Walking into Jim’s Tap is like walking into the pub that all the beast slayers and bounty hunters hang out at after a long day of escapading, exchanging tales of adventure and whimsy over tall flagons of ale. The dim orange lighting and red carpet is accompanied by the warm glow of a fireplace illuminating a mounted boar’s head above its mantel. The walls are adorned with various medieval décor (including knight’s armor) hanging over the bar’s wooden tables and black chairs with silver-studded upholstery.
When I was a college student in Brookings, SD, Jim’s Tap was my bar. I and my social circle could frequently be found there next to the fireplace, tables pushed together, enjoying a bounty of brew (sometimes perhaps too bountiful) and exchanging our own tales of whimsy, our conversation getting louder and louder as the night ages. (My social circle was pretty big, comprised of many smaller, more close-knit cliques.) When we weren’t drinking tap beer we’d be downing Backpackers – a concoction unique to Jim’s Tap. Not much is known about the Backpacker other than the fact that it’s enchantingly delicious and neon green in color, which only adds to the bar’s fanciful mystique.
When I think of Jim’s Tap today, I think of the many laughs I shared around those pushed-together tables. I think of some of the greatest times I had with old friends and new. I think of the initial formative moments I spent there getting to know my now fiancé (who hailed from a neighboring clique), chatting and crushing on each other over the noise of our surrounding friends. I think of all this, set to a scene of perfect ambiance that sparked the imagination.
Every once in a while you come across a business that doesn’t need to talk you into liking it. It doesn’t need to have big sales promotions to keep customers coming back or launch social media campaigns with an inhumanly gregarious presence; it’s perfectly happy with its 133 Facebook Likes and sparse, punctuation-less updates. Sometimes businesses win consumers over by just being themselves, humbly doing what they do best. If they do it right, they can acquire what I think is the holy grail of business – true customer loyalty. This loyalty is not won by drink specials or fast service; it’s won by consistent positive experiences, experiences that turn into life-long memories.
So what makes Jim’s Tap so special to me? Why does it ignite such passionate nostalgia? Is it the boar’s head or the free snack mix? Nope, it is the memories. To me, Jim’s Tap isn’t just some bar; it’s a symbol of the good times. And if I lived in Brookings today, you can bet that I’d still be frequenting that old pub.
After living in Sioux Falls for about a year now, I have yet to find a Jim’s Tap replacement. Any recommendations? A mounted boar’s head is a plus.