Last Friday morning I was writing a piece to celebrate five years at the Second Chance Saloon, while, at the same time, Cedar Properties in Port Washington, New York, was notifying the Second Chance that they would not be renewing their lease.
Okay, I do not know the exact timing here, but it is pretty darn close. Too close for comfort.
I wrote recently about Facebook being a virtual Third Place. For many of us, the Second Chance is our Third Place. We meet friends there before the school meeting, or after the concert at the Other Barn. A group of moms who practice conscious parenting get together here. So do members of the Oakland Mills Village Board, and supporters of the plan for Bridge Columbia.
Bloggers from all over Howard County converge to chat, eat delicious pub food and refreshing drinks, served by Second Chance's upbeat staff. Friendly, knowledgable, and energetic--if you've met them more than once or twice they know you.
I do not know how a commercial real estate management group in Port Washington, New York, could gauge the value of such a place. How often do they visit? How do they measure success? If it is only numbers on paper, it's not enough. The Second Chance has built up this venue during a recession, in an older Columbia Village which has taken a lot of abuse as an undesirable location.
They--Wendy and Declan and everyone--have proven that Oakland Mills is not an undesirable location. They keep at it day after day, week after week, football game after karaoke nght after trivia night after private party after ordinary family dinner. They bring in folks from the neighborhood and beyond for food, drinks, music, companionship, and fun.
What do we stand for in Columbia, in 2013? Is there still room for the mom and pop privately owned business? We sigh and shrug when Don Pablo's goes, or Chicken Out, but what about the life and times of a local homegrown business whose only desire is to make good in Oakland Mills? Does our future hold nothing but chain restaurants whose coming and goings are dictated purely by numbers?
You may remember golden days of Columbia that were before my time. Or you may be looking ahead to a future Columbia I haven't even imagined yet. Either way, The Second Chance Saloon belongs smack in the middle of what we all believe in. And it won't be there unless we do something about it.
Perhaps Cedar Properties, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, need a taste of how #AwesomeColumbia really is. Let's give them the best we've got.