In the heart of downtown, a little establishment with a lot of character.
There’s nothing more satisfying than walking into a local watering hole after a long day and seeing a friendly face behind the bar.
One such place is The Bull, a downtown Gainesville establishment where no one is a stranger. Manager Jacob Larson and his bartending staff make sure of that with warm smiles and, oftentimes, firm handshakes. Maybe even a hug.
“I love this place because it’s so welcoming,” said Del Wallis, who was catching up with old friends on a spirited Friday night at The Bull.
The Gainesville native, who now lives in Jacksonville with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, was in town visiting family. She couldn’t resist dropping in at her old haunt.
“This place feels like home,” she said. “It’s small, but not too small, and it’s not loud like so many bars.”
The former world-class runner-turned-musician — and longtime Gainesville resident — is taking “retirement” in stride.
There was a time when the world knew Marty Liquori for his legs and feet, which for a memorable decade in the 1960s and ’70s zipped him around tracks faster than just about any other human.
Today, however, Liquori is better known for his hands and fingers, which hold and strum a jazz guitar as well as anyone in North Central Florida.
Call it Marty Liquori’s second wind.
“I consider myself retired and pretty much a fulltime musician,” said Liquori, who has also been an Olympian, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster, an author, a lecturer and a leukemia survivor. He’s also been a Gainesville resident for more than 40 years.
At 66, Liquori is at the heart of the area’s jazz scene, not only performing three nights a week but also serving as vice president of the Gainesville Friends of Jazz and executive director of the Gainesville Jazz Festival. In 2013, the Jazz Journalists Association honored him as a JJA Jazz Hero.
For more than two decades, the music venue has showcased some of the best talent to pass through Gainesville as well as top local bands.
You could say that Pat Lavery was once the poster child for the downtown music venue now known as High Dive. That is, in his younger years he’d go around Gainesville and post announcements of upcoming shows for what was then called the Covered Dish.
“I was their flyer guy,” Lavery said with a hint of pride. “It got me in the place for free.”
Today, Lavery gets into High Dive for free by booking all the acts there—and at several other venues around Florida—through his Gainesville-based promotions company, Glory Days Presents.
“Back then, I had no idea what promoting music was all about,” he said. “I learned so much about touring shows and the underground music scene by observation.”
Lavery and the High Dive staff keep things hopping almost every night of the week with live music as well as special events, such as standup comedy, art shows and food truck rallies.
A year into business, the taps are flowing strong at Gainesville’s second craft brewery.
The 29-year-old Dreyer left the security of a research position in the tasting lab at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for the unpredictable ebbs and flows of a local startup—and he couldn’t be happier.
That local startup is First Magnitude Brewing Co. and, as an award-winning, craft-beer home brewer, Dreyer is doing something he is passionate about.
“I was happy with my job at the university, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Dreyer said, pointing to the shiny, 15-barrel brew house that constitutes FM’s production facility a block off South Main Street in Gainesville.