Thursday, March 21, 2013

O'Brian's Is Dead. Long Live O'Brian's

Today I received a check in the mail settling an arrangement for my all-time favorite public house, O'Brian's.  It is hard for me to describe the place, because it was my second home for most of six years.  The family which ran it were my nearly constant companions through that run.  In the time it was open, I got to know a large number of people, many of whom, like me, loved the place in spite of its quirks.  I run into a lot of them at other bars, and they convey how much they miss the place, and the folks who ran it, and we spend a good deal of time reminiscing and asking about other regular customers. It was the launching pad and campaign headquarters for my brief but entertaining political career.  During that campaign, I purchased stickers saying "Happy St. Patrick's Day, Vote for [A Farmer] for State Representative," then proceeded to spend the day sitting at the end of the bar with several friends, drinking Guinness and passing the stickers out to revelers.  It might not have won many votes, but it was a lot of fun.  It was the place one of my best friends was reintroduced to his future wife (and his shoes were introduced to the contents of her stomach), and now I'm their daughter's godfather (actually, the night they ran into one another was the day after my marathon campaign stop on St. Patrick's Day).  On election night that year, I held my campaign party there.  Friends and family came in and consoled me on my utter defeat by a clueless Tea Partier, before there was a Tea Party.

One of the charms of the place was also one of its downfalls.  It was quiet and often not crowded.  I can only guess at the number of hours in which I was the only customer.  Often, if the owners were busy doing something in the kitchen or upstairs, and I needed a drink, or another customer came in and wanted something, I'd go behind the bar and get it, then mark it down on the tab.  When the kegs kicked, the ladies would ask me to change the keg for them, and I'd go back and take care of it.  For the vast majority of the time it was open, a pint of Guinness cost four dollars, and I wouldn't want to know what my total bill was.  All I can say is that it would equal much of a year's salary, at a minimum.  But all the money spent couldn't add up to the great memories of the place.

Last week, a new bar opened up in the same spot, and while they made a few changes, it looks mostly the same, but lacks somewhat in family atmosphere.  I've stopped in several times, but with the exception of the eve of St. Patrick's Day, hasn't had much better crowds than O'Brian's did, even in some of its darker days.  I wish the owners well, and I'm sure I'll stop in fairly regularly, but it will never be O'Brian's.

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