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    A faint, distant sound grows to a roar as the four-legged odds in the 1958 Derby reach the wire. As Tim Tam flies across the finish line, he adds “Derby Winner” to the definition of Tim Tam, alongside “popular Australian cookie.” Somewhere in the two-legged crowd at Churchill Downs, a man who bet on Tim Tam makes a decision. Months later, Tim Tam Tavern opens on Clarks Lane near Poplar Level Road.

    “He used the money he won on the race,” says a Tim Tam bartender named Monica, exhaling a drag. We’re chatting at a soggy picnic table beneath a large white tent in front of the bar. Flowerpots swing from the tent’s frame as a cold breeze takes hold of Monica’s ashy cloud.

    “How long have you worked here?” I ask.

    She tucks a lock of blond hair behind her ear before staring at the ceiling, counting her shifts. “Fifteen years on and off,” she says. “But Mom’s been here 20 years consecutively.”

    Tim Tam’s interior is divided into two open areas, both wrapped in familiar wood-like paneling. A Christmas garland with colored lights hangs from a rafter, adding festive class to the beer banners, mismatched televisions and a rifle case leaning against the ice machine.

    A millennial-age jukebox blinks, and I decide it’s time for some TouchTunes. I slide two dollars into the slot below the glitchy screen and check my tune budget in the top right corner. I have 26 credits, which must be an act of jukebox holiness. I select “Most Played.” “Fat Bottomed Girls” is No. 1. The a cappella intro receives an approving cheer from Monica behind the bar. There are four other Tim Tammers on this Tuesday evening. One is a regular I recognize from the bar’s Facebook page. He seems hypnotized by PGA Tour re-runs. (Apparently, parents of St. X students pack into Tim Tam before football games on Friday nights. Hot dogs for two bucks, chili for three.) The other three patrons tonight are friends of mine, equally as curious about this Schnitzelburg gem. Katie, Art, and Tess stroll in my direction.

    “Twenty-six credits?!?!” Katie exclaims. “I’m picking some.”

    “What. Is. That?” Art asks, pointing to an illuminated table. We cautiously approach, fearing we may disturb it.

    The weathered, wooden surface basks in a greenish glow from a fluorescent light hung from a gold chain. The game is roughly the size of a pool table, but with a majesty all its own. Two straight lines are carefully carved into each end, with another line in the center running perpendicular to walls of green felt. Ditches beyond the playing surface contain heavy steel pucks. On the wall, a glistening plaque — “Shuffleboard Tournament” engraved in its center — has been preserving the victories of Tim Tam champions since 1997. I long for the taste of Tim Tam triumph. I deem it my destiny and announce that we will play.

    The four of us swipe through Wikipedia in a frantic attempt to translate rules. We develop a theory, sliding pucks toward the opposite end. The loud rumble of steel sliding across wood calls Monica to our corner. Her gait is brisk, her brow furrowed.

    “Have y’all played shuffleboard before?” she asks with intensity. We nervously shake our heads. “You have to bank it.” She chooses a puck and flicks her wrist, shooting the disc from her grasp. The puck strikes the felted wall, sails across the table and halts in the three-point zone, where it slaps her opposition’s puck into the ditch. She smirks and gives us a polished lecture on shuffleboard rules. “If you forget anything, reference this,” she says, pointing to a framed list labeled “Shuffleboard Rules.” I quickly notice it does not provide information on how to play the game but instead offers guidelines on player etiquette: “No glasses or asses on the table,” “No coaching or distracting” and “For all questions, see Mike.”

    “I guess we should direct further questions to Mike,” I say.

    Monica spins around and heads toward the bar. “Mike’s dead,” she calls.

    Katie raises her gin and tonic. “To Mike.” 

    Article written by Wesley Bacon. Images courtesy of Lynn Hafele.

    This article appears in the October issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here

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