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Bar Exam: Johnny Cash would have loved Salt Lake City's A Bar Named Sue

Published November 2, 2012 2:19 pm

Bar exam • New owners plan to enhance the charm of Highland Drive bar, while keeping the extensive whiskey and beer selection.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"Hip. Whiskeybeerlicious. Good times." Those are the three words (actually four, but who's counting?) general manager Tyson Enniss uses to sum up A Bar Named Sue. "We have something to offer almost every type of bar enthusiast," he added.

The bar, in a nondescript strip mall on Highland Drive, appears unassuming until you descend the stairs, and then it gets cool — way cool.

There's a huge Johnny Cash mural on the wall, a massive bar decorated with hundreds of beer bottle lids under plastic, and roomy tables if you want a little more privacy. And that's just the main area. There's also a game room with free pool, shuffle board, darts, video games and a jukebox.

As for the drinks, there are more than 50 whiskey varieties available, including Irish, Scottish and Canadian varieties, plus more than 40 beers on tap. There's also a cocktail and shot menu with drinks with great titles inspired by Cash songs, such as Understand Your Man, In Folsom Prison, Ring of Fire, Sing It Pretty, Sue and I Walk the Line.

A Bar Named Sue opened in 2008 on Thanksgiving Day, but the Lumpys group — which also includes Lumpys Downtown, Lumpys Highland and Inferno Cantina — took over the bar in August.

"We came into a situation that was not broken, it just needed some tender loving care," said Ennis, who transferred from Lumpys Downtown in August. "We left the concept and, for the most part, the schedule the bar already had intact. We have made improvements to the aesthetics and brought in a new lunch, dinner, and brunch menu."

The brunch menu includes veggie and vegan options, plus choices for meat-eaters, such as Sue's Benedict ($7), which consists of bacon, avocado, tomatoes and poached eggs topped with hollandaise sauce, and the Johnny Cash breakfast ($7), potatoes smothered with chili and cheese, the whole thing topped with two eggs.

The lunch and dinner menus include appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and salads. I tried an appetizer sampler ($9) and selected Hil's fried dills (house-made pickles battered and fried and served with ranch dressing), plus fried ravioli with house-made marinara, and chicken bits (boneless chicken marinated in whiskey barbecue sauce then coated with more sauce). All were absolutely outstanding. My lunch companion tried the combo of cast iron mac 'n' cheese and chili ($7). Our server, Amy, was just the right combination of friendly and helpful but left us alone when we were chatting and eating.

George Ferguson, a regular customer who happened to be wearing a very cool eye patch, said he appreciates the recent changes to the bar. He often comes for brunch and lunch as well as in the evenings. "It's not a fighting bar," he said. "Customers feel secure in here to have fun. The younger crowd and the older customers are respectful. Girls know that they can come in here and have a ladies' night out and not get bothered." Added Blair Noble, whom he was having a drink with: "The service is good, and the staff is always smiling. You can tell they actually enjoy their jobs."

As for the name, Enniss explained: "Not exactly sure who originally came up with the name for the bar but it is perfect for the feel of the place. A Johnny Cash, whiskey bar, with great food, great staff and even better clientele."


A Bar Named Sue

A sports bar and grill with free pool, billiards, darts, shuffleboard and video games, a free jukebox and live music four nights a week.

Where • 3928 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City; 801-274-5578.

Open • Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday at 10:30 a.m. through football season. Brunch served until 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Pray for Powder party • Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. with food, drink and a raffle with items donated by ski companies and local shops. All proceeds go to Utah Avalanche Center. Rage Against the Supremes will start at 10 p.m.

Other events • Karaoke on Monday and Thursday at 10 p.m.; Geeks who Drink trivia Tuesdays at 9 p.m.; live music Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.

During the ski season • The bar is planning to offer food discounts for skiers with day or season passes.

Web • Visit abarnamedsueslc.com.