When I lived in the RDU area, there were a LOT of bars in my life. I bartended at a variety of places, ranging from a biker bar that burmed down back in the 90s to a beach bar called Red’s (I didn’t last there long) and a hotel bar and a neighborhood tavern (whose name escaped me). The biker bar is the one that most influenced my WL world :)
The bar I worked at that burned was called Scramble Dog. It’s long gone. (It burned when I still lived there.)
At the time it had a bad rep because a patron (Rob) got his nose bit off in a fight there. The guy who did it was banned, and Rob was still a regular (you got used to the sight of his nose being half-gone after a while—he couldn’t afford to get it fixed, so it just stayed like that), but people still were leery of the bar. Downstairs was a bike shop (owned & operated by a biker called Taz, who was a lovely man & often bouncer for us). For a while, there was a blues guitarist who crashed in the apartment downstairs too, but usually it was the barmaids if we had a long shift & needed to crash or for out of town bands. It was a good place, and I miss it still. We had pool tables, darts, bands, and a patio. There were swap meets, a “wall of fame & shame,” bikers, construction workers, and … some of my best memories in those years were either because of the people there or actually at the bar itself. Across the street was a tattoo shop, so I often had the pleasure of seeing fresh ink on my patrons… and those patrons took great care of me and the rest of the girls. Good people. Great bar. Somewhat deserved bad reputation, but not to the normals that wandered into the bar. If there was trouble, it wasn’t random. it was a dispute or because someone needed to be taught some manners (& our patrons or bouncers did so).
I don’t know about current bars, but here are a few I liked back then that may or may not be around still.
I also used to like another biker bar/ roadhouse called The Little Bar in Apex (which IIRC is still there). Last I heard, several years ago, there was a bad rep associated with it bc of an accidental stabbing. Again though the guys I used to know there were awesome, and I’d still go there if I were in the area.
There was an Iron Horse bar (also biker clientele), and one called Daddy Rabbit’s (yes, Rabbit in the series takes his name from there). There was a place called Shooters where my ex and I both got barred (but that was our own fault; we’d had a particularly bad mannered fight that involved breaking things).
There were other bars I liked to visit with my not-biker-bar friends—George’s Garage in Durham was fun, and so was Green-something in downtown Raleigh, and the bar underneath Goodnight Charlie’s (I was politely escorted out of there for table dancing with friends, but overall a lovely place), Players Retreat near NCSU was a nice weekday/relaxed spot, Fat Daddy’s had good pool tables (& strippers on Sunday so my friends liked to go there—also they had great burgers upstairs) …oh, & there was also a kinda dive downtown that had bands that I visited when friends were playing. Whiskeytown played there (two of the band members were in the ENG dept at the grad school there with me at the time).
Umm, I was out 5 out of 6 nights a week usually, either to work or to play, so I’m sure there were others, but those are the ones that linger in my memories the clearest. IDK if any are still around these days though. I rarely get to Raleigh any more, and it’s been 15 years since I’ve been to Apex, Durham, or Cary.