Jayden Bennett Benefit, highest and best use of a bar

Posted: March 29, 2012 in advice on owning a bar
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I have been asked a thousand times if I enjoyed owning a bar and I always answer something to the effect that it was the ultimate love/hate relationship. When I use those two opposing words I am meaning them in their strongest forms. For example, I hated passionately having to work 84 hours a week.
During the week I arrived at 9:30 to do the janitorial, count the money and make up the tills for the day. Next I opened the kitchen for lunch and then worked as one of the cooks for that meal. Then I was off to Costco or URM or Cash & Carry to do my own shopping.(It took a lot of time but I saved 10% by not having a company like Sysco deliver). Beyond restaurant food and supplies, I also picked up the alcohol and pull tabs.
After shopping, it was about time for dinner during which I worked in the kitchen. On slow days I would zip home for maybe an hour just to remind the kids that they still had a father figuratively speaking. Five nights of the week I was back by 8 to get ready to run the karaoke until 1 or 2 in the morning. On Friday and Saturday we were normally packed with a cover band and I was the babysitter doing everything from bar-backing to bouncing.
It was not that I hated the work. I found it light duty and fairly engaging. In fact, if I did not have four young kids at home, I would still be there. It was the time that it took that I hated. It was just wrong not being there for my family, especially when Elaine had to work 54 hours a week at the place. I hated it so badly that when it came time to renew the lease and pay $1,000 more a month, I refused the increase. The landlord eventually gave me an ultimatum and so after four years we walked away. I really hated that part.
But from our opening night Halloween party that was over the top to the Potluck dinner that touched our hearts so deeply on our last day, we had dozens and dozens of the best party nights and days with literally thousands of people. That part I loved and it gave each long hour a purpose.
The Rock Inn was a big place with room for every kind of gathering. While the Gideon’s ate and prayed together in our banquet room, revellers would be drinking and dancing as they celebrated a 21st or 40th or 50th or 60th birthday. Actually, while those milestones attracted the big parties, it seemed there was always someone getting too many rounds bought for them as they celebrated one of the more mundane birthdays that fell in between the decades.
We had a front row seat to every occasion people deemed worthy of a banquet, party or just a toast. Anniversaries, Christmas parties, Super Bowls, bowling banquets, reunions… you name it.
Among the many wakes we saw pass by was one for a guy that I clearly remember meeting for the first time in 6th grade as we waited in line to go inside after recess on my first day at the new school. He grabbed my arm and flipped me over his shoulder and as I looked up bewildered from the ground, he said “Hi my name is Steve Chamberlain.” And I said “Dan Daley back at South Pines warned me about you and now I know why”. We remained friends from then through us opening the Rock Inn when he came in one night and playfully but obnoxiously grabbed me by the hair from across the bar as I barbacked one busy night. He was being a drunk customer, trying to reestablish the pecking order between us. I did not mind because I knew he was proud of me and he knew that he and I went back to the days when he ruled University Elementary.
I saw the retirement parties for cement truck drivers whose first days on the job I could remember, having been only eleven years old when Dad started me on his foundation crew. One guy named Jay Carpenter actually worked on Dad’s crew for a few years before he went to work as a cement truck driver. I had to ask him to put out his cigar at his retirement party since the no smoking law had just gone into effect. He really did not like the idea that I could boss him around.
These kinds of times were rich, like Bill Gates rich, like Mega lottery winner rich, and I loved them. But of all the hundreds of great gatherings, one stands out as by far the best to have been a part of for Elaine and I. It was a benefit for a little girl named Hailey who had been terribly abused by her daycare worker.
Compared to that day when they were able to raise $10,000 for her, nothing made us feel so grateful to be owners of a place as then. I would argue there is no greater purpose for a bar than to host a benefit for anyone in crises, let alone a young child in need. For that matter, I would go one step further and argue that no structure be it a church or school gymnasium or opera house has any loftier use of its space than to bring caring people together to raise money for the purpose of helping lessen the financial burden of a family enduring the immeasurable trial of carrying and comforting a child through suffering.
This Saturday the Bayou Tavern out at Trent and Barker has the God-given opportunity to rise far, far above its calling as it takes on the honorable role of hosting a fundraiser for one of God’s precious young children named Jayden Bennett, who at age 10 has been waging his fight against cancer for 3 years.
Just as the Bayou will be at its highest and best calling this Saturday, so will each and every person who attends. I can say that knowingly, having attended the most important night of many peoples’ lives. Nothing compares to doing what little you can to just slightly relieve the unfathomable burden of a family with a child going through what Jayden Bennett is going through.

I could write all day long and never begin to say the words that this picture says so poignantly and profoundly. I can only add that this function begins at 4. Lasagna dinner is $10. There will be a live and silent auction. The Bayou is at the corner of Trent and Barker. There will be entertainment and if you can come up with a better place to be, don't ever tell me because we'll just get into a big argument.

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