Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Penguin Is Alive And Well

    The Penguin Hotel in Durlach just off Mt. Airy Road between Hopeland and Schoeneck is one of those serendipitous discoveries that you will always appreciate having made. In the mid-60s, Project 70 was in the process of acquiring land for the development of the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

    It was on an afternoon drive through the countryside near Middle Creek years ago that I came around a corner and there was the Penguin Hotel. What a surprise! I stopped in then and enjoyed a brief visit. Years passed and eventually curiosity and a desire for a revisit took me to those back roads again but I was disappointed when I discovered weeds had overtaken the parking lot and the business was no more.

    Now, since the advent of the Internet and the possibility to chat “over-the-backyard-fence” with people who are miles away, I heard gossip that the Penguin had reopened. It definitely has. Welcome back, Penguin.

    It’s the kind of place where strangers do not remain strangers for very long. The terms “neighborhood tavern” and “country bar” could be considered equally descriptive for this pleasant place.

    Comfortable, friendly conversations can be enjoyed even when the TouchTunes digital jukebox is playing. The volume is kept reasonable. Toby Keith would find many reasons to sing about this place even though no Mason jars were evident. (He’ll get used to it.)

    An off duty bartender was being highly regarded for her sociability on the customer side and praised for her professionalism on the working side. And Chelsea, on duty, was wowing the customers with her prowess behind the bar. She particularly amazed Larry with her draft beer tapping skills. (For anyone who has never tended bar, tapping a beer IS a skill.)

       Larry, also a Navy veteran, and I enjoyed sharing some remembrances on our Navy days even though he served in the Pacific fleet and I remained in the Atlantic (and Caribbean and Mediterranean). He made the interesting observation that he had learned a lot about many things but not enough about any one thing to be considered “expert”. It’s an observation I’ve made many times. (But then, I remembered someone’s comment that there’s “No value in being an expert. An Ex is a has been and a spurt is a drop of water under pressure.”) Sour grapes? Or wise truism?
    The food at the Penguin looked and smelled scrumptious and next time I’m anywhere near there while hungry, the Penguin will be my choice.

    My next visit will be later this week. I learned that the Penguin has karaoke on Thursdays beginning at 8 PM. That’ll be a case of double enjoyment — singing some songs I like and doing it in a place I like.

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