Seniors on prowl in Westlake’s ‘Viagra Triangle’
on June 17, 2010 at 11:07 AM, updated June 17, 2010 at 11:17 AM.
This story orignally ran November 13, 2006.
by Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer.
They call it the Viagra Triangle.
It’s where blue hairs and gray beards meet to make the horizontal mambo. Sin city for the middle-aged and sexy seniors. These people aren’t in wheelchairs. But according to actuarial tables, most have more years behind them than ahead.
This time of year, the action moves indoors, to the bars and lounges away from the cold air and the wet skies. But just a few short months ago, the patio behind the M Bistro in Westlake was shiny with promise.
A Latin combo filled the air with music, the crowd was coifed and the ice cubes clanked in tall glasses of vodka and fruit juice. It was happy hour, and this crowd was nothing if not happy.
At one end of the bar were five women who had all said goodbye to their 50s. They were dressed up, made-up, with hair done and dyed. They were busy talking with each other — but clearly by their number and appearance, they had made themselves the focal point of the bar.
An older man, his hair dyed too, his Ray Ban sunglasses folded casually into the collar of his lemon-yellow sweater, approached a woman from the group sitting on the end of the bar. He began chatting her up. Can he separate her from the herd? It’s a classic move. If only he had a wingman to run interference.
If this scene at M Bistro doesn’t make all his cocktail dreams come true, he need not worry. Only a half-mile away are two more restaurant patios also teeming with lively adult fun.
Head west on Detroit Road and on the left is Saucy Bistro, a popular, high-end gourmet restaurant with a patio and a new indoor lounge downstairs. Just across the street is Viva Barcelona, yet another upscale venue that offers an outdoor courtyard, live music and a rocking bar scene.
What all three of these places share is a clientele with an age demographic that soars north of 50, topping out at about 75. Many of these people are single for the second and even third time. If 60 is the new 40, then welcome to the Viagra Triangle.
Twenty years ago, people from this crowd were down in the Flats hoisting beers and pounding shots beside speed boats at Shooters or at Fagan’s listening to Huey Lewis, John Mellencamp and Phil Collins. Marriage, children and careers kept some of these people off the social circuit.
But now, two decades later, divorce, death of a spouse or an empty nest has given these folks more free time. So have medical advances and health regimens that are keeping them living longer, healthier lives. Not to mention the little blue pill for which the area gets its name.
“Bob” is an example of the VT male. He did not want to be identified for obvious reasons. He is 47 years old. He ended a 20-year marriage a year and half ago. His two kids are in college. He is a high-end retail manager who wears a suit and tie to work.
He works hard and does well. He lives in one of the many affordable apartment buildings on Detroit Road just west of the Triangle. When he wants the company of a woman, he sails right into the Viagra Triangle. And he has been very happy with the results.
“This past summer, I dated four women I met here [at M Bistro] or at Saucy [Bistro] or Viva [Barcelona]. They were all great. Between 38 and 50. We had fun. Things ultimately didn’t work out, although I am seeing the fourth one tomorrow night for dinner.
“Two were divorced, and one was never married. Eventually, two of them started seeing other guys. The third one, I broke it off because she wanted to get married. I’m not in that place right now. But if you want to meet women, you can certainly meet them here.”
Bob went on to describe how things have changed in the dating scene since he was last available. Yet in other ways, nothing has changed at all.
“Women will Google you now,” said Bob. “There’s not a lot of mystery anymore. You can’t get away with much in terms of your personal information. It’s amazing what’s out there on people.
“And the thing about the women you meet at these places, most are divorced. Which means also that most were screwed over by some guy. They are suspicious. They’re looking out for themselves.”
Bob goes from one place to another when he hits the Triangle. He calls it “the Crawl.”
“The Crawl is important,” he explained. “See, when you meet a woman for the first time, the encounter has ‘pickup’ all over it. Maybe you just chat and introduce yourself. Maybe you buy her a drink. But 10 minutes or a half-hour later, you see her down the road at another place. Now you are acquaintances. You’re not some stranger in a bar.”
Saucy Bistro was next on Bob’s agenda.
Matt Barnes is the owner/chef at the Saucy. Barnes couldn’t be happier about the scene that has built up around his place and his two neighbors.
“We all benefit,” said Barnes. “Maybe I’m biased, but I get an extra boost because couples meet at the other two places, but a guy brings his potential girlfriend here to close the deal. Dinner here means he’s serious about her.”
Scott Brotherton is a featured lounge singer at Saucy Bistro. He sings the music of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. He has an appealing bass-baritone and enjoys a popularity pioneered by recording artists like Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble. He’s also impressed by the vitality he sees in this older crowd.
“I remember my mom, who is 67, saying when she met my dad’s parents, they were home sitting on the couch wearing horn-rimmed glasses and watching Lawrence Welk. They were done. And they were in their mid-50s.
“Today the people I see at the Saucy Bistro are in their 60s and 70s, and you would guess they were 10 years younger. These people are fit and active. It’s a different mind-set these days. I think they feel that since their life expectancy has gone up, they are going to enjoy themselves.”
On another afternoon, six women gather for drinks and dinner around a patio table at M Bistro. Their ages range from 40 to 50-plus. None of them is in the market for a man. But they like the Bistro, because they want to be around those who are.
They’re people-watching. They want to be close to, if not in on, the action.
The next day, one of the women sent an e-mail giving her impression of the scene. “The people at those places in the Triangle are the same crowd that 20 years ago was hanging out at Around the Corner tavern in Lakewood wearing their polo shirts and Dockers after coming in off their party boats at the Cleveland Yacht Club,” she wrote.
Another woman, a Triangle regular who just turned 50, said the mating dance that goes on at these places can be competitive.
“The women are aggressive,” she said. “Even vicious at times. You have your gold-diggers. And the gold is there.
“Once a girlfriend and I were sitting with a couple guys at the M Bistro. Friends of ours. When we got up to leave, before we had even left the patio, there were two new women sitting in our chairs. They gave us the evil eye,” she said.
“You meet single guys, divorced guys, widowers and then of course the married guys from the East Side who are still dating.”
But she had to admit the crowd is fun.
“Where else can you get a ride home with a 60-year-old man on a Vespa [motor scooter]?”
As winter creeps in and the patios close, the action has moved to the warmer climes of restaurants, bars and lounges until next spring. But the popularity of the Triangle’s Big Three isn’t lost on neighboring establishments.
The Clubhouse Grill bar and restaurant on Columbia Road and I-90, just down the road from the Viagra Triangle, has begun construction on its own outdoor bar and patio.
Next year, look for the Viagra Quadrangle.
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