March 22, 2006
By The Salmon
416 State Street
Ah, yes, the scent is familiar. Vodka and Red Bull, with just a hint of sweat and salsa. The olfactory overload is intense upon entering Sharkeez, but is secondary only to the visual onslaught that is all at once, This Old House and the Circuit City Labor Day Sale. My old pal Dave, known locally as The Armadillo, was reminded of that frat house you went to in the early weeks of your freshman year and said, “Dude, I’m totally pledging this place ...”
Lots of black spray paint helps hide some of the engineering flaws. We ordered two bottled beers, since the Board of Health shut down the draft beer a while back. What was once a bank of 30 or so taps has been reduced to Corona or Heineken in the bottle - maybe a Bud Light can if there’s one left from College Night.
One thing I admired right away was the reliance on the drywall screw to solve any problem. Need to suspend a 100 lb television above a booth designed for six? No problem. A couple of three-inch black threaded screws will fasten just right to plywood and keep that Panasonic plasma from causing any head trauma. Bathroom stall door broken? Grab the DeWalt - we’re gonna patch that hinge up right now, with screws that protrude an inch above the urinal.
The Armadillo and I agreed that if the place couldn’t keep the beer taps clean, we should play it safe and order deep-fried. Beer-battered fish tacos it was, and we took our seats on what appeared to be the front seat boosted from a Plymouth Duster.
Across the way, a fellow we took to be the manager was hiring a new waitress and flashed us a thumbs-up for no apparent reason, as we hunkered down with our paper tray of tortilla chips.
“You can start on Thursday nite.” Something in the way he said it made me want to spell it that way. “What size shirt do you wear?”
“Medium.” She replied. He went into the kitchen and returned with a bright red halter-top.
“Here’s a small. I’ll see you Thursday.”
Our waitress was very nice. Her name was Terri. That name just sounds like summer, or a Springsteen song. You never meet a “Terri” in December, only in August. The rest of the year they’re dormant, I figure - like cicadas.
Sharkeez has a staff of at least seventeen graphic artists that are kept in a small room just south of Hermosa Beach. If you’ve ever seen their advertisements, table tents, postcards or menus, then you know that these fellows are apparently deprived of any social contact and are fed large quantities of strong amphetamines. Additionally, they are only allowed to use early versions of Quark, and have a library of clip art that they scored at the Corel bankruptcy sale. The sheer number of menus, specials, announcements, selective service cards and the like that are handed to you during your visit is stunning. Glossy cardstock is big with management, as are “candid” shots of girls having lots of fun.
The food arrived and evaluation began. We didn’t expect much and frankly, we didn’t get much. The fish had, in fact been heated to a temperature capable of warding off decomposition, which we took as a plus. There was cabbage and “mystery sauce”, which we quickly deciphered as mayonnaise-based…tricky bastards.
This is by no means my first visit to the establishment. Friends of mine are drawn to this joint like lemmings. Every other week, one of them “wins” a free happy hour, which really means they reserve you a table and confiscate your Visa card upon entry. Then there is football season. I don’t really enjoy football but I do like the Sharkeez’s Build-Your-Own-Bloody-Mary bar. It helps ease the pain when you’re a Detroit fan.
Liabilities abound in this humble taco shack. There is the Head Trauma Challenge over by the bar where an 18 oz. carabineer whizzes by your skull every time someone places a food order. And who could forget the joy of watching a waitress almost drown every Saturday night in the salmonella tank behind the bar?
All in all, Sharkeez delivers exactly what it promises - for under $9 a head. If you don’t have cable, there is the added bonus of free sports on one of the 18 televisions. Just don’t sit underneath one without checking your insurance policy ...