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.
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.
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?