Set in a downtown Minneapolis bar in 1973, good guy Jake Sherman—intelligent and witty—has two dilemmas: reconciling with his ex-wife, and surviving his position as manager of the Poodle Bar and Restaurant without killing or being killed. Told with edgy humor and cynicism, this is a raucous tale of one year in the life of an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
In his quest to win back his ex-wife, Jake accepts what he thinks is a management position at the Poodle Bar and Restaurant. Within days, he realizes he is a glorified bouncer, duty-bound to deal with everything from picketers to an Indian uprising, to the sexism, racism and anti-gay sentiments of the time. Jake adopts the characteristics of his customers—tough, physical, loyal to a fault—in order to survive. But he is in over his head. He worries his existence is becoming like that of Jekyll and Hyde; good versus evil. Jake loses the battle of who he really is and what the job requires him to do, causing his life to spin out of control.
When a young woman Jake hired—and promised her father to watch out for—is murdered, his feelings of responsibility kick into overdrive. He knows who killed her but neither he nor the police can prove it. His mounting frustration and depleted patience lead to increased drinking, fighting and womanizing and take him farther from his dream of reuniting with his ex-wife. He rationalizes his self-destructive behavior as being part of the job, although he recognizes the vortex he is drawn into. At times, he can still see the humor in life, but the tension mounts as Jake’s revenge is played out.