The Long Goodbye (or slán) to the Irish Pub
Dr. Andy says farewell to his favorite "third place" in the City of Davis
I have been hosting a weekly trivia event in Davis at everyone’s favorite restaurant for the last ten years. It was announced today that the restaurant is closing down. As a result, today is the day of the last de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz. As one friend texted me yesterday, it was a good run.
I’m so grateful to have had de Vere’s Irish Pub as a “third place” for the last decade. The pre-launch remodeling took so long in 2011 because of the craftsmanship of the interiors, including intricate ceilings, the overlay of faux-distressed hardwood floors, the highest-quality workmanship of the bar, and the authentic furnishings throughout. Entering the finished pub for the first time, I was reminded of the bars in Georgetown or Capitol Hill where my accomplished drinker parents used to take me in the 1970s, or the restaurants where my wife Kate and I would occasionally dine when we lived in London together in 1987. Davis didn’t have any 100-year-old pubs, but when de Vere’s Irish Pub came to town, we could pretend that we did.
For running the quiz, I proposed being paid in credit rather than in cash, so Kate and I ate an average of two dinners a week at the pub for most of its long run. The staff kept our favorite booth available for us Friday afternoons at five, a booth from which I could scan the pub for friends, and one that would help to keep my excitable son Jukie contained. At this booth, I ate innumerable “Dr. Andy Salads,” off-menu concoctions that provided most of a day’s macronutrients, and that signaled to the kitchen staff that the pub’s most dependable heavy-tipper had arrived.
Because of all that pub credit, around my hometown of Davis, I was more generous than I could afford to be. If I spotted a group of my former UC Davis students dining together, or a group of young first-time quizzers, I would send over a bread pudding, compliments of Dr. Andy. If I spotted a couple colleagues sitting at the bar, I would sometimes secretly pay their tab on my way out the door. One time I encountered a university colleague on the quad a few days after one of these secret investments, and he joked that he and his friends had launched a stalking campaign so they could know when to “accidentally” encounter me in their favorite restaurant.
I got to be similarly generous at the Poetry Night after-party. After the poetry readings that I host on first and third Thursdays of the month, the diehard poetry-lovers and I would inevitably parade over to the Pub for salads, chips with mushroom gravy, and divided pitchers. Graduate students who were enticed by the low-cost (i.e., free) entrance fee at Poetry Night were surprised (the first time) that they could keep their wallets in their pockets or purses if I were at the table. Especially generous friends (Hello Jim and Carol Lynn!) saw what I was doing and would leave a plentiful tip for the entire table. Servers such as Dani, Carlos, Paul, Jessica, and Tylor were always happy to see us fill the Snug on Thursday nights.
We made or strengthened many friendships at de Vere’s Irish Pub, including with two couples who met me (or Your Quizmaster) there for the first time, and later asked me to officiate their weddings. (It occurs to me that today is the birthday of my friend Natalie, half of the first couple I ever married, and a onetime pub quiz regular.) The pub gave my wife Kate and me a chance to be social. As people who don’t entertain often at home, we relished the opportunity to be placed in the care of de Vere’s staff, and then look forward to running into friends. Some of our closest friendships were made with the parents of our kids’ playmates at Davis Parent Nursery School or west Davis public schools. As a result, many of our friends live far from our south Davis home. As a result, the pub (and the farmers market) would become our socializing spaces, rather than our home. Every trip to the Pub reminded us how lucky we were to live in this community.
And this sort of love was returned to us 100-fold. Kate and I both held our 50th birthday parties at the Pub. At mine, my friend Roy, an usher at our wedding almost 30 years ago, showed up to meet my friends from work and the community. Mayor Robb Davis, one of the most eloquent politicians I know (now an Impact and Innovation Officer at the Yolo Food Bank), spoke kindly about the work I had done for the city as Davis poet laureate. You can imagine how lucky I felt, to have so many of the Californians I know and love in one restaurant, some of them meeting each other for the first time, telling stories, and exchanging hugs. The next day I dined happily on leftover Dr. Andy Salad and on the memories of some of my favorite people that were made possible because of a restaurant and family pub in Davis, California.
I send thanks and farewell to Simon and Henry de Vere White and to all the treasured staff they have hired and trained over the last decade. I feel lucky to have spent part of this last decade with you, and look forward to raising a glass with you in the future.
We poets, we traffic in images and memories. Years from now, when I reflect on my time at de Vere’s Irish Pub, I will recall the decade-long cascade of happy hours and family dinners, but I will especially remember the thrill of filling every seat inside and outside the pub, knowing that the microphone has fresh batteries and that my quizmasterly voice could be widely and clearly heard, gratefully accepting bonus swag from local authors such as Catriona McPherson, Eileen Rendahl, or John Lescroart, making eye contact with all my old and new trivia friends, and then finally yelling, as I will do one more time this evening, “Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s TIME for the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz!”
After sharing almost 15,000 trivia questions in our pub, it has come to an end. If you have joined us at one of these events, then I have treasured your company. All the credit for our good, long run that we have enjoyed together goes to you.
I will continue to offer print quizzes remotely, so I hope you will consider joining me on Patreon for your weekly fix. I am lowering the subscription cost to $10 a month for the weekly quiz, so please do check that out if you are interested. I do so appreciate my supporters on Patreon. I will also be available to write and run a pub quiz for special one-off events for local business groups and nonprofits. Contact me for the details.
P.S. Here are five questions from the penultimate Pub Quiz at de Vere’s Irish Pub.
Newspaper Headlines. Sears has announced that it is closing its last store in the state where it was founded. Name that state.
Long Walks to the Coast. The closest sea coast to the states of Minnesota and North Dakota is a bay whose name starts with the letter H. Name it.
Know Your California Counties. The name of the most populous California county that approved the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom starts with the letter F. Name it.
Pop Culture – Music. Born in 1969 to an Irish-American mother and an African-American and Afro-Venezuelan father, what diva singer sang 19 #1 songs on Billboard's Hot 100, and has won five Grammys, 10 American Music Awards, and 19 World Music Awards?
Science. Sometimes called a “failed star,” which planet in our solar system, like our Sun, consists primarily of hydrogen and helium?
P.P.S. “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” Confucius