Tonight is the night. Fresh haircut, new outfit, and a year’s worth of lifestyle and current events updates. The crowd will begin as a normal weeknight dinner crowd, and slowly morph into an energetic, wall-to-wall crowd of twenty-somethings, eager to create and share their status updates in person with the enormous audience. They can socialize and enjoy cocktails in a carefree manner, as the next couple days entail not much more than eating, watching football, and relaxing with family. Combine this special atmosphere with some historic taxidermy, a couple of pool tables, and a great jukebox, and you have the Alpha on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It’s the night that you start planning at the end of the summer. History has been made on this night and regret has haunted many. Through the ones that live in infamy and the ones that will live forever, it is a night of tradition.
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Over the years, the Alpha has become many things to us. It’s the place where you actually go when using the term “go out for a drink”, the place to go to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, a reunion, a birth, or a life. It’s both the place to go before an event and the place to reconvene after an event. It’s the first place we go when returning to town, whether it be for an amazing meal or a delicious libation. It’s the place to meet a friend to have a serious talk or to laugh about an old memory. You can run in for a five-minute drink or plant yourself at the bar for a marathon counseling session. It’s the place where we go for business lunches and the place where we go for family dinners. The Alpha miraculously blends the inventiveness and uniqueness of an independent restaurant with the consistency and price point of a chain. It provides comfort and a concentrated feeling of home. Owners have changed and we have all grown older, but the tradition and loyalty have remained constant. It’s part of the history of our city and also very heavily invested in our community, from sponsoring our schools, our athletic teams, and just about every event possible.
I look forward to the years to come. The memories to be made, the experiences to share as my family and friends grow older, and my children enjoying the atmosphere that has cultivated so many of our personalities and relationships. Get out, experience a true Wheeling landmark, and create your own memories … and don’t forget to try Charlie’s salsa.