Posted: Dec 29, 2011 4:50 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Updated: Aug 1, 2012 11:13 PM
One of the oldest watering holes on the central coast is getting world wide attentional for it's reputation. but is it worth the title bestowed upon it? We set out to find out, and what we DID discover is all kinds of proof there's no place like home.
Most people who've lived in this area have a story tied to the Merrimaker. The Los Osos tavern has a laundry list of tongue-in-cheek nicknames. "Which one? Marriage-breaker? Widow-Maker?" asks manager Fayrene Jones. "Uh, we've got a lot of them."
And if you look up the definition of "dive bar" on Wikipedia.org, a picture of the Merrimaker pops up. It's an association that draws mixed reviews from regulars. "It's more like cheers than a dive bar." says Juli Hubbard "I consider this my family. Everyone knows your name." "Many times you'll walk in and see your grandmother here." says Dustin Mattingly. "Many times you walk in and see your grandmother here. So I think a family bar would be more of a call than a dive bar."
Built originally in the 20's it was called The Boots and Spurs. Old timers will tell you it was a also a hitching post for horses and motorcycle s. And it wasn't all that out of the ordinary for a patron to ride either inside to wet his whistle. It has also been known to happen more recently."They've done little wheelies in here and I make the guys clean the marks off the floor when they do it." says Jones.
It's been the Merrimaker since 1963. And it's a gathering place for neighbors and friends since then as well. "So how many people at the bar do you know right now?" I ask bartender Sam Wayne at the peak of happy hour when it's packed. "All of them." she answers in a split second. "No, wait. I'm sorry, there's two I don't know."
It's been nicknamed the Marriage Breaker and Baby Maker, It's true it's a gem of generations. The walls tell the stories in a series of picture collages. People having fun, telling stories. Sitting in the same seats their generational counterparts are today. The only thing that's changed are the hairstyles, clothes and cast of characters sitting in the same seats their generational counterparts are today. That, and the absence of ashtrays on the bar, and cigarettes in the hands of patrons.
Cribbage is big at the Merrimaker. There's a tournament every month. Wayne learned from an 86-year old regular. "There's never a time when you can't come in here and strike up a game iwth someone. 21 to 89." she says. They have bands and karaoke on weekends.
It's a place where people share the ritual they call winding down...where the conversation flows as freely as the cold beer on tap. You definitely won't have any trouble stirring up a conversation. You may have a little trouble getting a word in edgewise.
"The community that comes in here, they're family." says Wayne. One of our customers had cancer last year, our Christmas fundraiser went to him and and his family this year. Even right now we've got a jar for one of our patrons who had surgery a couple of weeks ago. She's going through tough times. Everyone at the bar puts money in for her. And we take care of it."
Whether or not the Merrimaker should be the poster child for the definition of a dive bar remains up for debate. But if it is, then dive bars are also a place you'll find all kinds of reminders there's no No Place Like Home.