Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Way We Were

So: Clyde’s. 

I’ve been going through old blog posts and sifting through my memories since yesterday, when the announcement came out. The Columbia component of Clyde’s restaurant group is to be no more. No Clyde’s down at the Lakefront, no Soundry. 

I don’t have any personal nostalgia for Clyde’s. As I’ve said here before:

But we don't really go down to the Lakefront all that often. It's a special occasion thing for us. It's where you celebrate a birthday or take folks from out of town.

It just wasn’t in our price range to be a regular hang out. But clearly, for many, it was just that special place, and will be missed. In fact, the wait at Clyde’s used to be so long that a local quipped that what the Lakefront restaurant scene needed was simply another Clyde’s. 

That was before the fits and starts of this newer go-round of Downtown development. Before the Howard Hughes Corporation tilted up the enormous bag of shiny new things that have come sliding out onto the landscape like ever so many futuristic Lego pieces.* 

Before the pandemic. 

I am sad about the loss of the Soundry because I thought it brought something to the community that was fresh and very much needed. A venue like the Soundry is going to be harder to replace, I think. If anyone is pondering this my daughter has ideas. The under twenty-one crowd is not going to be buying liquour but maybe a new iteration of this concept could include some time for outreach to local young people, open mic nights.

It’s Columbia. Everyone has an opinion.

I always wanted to be amongst the celebratory diners who enjoyed lobster and corn on the cob down at the Lakefront on the Fourth of July, surrounded by the famous patchwork quilt of families attending the fireworks. Alas, it was not to be. If you ever got to do that, I’d love to know what it was like. 

Clyde’s Restaurant Group is an entity far larger than our Columbia outpost. They are contracting to protect the outcomes of the group as a whole. To us it feels far different. Personal. I would think that for those who have lived here quite some time it may feel like yet another one of those beloved places of pilgrimage disappearing from the local scene. That’s hard. It’s hard to lose a place where people knew you the way you were. 

There will be new life to arise from this. At the moment it’s difficult for me to picture. And I’m still pondering the long-term effects of the pandemic on the overall Downtown development plan.  Friends of the blog will be familiar with my long held belief that almost any underused commercial area could be transformed into a haven for children's birthday parties. Yes, I know the liquor component is weak for a concept like this, but we’ve tried everything else. There’s no reason we can’t contemplate inflatable bouncy castles. 

Maybe just for a moment.

If you’d like to share your Clyde’s stories for a future blog post, please add them here.

*Not a criticism, just an observation. They do nothing by halves.

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