I’m not from here. I’m from someplace else. And we’ll deal with that later. Sometime later.
For the record, almost all of my friends and even family are also “not from here.” They’re also from somewhere else. And (I bet you guessed it), we’ll deal with that later, too. Sometime later. Too.
What is true now, though, is this: I’ve been a “died-in-the-wool, born-again Daytonian” for a long time. I won’t get specific about that, because then you’ll know that… well, you’ll know that I’m no longer so young.
One of the reasons for that “died-in-the-wool, born-again Daytonian” truth about me has to do with the old Upper Krust on North Main Street, and “Jimmie’s Cornerstone Bar and Grille” at Brown and Wyoming streets and the soon-to-be “Jimmie’s Ladder 11.”
And if you have never been to “Jimmie’s” present location yet, GO. Click on whatever your computer tells you to click on in order to shut down your computer or your Internet connection, and then gather you family if you got ‘em, and get over there. Go in the front door, ask if Jimmie is around, meet him and then join the other folks who are enjoying wonderful food, quickly (but not too quickly!) served by a friendly, folksy bunch of servers (at a quite modest prices), and then enjoy the heck out of yourself.
(Oh. And if you’re new to Dayton… well, enjoy Jimmie’s food and the atmosphere. The atmosphere at Jimmie’s Bar and Grille will have you preparing for your baptism as a born-again Daytonian!)
But… Voila: here we are, at the heart of this whole blog: atmosphere.
The atmosphere at Jimmie’s present day location and the atmosphere he and his whole crew will bring with ‘em as they move just north and east across Brown and Wyoming is what Jimmie’s has and will have… and it’s what Dayton has in HUGE HUGE amounts.
For me, that atmosphere is the same sort of friendly joshing, “what are you doin’ here?” kind of atmosphere that Jack Rouda created at the “old” North Main Street Upper Krust (yes: I do from time to time shed a tear or two…)
So: personal history.
In the early years of the long-ago 1970’s, I discovered this little place on North Main Street that served big fat cups of coffee that never seemed to stay empty, wonderful sandwiches that were way WAY “over-stuffed,” and a host (that would be Jack), who liked to come sit down with a new customer and chat.
Oh. Yeah. Jack would also come to your table and sit down and have a chat with you… well, Jack thought of you as “an old customer…” uhhhhhhh… you know: a seasoned customer…
And the time it took to move from “new customer” to “a seasoned customer”? For me? Second time I dropped in for coffee drinkin’ and newspaper readin’: two days.
After a casual “who are you?” from Jack, and a friendly conversation with Jack… Well. You could say I was hooked.
For my whole “professional life,” writing has been at the heart of what I get paid for. Only… at the time of the Upper Krust, I didn’t have a real job, if you will. I was doing a lot of writing here and there as a “free-lancer” – yep: that’s what they called what I did back then, and usually for not a whole whole lot of money.
But then pretty soon, I did begin to make a little bit of money from my writing (for clients! for clients!), and I transitioned (myself) into gradually calling myself a “communication consultant.”
(If you don’t believe me, I’ll show one of my early business cards: right there it says it. Communication Consultant.)
But… Back then, Jack Rouda watched the whole process. Watched me with my legal pad and pen (a real “ink pen” it was), writing notes and drafts and drinking coffee and writing some more and chatting with the other regulars and wandering around the place…
And pretty quickly, I became just another fixture. I had become a regular, seasoned coffee drinker at the “Krust,” and it didn’t matter to anybody in there whether I was a “free-lancer” or a newly minted “Communication Consultant.” Nope: Jack would bring the hot hot coffee to refill my and everybody else’s cup and… Well. Life just went on.
It was kind of… well, my second home for the most part. It was that kind of place. I started bringing my two daughters up for a cup of Jack’s soup for dinner (me? cook???? helluva writer, not much of a cook), and… Well, soon – very very soon – I was in the Upper Krust most of the days of the week. Saturdays and Sundays, if need be. Meeting clients. With my daughters and my relatives. Or maybe running into or really “meeting” friends.
Then I would meet more clients, maybe two or three or more… Just client meetings at the Upper Krust. And then pretty soon I would be taking it for granted that I’d go to the Upper Krust and meet new people, and they’ve become kind of friends and then some became “old friends…” And maybe… maybe… a guy or gal I met there sitting alone at his or her table would strike up a conversation and then… who knew? might become a client. But maybe… you know. Only maybe.
And for a long time (in the 1990’s… ancient history now), I was very active in my Five Oaks neighborhood association, so pretty soon folks and friends from Five Oaks would join the new breakfast crowd and we would have our meetings, you know, in an atmosphere (!) surrounded by folks from the City of Dayton, maybe my wife and the folks from her job having a meeting, some folks from the FROC Priority Board, maybe a bunch from the local Catholic parish, maybe…
Well: you get the picture. It was a place that welcomed the community to come on in, sit down and have a cuppa’… For that matter, with the atmosphere there… well, sometimes the Upper Krust caused community. We all knew each other or would quickly get to know each other as we went up the front off the place to get the newly brewed coffee (Jack didn’t feel like he or his crew had to get you every cuppa’ coffee you drank), and because we would pretty quickly realize that some of the people who were there for breakfast would probably stop by later for lunch. Or maybe dinner. Or maybe both.
You never know, of course… But it never mattered, either. Because you would see each other over and over and over. The coffee was that good.
And… well, truth be told, that coffee was probably good because the Upper Krust was such a great good place.
You know: atmosphere. Jack. Chocolate peanut butter pie. “Heaps o’ health” sandwiches. And… you know: atmosphere.
“Those were the days my friends…” we kidded ourselves into thinking…
But when it closed – that nasty old saying about “all good things must come to an end” – well, pretty soon Jimmie, who had quietly been the assistant manager at the Upper Krust for a lot of the time I went there… Well, Jimmie took his knowledge and experience and his personality (yep: he was and still is a whole lot like Jack… in his own way, of course) and kind of created “Jimmie’s Cornerstone Bar and Grille” and then some of the old “Krusters” wandered in.
Well, eventually, when all the dust settled, good ole’ Jimmie (and maybe the “ghost” of Jack’s) made “Jimmie’s Bar and Grille” the same kind of “that’s where everybody who knows goes” place.
Gayle Rouda, Jack’s wife, knows. She’s been going to Jimmie’s for a long time. And Jack… Jack Rouda himself… well, he’s there, as they say, “in spirit.” In this case: in the menu. You know: Chocolate peanut butter pie. Big, really stuff sandwiches.
So. Now that you know about Jimmie’s, when you get the chance, check out the menu. Feel the atmosphere.
And then you’ll know.