Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2,419 Days of Bridie's - The Beginning of the Love Affair

Bridie McKenna's Irish Pub - Spring 2009

    Everything in life is temporary. Change is inevitable and relationships of all kinds come to their respective ends. From the day we opened to the public on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 to the day we closed the doors on Sunday, August 31, 2014 Bridie McKenna's Irish Pub was an important and integral part of my life.  Six years, seven months, and 15 days in business; the time I spent there varied through those years, but it was always part of me.
    In the beginning working at the pub literally saved my life.  I was hired there in November of 2007 in the midst of an 18 month period of monumental personal loss that came in a barrage beginning in July of 2006 and continuing through January of 2008: One loss after another from tough break-ups, surgery, the deaths of my uncle, father, cousin & friend, job loss, etc. Each attempt to pick myself up during that period was met with another knock-out blow.  I couldn't catch my breath and each blow added mountains of ever increasing sadness to point where the pain just did not seem worth the effort to continue.  I planned my exit and started the process on more than one occasion, only to change my mind at the thought of how someone would have to explain it to people I loved.
     When I first walked into the place, I was struck by its beauty.  It wasn't even done yet.  Upholstery on the booths was only halfway complete. The finish had not yet been applied to one of the bars. There were men on ladders hanging fixtures and touching up paint. Sawhorses were in every room. Walking in the front door and seeing the curved mahogany bar and appointments and all the names of important places in Dublin accenting the woodwork was breathtaking even under those circumstances and it never lost its allure. 
First Impression, The Victorian Bar
     Being hired that day started to give me something to live for again. There is an excitement around opening a new place. I was able to help with all kinds of tasks from bookkeeping to numbering the tables for the POS system.  I love the hospitality business and being part of the beginning was a real thrill, but that was not what got under my skin, what made me fall in love with the place and any role I undertook there.  No, I fell in love with the wonderful mix of people; coworkers, customers, vendors, entertainers, everyone!  
     I have determined that the restaurant business is in itself a subculture with lots of character, much of which is quirky, eccentric, twisted or downright unstable.  As a student of psychology the pub was the agar in a fascinating  petri dish of insecurities, anxieties, neuroses and pathologies where the players were both annoyed by and cared deeply for one another. We laughed and cried and played together. We counselled and supported each other. Some were nursed through and encouraged out of abusive relationships, others were nurtured through battles with substance abuse, rape, divorce, miscarriages, break-ups, new love, loss, marriage, births, etc., still others were cheered on as they completed high school or college and then sent on to conquer the world. Having the opportunity to help and support others in turn helped me. At a time when I felt so alone and was starving for connection, the ever changing cast of characters at Bridie's became a surrogate family, held me up and got me through the darkest time of my life and for that I will be forever grateful. 

The Four Original Owners

Front of House Staff, Halloween 2008
Front of House Staff, Halloween 2009
That was how I fell in love and that wonderful, crazy place got inside of me and I found myself more than willing to do anything to contribute to its success, appreciating every minute of it from excruciating to joyful and everything in between.