Q: The Tap seems like a classic neighborhood bar, sort of like a “Cheers.” Who’s your “Norm?”
A: It's funny how almost every neighborhood bar I’ve ever been to, you can find the “Cheers” people in it. You can find the Norm, you can find that waitress that you just don’t mess with.
I’d say most of my business are regulars. The bartenders know what they’re going to have before they say it, mostly.
Q: The Tap, of course, is more than a place to grab a cold one. What are the most popular items on the food menu?
A: I’ve got a sirloin dinner that’s been a mainstay here for 30 years, and I’ve got a Minnesota Burger that’s our most popular item and has been for as a long as I can remember. It’s a bacon cheeseburger with everything, including lettuce, cheese, onions, tomatoes and pickles, with fries on the side. People don’t even have to think when they order; they just say “Minnesota Burger.”
Q: There’s food, there’s drink, there’s … sand volleyball. How did that last one come about?
A: When Al Hurlbut and Tom Winter first owned it, it was the A & T Tap, and the place was maybe a third of what it is now. One corner of the bar was Bill’s barber shop, another seating area had two apartments and the game room was Taco Towne. Next to where the volleyball court is now was Pass’s Pawn Shop, and next to that was Engler’s Machine Shop.
Every situation was different, but there were decisions to be made once the buildings were empty. Al came up with the idea of putting the volleyball in; that was 25 or 30 years ago.
Q: I moved here 19 years ago and you owned this place — yet it was still called the A & T Tap. Eventually, it seems you decided to simplify the name?
A: I bought the bar in 1997, I think. I later sold it … but that didn’t work out, so I bought it back and it just became The Tap because the A & T were out of it then. It really didn’t matter what I was going to call it then — people were just going to call it “The Tap” no matter what.
Q: You started working here back in 1982. Other than the additions here, how have things changed?
A: When I started way back when I was a kid, food was an afterthought — it was a convenience. In 1982, this was just a 3.2 bar and setups. You brought your own bottle in, bought a glass of pop and poured your own drinks. When I took over, the first thing I did was get rid of that.
Now it’s turned over to where food is my main business and the liquor is the icing on the cake, the minor income. That’s a huge difference.