“It was my friend’s birthday, and everyone else was twenty-one except for me. So we went to a bar that wouldn’t check ID. It was called ‘The Clif Tavern,’ and it was a total dive. The cash register was from 1948. The owner was an old, weathered guy named Skip. He seemed very excited to have customers. He told us stories all night long. He talked about meditation, and racing cars, and being a black belt. I remember he was really proud that his brother’s dog had been in a movie with Cameron Diaz. By the time we left, all of us were in love with the place. We started coming back every weekend. And I was hanging around so much that Skip offered me a job as a bartender. He didn’t teach me much. He knew very little about business. He kept all his documents in an empty Budweiser box. But he was the spirit of the place. He gave great hugs. He called everyone his ‘kids.’ And he was a total hippie. Whenever he posted on social media, he’d sign it ‘Peace and Love.’ We worked together for ten years. Skip was with me when I met my husband. He witnessed our first kiss. He became like a father figure to me. And his bar became a huge part of my life as well. Skip used to always say that the bar was ‘killing him,’ and he kept threatening to move to Costa Rica. But he could never stay away for long. There were maybe six days in ten years that he didn’t come to the bar. So when he didn’t show up one evening, everyone knew that something was wrong. The police went to his apartment and found him unresponsive. He’d died of a heart attack. None of us knew what to do. I gave the eulogy at his funeral, and then left to go open the bar. All of us assumed it was the end of everything. But one month after the funeral, I got a call from Skip’s brother. He said he couldn’t sell Skip’s legacy to a stranger, so he offered the bar to me and my husband. Over the past few months we’ve renovated everything. We have a new tap system now. We’ve added a modern register. We’ve made a lot of changes, because we know that it needs to be an actual business if it’s going to survive. But we’ve also covered an entire wall with Skip’s photos and notes. Because we always want the place to feel like Skip.”
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