What, exactly, is a fern bar?

There was once a nifty set of beer commercials showing a bunch of one-dollar bills making time, drinking beer, etc in a bar-room. The dollar bills, you see, were passing their time in a singles bar. Get it? Singles … one-dollar bills.

Well, anyway, another commercial in the series showed a bunch of ferns (the plants) hanging out in a fern bar. OK … I was wooshed. What is a fern bar in real life?

Startes in the 70’s, fern bars were faux-upscale meat markets that were supposed to give a classier atmosphere to the singles bar experience. White wine, quiche, brass rails, wood walls and lots of ferns.

You can still find them in some places, and the “Cleverly-named-chain-restaurant-owned-by-five-proctologists-in-a -blind-business-trust” like TGI Mc’Dickweeds or Shenanigan’s have appropriated some of their decor.

On preview, False_God has beaten me to it, but I’ll post my reply anyway.

Fern bar. It’s been years since I heard that term.

The way I remember it, a fern bar was ultimately a bar–that is, you could buy drinks there. The difference between it and, say, Cheers, or a place Archie Bunker might hang out in was the fact that it was usually a little brighter, better-decorated, and had lots of green plants; among which were ferns, giving the place its name.

The clientele were usually young, educated, professional and well-off men and women–indeed, you would sometimes hear the phrase “yuppie fern bar.” Some were singles bars, but not necessarily; a business person might take a client there to discuss business, or an established couple might meet there for drinks after work or before a show.

Drinks were usually not what you’d find at Cheers or Archie Bunker’s Place either. Fine wines (usually white) were available by the glass, and the most popular beers sold in fern bars were often imported–it could be difficult to find a domestically mass-produced commercial beer in these places, but they’d have plenty of Heineken, Beck’s, and Stella Artois, for example.

But that was pretty much it. It wasn’t a pub or sports bar or cigar lounge–it was a little brighter, somewhat more expensive, definitely more upscale than an average bar, and it had lots of ferns. A fern bar.

Most 1970s era fern bars closed, became pseudo-Irish pubs, or grew to become large chains (Applebee’s, Bennigan’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, TGI Friday’s, O’Charley’s, Old Chicago).

You can still find some original fern bars in moderately upscale hotel chains.

There’s still a few remnants of another 1970s restaurant/bar trend floating around – the late 1800s San Francisco theme – seen in places like Bombay Bicycle Club, Lums, Fred Ott’s or the San Diego holdout of the Farley’s ice cream chain.

[Capt. O’Hagan]
I swear to God I’m going to pistol whip the next guy who says Shenanigans.
[/Capt. O’Hagan]

TGI Mc’Dickweeds…

nice, I would go there, even if all they had was potato skins and Madori Martini Maragarita Madness…

Good thing someone else posted first. I was going to use Norm Peterson’s definition of a fern bar.

Oh, DO, please.

Norm warns Sam of another bar that welcomed them and “…the next thing you know, ferns…”

I always thought fern bars were a euphemism for gay bars.

I still call Applebee’s, Bennigan’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, TGI Friday’s, O’Charley’s, etc., “Fern Bars” - I wasn’t aware that they had become anything else… as I recall, there were always masses of hanging plants (mainly consisting of easy to care for ferns) in these establishments. And salad bars. It’s been - hmm - probably 7 years since I visited one of these eateries, but the last time I was in one (I think it was an Applebee’s) there were still hanging plants in abundance.

Is it now incorrect to refer to these restaurants as “fern bars”?