Palestine Magazine May 2019 - Page 35

DRINK AND BE MERRY pub where he will lead very active discussions on Christian and bibli- cal philosophy. A pub’s culture is truly dependant on the customers. A good neigh- borhood public house should be just that: a house for the public. People of all ages, from all walks of life are welcome. They become family there. If someone comes in dressed in a tuxedo or a floor length gown, they shouldn’t feel overdressed. Oil workers straight from the field shouldn’t feel underdressed. There are no reservations, you come as you are. Tokens from visitors and friends adorn the inte- rior, on the walls and the nooks and crannies. If you want to catch up on current events, town gossip, ancient history, then pull up a chair. Come with a friend and catch up or come by yourself and run into people you know or meet new friends. Business gets done there too. Have a business meeting, hook up to the wifi and get your project rolling. If you need to organize the community, where better than at the local pub? That’s where you’ll find the community. In 2013 Allison and I sold our house, I quit my job, we packed up our three children, and moved from Houston to Palestine to start a business. With all the experience I had in the beer and restaurant business, it was a natural decision to open up a pub. Allison’s parents had just bought a building in Old Town right next to a creek with a lawn area, an excellent patio, and was located close to downtown. Perfect place for a pub. The Pint and Barrel Drafthouse. When we chose Palestine as the location for the Pint, we knew Pal- estine needed a meeting place. We didn’t know how badly. Very few people had ever experienced a pub before. They’d see the bar right up front and think we were just another beer joint. We had to teach them the culture. People were running into old friends they hadn’t seen in years, even decades! They live in the same town! And a small town at that! How did they not run into each other at the grocery store? People had no common place to meet. They’d meet at each other’s homes. Cliques developed and became cemented generation by generation. Once people were able to meet each other on com- mon ground, cracks began to form in the cement. New, more fluid bonds began to form. People who had almost walked out because they thought it was just a bar, would leave saying how much they loved the place and were going to tell all their friends about it. Real community; Palestine showing it’s softer side. People would ask me, “How did you come up with this idea?” I didn’t. The town tavern has been around for thousands of years. We just needed one here. One moment in our history that touched my heart was seeing a professor from University College London sitting at the bar with a short order cook from a restaurant in town, just off his shift. They were laughing, having a grand time, buying each other beers. Where else would these two have met but the neighborhood pub? Another was when UT Tyler was discussing closing the Palestine campus of their charter school for grade-schoolers, Innovation Academy (now called University Academy). Parents organized at the pub, meeting with a television reporter there and gathering forces. The school was saved and now has a new facility being built. The most amazing thing I witnessed, however, was over 200 of our regular customers, our friends, show up to help us clean up after we had four feet of water come through our building. Not everyone thought our business would fail. One man knew what we were doing, even more than we did. He is a prominent at- torney in town I hired to do some legal work on our LLC. When I met him, he shook my hand with both hands. “Thank you for what you’re doing for the community.” he said. I didn’t know what he meant then, I know now. We weren’t just starting a business. We were building a living room for the town. Chris Keller has worked in beer sales for a distributor, as a brewer for Saint Arnold Brewing Co. in Houston, and is the owner of Pint and Barrel Drafthouse in Palestine, Texas. APRIL 2019 35