The Nines isn’t a place you would hear about on the radio or see in magazines (yes, until now of course), but word of the sophisticated, yet relaxed, small, candlelit bar and lounge off Center Street in downtown Fayetteville may soon reach you, as it has so many others.
“We get people here mostly through word of mouth, a small amount of social media. It’s like my anti-marketing marketing,” said owner Greg Hodges.
The first time I was introduced to The Nines by a friend who lived close to it, it was a warm night in late summer, after 9 p.m. when the lounge opens Monday through Saturday. There was a piano player and singer in the corner, and the candle light and a dim chandelier was all that illuminated the space that’s filled with antiques and vintage decor. The dark browns and reds mixed with soft lighting created a perfect atmosphere to sit on the pillows laid along the back wall next to short tables, pull up a chair that lines the north wall, or perch on the antique stools that line the small bar.
The alcohol selections aren’t vast and the wines not expensive, but Hodges says he tries to stalk up on quality and taste, especially the selection of only local beer Hodges prides himself in.
“We only serve local beer here. I think people like to come into a place and know any beer they order will be quality and they like that it’s produced locally,” Hodges said.
Monday, Feb. 10, when I visited a second time, the once lively deck was empty surrounded by frigid air, furnished with vintage outdoor tables and chairs, and lined with ice cycles that reflected the white Christmas lights. Inside was mostly empty, except for several passersby who stopped in for a quick drink. Hodges said most of his customers happen to be walking along the bike trail that runs beside the silver trailers the lounge calls home. He never knows when a crowd will gather, but he’s there every night just in case.
It seems the large weekend crowds and sporadic customers throughout the week have learned to appreciate the unique space.
“I had a customer in here from Chicago who said, ‘I wish there was something like this in Chicago,’ and that told me a lot,” Hodges said.
His inspiration for the lounge came from his own experience visiting bars across the country and seeing what was available, and what wasn’t. One bar he remembers from New Orleans, La. called The Black Smith Shop was lit only by candlelight with soft piano playing in the background.
“You can’t see where you’re going in there. It’s completely candlelit,” Hodges recalled.
He also has a piano in the corner where local artists have performed soft, jazzy or folk-style music.
Hodges said everything in the lounge, minus the sink, is a reused or recycled item.
Hodges said he gets his love of hosting and socializing with his mother, and now he gets paid to do something he already loves. He grew up in a small town in Eastern Arkansas, that not many people have heard of. He enjoyed life in a small town — where he knew and grew up with most of his classmates and relatives. The Nines resonates that quaint, friendly, laidback lifestyle he said he experienced growing up.
The Nines is one of those hidden gems of Fayetteville that offers a unique experience at a reasonable cost, in a private location. Open at 9 p.m. every Monday – Saturday, The Nines offers wines and local beer selections with soft music and a great atmosphere.
To learn more about The Nines, visit www.facebook.com/thenines99.