The Art of Staging Turf Wars

Hudson Stage Companhy Outside Mullingar
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Bruce caricatureBruce the Blog By Bruce Apar When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk


Turf is turf, whether it’s auld sod in the Emerald Isle or pavement in Manhattan; whether it’s an in-your-mug Irish lass sparring over a patch of land with the feisty farmer next door or American hooligans pounding the pavement to protect their territory from an Hispanic street gang.

Two such scenarios are playing out to magical effect on a couple of the finest stages of entertainment in the Hudson Valley.

Outside Mullingar cast + producers

The insiders behind the outstanding “Outside Mullingar” are (from left) actor Davis Hall (Tony Reilly); producers Denise Bessette, Olivia Sklar, Dan Foster (who directed), actors Susan Pellegrino (Aoife Muldoon), Sean Hayden (Anthony Reilly), Susannah Schulman Rogers (Rosemary Muldoon). Photo by Bruce Apar

IMG_7352John Patrick Shanley, the supremely gifted dramatist who has spun contemporary classics like Oscar winner Moonstruck and Tony- and Pulitzer-honored Doubt, is very well served by Hudson Stage’s gloriously performed Outside Mullingar at Whippoorwill Theater, part of Armonk’s North Castle Library.

IMG_7353A few miles (or minutes) west, at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, the Jets and Sharks are having at each other in the towering West Side Story, miraculously scored by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim with a veritable hit parade of hummable and infectious standards.

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Chillin’ at Chili’s

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Bruce caricatureBruce the Blog
By Bruce Apar

When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk


When I saw today on the Ziosk mini-screen atop the Chili’s bar that happy hour ended 6 p.m., panic was not far behind. It’s 5:45 already! Hurry up and take my order. But the bartender calmly informed me 6 p.m. applied solely to food. For 2-for-1 drinks, happy hour is “every day, all day.” Thinking earwax was clogging my canal, I said, “Wait just one minute, Missy. You mean to say your happy hour is 24/7?” Missy gently affirmed. Oh… my… guacamole! I thought I died and went to cielo.

Chili's beer and menu

Two-for-one beers, wine, “well” mixed drinks (as in not premium brands), and classic margaritas are served at Chili’s round-the-clock.

Chili’s
Somers Commons Shopping Center
80 US-6, Baldwin Place 10505
(914) 621-0216

Since my mucho better half, Elyse, only goes one round at happy hour — though she lasts a lot longer when sparring with me — I commandeered one of her two classic margaritas, for starters; like Vegas used to do in its showrooms when you ordered a drink before the show began, Chili’s brings both drinks at once (for the price of one; $7.29 for a classic margarita). That refreshment didn’t last very long, and for a chaser, I ordered a Sam Adams summer ale (think positive!), and Bruce got two brews. That was $5.29. Not bad for a night’s work.

On the food side, we ordered the classic nachos, which we quickly noticed were prepared differently from the past in this establishment, much to our taste buds’ delight. Instead of the typical mountain of chips slathered in melted Velveeta cheese, these were separate triangles closer to quesadillas in texture and appearance. They are “Topped with 3-cheese blend, black beans, jalapeños & our Skillet Queso. Served with house-made pico de gallo & sour cream.”

We added beef and guacamole, both slightly extra. Cost for a regular size: $7.19. Bodily damages: a mere 1020 calories.

Chili's nachos

Classic nachos are a welcome departure from the all-too-common Mount Velveeta that other places shove in front of you.

That should have been enough, but my eyes outsized my stomach, so I prevailed on my lady friend to also order the southwestern eggrolls. $8.49. Per the menu, they are… “Crispy flour tortillas stuffed with juicy smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeño Jack cheese, chopped red peppers & spinach.

Chili's southwestern eggrolls

Southwestern egg rolls do NOT have an MSG option. Nobody’s complaining.

Served with avocado-ranch sauce.” And only 800 calories, positively dietetic by Chili’s standards. After I ate one, with a dab of sour cream, we asked for a doggie styrofoam to take the rest home for weekend snacks in between sets at the gym.

Chili’s horseshoe bar is abuzz with a wide range of customers, which makes for constant people watching, if that’s your thing. We spotted our friend Robin Newhook across the bar, and she came over to catch up. Makes for a friendly, casual ambience, with plenty of room to move around. Or you can gaze at the array of flat screens above the din, tuned to sports and newsd.
Bar TVs

Array of flat screens are served free.

Part of the new Chili’s menu, we quickly discovered, is that none of the drinks are accompanied by prices. I get it. It lets them change the pricing at will, pegged no doubt to fluctuating barley futures and such.

About those hours: for food, happy hour pricing is 3-6 Monday-Friday, and also 9-close Monday-Thursday, plus all day Sunday. For drinks, happy hour is round-the-clock. Enjoy, but don’t overdo. That way, you’ll enjoy the morning after too.

 


SAFETY NOTE: Remember, if you intend to drive afterwards, keep any alcohol in your bloodstream safely below 0.08%, the legal limit above which you will be charged with Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, for both your own protection and that of others on the road. When in doubt what your blood alcohol level may be, err on the side of caution and stick to being a passenger.


Bruce Apar owns and operates APAR All-Media, a Hudson Valley agency for advertising, content, marketing and public relations. Follow both APAR All-Media and Hudson Valley WXYZ on Facebook. Reach him at bapar@me.com.

