The Shady Lady Saloon once was a country store that sat on top of the bend where Southeast Military Drive segues into South W.W. White Road. There one could purchase a pack of stale baseball card gum for a nickel, and cold beer, ice, and bait figured heavily in the venue’s grocery repertoire.
Over the decades, the building was the Lucky 13 drive-in and the Circle B&R. It finally evolved into the Shady Lady Saloon, today a popular South Side nightclub where the honky tonk tradition thrives. It’s a neighborhood bar, with few neighbors nearby in this semi-rural sector of the city. And “friendly” seems to be its theme.
I’ve dropped in off and on for years, but it had been a long time before a drop-in last Wednesday to check out the lady in the red dress on the sign outside. Two things had changed. The bar is under new ownership since about three years ago; a no parking sign over a barstool has proprieter David Martin’s name on it. The squared-off U-shaped bar has been flipped around, so now it’s easier to access the games and it only takes a few steps into the saloon to snag a barstool.
Shady Lady Saloon
3603 S. W.W. White Rd.
The Shady Lady has always had a couple of pool tables (free on Sundays), electronic dart boards, and some bar-top video games. Live music, usually country and western, plays on Friday and Saturday nights (dance night always packs in the patrons).
But there’s a new attraction that makes this club nearly irresistible: A shuffleboard table lines the wall, less than two feet from the doorway, which is propped open during business hours (so you can get some fresh air during hot and heavy matches).
It’s not one of those shuffleboard tables that you pump quarters into to access the scoring system. Just plop your driver’s license on the bar for collateral, and Del, one of the friendliest bartenders in town, will retrieve the shuffleboard pucks and then quickly hop over to the table to spread a layer of sawdust before the play begins. “His name is really Doris,” one patron quipped as he introduced himself.
The shuffleboard is free, and anyone who likes competition can join a tournament for $5 on Sundays. Members of the saloon’s shuffleboard team won second place in the Southside Shuffleboard League in 2005, so watch out for ringers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie; patrons will offer friendly advice on shuffleboard strategy as they order a round for the new customers. One patron’s tip: “Look at the place on the table where you want it (the puck) to stop, and your hand will follow.”
The Shady Lady Saloon has more than games and beer to offer longtime customers and new patrons: We’re going back on Thursday night. It’s steak night, and 10-ounce cooked-to-order ribeyes will be offered with baked potato and salad for $6.50.
Dress is casual. Ignore the word “Redneck” elaborately carved on the top of the bar, the patrons on a slow Wednesday night were as friendly as good neighbors. •