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Off the board: Our Wednesday night affair

a/Off the Board/Opinion by

McGill students have recently found themselves a steamy new Wednesday night mistress. It would appear that weeknight beer-drinking types have left Gerts, a McGill institution,  in favour of a newer, larger establishment—Ace Bar and Grill. This Winter, Gerts has felt the painful backlash of its once loyal customers leaving its  bar in favor of a new spot.

Just two months ago, a Wednesday evening at Gerts could see wait times of up to an hour for the popular establishment; now the ’90s throwbacks echo coldly across the vacant tables and empty pitchers. Gerts has always been a shoulder to cry on after particularly difficult midterms—a safehouse from the turbulent student world—yet now it’s just some bar we used to know. 

 Enter Ace.  Once a hotel bistro, it is now a shiny new venue draped in mystique and nuance. It has adopted and improved on the specials that students loved at Gerts. Ace claims to have more alcoholic drinks than Gerts, more seating than Gerts, a daring serve-yourself coat check, and mysteriously relaxed bouncers.

So began our epic love affair. The sangria is closer to jungle juice and no bouncers attempt to convince you that they’re already at capacity when you know four people totally just left. 

But aren’t students afraid of getting hurt again? Gerts’ fatal flaw was in taking advantage of our loyalty and friendship. It believed that it was the only bar that students would keep coming back to. Gerts served drinks obviously low in alcohol content, banned our favourite songs, and ruthlessly pushed students away with its cold, endless lineups. It was probably always about the money. Gerts has hurt us, and not in the usual ‘morning after’ kind of way—but with the kind of hurt that drove us into the arms of another bar.

Is Ace prepared to take on the baggage that Gerts left behind? We must confess to our own flaws: Our obsessive playing of Bruno Mars songs, and our notorious under-tipping. And when Ace is bent over cleaning vomit off the washroom tiles week in and week out, will it question its commitment to this relationship? 

In all this confusion, while walking down McTavish Street, I can’t help but to let my eyes linger on that one window Gerts has in the corner. I know it misses us. Gerts’ increased social media presence, for example, and events like this Wednesday’s “Ninegria,” which boasts sangria for only nine dollars during the day with the hashtag #therealsangriawednesday #bringinitback are clear signs that Gerts can’t live without us. More subtly, Gerts hosted a “Friends” marathon last week, trying to come off as casual, but the message still comes across loud and clear—Gerts wants us back.

Like every utopia laden with ample seating and satisfying beverages, the magic can’t possibly last. Soon, weaker cocktails and increased prices will be introduced  at Ace along with bouncers who act like airport security. 

While Ace may be intriguing and mysterious, Gerts is comfortable and safe, and there’s something about your student bar stays with you. Ace is a great place, but it’s not the place. It was a fun affair, but its popularity is short-lived. 

Maybe this was the space that we both needed—a chance for us to show Gerts that we are more than just some sloppy Wednesday night. But with all forgiveness comes compromise; stronger drinks, smaller lines, and friendlier bouncers. I’ll admit, the last month at Ace has been fun, but I’m ready to settle down with the bar next door to Leacock. 

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