What you immediately expect when you push open the tall, thick, heavy swinging door at Evangelo’s Cocktail lounge is to see Bob Hope bantering with traders and sailors from behind the bar, Dorothy Lamour swishing between tables in a sarong and Bing Crosby picking out tunes on a warped piano in a corner and humming out in that mellow voice. Or it could be the scene in one of those monumental John Wayne-Lee Marvin fistfights.
The décor of Evangelo’s would be nothing exceptional in Tahiti, Samoa or some small island in the Caribbean.
But the bamboo-mat-covered walls, thatched roofs over the booths and the cane-edged tables, the leafy palm fronds that droop over the bar, the lacquered blowfish hanging on strings from the ceiling, the styrofoam parrots perched all over the room—at first, it all seems a little incongruous at the corner of San Francisco and Galisteo Streets in downtown Santa Fe on a cold, sunny, winter day.
On a recent Friday afternoon, the only hum in Evangelo’s was the continuous drone of the fan of the big, gas heater over the doors. Then, into the sleepy quiet came a weird musical twang as the jukebox—a gleaming machine that emanates a faint blue light, like sun filtering through 10 or 12 feet of clear water—stirred, and Greek bouzouki music clinked and tinkled into the big barroom.
The man who had started the box strolled back to his seat whistling with the tune.
Instead of Hope behind the bar, the owner and namesake of the place, Evangelo Klonis, looked away from someone he was talking to, turned and smiled a greeting to a newcomer. Along the bar, maybe 20 or 25 feet long, a half dozen people sat or stood lounging, toying with drinks and chatting quietly with other patrons who had neighboring seats. A couple of old men sat regarding their reflections in the mirror behind the bar.
“There’s no other place like this in town, is there?” Klonis asked, with a knowing nod to the room in general.
This year marks SFR’s 40th anniversary. Celebrate with us by reading excerpts of stories that have graced our pages through the years. Read more about Evangelo’s in this week’s cover story. Comments? Suggestions? email@example.com