By LANDAN GARCIA, copy desk chief
It’s 11 p.m. in Ellensburg, and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” blasts from the door of Shooters 2.0.
Shooters 2.0 is the newest bar in the Ellensburg bar scene, featuring games and sports cards instead of the usual fare of bar food and pitchers with friends.
The bar contains over 2,000 games across nine different consoles, including old-school consoles such as the Atari Odyssey. Shooters 2.0 recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, which unofficially fell on Superbowl Sunday. Its owner, Mike Morgan, a former card shop owner, then decided it would be a good idea to add alcohol to the mix.
“That’s what people love – they can come out here and have the same kind of game night as they’d have back home,” Morgan says.
Chris Condotta is responsible for operating the bar taps. He wears a blue t-shirt, and his confident look and stride pays homage to his past as a bouncer. Working next to him is Julia Reveles, a master’s student studying primate behavior at Central. She shares bits of knowledge about primate warfare — of their tendencies to eat meat and how meat can be used by the males to win female members of the group.
“She’s more of a bartender than I am,” Condotta jokes.
Despite offering 162 different beers to choose from, the three bartenders face the challenge of bringing patrons to the Ellensburg bar on a Monday – generally one of the least busy days in terms of drink sales. One of the many weapons the bar has against the lull known as Monday is its box of special drink recipes.
Noticing a patron staring at the Jaegerator, a special refrigerator specifically for Jaegermeister, Condotta grabs the box of recipes and sets them on the black bar countertop. The recipes are all in hard plastic protective sleeves, the kind typically used to protect valuable sports cards.
“There are 250 recipes in here,” Condotta said. “The reasons our specials are special is because we make them ourselves.”
Mondays, known at Shooters as “Mariner Monday,” means special feature sports-themed drink names. Some of these include “Moose Juice” and “Astroturf.” The patron decides on a “Blackout,” a drink not on the specials menu. Condotta closes the card box and sets it in back.
Condotta claims some Mondays at Shooters 2.0 are actually busier than Fridays or Saturdays.
“It depends on the flow of people. We have patrons that work all week and Monday is their day. We try to do cheaper specials – $2 wells and such.”
According to Condotta, 21-runs are a fairly common way the bar generates revenue. They are generally 30-minutes long and consist of several friends all coming in at once. The bar matches drinks – the patron buys one, the bar gives them another at the same price. Still, the bar is strict about maintaining its 50-person capacity.
“We had two birthdays today,” Condotta said. “When it gets closer to spring, we see a lot more birthdays come up. January is kind of a ‘summer month’ in Ellensburg – February starts kind of kicking everybody back in after Superbowl.”
As beers flow from the taps and patrons order drinks, Morgan plays “World of Warcraft” in the corner TV station overlooking the bar, periodically checking on patrons from his peripheral vision.
His account was created during the game’s release in 2004 and sports a level 80 of every in-game character class. Morgan claims to not have a favorite class, though he admits to only disliking the assassin class – rogues.
Morgan walks over from his station and pulls out his cycling-themed deck for “Magic: The Gathering,” comprised of cards from Urza’s Saga. It is meticulously constructed and includes only a few rare cards from Urza’s block.
“He lets me borrow it sometimes,” Condotta said. “I’m also a co-owner here – 0.01 percent.”
The bar keeps things low-key in terms of drink purchases.
“That’s what I love about this crowd – all the bros, all the dudes – it’s just more chill, more relaxed,” Condotta said.
This will mark the 394th night that “Closing Time,” by Semisonic heralds last call for drinks. The bar takes on a somber tone as patrons turn off their consoles and grab their jackets. Reveles picks up a nearby Xbox 360 controller to play a round of Mortal Kombat before closing down the bar for the night.
“Just because it’s on easy doesn’t mean they should just stand there,” she says, mashing buttons and attempting to string together a combo. “I wish they would fight back.”
A squishy black plastic basketball hits the bar counter, nearly knocking over a white plastic cup containing some last remnants of beer foam. The owner sinks a few final hook shots in the corner by the pool table as the last patrons filter out of the door.