It’s not often that you hear about people getting an email from their 6th-grade math teacher asking them to come and play a gig in their bar. Nevertheless, it actually happens quite frequently in my house. Douglas (my husband) has become a semi-regular at Barista’s Café and Pub, and if it were not located six hours away in New Martinsville, WV, he would probably be playing there all the time.
Douglas was joined “on stage” by Bonny. Bonny went to school with Douglas in New Martinsville and though she too has since moved away, she is always more than happy to come and sing with him (and her drive is much shorter!). Bonny has an amazing voice and together they had the whole bar singing and making requests late into the night.
There is something special about a place like Barista’s. The pub itself is tiny and the “stage” is really just a corner of the pub where you could pretty much just reach your arm out to grab a drink from the bar without missing a chord. When I think of Barista’s and try to describe the atmosphere, I have to quote the theme song from an old television show:
“… Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”
The crowd that night, and most nights that I’ve been there, included more classmates from Magnolia High, plus many more who could have been their parents or their children. The pub attracts a cross-generational crowd.
The place is not always this busy though. You might think that a location on Main Street would help bring customers to this spot. Main Street is not what it used to be, however. Time and “progress” have isolated Main Street and it now seems to be suffering from what appears to be a form of solitary confinement. To get to Main Street you have to detour off the actual main highway that runs through town. There are no big signs or advertisements to lure travelers. Residents seem to have forgotten that it exists. Business owners assume that everyone knows they are there, maybe operating under the delusion that “if you build it, they will come.”
Advertising is expensive, even in this small town. So maybe the businesses on Main Street could benefit from a word-of-mouth campaign and perhaps a little free publicity through this world-wide-web and the world of blogging. Did you know that Barista’s has a café upstairs with really good coffee and sandwiches? (By the way, if anyone from Barista’s is reading this, you may want to consider opening earlier so people can grab a cup of coffee before heading to work.) The pub downstairs serves a wide variety of beer and the selections on tap always include some tasty craft brews.
Moreover, it’s not just Barista’s that could use the help. As you can see from the picture below, taken in the middle of the day, all the businesses here could use a little more traffic.
For example, check out Presto Lunch for a great cup of homemade soup and a sandwich. Presto originally opened over 50 years ago and was reopened in 2006 by the granddaughters of the original owners, Deanna and Santina, and their mother Donna. Just like the history of Presto Lunch itself, the clientele spans several generations.
Businesses such as these require a little nurturing so that residents and visitors alike can continue to benefit from their services for years, and generations, to come.
So, how’s your main street doing?