30 April 2009

In Memory of Magical Things

Stroll with me for a moment down memory lane. Years ago I found myself at loose ends, with re-discovered friends, looking for a place to hang out. We eventually found a length of polished wood to hold up, and it was called "Merlin's Tavern".
I was drawn in at first by the computerized trivia that you could play for free, but by the time Blaine (Brodka, until recently the owner of Merlin's) canceled the trivia, I had made acquaintances with the othe regulars. They were a fascinating crowd. Some of them rough around the edges, some of them incredibly successful, all of them just wanted to blow off some steam with a few beers and a game of pool. Some of us played darts on the electronic scoring soft-tip machine that had more plastic in its face that Michael Jackson.
There was a lot of laughter, and more than once someone's extended absence was noted with a simple remark that they were guests of the county. Like I said, a little rough around the edges.
After a lot of Molson, more "rocket fuel" shots than is strictly healthy for anyone, and plenty of free dinners courtesy of my Merlin's Card (spend $60, get $10 free food/drink!), I moved on, though Merlin's kept rocking for a few more years.
I drive by every now and then, and the place looks empty, the soul of fun and a few hours' escape from what life held elsewhere now gone somewhere else. The magic was gone.
I think I still have my official Merlin's Dart Team (yeah, what of it? I had fun) T-shirt in a box somewhere. I may have to wear it in memory of magical things:


Former Merlin’s Tavern to become liquor store
April 29, 2009

HAGERSTOWN — Washington County liquor officials on Wednesday gave the new owner of the former Merlin’s Tavern in Hagerstown permission to convert the business into a liquor store.

Lucktinny Soeung said after a meeting with the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, known as the liquor board, he intends to close the business this week to make renovations and reopen in about a month.

“We’ll have a carryout — no bar,” Soeung said.

He said he intends to name the business Summit Liquors.

The liquor board gave Soeung its blessing despite opposition from two local liquor store owners, who said the West End didn’t need another liquor store and a trend was being started by allowing bars to morph into carryouts.

On April 15, Mark Svrcek, owner of Captain Benders Tavern and Antietam Cafe in Sharpsburg, told the liquor board he wanted to convert the bar portion of the business into a liquor store, The Herald-Mail has reported.

A liquor board official said Wednesday that Svrcek’s request still is under consideration.

Blaine Brodka, the former owner of Merlin’s Tavern, said after the meeting he decided to sell the business because he couldn’t find competent help.

“I’m disappointed with the quality of employees that I’ve had,” Brodka said. “Over the last eight years ... I’ve had 180 employees.”

Brodka said he always tried to ensure Merlin’s maintained a good reputation.

The liquor board fined Merlin’s $400 on Wednesday for serving alcohol to an underage police agent earlier this month. That incident occurred before Soeung took over the business, a liquor board official said.

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