Dives and Diners Road Trip – The Weatherman Meets Bar 13, Pierceton
By Shari Benyousky
PIERCETON — Who is the luckiest person that you know? Or perhaps the unluckiest? Our 13th dives and diner road trip landed us on a May Friday at Bar 13 in Pierceton. 24/7 Car Guy Chris Plack threw up his hands when I announced the choice. “Finally! I’ve been saying Bar 13 for WEEKS! Nobody listens to me.”
This article was brought to you by 24/7 Plack’s incessant whining and the Number 13. After some deliberation (read spirited, good-natured argument), we invited a particularly lucky person to be our guest.
“This is Mike Lewis,” I introduced a tall, broad-shouldered man with an infectious grin. “Scrap Metal Mike?” asked REMAX Realtor Jeff Owens with a firm handshake.
“No, Weatherman Mike,” laughed Lewis. “You’ve no idea how often people around hear Lewis and ask if I’m the Lewis from Lewis Salvage!”
Mike Lewis is the luckiest person we could think of — a weatherman. Well, a former weatherman anyway. Michael Lewis retired from the National Weather Service Northern Indiana just last November. He worked 16 years for the National Weather Service office of Northern Indiana (located between North Webster and Syracuse) which serves 2.7 million people with weather warnings and predictions. Weatherman Mike predicted that Bar 13 would be an excellent lunch. Let’s see how it went.
Bar 13 is a hip dive with a comfortable vibe. At lunchtime on a Friday, we shared the place with around two dozen people. A minute after we settled down, a guy with a cool soul patch and a gray cap marked “Bar” stopped by the table to tell us we’d need to wait for the oven to heat for pizza. He introduced himself as Jared. Later I realized he was the owner, Jared Pagan. We appreciated the heads up on the oven. Thanks, Jared.
“This is my wife, Carol,” Weatherman Mike told us. We asked what her nickname should be.
“I’m retired too,” Carol laughed. “We used to have a farmette of animals, but nowadays we only have cats and two dogs, although they seem like three.”
“Cat lady?” suggested Local Liberal Agitator Attorney Travis McConnell.
“How about Primary Pet Enabler?” Carol returned.
1st Source Banker Paul Finley arrived. “Mike Lewis!” Weatherman Mike put out a large hand.
“Oh? Lewis Salvage?” asked Banker Paul and we laughed.
“Not salvage. Weather,” REMAX Jeff clarified. “Lucky guy. They pay him to make wrong predictions.”
We made our orders with waiter Jake who pointed out several items we shouldn’t miss on the menu. Jake was fast and knowledgeable. He had a cool cap too.
“So, now that you’re retired,” I asked Weatherman Mike. “Is there anything about weather you’d like to say that you couldn’t before?”
Weatherman Mike’s eyes lit up. “Indeed! Yes. Science! A few years back we weren’t allowed to discuss Global Warming. Imagine. Weather without science. It made for a tough job for all of us who worked weather for the Federal Government. But, just like the weather in Indiana, things change.”
Banker Paul exclaimed, “I read that by something like 2050 Indiana will be one of the greatest places to live for climate?”
“That may be true indeed,” Weatherman Mike agreed. He was valiantly trying to figure out what to order between the questions we kept peppering him with.
The pizzas arrived first. I had the veggie one and Banker Paul ordered the Bar 13 meat version. We did a quick taste test. Both were excellent — crispy edges and great taste. The cheese and the meat versions had different cheese toppings. “I like the cheese on the veggie better, but the meat on the Bar 13 one better,” Banker Paul decided. “Both very good.” I agreed. I would absolutely order either pizza at Bar 13 again.
“So how DOES predicting weather work?” Attorney Travis asked, crunching his excellent breaded mushrooms. “What does a chance of rain actually mean?”
Pet Enabler Carol chortled. As a lifetime wife of a weatherman, she had heard this question thousands of times. Weatherman Mike put up his hands in surrender. “I know, I know, nobody else but the weatherman can make such wrong predications and still get paid, right? Even scientists disagree about how to explain weather. Let’s say there’s a 30% chance of rain over 10 days. That’s like saying 3 of the 10 days will rain. But of course, there’s the area too. It could be 30% of the area in question that will get rain too, right? When you hear 30% chance of scattered rain, it means 30% of the area will get rain.”
Weatherman Mike laughed at the confused looks on our faces. “There are the science people who make the predictions on the computers and the mouthpieces with TV faces. Weather and sports are cash cows for the TV. But those are two different people. Probability I learned in school. Scattered I learned from trying to explain to people on the job.”
Pet Enabler Carol pointed at the fried fish on the menu. “Think of it this way,” she said. “The closer you get to Lake Michigan, the better the chance of finding fish on the menu is.”
“Like there’s a 100% chance of every Indiana diner having tenderloin on the menu?” REMAX Jeff chuckled.
“What about AI — artificial intelligence — and weathercasters.” I switched gears. “Will AI take over weather forecasting jobs?”
Weatherman Mike frowned. “That’s an interesting question. AI already does a lot of the instant predictions that you get when you use your cell phone for a particular location. But it isn’t great at everything. It isn’t going to be the face on TV.”
Someone ate the last tater tot, and we sat back and sighed contentedly. I contemplated licking my plate. We agreed that this was one of our favorite road trips so far.
“Have you ever considered becoming Warsaw Breakfast Club members?” REMAX Jeff asked Mike and Carol Lewis.
“We wouldn’t abuse you as much as this,” I promised. “Despite what you’ve heard.”
Weatherman Mike templed his fingers. “I’ve worked 37 years for the Federal Government. I can handle any abuse you guys dish out!”
On the way out, two women waved us over. “Are you those diners and dives folks?” one asked excitedly. Apparently, we had just missed these women on our trip to the Claypool Someplace Else Saloon. But Bar 13 proved to be lucky after all. We took our picture with Zelpha Robinson and Julie Heckaman.
Last thoughts — take the short hop and skip over to Bar 13 where you too can get lucky with some excellent food and friendly and efficient staff. Even better — make a day of it and check out the cool antique dealers while you’re in town.
TIP — Bar 13 works with many live bands. Owner Jared informed me that two are coming this weekend: Band “Wigness” on Friday, May 26, and the band “Plan B” on Saturday, May 27.
TIP 2 – Bar 13 IS a smoking-allowed bar.
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