John Stewart (as in Kingston Trio, not Daily Show) penned a haunting song about change.
"You can't go back to Kansas, I was there just yesterday. You can't go back to Kansas," he sings. "It just up and blew away. Oh, but I will go on loving you. It's easier that way."
How often have we said we'd like to return to a certain place someday? How often do we really go? It turns out revisiting scenes of our favorite memories can sometimes be a bittersweet prospect.
Au Courrier de Lyon on Rue du Bac was my favorite spot during a 2005 trip to Paris. Its familiar worn-leather booths and brass fixtures reminded me of a neighborhood staple in my own hometown, complete with the salty characters at the bar. I still can taste the tarte aux pommes. Four years later, we returned and were stunned to find it had been replaced by a shiny, sterile new place called Café de l'Empire. The new joint surely has a trendy menu, but it lacks the patina of its predecessor.
Ironically, the friendly old bar and restaurant which Courrier de Lyon reminded me of has also been replaced. If you'd never visited Paddy's Tippecanoe Inn, you'd consider the new tenants delightful. To the old guard, though, a gentrified interior, fake gas fireplace, and bistro vibe will never measure up. The bones remain, and if I close my eyes, I can picture the buzz every Thursday night. As we waited for a table, Bartender Bob (complete with bow tie) would whip up a Shirley Temple for me. I'd sip and listen as my Dad held court on the corner stool, chatting with the other regulars. A ragtime piano player delighted the cozy dining room while the bar area overflowed with neighbors. Finally seated at our standard table, my family could always trust Jim the waiter. He knew the order. "Same as usual, folks?" Yep. Same homemade, rye croutons on the iceberg salad laced with ranch. Same burger, medium rare with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. Same gigantic, hand-cut steak fries. Same never-ending glass of iced tea. For my father, same picatta. For my Mom, same side salad and baked potato. (She's a cheap date.) Was it gourmet? No. Was it satisfying? Absolutely, in every way.
Another family favorite, First Street Grille, home to the best views and key lime pie in Jacksonville, Florida, was torn down in 2006. Its replacement? A seven-story condominium complex.
Eddie's Palm Valley Crossing on Ponte Vedra's intercoastal had a distinctive, authentic fish camp atmosphere and served Florida's best gator tail. There was something phenomenal and mysterious about that sauce. It was demolished to make way for a bridge expansion.
Chuey's, the Barrio Logan cantina which opened 55 years ago and moved three times, was foreclosed on in 2008. A $42 Million Community College construction project will take its place. My favorite of its three locations was the one now occupied by Ryan Brothers Coffee Roasters. Despite the bullet holes in the walls, the cavernous corner building was known as a top business lunch spot in San Diego. I still can't say I've ever had better salsa fresca, and I'm glad I have the photos of my family enjoying the atmosphere there after Padres games.
What relics have been replaced in your world? Which spots are you actively trying to save?