"Cheers" meets "The Hobbit" at the new Elfstone Hollow Mystic Pub and Hideaway, an intimate tavern where it seems everybody knows your name and Frodo's too.
J.R.R. Tolkien's famous elf intrepidly traverses Middle-earth in a large painting that dominates one wall of the former Irish sports bar in Huntington Beach, which owner Cecilia Clemens and her ex-husband, Robin Clemens, have transformed with a Merlinesque touch.
Wizards, dragons, trolls, gargoyles and wispy-winged fairies are perched and painted everywhere. A horse-size statue of a snow-white unicorn rears up on the lawn out front.
Even patrons who aren't crazy for "The Lord of the Rings" say they like the change. And everybody's especially friendly. Guy Snyder of Garden Grove, sipping a brew at the Hollow's five-stool bar, pulled up his pant leg to show a stranger his thick "kilt hose" socks.
He's not a Tolkien fan, he said, but he's into the "Celtic-Renaissance movement." He sells imported goods at the Scottish Heritage Center in Long Beach, where he wears a kilt, and the socks, to work.
"What's been done with this establishment is totally unbelievable," said Snyder, 59, who remembers when the decor consisted of a few posters of Ireland and an Irish flag. "The atmosphere is 1,000-fold what it used to be."
The bearded Robin Clemens, something of an elfish Merlin himself, bought the bar for Cecelia, a former McDonnell Douglas engineer who's been attending the Renaissance Faire for the last 15 years.
She sewed her own and most of the waitresses' Chaucerian costumes--lace-up black bustiers, puffy white blouses, long, sturdy skirts. Together, the Clemenses redecorated the Old World Village bar with items from their own vast collection of fantastic objects. They tossed out a pool table for the redo too.
The idea was to create a cozy coven that looked and felt like the Ren Faire, a one-big-family sort of "gestalt," Cecelia said. The Fountain Valley resident hired friends to tend bar, and she and the ex know many of the customers who hunker down for a Bass Ale or sit in with the aptly named house band Dragonfly.
Robin Clemens joined the trio to play percussion for a snug-fitting crowd of about two dozen the other Sunday night. Most around baby boomer age, the clientele played chess, backgammon and cribbage, and heartily enjoyed the trio's '60s and '70s rock covers.
Led Zeplin--who dug Tolkien too--Loggins and Messina, and a Styx medley that included unapologetically sincere renditions of "Sail Away" and "Lady" inspired some to sing along, word for word, and wave their hands in the air.
A fairy floating among the stars, painted near the ceiling above the musicians, and a leprechaun perched on a toadstool nearby seemed to smile their approval.
Thursdays are karaoke nights at Elfstone, which serves such hearty fare as polish sausage sandwiches ($3.50), Irish stew ($4.95) and stovies, mashed potatoes mixed with corned beef and butter ($2.50). The meals are prepared by Piccadilly, a manufacturer of traditional English foods. Such rare imported beer as Bodington, on tap, is poured for $4.25; wine runs $2.75 a glass.
Plenty of opportunity to ring in 1999, hotel-ballroom style, on Dec. 31: Two popular local promoters plan three New Year's Eve dance parties.
Unity Productions, which promotes Saturday gigs at Metropolis, the Shark Club and Twin Palms, has booked deejay Daniel and Bruce Conti, a Top 40 and old-school band, for its bash at the Sutton Place Hotel, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. Hours are 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets, $25, are available through Ticketmaster: (714) 740-2000. Information: (949) 223-0199.
Deejay Priest, meanwhile, is organizing both a semiformal affair and a more casual party. He'll spin music for the latter at the Doubletree Hotel Orange County Airport, 3050 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, where he rotates disco every Thursday. Hours are 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Advance tickets, $20, available through Ticketmaster: (714) 740-2000. Information: (714) 540-7000.
The fancier bash will take place at the Orange County Airport Hilton, 18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. "Semiformal" means men must wear jackets (ties not required) and women should wear dresses, Priest said. Deejay Blake Davidson will rotate. Hours are 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Advance tickets, which include cover and a buffet, $35, available through Ticketmaster: (714) 740-2000. Information: (949) 833-9999.
The Elfstone Hollow Mystic Pub and Hideaway, 7561 Center Ave., Suite 42, Huntington Beach. Mon.-Fri., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat., noon-2 a.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Live music starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sunday and every other Friday. Karaoke on Thursday, 7-10 p.m. No cover. (714) 899-9918.