HANGOUTS

At these tables, everyone is welcome

dhinshaw@thestate.comApril 25, 2013 

"I've been connected to the whole city by just coming here," said Kindra Henry, center, of Lexington. She is joined by Katie Spigner and Ronnie Alexander. The group of young professionals has been meeting weekly at Pearlz Oyster Bar for the past two years.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com Buy Photo

A “reserved” sign sits on Table 20 every Thursday evening at Pearlz Oyster Bar.

The sign disappears when the first one to get off work arrives. On a recent Thursday, that happened to be John Stackhouse, a 35-year-old Columbia financial adviser.

Stackhouse is just one in a group of young professionals who get together at the Gervais Street restaurant.

“You’ll meet someone new every week,” he said.

The Vista has several bars and restaurants where “regulars” hang out, some gathering at a set day and time each week. They are politicians and professors, government employees and college students – even exercise buffs.

At Pearlz, Stackhouse and his group drag up extra chairs and the guys chivalrously volunteer their seats until a group of 15 or more has gathered. Waitresses know names and drink preferences, but refer to them as a group: Table 20.

Members stay in touch throughout the week, circulating group text messages. Or they go to events together, like the recent Boyz II Men concert. But as the work week draws to an end, they can count on finding friends at Pearlz – to vent, de-stress and have fun.

“My mom knows it’s Thursday,” said Carlynn Cary, who’s also in finance. “She knows to go let my dog out.”

Less than a block away, a group of yoga enthusiasts meets regularly at Social, a bar owned by Anthony Carbone. He offers “skinny girl drinks,” appealing to those who are active.

His wife, Lacy, teaches Bikram Yoga and her customers gather at Social to celebrate completing challenges.

“Detox to retox,” her husband joked.

Across Gervais, at the Art Bar, a half-dozen men sat on red vinyl benches on a recent rainy night, drinking beer and listening to music. A stack of motorcycle magazines on the corner of the table gave them away: This is the Euro Motorcycle Club that meets every Monday.

Their vocations range from a craftsman to a retired English teacher. But what they have in common is a love of vintage motorcycles, specifically European motorcycles, going back to when they were rebellious teenagers.

“It’s the perfect club,” veteran member Curt Elliott said of the group. “No officers, no rules, a range of conversation.”

When the weather’s good, they sit outside the Park Street bar.

In summer, they might ride or camp together.

There’s even a lending library. On this evening, Lewis Kirk brought a copy of The Bikeriders by Magnum photographer Danny Lyon.

“Anybody on two wheels is welcome,” Kirk said.


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