These establishments, teeming throngs of thirst and sound, are havens for townies. A harmonica or guitar plays in the background as you take a seat, a shot, a beer, a turn at the pool table. You’re invited to talk to a best friend, the person next to you, a stranger or maybe a bartender. Depending on how long the place has been around, you might sense the multiple generations that have passed through before you. You’re in a dive bar, and Columbia has a magnificent selection.
Dive Bar is a five-minute drive outside of downtown, and it lives up to its title. Conversations, couples and banter mix with country and rock music to make for a simple escape from day-to-day life. Owner Karen Geotz opened Dive Bar in December 2017 after The Tiger Club, which previously occupied the building, shut down. Geotz says she and her spouse, Jeff Nichols, worked together to buy the place and update the vibe, making it more inviting. “A dive doesn’t necessarily have to be dark and dingy,” Geotz says. “A dive is a place where you wanna go and you wanna hang out.” There are three patios and a sand volleyball pit outside, and inside there’s a pool table that employees push into a corner when live bands play on Saturday nights.
Tucked away on Tenth Street, Klik’s caters to locals in an area otherwise dominated by college students. Karen Krone, who also owns Snapper’s, created Klik’s to make it the kind of place where you can get a PBR, Stag or High Life for $1.50 Monday through Friday. “People are wanting a good deal,” Krone says. “The type of person that isn’t much into the glitz and the glamour, but more, ‘I wanna have a beer at an affordable price with my friends.’” The bar has a pool table, a dartboard, pinball and TouchTunes — a jukebox patrons can control from their phones.
Located on the outskirts of Columbia’s downtown, McGinty’s is the working-class dive locals deserve. The 24 brews on tap appeal to beer enthusiasts, and the clientele does not often feature young millennials but rather the 30-plus crowd. Although Shaun Blevins has owned the dive for nine years, he says McGinty’s has been in business since the ’80s and attracts customers from other similar bars in the area. “We share a lot of the same customers as Klik’s,” Blevins says. From the outside, McGinty’s seems small, but the bar makes the most of its space. Rustic wood paneling makes it feel like a cabin, and the bar area is large and shaped like a square. There’s a pool table surrounded by stool seating and a shuffleboard nearby. If you step outside, there’s a spacious, tented patio ideal for the cigarette smoker and the summertime drinker.
Boasting TouchTunes, classic bar games, cheap drinks and an unpredictable and diverse clientele, Snapper’s is the epitome of a Columbia dive. Found on Seventh Street, Snapper’s is a place for people to gather before their evening festivities begin, end after a long night of $1 Jell-O shots, sip a quiet drink in the afternoon, or meet up with old friends. Snapper’s is focused on conversation and company, rather than the spectacle of a Harpo’s Bar & Grill or The Penguin Piano Bar. Krone has long kept disposable cameras behind the bar for patrons to use because she thinks they represent dive bar culture. “People want to feel nostalgic; they have a little piece of themselves there,” Krone says. “They can walk in and show their friends, ‘Hey, I’ve been here before.’”