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Covered Wagon: a Workingman's Watering Hole

February 27, 1992|LISA MASCARO

Pouring drafts behind the bar at the Covered Wagon in Anaheim for the past four years has given Susan Vickers more than a good listening ear. It also has given her one of the better holds on local lore, and she spins a fine yarn about the bar's history.

"We're like the little Anaheim 'Cheers,' " says Vickers. "People have been coming here for years."

The Covered Wagon, founded in 1957, is one of the older beer bars in the city. It moved to its current place next to City Hall in 1968.

The antique-looking wooden bar is itself at least as old as the watering hole--and was split in two the day of the move, so the story goes. On any given afternoon here, you'll still find many who remember that day, and if they weren't exactly there, they know the story from someone who was.

The tale behind the animal heads hanging from the wall behind the bar is pretty simple: "Everything you see's been given to us by customers," Vickers says. That includes the goat and Bambis one and two.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the bar is its collection of old wooden shuffleboards.

It was a hot spot for shuffleboard players during the heyday of that game decades ago, and the Covered Wagon still offers the game at 50 cents a try. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, a league comes in to use the boards, something that to locals is a quaint reminder of earlier times but nothing like it was at the height of the fad.

The menu is sparse, but the food is tasty. No wine or hard liquors are served here, and the beer choices are limited to three brands on tap--Budweiser, Miller and Coors--and a standard variety of bottled domestics and imports. Daily lunches offer local workers a small variety of sandwiches and burgers. The "famous Covered Wagon Polish Sausage Sandwich," which Vickers says sold for 35 cents on opening day, is still a hot item at $1.50.

And Taco Thursdays offer a larger-than-usual version for $1.50.

Once in a while, on such special occasions as a regular's birthday or holidays such as St. Patrick's Day or Halloween, bands are brought in. On most nights, though, locals just hang at the bar and tap their feet to sounds from the jukebox, and there is never a cover charge.

"We're basically a workingman's bar--postal workers, construction workers"--from Anaheim's new downtown, which is being built across the street from--"city workers," Vickers says.

The Covered Wagon, 406 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (714) 635-5961.

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