When it comes to watching a Cavs game when I'm not at the game itself, I take shit seriously. (I take everything in my life seriously, as you know, but don't eff around with Cavs games.) I need the perfect setting and it requires an ambiance of good food, a great beer selection, but most importantly, a television to watch it on. (As it turns out, watching a Cavs game is nearly impossible for most folks if there's not a television.)
I've watched countless Cavs in just about every establishment known to man. Some are pretty good, others are just okay, and some down right whack! The perfect spot, in my opinion, is the Winking Lizard in Lakewood. All 14 Lizards in Northeast Ohio are good places to take in a Cavs game, but the one in Lakewood is number one. Why? I live three miles away and I hate leaving Lakewood. So, there.
This column is taking place on Wednesday evening right before the Cavaliers-Utah game. I wanted to head over to the Lizard in Lakewood to watch the game but I needed a partner in crime (and someone to drive me because I still don't have a license). So I called up a fellow Cavs fan, comedian Ryan Dalton, to come along with me. It took some heavy persuading and some light petting. Here's the text transcript:
Chad- Ryan, you wanna go to the Lizard in Lakewood to watch the Cavs game?
Ryan- I think I'm gonna stay home and watch it.
Chad- I'm buying.
Ryan- Be there in 15 min.
The Winking Lizard in Lakewood resides inside of an old renovated Elk's Lodge. When you walk in, you'll see uber-elevated ceilings, dark woodwork, and the smell of dead bodies decomposing. Just kidding, I wrote that just in case you're getting as bored reading this article as much as I am writing it. [Ed. Note: Why are we paying you again? Really, can someone tell us?]
There are three floors including a private party room upstairs, a six-lane bowling alley in the basement, and a vast main room/bar area. The bar area houses 23 giant 80-inch plasma TVs, a 2013 Golden Tea game, Touch Tunes jukebox, and plenty of Cavs, Browns, and Indians signage all around. I didn't have time to take inventory of how many napkins are available at any given time, but I'll check when I get a chance.
The original Winking Lizard Tavern arrived in 1983 on Miles Road in Bedford Heights. The concept was simple: they focused on food, service, and atmosphere. The Lizard quickly became a favorite with the "locals" but the kicker is the beer selection. They have one of the best draft lists in Northeast Ohio and their World Tour of Beers is what makes it a Cleveland-area institution and a fine place to become an alcoholic.
Ryan and I were seated in the bar area and were introduced to the GM Michelle Tanski. She immediately said, "Don't I know you?" So I just assumed she was thinking I was Chad Zumock, the famous comedian from Cleveland who writes Scene columns because he's not allowed on the radio anymore, but she followed up with, "Don't you work at Panera Bread in Rocky River?" Sigh.
She sent our excellent server over named Timi and Ryan and I started doing what we do best -- ordering stuff and making lame attempts at patter. I ordered a Buffalo Grilled Chicken Wrap with Onion Rings and a side of ranch dressing and [Ed. Note: Chad continued listing what he ate and ordered here but we got rid of it. Instead, go look at pictures of cats on the Internet or something. That's what we did.]
The cornerstone of this establishment is the service. I've been here over a half dozen times and have always been, even at the busiest of times, served promptly and courteously. Of course, I'm used to being ignored, so if someone comes around or makes vague eye contact with me, I'm in heaven.
After a few rounds of Labatts, a couple of bathroom breaks, the Cavaliers eventually went on to win 104-101. The victory was followed with a high five from my buddy Ryan Dalton. It was display of his enthusiasm for the victory, the evening, and me picking up the tab. I graciously accepted the high five because I feel there are only three settings in life for the high five.
1) While watching a sporting event.
2) While playing Golden Tee.
3) While performing during a gang bang.
Preferably not all at the same time. Golden Tee deserves your full concentration. Go Cavs.