“I think you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Randy Newman
Joey’s Bar in Brighton Center is officially closed.
A woman I worked with lived in Somerville, we were talking about places in my neighborhood and she told me her husband liked Joey’s.
“Joey’s?” I said, “It has three barstools and a dart board.”
“That’s why he likes it.”
That kind of summed up Joey’s. It was a little neighborhood spot, taking up a storefront near the corner of Washington and Market Streets. It was a dark bar, a good place to drink in the afternoon and avoid the sunlight. There was no judgment from the crowd there, no one asked or cared why you felt the need to start drinking at noon. I don’t think I was ever in there when there wasn’t at least one incident of someone who had been “banned” trying to come in. Old time bartenders would politely request that they “Get the fuck out and don’t come back.” It wasn’t a rough place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a baseball bat behind that bar somewhere.
I can’t say that I was a regular at Joey’s even though it’s right in my neighborhood. I did stop in from time to time. It was a true neighborhood spot, you could go there after a hard day’s work and not worry about stinking up the place. You could go wearing sweatpants, unshaven, wearing your ratty old sneakers. You could show up still hungover from the night before, it was all good. It was a good spot to pregame, sip a few cheap cold ones before you got went out for real. The walk up the misshapen steps to the men’s room was always a good test of your general sobriety. There was always someone ready to play darts, usually badly.
Joey’s didn’t have food, they didn’t serve craft beers, it was what it was. I don’t think I will miss Joey’s so much as I’ll miss what it represented. Joey’s neighborhood watering hole that didn’t aspire to be anything else. Sometimes that is where you want to be. Brighton used to have a lot of those. I won’t waste time complaining about the colleges moving in or gentrification or the upscaling of the local bar scene, change happens, but these places seem an endangered species. Over the past month, I’ve heard rumors of three different local places that are about to be closed down and sold. These are places that local working people go, and the college kids go to drink cheap, and the yuppies come to slum. There are damn few of them left.
Fare thee well, old friend