The pub moved in to the neighborhood about five years ago. It sits in an unremarkable building that used to house a smoky dive that was a little scary and smelled like fried. It was made over to look like a British pub, complete with a drunken British owner, bangers and mash, and a red phone booth.
My first experience at the pub was not good. I ordered my usual gin martini but received a foul-tasting concoction that left me wondering just what the bartender had added to it. My neighbors confirmed the horrible flavor and I sent the drink back. After some discussion, I learned that the owner liked to soak his olives in a garlic marinade. I like garlic, but feel strongly that it should never be added to a cocktail. The bartender must have been offended by the return and was extremely rude about providing me with a replacement beverage. I noted, not to anyone in particular, that the borderline-alcoholic customer residing within a mile radius of your drinking establishment is always right. The bartender quite rudely disagreed and I didn’t go back to the pub for a full year.
By the time we returned, the bartender in question was no longer employed at the pub. Although I never again ordered a martini there, we did find it to be a great place for a pint or three and we’ve been fairly frequent visitors ever since. Frequent enough that we began to run into old friends there and also started recognizing the faces of some of the regulars. And soon their names. And then their phone numbers. Crap. Do we have a problem?
The pub changed hands about 6 months ago, and that’s when the empty stools seemed to show up. The decor is the same and the menu offers more choices now. There seem to be more specials and other entertainment to beckon customers in. Why the empty stools? And where have all the regulars gone? It could be the staff. One waitress wears a perpetual scowl. I believe one of the waiters may fall somewhere on the awkward spectrum. It could be the drinks. We have heard people accuse the new owners of under-pouring. Whatever it is, we’ve made it our mission to figure it out. And we’ll keep going back to conduct more research for as long as it takes.