Rumours Wine and Art Bar, my home away from home and the last 12South restaurant pioneer standing, has six weeks to live.
This is not a piece of journalistic writing, because I am not objective about this turn of events. I have an emotional dog in this fight.
Generally, I’m not one of those rabid listserv purists who goes nuts every time somebody proposes a new development in my neighborhood. And although the proposed construction project at 2310 12th Avenue South (the property between the 12South Taproom and Rumours Wine Bar) does appear a bit overblown and disproportionate at first glance (67 apartments and 4,200 sq. ft. of retail), I was ready to keep an open mind.
But when I found out last week that that the owners of the Rumours property right next door had exerted a little deep-pocket muscle on Rumours restaurateurs to strongly “incentivize” them to sell their lease with four years left, I felt frustrated and not a little bit angry. I can’t be sure whether this is directly connected to the aforementioned development, and there are few facts available right now. All I know is that Valentine’s Day will probably be Rumours’ last night in business. And I’m sad.
I’ve had this feeling before. In college, I lived in a tiny dormitory across a railroad track from the rest of campus (where I fit in rather poorly). The building was structured like an old motel, with balconies and a big common kitchen area shared by the international students there. It was a fun and creative little community of language students and kids from all over the world. The year I lived in that dorm was the happiest time of my college years—it was the one place where I felt like I belonged. I remember big shared meals, all sorts of languages spoken, and a truly epic water balloon fight.
A couple of years later, the university tore it down to build a parking garage.
It felt like somebody had just taken a dump into my coffee. I loved Saunders Hall, and replacing it with parking felt like a slap in the face. But people, and institutions, value different things. My late-night philosophical talks with kids from Russia, Colombia, and Greece didn’t mean a thing to all the science professors who needed a place to park. Still, I mourned.
I’ve enjoyed many happy moments at “our” little Wine Bar, a few blocks’ walk from our house and the best (IMHO) patio in town. Rumours is the one place on 12South where I feel like I belong. I’ve never had a water balloon fight at the Wine Bar; but for years, that’s where I always went to celebrate or commiserate. It’s where I celebrated my 40th birthday, and had my first (and probably only) photography exhibition, and where Hal and I shared many, many hundreds of glasses of wine, and philosophical conversation, with friends from all over the world.
To me, Rumours is 12South, and 12South can’t be its true self without Rumours. Know that I will mourn.
I know there’s probably more to the story than meets the eye, that I have few facts on which to base these emotions, and that it’s not all about me. As I learn more, I’ll try to share what I find out, in a slightly less emotional way. I’ll do my best to put the journalist’s hat back on. But for today, this is me, telling you on my blog, that I wish things were otherwise, and that “my” Wine Bar could live on. Maybe they’ll find a new home within an easy stumble from Halcyon. That’s my hope.
*Best wishes and eternal thanks to Christy and Jenn for keeping Rumours running so long and so well. Ladies, I’ll see you there many times before Feb. 14! Whatever your next project is, I will be there.
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