Sometimes a good jukebox, a limited selection of draft beers, and some picnic benches are all that’s needed to make a good neighborhood bar. And Skip’s Bar and Grill at Douglas Avenue and Main Street. in Dunedin is just that, a good neighborhood bar. A continually updated mural called “Dogedin” runs the length of Skip’s exterior wall on Douglas Avenue, adorned with hand-painted dogs and cats (present and past pets of locals) by local artist Anna Hamilton. The cluster of wooden picnic benches out front is the perfect people-watching spot from which to ogle a colorful cross-section of Dunedin’s eclectic populace.
“There’s something special about this town,” Kelly’s/Chic-a-Boom/Blur co-owner Kathy Carlson said recently of Dunedin. “It’s a mixture of regular folks retired from the Midwest, drag queens, former baseball pros, and skateboard kids. Other places just don’t have whatever quirky bit we have here.”
On any given night, you’ll see crusty Budweiser-out-of-a-bottle drinkers perched next to rockabilly-adorned 20somethings with paper-bagged PBR tallboys. There’re usually a few cyclists coming off some 30-mile bike excursion on the Pinellas Trail sipping on a pint, and the downtown service industry inevitably ends up at Skip’s after the late shift for a pitcher or two.
Bartenders regularly refill dishes out front with fresh water so thirsty canines can grab a cool drink, too.
Bar manager Karen is a fixture, carting new and empty kegs with ease in her black ankle-high boots. And Tristan, the down to earth former-Marine, who can talk to anyone about anything. Your pitcher or pint never gets close to empty and the prices are recession-proof. The beer selection consists of a few drafts (usually Magic Hat, Shock Top, Yuengling or Sierra Nevada). And there’s a limited bottle and canned selection.
Three Cougar dartboards line the back corner of the bar, complete with a small adjacent case of “pro” dart gear for sale.
Sometimes there’s homemade beef jerky in Ziploc bags for sale. Sometimes there are just bagged pretzels, chips, and popcorn available for noshing.
Inside the very smoker-friendly bar, it’s dark and dank, illuminated mostly by neon beer signs.
On the left sits the jukebox, an old-fashioned glass-and-chrome case of compact discs ranging from Radiohead to John Prine. A dollar buys four songs. It used to be that whenever someone failed to operate the simple push-button system correctly, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would blare through the speakers (Diamond's music has since been removed).
There aren’t many places like Skip’s left — plain, no-frills, and cash only.
Regulars hope it’ll never change.
This is an updated version of an earlier story.