(Nick’s in the Sticks—secret to some, religion to others.)
If Seats Could Talk
Exactly how long has that stool been anchoring the entrance to Nick’s in the Sticks, the tiny Tuscaloosa landmark of steaks and sports stuff? In our 2 worth-it-all hours of waiting for a table last weekend, the subject had plenty of time to come up.
We squinted at this seat used for, depending on need, reservation-takers or bouncers, and wondered aloud about the cracked leather relic—still sturdy and in full operation. A friend from Birmingham recalls it from his dental school days in the 70s.
(The Stool almost looks like cowhide thanks to selective weathering.)
Lloyd Hegenbarth, long-time and third-ever proprietor, shrugs and figures it’s been there as long as he has—which is nigh on to forever. It does exude personality. It makes you think about the comings and goings of the people who’ve passed through. You imagine that this rather rusty seat came here before Namath or Croyle, before the Internet or the Organic Food Movement. Maybe Bear Bryant himself nodded and grunted to the greeter. And now it just sits and anticipates the next wave of fans willing to make their way out into the Tuscaloosa hinterlands for onion rings bigger than your fist, and steak wrapped with a whole package (or so it seems) of bacon.
Here are a few more images of the site that knows no change:
(This empty frame once held a sign proclaiming the location of Nick’s in the Sticks, along Eutaw Highway. Now you find it by reputation and GPS.)
(“We put that American flag up after 9/11 and just never took it down,” says Lloyd.)
(My birthday boy and his buddy celebrating the Big Eighteen with a likeness of Alabama Coach Gene Stallings over his shoulder.)
(Lloyd Hegenbarth, taking the orders in his perfect swirly penmanship. How long has he been here? Forever.)