For many, Merlin’s was one of those bars that you loved to hate and hated to love – “A dream to some… a nightmare to others!” – Excalibur. It was a haven for obnoxiously loud motorcycles. It was the best place to get clams (for many moons). The owner continued to patch the ripped awning with beer signs until it finally disintegrated. A variety of local musicians called Merlin’s ‘home’. It was one of the few patios on the sunny side of Elmwood – a perfect place to drink a beer and people-watch when the sun went down. Many of the girls I know would choose to walk to the west side of the street when passing by so as not to get ogled to death. There was some good, some bad and a whole lot of ugly.
Maybe you’ve heard that Merlin’s has finally closed its doors (again – apparently tax problems). I have mixed emotions regarding the closing. The majority of thoughts that race through my mind (regarding what’s to come) feature a cleaned up restaurant or bar – something a lot classier than what was there… a lot classier. Then there’s another part of me that is a holdout for something a bit seedier – something that might add to the hip-ness of the street while keeping the yuppy factor in check. I’m a big fan of a mix of people and offerings. Maybe we could get another music venue in there with an owner who would actually take care of the building… something like The Sportsmen on Amherst Street. Keep the music scene alive, but make it comfortable for everyone. Sell some late-night burgers and light up the old electric guitars on the building (with neon). Clean it up, but don’t buff the floors. Repair the awning and get a real patio enclosure, but keep the domestic blue-collar beer selection.
It will be be interesting to see what eventually goes down at the corner of Elmwood and Breckenridge. For years I’ve watched that bar close, then open, then close again. Each time I crossed my fingers hoping that the next run would be better than the last. It never happened that way. If I’m not mistaken, the biggest changes that Merlin’s ever experienced were the fires that blazed through the upper floors. To this day I’m shocked that the place is still standing. Here’s to a new decade for a building and a business locale that certainly could use a new lease on life.