Hot Tots

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Jeff Allison thought his weekend junket to New York in November would take his mind off the day-to-day grind at his club, the Garage. But his imagination started to work overtime after a trip to the movies to see Napoleon Dynamite, followed by a late night at a Brooklyn bar that dished out free French fries.

Since his return to Cleveland, Allison has held court five nights a week at the Garage Sale, where he gives away plates of Tater Tots — a move inspired by Napoleon's cafeteria scene, in which the title character and his nerdy high school buddies stash the spuds in their pockets. "Can you imagine if we start giving away Tater Tots?" Allison thought. "Everybody at the bar is going to be saying, 'Dude, you gonna eat your Tots?'"

To wash down the potatoes, Allison sells bottles of beer for a buck, along with $2 shots and $3 cocktails. The free food and discounted drinks, he says, are a welcome sight to his cash-strapped customers. "Just like before the holidays, Cleveland just doesn't have the loot right now," he says. "But that shouldn't be a deterrent to be able to go out and have some fun. You shouldn't be stuck in the house just because times are hard."
Mondays, Tuesdays, Sundays, 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m.; Wednesdays, Thursdays, 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m., 2006

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