Six months ago
, the wayward denizens of Center Ridge Road in Rocky River and Fairview Park wondered aloud: "Where do we all go now?"
Those were strange and heady times. The Swinging Door, one of the great westside suburban dives of the Cleveland metro area, had just closed. The final hours in that place were wracked with truly grim and unsettling moments. At one point, I saw a man openly weep as he cradled his mini-pitcher like a newborn.
But time is a funny thing. What goes around comes around, they say, and last night bore witness to a small but mighty comeback in the annals of dive bar lore: The Swinging Door opened its new location just down the road (20130 Center Ridge Road).
In some ways, the new spot is totally different. There are, like, a bunch of tables in the room, resplendent with napkin holders and ketchup bottles. There are more light bulbs. On the front of the building, the words "Bar and Grill" are used. And there are more taps than at the previous location, which the craft beer crowd will enjoy.
In other ways, though, nothing had changed. They saved the actual bar from the old location and transplanted it into the new spot. Old Swinging Door signage adorns the walls like late-90s Tribe pennants, reminders of what was and what will always be.
And then, of course, there are the people. The Swinging Door has been a lot of things to a lot of folks over the years, and that's the key: It's a bar that exists only because of the people who sidle up and drink. (Most bars these days seem to exist as branding exercises.) The Door is a conduit, and it asks only that you remain true to yourself while passing through.
It seems like a lifetime ago that we lost the old spot. Hell, that was back under the Obama administration
. A lot of weird shit has happened in the interim. Now, though, life and its many angular puzzle pieces may fall back into place.
If you ever find yourself wondering if there's more to all of this, you should pay a visit. With any luck, your life will never be the same.