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Last call at Michael’s Pub

Another blow has been dealt to Columbia’s village center concept with the closing of Michael’s Pub.

Last call is Tuesday.

Since opening in 1986, Michael’s Pub has carved out a reputation as something of an anomaly in suburbia: a neighborhood bar. I’ve seen this firsthand, having lived in Columbia’s King’s Contrivance village — where Michael’s is located — for more than 10 years. The close proximity to the bar’s cold beer and buffalo wings has served me well, though my waistline might beg to differ.

As first reported by Patch and then the Columbia Flier, owner Shane Curtis said he is closing his doors due to financial strain.

About two dozen employees will lose their jobs at a place regulars describe as similar to “Cheers,” the fictitious TV bar where everybody knows your name.

Michael’s Pub will become a business cautionary tale, about government regulation, ill-timed expansion, the Great Recession and any other factors that may have led to its demise.

It’s also a symbol of developer Jim Rouse’s original vision for Columbia, his landmark planned community, one that seems harder and harder to maintain in a global economy.

As I’ve written before, the village center was a cornerstone of that vision. Columbia has 10 villages, or neighbhorhoods, and the retail hubs are designed to house grocery stores, banks, restaurants, dry cleaners and other businesses serving up the necessities of modern life.

A place like Michael’s Pub served as an anchor to the village center. But retail trends have worked against the village center concept for years now — it’s hard to thrive competing against big-box retail, chain restaurants and mega grocery stores, which Columbia has plenty of.

A few years ago Produce Galore and Bun Penny closed up shop. They were locally owned and operated and had built loyal followings as businesses uniquely linked to the original vision for Columbia.

But this is business: Another locally owned pub could fill the space left by Michael’s and this will go down as just another example of the free market efficiently policing itself. I’ll still miss those buffalo wings, though.

I wonder how they taste at the Second Chance Saloon?

One comment

  1. Hi Robert, Bummer about the loss of a long-established neighborhood bar in your village. (I’m in OM and still have Second Chance Saloon!)

    Thanks for the coverage and perspective. (I’m new to working at CA.) Hey, did you sees SarahSays’ blog post about the village center master plans:

    If this might be interested in attending CA’s Aquatic Master Plan conversation and community workshops that are coming up March 29th and 30th. This is not-particularly-sexy-sounding but really rather fascinating look at our community’s near- and long-term needs.

    Shoot me an email if you want some more info about the event. I’ll hook you up. 😉