Borland on Bars: Hayley’s
by Tim Borland
~Borland on Bars is Mod Mobilian’s new series focusing on the best places in the Mobile area for libations, activities, and unique ambiance. Check back regularly for newly featured locations~
For revelers on Dauphin Street, all roads lead to Hayley’s Bar. No matter what bar a person explores at the beginning of the night, by the early hours of morning everyone makes their way to the noticeably pink corner building adjacent to Cathedral Square. As a bar in downtown Mobile with some of the latest hours and best drink prices in town, Hayley’s is often packed to the brim even by the time the sun comes up.
The interior of the 278 Dauphin Street structure may intimidate some at first. Walls are adorned with brightly colored neon concert posters from popular punk bands and local artwork. The building itself is old, narrow and contains a few cracks in the exterior brick walls, but also holds serious character with large windows that open out into the street during pleasant weather. Red stools in various states of repair line the bar and walls, and the black and white checkered floor seems intentionally designed to clash with the rosé exterior. A pool table and several electronic game machines provide additional entertainment alongside several flatscreen televisions. There is a reason some affectionately refer to Hayley’s as “Mobile’s favorite dive bar.”
However, what casual first timers may not notice upon a cursory inspection of the independent business is the camaraderie of not only the bar staff, but the regulars who frequent there. In many ways, Hayley’s is the bartender’s bar, in that several people who work downtown at other businesses head to the small establishment after work for bargain prices. Also, if one attends the bar more than once, they will notice the same crowd of people, who often know each other by name and embrace with hugs and smiles.
The crowd at Hayley’s is quite eclectic. One can see people of all ages, ethnicities, and eccentricities because the business’s policy is that everyone is welcome and everyone is readily accepted. There is no cover charge, and Mobilians often come in droves for events such as karaoke, dice games, or free catered food. Co-owner Delane Bond became involved with the business ten years ago, and the bar will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this upcoming december.
Delane Bond visiting with customers
“I am very proud to be a co-owner of Hayley’s … Mobile is such a unique and diversified city and we are so incredibly grateful for all the support we have had through the years. But none of this would be possible without our amazing staff,” Bond insists.
Bartender Wil Reid serving up drinks for thirsty guests
The staff of regular bartenders are friendly, funny, and casual. Many are close friends with patrons who frequent the bar. Besides just serving drinks, the bartenders often host games, dance, and participate in the fun with everyone else. Hayley’s is a laid back casual as can be place where no one has to feel out of place or pressured to be anything but themselves.
Despite any reservations about the bar’s appearance, Hayley’s has consistently been an important hub for downtown events. For many years the location has served as headquarters for Southsounds Festival, and was the official after party location for Southsounds 2016 with late night music from Shaheed and DJ Supreme. The bar was also one of the first businesses downtown to embrace The Prancing Elites, scheduling several live performances for the dance troupe. The ambiance of the location is so distinctive that the business has even been featured in movies, such as Heist featuring Robert De Niro, Kate Bosworth, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Rachael Norris and her infamous new hair
“I honestly have one of the best jobs on the planet. I get to play and hang out with great customers while working with my best friends. It does not get much better than that,” Rachael Norris explains. “I love that it is a small dive, like Mobile’s version of ‘Cheers.'”
In addition to being a place where everyone may very well know each other’s name, Hayley’s is one of the many great locations to pick up tickets for Dauphin Street Beer Festival. There will also be many more great events to be announced later this fall, and Mod Mobilian will keep locals up to date with these happenings. Perhaps one of the most apt ways to describe this Azalea City institution is to say that Hayley’s Bar may be a little rough around the edges, but that is just the way Mobilians like it.
~Check back soon for Hayley’s bartender profiles and our next bar location, Alchemy Tavern~