Where everyone knew your name

By David Fong - Contributing Columnist

I spent my New Year’s Eve last week in much the same way I’ve spent it for the past decade: sitting on my couch at home, surrounded by family, desperately trying to stay awake until midnight.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. At my age, that’s what I should be doing. My days of tossing ‘em back, getting rowdy and howling at the moon are best left in the past. Truth be told, I’d rather spend my time with my wife, my children and my dog than doing just about anything else.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have memories of such chicanery, however. I do remember a simpler time and, more to the point, a special place. Long ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of spending New Year’s Eve at home — not so long as a special little establishment located along the Miami River was issuing her clarion call.

When I graduated from college and moved back to Troy, I probably wasn’t quite ready to grow up yet. While I was at Ohio State, there were literally dozens of bars from which to choose. I know this because on the night before I graduated, I visited 24 of them. When I moved back to my bucolic hometown, however, the options were far more limited.

For me, all roads led to Water Street, to a place called The Brewery.

It was there that some of my favorite memories of early adulthood occurred.

Growing up, I had always heard stories from my brothers and sister of their time spent at The Brewery. My first visit felt almost like a rite of passage, as if I was carrying on some sort of family tradition. I made my maiden voyage with my former colleague Bill.

It was like stepping into an entirely new world.

At first, Bill was the only person I knew inside the establishment. It didn’t stay that way for long, however. After a few visits, I had met the entire cast of characters. There was Fish, the owner. There was Dan, the handsome doorman. There were Mike and Kimmie behind the bar. There were Cowboy and Roadhouse Shane and Goldberg, the bouncers. There were the DJs, Eric and Doug, who always knew, at some point in the night, just when to play “Kung Fu Fighting.”

Those were just the employees. There were also the regular customers, who were every bit as fascinating. It seemed like every night was an exciting adventure, with no two nights being the same. I’ve always thought that if I ever decided to go into fiction writing, I could easily compose a novel loosely based on the time I spent and the people I met at The Brewery. The names, of course, would be changed to protect the innocent (and, more to the point, the guilty).

Don’t get me wrong. The Brewery wasn’t a particularly fancy establishment — although, from what I understand, it once was considered an upscale restaurant in Troy — but to me, that always was part of the charm. It wasn’t the sort of place you went to order a cocktail with a fancy umbrella in the glass. It was a little rough around the edges, and so were many of the patrons. I think that’s what I loved the most about it. It wasn’t pretentious and didn’t put on airs.

It was relaxed and it was comfortable.

It also was the place where my greatest dream came true.

Several years after I had been going to The Brewery, I met a young lady there. It was at The Brewery that we had our first conversation. And our first dance. And our first date. And our first kiss.

That’s right — the first chapter of the love story my wife and I have managed to create was set in The Brewery. For several years after we started dating and got married, it was where we would spend every New Year’s Eve. That was until the kids came, of course.

These days, we don’t get out very often, which probably is the way it should be. And besides, even when we do, our night no longer involves The Brewery, which has sat vacant for several years now.

Eventually, business started dropping off, then died off completely. I can’t help but wonder if its demise coincided with people my age getting too old to go out and paint the town red. I’m sure for some who viewed that particular establishment as a source of trouble, it’s not the worst thing in the world.

For those of us who loved the place, however, it’s a sad end. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of other fine establishments in Troy at which to get an adult beverage.

But for some of us, it’s tough to replace one location that seems forever lost in time.

David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.


By David Fong

Contributing Columnist