Exploring dive bars: The Cavalier Lounge

Poster prints with French themes adorn the wall, pool tables sit empty and music quietly seeps through the speakers. Behind the bar stands Kim Lehman, the bartender and manager of The Cavalier Lounge, 3850 E. Desert Inn Road.

Lehman wears blue pajama pants, sandals and a yellow T-shirt with a bikini printed on it as she goes from customer to customer to gossip about the day’s events.

“I’ve been here for 11 years, and I’ve stayed because of my customers,” Lehman said.

When you first walk in, the thick, smoky smell of cigarettes fills the air of the lounge. It’s almost intimidating as you sit down and realize that everybody knows each other because they are all regulars.

The Cavalier Lounge is a 24-hour dive bar located just off U.S. Highway 95. It has a cozy ambience generated from the locals that fill it day and night.

Most customers are dressed like they just got off of work. The music level is low enough so that people can hear each other as they talk about life. The music playing typically consists of oldies.

Judson Carpenter, a customer, moved to Las Vegas a year ago from Massachusetts. His brother introduced him to the bar, known for being home to New England Patriots fans.

“There are a lot of regulars here, but it’s a great mix of people,” Carpenter said. “Plus, look at Kim, she looks hot in her bikini T-shirt.”

Besides being around his favorite bartender, Carpenter enjoys cheering on the Patriots, hanging out with friends and the cheap drinks.

According to Lehman, the lounge serves some of the cheapest drinks in town, priced at $2 for domestic beers and $3 for well drinks.

Another regular, Gina M. Sposito, has been coming to the lounge for 12 years. She said she enjoys playing the gambling machines while talking to Lehman, whom she has known for six years.

“Most bars don’t have people with the right customer service,” Sposito said. “The key is to (create an atmosphere) where you can enjoy yourself and forget about the stress of life.”

Lehman said that most people who frequent the lounge are working-class people looking for a place to relax or vent. The lounge attracts an older crowd ranging from ages 30 to 70.

The lounge was once known for selling decently priced food, but after a law passed that prohibited smoking at bars that served food, it chose its “big gaming” smokers, Lehman said.

After years of working at the lounge, Lehman has noticed some changes.

“It’s been a little bit slower since we lost the restaurant,” Lehman said. “But we’re still managing.”

Walk into The Cavalier Lounge on a weekday and you will see a handful of regulars talking among themselves, playing gambling machines or chatting up the bartender.

On game days when the New England Patriots are playing, the bar’s atmosphere morphs into a wild scene of hard-core fans cheering on their favorite team. During Sunday games, the bar raffles off Patriot prizes such as shirts, drinks and other fan gear.

According to bartender Brandie Forrester, people come to the bar from all over town during Patriots games.

“We’re really the only Patriots bar in town,” Forrester said. “There are people who we don’t normally see throughout the year, but they’ll come in religiously during Patriots games.”

John Jones works as an occasional bartender at the lounge. When he first came into the lounge four months ago, he was surprised by how friendly everyone was and how clean the bar stayed.

“You walk in and expect to see a dirty bar with ripped chairs,” Jones said. “But this is one of the cleanest bars I’ve ever worked at.”

Lehman said she has such a great relationship with her customers, that every month she will go out with a group of them for bowling, dinner or to watch a movie.

“We’re more than just a bar, we’re friends,” Lehman said. “That’s why I enjoy coming to work.”

With places such as Dotty’s and PT’s Pub taking over, some might say Las Vegas’ true and authentic dive bars are becoming a rare breed. Yet, after almost 40 years, The Cavalier Lounge continues holding its head above water.

For more information, visit thecavalierlounge.com.

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at slopez@viewnews.com or 702-383-4686.

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