Remember the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the whole town pours into George Baily’s living room with their crumpled dollar bills, thereby saving his little savings and loan. Doesn’t it make you tear up just thinking about a town where people cared about each other that much? Well, welcome to Payson.
We have such a town. And we face such a moment.
The point came home most recently last night at the last karaoke on the patio of the Main Street Bar and Grille, with its momentarily full parking lot, its bewitchment of fairy lights and the hilarious star turns of folks you know.
On Oct. 11, for the first time in 11 years, the restaurant will shut down for the winter. It’ll open again in the spring – maybe.
The Main Street Grille is precisely the sort of business that has created the beloved community that drew us all here to Payson. The owner and staff routinely host community events and offer a gathering place for everyone from local comedy groups to karaoke cauterwaulers. They delight in a creative menu, contribute money for First Friday bands and participate in the life of this town.
But just when they’d gotten some joyful momentum, the downturn hit. Business dropped by about a third this year. Abetted by a tough sign ordinance that bans a sign big enough to divert folks off the highway, the losses mounted. So, reluctantly, the grille’s managers decided they didn’t have enough cash left to get through the winter.
So they’ll hunker down and wait for spring.
The plight of the Main Street Grille is a reminder that we all live in Bedford Falls — and every day make the choices that determine what sort of community it will be come. Eating lunch is one such choice, buying local is another.
So we plan to eat as many lunches and dinners at the Grille as we can work in between now and Oct. 11, in hopes we can nurture the irrational optimism that prompts small business owners to get out of bed every morning. We might have to put it on the credit card, times being tight. But we do love the Main Street Grille.
Hope we see you there.