What Happened to the Neighborhood Pub?
Lately I’ve been infatuated with the idea of the tavern as a meeting place, where people and minds gather for more than just talk about sports. Where people come together for camaraderie and to share ideas on politics or business. Where people are drawn to simply be with friends for a round or two of beer.
This interest has been sparked by the history books I’ve been reading (and the re-runs of Cheers I’ve been watching on Amazon Prime). In David McCullough’s biography on John Adams, he talks about how the revolution was born out of taverns. Our Founding Fathers came together over a pint of ale or glass of madeira (John Adams preferred beverage) and unified on a cause that launched the birth of this great nation. Paul Revere was even sent out of a tavern – The Green Dragon Public House – for his famed freedom ride. In C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, author Alister McGrath describes the conversations between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at the local watering hole. It was over a pint that Tolkien presented his idea for the Lord of the Rings to Lewis.
What’s happened to these watering holes where ideas are creatively discussed over a round of beer?
In the times previously mentioned, the corner tavern was an extension of the family living room. Under the advent of technology, people have been drawn away from the tavern and into the comfy confines of our living rooms where we sit mesmerized by smart devices. Our drawn out conversations on the state of the nation have been condensed into 140 characters of name calling. Our writing ideas are forced into sporadic comments in a Facebook group.
When we do head out to a tavern, it’s most likely to catch a game. I’m not knocking sports as I do enjoy watching my Carolina Panthers and Miami Hurricanes play in the company of others. Sadly, this seems to be the only reason bars exist anymore. There used to be a romanticism, an art to the tavern that appears to be lost in today’s society.
On a recent trip to Boston, I stepped out to find the great American pub.
Surely, in the city that gave us the American Revolution and Cheers, there had to still be a bar where everybody knows your name. For the most part, my mission failed miserably. Admittedly, I pretty much followed the Freedom Trail tourist path only popping into pubs for a bite to eat or a quick pint along the way. I stumbled into The Tap where locals were cheering on Boston teams in front of giant televisions and Cheers where I found the tourist trap that I was expecting.
Last, I wound up at Sevens on Beacon Hill. Here was a bar that more closely resembled the neighborhood gathering spot. Conversation was lively throughout and everybody seemed to know each other’s name. However, it was after midnight on a Saturday, and I wasn’t sure how much of the conversation had morphed into meat market pickup lines. I still wasn’t sure I found that great American tavern.
I believe that as people we crave the human interactions that technology has taken away from us.
One of the today’s buzzwords is mastermind group. According to Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income, “A mastermind group is just a fancy term for a group of people with a common goal that meet (in person, on the phone, via Skype, chatrooms, meeting software, etc.) to share and learn to improve what they do.” I am in two myself – one for business and one for writing. The difference between the masterminds I’m in and the ones Pat Flynn describes are that mine meet in person. Regularly we gather at someone’s house and over a case of beer or bottle of wine discuss ideas. Even MeetUp.com exists to drive various types of mastermind groups.
As I type up a conclusions to this post, I sit at NoDa Brewery in Charlotte, NC and am heartened by what I see. It’s 5:00 on a Thursday and the place is jammed. Part of that is because they brew the best beer in town, but part of that also has to be for the camaraderie. The tap room is buzzing with conversation. Craft breweries are popping up in neighborhoods throughout the country. Could they be leading the charge to revitalize the great American tavern?
Tell us about your neighborhood watering hole!