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Old fashioned bingo on menu

During these trying economic times, businesses are looking for any way to bring in the customers.

To do just that, one Florala restaurant is combing the two things local residents enjoy the most these days – good food and bingo.

“Now before anyone starts calling the governor or the attorney general or that task force, you should know that all this equipment came from the Chamber of Commerce,” said Patty Hughes, Huddle House manager, speaking of the paper cards and bingo ball cage sitting on top of a table Tuesday night.

She was referring, of course, to the ongoing battle being waged by Gov. Bob Riley and his gambling task force against electronic bingo. Wednesday, at least three large gambling venues in Alabama remained closed as owners and task force members awaited an Alabama Supreme Court ruling on whether the task force can conduct a raid at VictoryLand in Shorter.

In Florala, where city government recently passed an ordinance setting up standards for an electronic gaming establishment, bingo went over just fine.

Hughes said the game is “in good fun” and works as a great way to bring families together. To make sure the tables inside the restaurant anear to Lake Jackson are full, Hughes’ Tuesday “Family Night” is a good draw for parents watching their budgets as one child per family eats for free.

“We play all sorts of different games where you have to fill your entire card one time or get certain patterns and we give out small prizes,” she said.

“You can have fun and eat good all at the same time.”

For Jeanie Bent, the evening is a good way to “get away from home.”

“I don’t know anything about that bingo stuff everywhere else, but there’s no harm in this – it’s fun,” Bent said as she played not one, but two cards.

At least seven families were also on hand shortly after 7 p.m., enjoying the evening’s game and laughing as calls of “bingo” came every 10 seconds from a 5-year-old.

“See – that’s what it’s about – having a good time right here close to home,” Hughes said.