Our Happy-est Hours

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Bruce caricatureBruce the Blog
By Bruce Apar

When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk


For many a working stiff, come 5 p.m. Friday — as well as other days of the week — thoughts understandably turn to loosening up limbs and laments with a responsible dose of liquid refreshment.

(Remember, if you intend to drive afterwards, keep any alcohol in your bloodstream safely below 0.08%, the legal limit above which you will be charged with Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, for both your own protection and that of others on the road. When in doubt what your blood alcohol level may be, err on the side of caution and stick to being a passenger.)

As Pharrell Williams reminded us incessantly last year with his runaway, Grammy-winning, bank account-fattening hit, who among us doesn’t want to be “Happy”?

My wife Elyse and I recently have sampled several Happy Hours in the same precincts covered by the various Halston Media newspapers in which this column appears each week: Mahopac, Somers, Yorktown.

Since social sharing is in vogue, this here happy chappy suspected some readers may appreciate an occasional mention in this space of Happy Hours we have known and enjoyed.

These by no means are restaurant reviews. In fact, our Friday after-work routine has been to select a place that, ideally, offers special pricing not only on beverages but on appetizer-style or side dishes, also known as the “bar menu.” So, traditional full-course meals are not part of the equation. While not a hard and fast rule, the deeper the discount on pricing, the more tempting the destination. Quantitatively speaking, the “best” Happy Hours, price-wise, offer selected drinks at half-off, and reduced-cost bar dishes, provided you are imbibing and ingesting in the bar area, not in the main dining room.

But there’s more to Happy Hour-ing than dollars and cents. Ambience, of course, always is a major factor when dining out, as well as customer service. Nobody likes looking at a bartender with a puss on or who’s slinging attitude along with drinks. Price, ambience, service are the ingredients for mixing a Happy Hour experience worth smiling about.

The establishments listed here are a starting point. There is no shortage of other places we’ve found of comparable quality and value, and those will appear in future columns. Feel free to recommend your favorite haunt, whether you’re a patron or the owner, by emailing bapar@me.com. You also can see more photos at BruceTheBlog.com.

It’s best to call to confirm the Happy Hour selections and pricing as restaurants tend to update menus and policies every so often.


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Monster Margarita at Excelencia Mexicana pairs a jumbo-size margarita with a mini-bottle of Corona, called Coronita. At $15.95, it’s not on the Happy Hour menu, but nonetheless the sweet-and-sour blend is more than enough to leave you happy.

Excelencia Mexicana
551 Route 6
Mahopac 10541
(845) 628-3767
excelenciamexicana.com

Half-price margaritas, beer and wine are served 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday.  We’ve enjoyed the sausage poppers, nachos and mini tacos, which also are reduce-priced. Although not part of Happy Hour menu, a specialty here is the Monster Margarita, which combines a Coronita (small Corona) upside down feeding into a margarita. The sweet-and-sour blend is my taste buds’ friend. The website could use some help. Part of it is unreadable due to poor graphic design, and there’s no info on Happy Hour.

Spoiler alert: Cinco de Mayo festivities are on the way!


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Elyse Apar (l) and friend Susan McCarthy enjoy the Friday night Happy Hour at Gaudio’s, which runs till 7:30 p.m.

Gaudio’s
2026 Saw Mill River Road
Yorktown Heights 10598
(914) 245-0920
gaudiosrestaurant.com

Owner-chef Vincent Gaudio comes from a family of restaurateurs and also operates the adjacent pizzeria, Three Boys from Italy, which specializes in brick oven pies. With $6 top-shelf martinis, $4 cocktails, $3 beer, $4 red and $3 white house wines, and $6 bar menu items, Gaudio’s Happy Hour itself is top shelf. On a recent visit, his margarita flatbread pizza, mussels in white wine, and baked Apple with cannoli cream, hot fudge sauce and nuts had us exclaiming, “Oh my Gaudio!”

Gaudio's menu sampler

A sampling of deliciousdishes at Gaudio’s includes cheese and olives; Margarita flatbread pizza; mussels in white wine sauce; and baked apple with cannoli cream, hot fudge sauce + nuts.


Muscoot Tavern

This location, strategically situated at the corner of main routes 35 and 100 in Katonah — and neighboring Somers and Yorktown — has been around for nearly a century in one form or another.

Muscoot Tavern
105 Somerstown Turnpike (NW corner of 100/35)
Katonah 10536
(914) 232-2800
muscoottavern.com

The nearly century-old landmark offers a unique, comfy down-home feel whether you’re hanging at the classic bar or seated in the dining room. Under the ownership since 2012 of Eddie Lubic (of Eduardo’s in Mount Kisco) and Ann-Margaret Wagner, the “Scoot” lets you take advantage of BOGO bar items (Buy One, Get One Free) 9 p.m.-11 p.m Thursday-Saturday. From 4 p.m.-6 p.m. everyday, there’s $1 off cocktails and starters, and $2 off beer. Live music weekends.


Bruce Apar owns and operates APAR All-Media, a Hudson Valley agency for advertising, content, marketing and public relations. Follow both APAR All-Media and Hudson Valley WXYZ on Facebook. Reach him at bapar@me.com.