Thursday, June 29, 2006
At one time I used to enjoy going out to the bars to have a drink with friends. That's become a rarity over time. Watching three taverns work with Fond du Lac police and residents to get their licenses renewed shows how attitudes have changed over time about your neighborhood bar.
Owning such an establishment has to be a risky business. Even if you have everything going in your favor ultimately its your customers who are going to decide whether you sink or swim.
Growing up in a small town I can tell you that a change in tavern ownership was a big deal. In Manistique, Michigan when I turned old enough to sit on a bar stool I quickly learned which taverns you frequented and those you didn't.
Christie's was where you went if you wanted to pick a fight. I never did. The Harbor had a mix of clientele. I rarely went there, but did stop by on two occasions following family wedding receptions, bride and groom in attendance. Herb's 40 was a good place to play pool, always had the right tunes on the jukebox and was where I usually went. Jackpine was out on M-94 a ways, but their food was worth the trip. There were a handful of others, but we didn't usually go to them.
Christie's is still there, my little sisters like it, but the roughneck image has eroded over time. The Harbor also continues to do business. Herb's 40 (still don't know the significance of the name) has changed ownership quite a bit. Jackpine went through a slow period, but the popularity of snowmobiles and ATVs has helped it out.
My best experience in a bar was probably when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was at Normie Jahn's bar in Manistique. My dad took me there because it was a Packers bar. Normie was a genuine character. He regularly attended Packers home games. He could tell some whoppers, but treated everyone special. My dad was the one who had the beer, I had root beer. Normies been gone for years now. Over time the bar evolved serving upscale clients and last I knew it had become a bistro.
Hopefully more Fond du Lac County taverns will take up Tavern League President Tim Lakin's invitation and become members. Maybe it's not so important whether everyone knows your name when you go in a bar. Maybe it's more important that the people who are serving you want to make sure you enjoy the experience and get home safely. Most do, more should.