Imagine you walk into a bar and the bouncer greets you by name (as he checks your identification, of course). As you walk up to the bar, the bartender already has your usual drink prepared for you, and the owner is on his way over to say hello.
The Blackstone Bar located in downtown Mount Pleasant is just the place where this can happen. Under the ownership of Steve Bissell, for almost 20 years, this bar has brought a hometown feel to a fun night out.
“I hear this from a lot of people — this reminds me of a bar in my hometown,” Bissell said. “It has that kind of feel. It has that kind of friendly welcoming. The manager, if you’re in here more than three times, will probably recognize you and speak to you.”
The Blackstone Bar provides quiet fun that many people find favorable over the loud, crowded clubs. It also serves as the perfect place to begin or end a night of bar-hopping downtown.
This bar is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy the company of friends or family. It provides a place to focus on your social life and disconnect from technology for a night.
People come in to have good time whether it’s a date night, the ever-popular 21-year-old birthday party or just to shoot a game of pool.
There are activities such as darts, pool and foosball that keeps the bar crowd entertained throughout the night. These light-hearted games spark friendly competition, and are a great mindless way to spend time with your friends.
A lot of these activities are things you’re not finding other places.
Bissell also mentioned that they have competitive pool players come in for “heated competitions.”
On a usual night at the Blackstone Bar it is common to see a wide-variety of people. From college students to middle-aged workers, it is a place that caters to anyone looking for a fun night out.
Despite the wide-range of people who come into the bar, there is little conflict.
“It’s neat in the fact that you have such a cross-mix of different people in here,” Bissell said. “You don’t have just sororities and fraternities. You don’t just have townies and locals. You have everyone from people who own oil companies to students to the Tree Love crowd. You really do have a wide mix.”
In Bissell’s eyes the Blackstone is in the middle of a transition period. He has noticed a trend of an earlier and higher energy crowd lately, and overall, the bar has been doing well this semester compared to last.
Bissell knows just what college students mean to this town, and the businesses in it.
The popularity of bars comes and goes in cycles and what was once a popular place to hang out on Friday nights, can easily become a different destination.
Bissell noticed that the Blackstone has been drawing in more college students lately, which led him to making some changes.
“You can try and attract a certain crowd, but the crowd really picks you.”
The recent renovations that were finished in late January include new color-changing lights at the bar, a new bar top and an all over paint job to the bar. The commercial lights were replaced as well for lights that are more reliable and programmable.
One of the biggest aspects of the renovation was the bathrooms. Everyone can appreciate a clean, polished bathroom and Blackstone provides just that. The ladies room is bigger now, accommodating any long lines that may form throughout the night.
Glass display cases were also installed behind and above the bar to show customers a better preview of the top-shelf whiskey, bourbon and vodka bottles.
At Blackstone, you have the option to order an upscale bourbon drink, try a seasonal craft beer on tap or buy your go-to domestic bottled beer. They also sell fishbowl drinks, a novelty that come at a great value.
In fact, Bissell understands the tight budget of a college student, and tries to keep things as affordable as he can. With no cover charge and inexpensive daily drink specials that are posted on their Facebook page, the Blackstone is wallet friendly.
“You walk in and it’s familiar. I don’t charge a cover and I’m not trying to gouge you. I understand what it’s like being in college,” Bissell said. “I’m not trying to take advantage of students. You’re getting a good value for your dollar. It’s good respect.”
With a big bar day and night right around the corner, the Blackstone will have extended hours to accommodate St. Patrick’s Day. Bissell said green beer will be available as well as featured green mixed drinks. (There’s talk of a green fishbowl, too!)
Bissell hopes to see the Blackstone continue to do well, along with the other bars in the downtown area. He realizes that many people bar hop, and as long as Blackstone is one of many choices downtown, there is faith people will be inclined to stop in. Besides, who can deny a hometown feel?
“There are a lot of good things about the Blackstone. There’s friendship. There’s tradition. There’s activities and sports entertainment,” Bissell said.
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