Who says you have to wait until the sun goes down to have a good time?
"Whaddya makin' for breakfast?" my day drinking pals Ronda and Tana and I ask Todd, the morning barkeep at My Ole Man's in Glendale.
"Anything you want," he answers.
"You're the Italian-American Jersey boy," I say. "Make me something you would eat."
"Hell, yeah," Todd replies.
"Unless you're a vegetarian."
"Fuuuuuuuuuck!" Todd groans and disappears into the kitchen.
Todd, or "Hot Toddie" as Ronda calls him, moved to Phoenix from New Jersey nine years ago for his now ex-wife. A muscular, clean cut, rough and tumbler, Todd did some bouncer gigs at MOM's and around Glendale, before becoming a full-time bartender.
"I used to be in the concrete business, but after that went to shit, I was luckier than most of those guys -- I knew how to tend bar."
Ronda discovered Hot Toddie (and MOM's) after a late-night wing hunt miles away from her downtown home.
"They open at 5:30 on Mondays and Todd makes breakfast!" she bubbled.
You'd miss this suburban sauce house if you didn't know what to look for: namely, the red sign in the strip mall that simply reads, "BAR" and, ironically, sits right next to an exercise joint.
"How you ladies doin'?" Todd beams at us as we walk through the door.
"Great!" We reply. "How you doin'?"
"Un-friggin'-believable," he says. "Now what can I get for you?"
Who wouldn't want to sit down for some morning mocha and Bailey's with this guy at the helm? We order up.
Unlike the barren, strip mall scene outside, MOM's is your typical neighborhood hangout: jukebox, pool table, lots of wood, and tons of photos of past and present patrons decorating nearly every surface. The lights are on, for now, shining bright for the skinny, ball-capped man making his way around the place with a bucket and a mop. The five or six regulars sitting at the bar with us are a lively bunch, led by a mustachioed loudmouth in brown scrubs.
We no sooner finish talking about Jersey Shore with Hot Toddie ("I hate that show, but you ladies have seen every episode, right?" Um, yeah.) when Scrubs trots over and sticks out his paw for a curved-fist man-shake.
"What's your name," he practically screams for the benefit of the regulars. Uh-oh.
"Laura," I answer.
"Laura, look at that photo." Scrubs directs my attention to a photo over my head of a butt-naked boy in a cowboy hat taking a piss. "What we need is a photo of you squatting to piss with your ass showing."
"I'm married," I answer, suppressing the word "asshole" under my breath. "My ass is my husband's. Go find yourself some community ass."
He laughs hard enough for the entire city of Glendale to hear, and returns to his stool.
8:30 a.m. Breakfast is served. Hot Toddie's made us omelets with fried potatoes and toast. We order up some King of Beers to complement, take a few bites, then sneak out back for a smoke break. Oddly enough, we pass a mirrored Budweiser sign featuring a hunting dog and a dead pheasant, and then run into the Budweiser promoter in the parking lot. He catches the middle of our conversation about 12-inch corn dogs.
"You must be talking about me," he says.
"Isn't it a little early for that?" we ask.
"Naw," he winks, "it's never too early."
Back at the breakfast bar, we chow down on Hot Toddie's omelets. He's made mine Italian-style, kind of: Peppers, marinara, onions, bacon, and topped with shredded cheese. They're terrible, but we love him and don't want to hurt his feelings. Todd's disappeared to the other side of the bar where an early-morning staff meeting seems to be taking place. His post has been claimed by Barb, or Barbie, as the regulars refer to her.
Barb can only be described as a force. Track-suited, pony-tailed, and as foul-mouthed as they come, she's making a revenge shot for one of the regulars: spicy cinnamon Schnapps with Tabasco sauce.
"What's the offense?" we ask.
"That asshole told me he liked to fuck chubbies then said he'd do me." She whisks the drink from the bar and plops it in front of him. "There you go. You'll feel that later when your asshole starts bleedin'."
Whoa. Despite the exhaustion factor and jokes about battered women, we can't help but appreciate Barb. Working full-time, going to school, raising a kid, and taking care of her husband, who's on disability, Barb's a take-no-shit survivor. She's got crazy-energy and seems right at home with Scrubs and the rest of the boys. We ask her about MOM's upcoming Easter Egg hunt.
"Yeah, I put that on," she tells us. "Some prizes are good, but I'm thinking about some bad ones to, like a small ring for a tiny cock or a piece of cat shit."
Sounds like Easter joy to us. We order up another round. It's only 10:30 and Barb's just gettin' started.
God help Glendale.
My Ole Man's Restaurant & Lounge 3515 West Union Hills Drive, Glendale 602- 938-4735