Where Does Art Fit Into The Goodnight?
It's a matter of what can be done with available space
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
11:00AM, Mon. Jun. 3, 2013
"What kind of a place do you think we're running here?" says bartender Derron Rogers, frowning at his boss who's just set his drink on the polished granite bar without first setting down a cocktail napkin.
"I know how much those napkins cost," says the club's owner, David Goodnight, grinning, "that's why I never use one myself."
That's Goodnight, as in The Goodnight, the bowling-and-billiards-and-pingpong-and-karaoke-and-drinking establishment that's still kind of new to Anderson Lane, that used to be a Fuddrucker's, that's just a long film-reel roll away from the Alamo Drafthouse Village. And that's Goodnight, as in The Goodnight-Loving Trail, the trail used to drive Texas Longhorn cattle from the Lone Star state to Colorado in the 1860s.
The same trail that Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove was based on, yes.
"Charles Goodnight is my great-great-grandfather," says the club owner. "We have a serious history in Texas and there's a lot of our family still around here, but I spent my childhood years in Hawaii because my father was building there – houses and things of that nature – so I had a really cool childhood. But I've been back in Texas for twenty-odd years now."
And your reporter's been in The Goodnight for twenty-odd minutes now, munching on a Wagyu beef burger from a menu that chef Danny Bressler's designed to surpass typical bar-food fare, checking out the upholstered digs, giving a look-see to the newly painted mural that decorates the walls alongside the bowling-alley section of the club.
"One of our bartenders, Jorge Palomarez, surprised us by offering to paint a mural up here," says Goodnight. "We've had people inquiring, 'When you gonna put some art, something on the wall here?' And this became the right thing, these enormous characters from movies that have to do with bowling and pool and so on, and we're really happy with it. We've got Paul Newman from The Hustler there, and there's Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson from Kingpin – "
Note: Bill Murray's looking a bit more like Joe Pesci, actually, in this mural.
" – and maybe Bill Murray needs a little more work, yeah," says Goodnight, "but then we've also got John Goodman and Jeff Bridges from The Big Lebowski. I think the Lebowski looks really good."
Note: Yeah, that Lebowski looks pretty damned good.
"And John Belushi there embodies the sort of party vibe we have here," continues Goodnight. "Patrick Swayze was just kind of a joke, because he's that really cheesy character from the movie Road House, so we threw him in there as well."
The mural stretches approximately 40 feet and goes from floor to ceiling. A lot of painting for a guy who's also got bartending shifts to cover.
"Jorge accomplished all this in two weeks," says Goodnight. "He slept here three or four nights in a row, working on it."
Non-mural art figures into the still-transforming Goodnight equation, too. And not just the place's spiffy bowling-ball-with-three-stars logo.
"We've got this banquet space in the back that's unfinished," says the owner, leading me into a large, electric-light-flooded room beyond the shuffleboard table in the main game area. "We've got all this art in here now, from Austin Galleries on Sixth Street: The owner, George Attal, passed away and his wife brought this over. My mother's an artist, too, and a lot of these pieces are hers – she's the one who helped organize this show with a lot of other people, and we've got it set up as a temporary gallery right now. We want to do regular shows, and make it a charity benefit. A few weeks ago, proceeds went to Emancipet, and I'm not sure what we're going to do next month – but it's in the works."
And the art will remain on display, with pieces changing from month to month, even while the room's used for … ?
"It'll be overflow of dining seating, but also an enclosed banquet space," says Goodnight. "We'll probably knock down this wall, put up some really serious curtains or glass doors, so you can be in the space and not feel like you're totally removed, if you want to do that, or if you wanna get super-private and have a conference on who-knows-what, you can do that as well. We're trying to keep it as flexible as possible."
It's a matter of what can be done with available space – which, coincidentally, is what the next Dionysium at the Alamo Drafthouse Village is also concerned with … although, in the Dionysium's case, they're talking about "space" as in "The Final Frontier."
I mention this not just for its coincidental nature, but because The Goodnight is where the head honchos and many regular members of the Dionysium adjourn to after each monthly show.
"The Goodnight has great drinks and outstanding service," asserts Dionysium president LB Deyo. "They usually have a Spurs game on the TV, and they provide the Dionysium with a special reserved section. We like The Goodnight so much, we're seriously considering staying at Alamo Village after the South Lamar Alamo reopens."
"Yeah, people have so many meet-ups here, it's incredible," says David Goodnight. "Dell does a party here almost once a week, Facebook's over here, Intel – all these corporations have been reaching out to us, because, until a couple of weeks ago, we didn't even have an event coordinator on board to go out and do any marketing."
And now they do have such a coordinator: Jared Beatty, a man who'll try to round up more clientele – especially for the club's lunch business, which doesn't begin to match its more bustling nighttime scene – but not in any way that resembles, I reckon, the way in which Charles Goodnight would round up cattle back in the days before there were big-screen TVs and automatic pinsetters and chicken-fried antelope steaks and a Zoltar fortune-telling machine. All of which can be found, among other diverse attractions, in The Goodnight on Anderson Lane.