On Saturday night, MK, myself, Jon, Michelle, Cheryl and Kelly all headed back to Grape Street & Vine, a very tiny Martini/Piano bar where MK and I celebrated our engagement with 20-something of our closest friends.
Saturday, January 31st, 2004 was our first "regular" date and after a lovely dinner at Ben Pao, we headed off to GS&V for drinks and fun. We had one of the most spectacular nights. The owner, an older lady frequently stopped by our table and found out we were on our first date. The Four Tops were performing (only one original member left) and we were pounding Martini's like they were going out of style. GS&V is a small, let me clarify, it's just slightly bigger than a dorm room at college type of bar, but the place was heaving, everyone partying, and The Four Tops invited MK up on stage to sing a song. To which, she declined.
We went back a few more times during 2004 while dating and then, I asked both my friends and hers to join us at GS&V on Saturday, October 9th to celebrate our Engagement. Of course, MK didn't know she was going to get Engaged on that day, but I did and I was confident enough to throw a freakin' party as I was confident she'd say yes.
Again, another phenominal night. All of our friends pounding Martini's, Arturo (the regular piano guy) banging out tunes all night and we closed the whole place down at 3:00.
Maybe it's partly our fault but MK and I haven't been back since. Not totally sure why but I'd guess that moving to the 'burbs, having a busy life, having a child and just general responsibilities got in the way of us going there until our dear friends Jon and Michelle suggested we do a couples night downtown, (staying overnight at the Hyatt) and just get a little nuts.
After dinner we headed over to GS&V around 9:00. It was quiet but then, it never got crowded until 11:00 on most nights anyway. We sat down and the waitress took our orders. I knew that I wanted the Creamsicle one right off the bat and we all ordered then to be told by the waitress that their credit card machine was down and that we'd have to pay cash for the night. I challenged her a bit as anyone who has ever worked retail knows that if the machine is down, the clearning house you have your contract with provides you with an 800# to call to clear the charges of your customers. It's quite simple, you do that and then when the machine gets fixed, you clear all the charges through. She claimed that they didn't have that service.
I guess what ticked me off the most is that MK checked the reviews of it on Metromix prior to us going and she said there was a review on there from February 2008 that said that their credit card machine was down. So 7 months later and still the same problem??? Very odd. Additionally, when you're most common selling drink is a huge menu of Martini's that cost $10-13 each, how many do you think people will buy in a night without having plastic as their option??
Things went along fine but there was something else odd going on. There was a pipe that ran over the hallway to where the restrooms were. Everytime someone would flush the toilet in the women's restroom, the pipe would begin gushing water out of it into a huge garbage can that they had placed in the middle of the hallway. It was quite the sight. In fact several people got wet as they didn't see it OR someone would flush and the waterfall would start.
The drinks were fine, although my Creamsicle one tasted just like my Orange Whip one (that shouldn't be) and it never really got crowded by 11:00 (although there were more people here).
I guess what is sad is that these are all signs that a business is on it's last legs. Running cash-only means that you LOST your right to take credit cards. This usually means there was some fraud going on. Plus you have the stickers on your door, but then don't take them. Gee, if you advertise you take plastic, you better find a way to do it, or you should be posting a sign that says "CASH ONLY" on the door so I can make that decision BEFORE sitting down and getting comfy.
Arturo who plays the piano there (and has for YEARS!!!) was in classic form as he always is and I know he'll end up on his feet after GS&V closes eventually.
I guess we always hope that places that are significant to us will live on for many years. I know that the restaurant where I proposed is still there as are many places we've enjoyed, but I'm a realist and know that nothing is forever. Well, the memories will be. I'll just conveniently forget this past Saturday night and just remember the other ones.