The highly anticipated college clash pits Virginia Tech against last year's WAC champion Boise State in what Rivals.com is calling the number one non-conference college football game of the 2010 season. Coming into this season, the Hokies are ranked number six in USA Today's coaches' poll, while the Broncos hold the number-five spot. Catch all the gridiron action from the stadium's party-deck, located at both end zones directly above the stadium's high-definition video boards. Once in the club-level zone, you and a fellow football fanatic have exclusive access to all the club-level amenities, including restaurants and bars, expansive lounges with plush leather chairs, and dozens of high-def televisions sprinkled throughout the area. Parking is included in the price of your Groupon.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
The seasoned chefs at Waterman's Tavern outsmart hunger and thirst with an upscale pub menu showcasing more than 90 brews. Sweep meaty cravings under your lip curtains with the half-pound bison burger smothered in American cheese ($10.95) or try the tavern meat loaf, a medley of beef, veal, and pork glazed with a sauce as sweet and smoky as a candyland forest fire ($12.95). Hoppy delights, such as Sam Smith's Organic and Stella Artois ($2.25–$6), cleanse palates, and french baguettes and tortilla chips escort Waterman's crab dip with cheddar cheese ($12.95) into vacated belly hovels. Seal the meal with homemade bread pudding inundated with irish cream and vanilla, tossed with chocolate chips and crowned with whipped, spiked, and iced creams ($5.95).
If comfort food is supposed to evoke a sense of ease and familiarity, the Impossible Double Hank burger breaks rather severely with tradition. With its intimidating name and heaps of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bacon, and cheddar, the burger forces the brave patrons of Hank’s Tavern & Eats to confront their most delicious fears. Though less overwhelming than the double-portioned hamburgers, the tavern’s shrimp po’ boys, baby back ribs, and fish burritos are made with similarly fresh ingredients and prove just as tasty. While digging into these and other hearty eats, patrons can follow local sports on 20 TV screens and guesstimate their height by lying facedown on the 50-foot bar.
The graceful ease with which a good bartender mixes drinks masks the difficulty of the job, one that requires knowledge and dexterity—not to mention charisma. The seasoned barkeeps at Bartender of America, a TIPS-certified school, know what it takes to be a good bartender and lead their students through deliberate exercises inside a fully simulated tavern environment. Amid ambient sounds and music, novice bartenders dole out maraschino cherries and shake martinis while refining their conversational skills and learning how to identify underage kids by their mustaches. Fully committed students can opt for the entire Bar 101 curriculum, attaining a bartending license and valuable tricks for managing their resume and acing job interviews, while abbreviated classes offer insight into the fundamentals of the trade.
Guests pass by the ArtIz Gallery Lounge’s walls adorned with the work of local artists before entering The Art Spa, where they benefit from the expertise of licensed aesthetician Ms. Cherie. In addition to three types of facials, she and her team expertly remove unwanted hair as painlessly as possible during more than 25 waxing treatments. To beautify blinks, she applies eyelash extensions using both flares and individual lashes.