Some things in life shouldn’t need explanation or that much oxygen to understand. They are called rules.
COVID-19 has taken a pound of flesh, in some way or another, from most of us; some more than others. Local businesses-the lovely family-owned and staffed comfort shacks spread out across Macklind Avenue-have taken a particularly nasty beating the past year. With reduced capacities and old problems becoming larger due to a virus, places like Russell’s on Macklind and Southwest Diner have been forced to cut staff, reshape their delivery system, and basically find new avenues to generate revenue and maintain interest. Both owners of those esteemed establishments have done a tremendous job of staying afloat and in the game.
Would they rather have it an easier way? I bet they would, but the cards that were dealt weren’t messing around, so here we are. Enter Wheelhouse and Start Bar, a pair of late night party bars/clubs that provide a versatile array of entertainment options for their guests. Being an Uber driver, I can attest to the fact that few corners held more sway after midnight than Wheelhouse. Fights would break out, police would get in the middle, violence lurked, and thousands kept coming back.
But 2020 revealed different sets of tricks for the establishment, who repeatedly disregarded health guidelines, forcing the city to step in and fine/suspend them. This happened more than once, but I have a feeling this third time will be the charm. Is it third? Maybe fourth? Don’t know, don’t care much about it.
The latest message was swift and blunt. Due to the continued breaking of simple rules, Wheelhouse and Start Bar will be forced to close until Jan. 22, 2022, or further notice. That is that. Done and finished. Follow the rules, or go the fuck home. Hundreds of local businesses, big and small, are desperately trying to keep their head above water. Truly and honestly. Just look and ask around. I imagine they stay awake at night thinking about lightening up on some of those guidelines. I would.
Everyone is taking a hit, but trying to move forward. It’s not exactly do or die, but desperate measures have been at least considered, and sometimes even taken. My wife owns a business in Sunset Hills, and has to follow those same rules. Food and beverage or appliance, the basic outline of rules are the same. At the wife’s store, they are even stricter. You can’t come into the place, walk to a certain spot and sit down, and take your mask off. You keep it on the entire time. Rules.
The owners of Wheelhouse and Start Bar didn’t follow them and paid the price.
Here’s the thing. We will never get back to normal if we don’t follow the damn rules. While my brain laughs at the idea that we REALLY are a community and not a business, my heart really wants to buy into that idea. It’s a tug of war at the moment. So, in the warmest of thoughts, we need to come together and follow the rules. It sucks, but as Russell Bufalino once told a hitman named Frank, it’s what it is.