked out.”

Contact features reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].