In Memory of Meacham’s

27 Dec

Tonight, we struggled to make dinner plans. My wife wanted to eat at home. My stepdaughter wanted to go out. I didn’t care what we did. We decided to dine out and made our way to one of the chains. That’s when my stepdaughter spoke up and said that she wanted to go to Los Compadres, one of the local Mexican restaurants.

Apparently, everyone else wanted to do the same thing. This place was packed. There were tons of people, and we knew a lot of them. A couple of people dropped by the table. Other people were sitting in the bar. On the way out, we stopped at a few tables. Everybody was there, and, with the kitchen being backed up, we had plenty of time to talk to them.

I started thinking about two things. First, people must have been tired of staying home and eating traditional Christmas fare. They had to get out and eat some chips and dip. Second, I started thinking about a place that used to be in town where you would see everybody. It was our local version of Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

Meacham’s Italian Cafe was owned and operated by Meacham Evins, whose father started Cracker Barrel. It sat at one end of a strip mall and served basic Americanized Italian food. The food was good, and it gained popularity because it was the nicest restaurant in town. We had the usual interstate chains, but this was something different. It was convenient and was a place where you could feel at home. Meacham was always there to ask about your meal and ask about your family.

Lunch was one of the peak times at Meacham’s. All of the movers and shakers could be found there around that time. My friend Robert and I were not movers and shakers by any means, but we had lunch there countless times. We saw all kinds of people, but we always looked forward to seeing one particular waitress.

Meacham’s became more than a lunch place when it was expanded into the neighboring space. That’s when the bar became the most popular hangout in town. There’s no way to know how many times I saddled up to the bar to get a drink from James, the bartender who knew everyone and knew what they drank. The place was always packed.

Lots of action took place in Meacham’s. Most of that action involved fun and frivolity. People went there on dates, and people went there with their friends. People dropped in for a quick meal or drink, and people sat on a bar stool all night. Meacham’s had something for everyone. And, that leads me to a story.

I was at the bar when a local preacher walked in. He wasn’t there for a drink. He was on his way to a dinner in the private room and had to walk through the bar to get there. However, this wasn’t just a preacher. He preached at the church where my dad was raised and had known me since I was a kid.

I escaped to a dark corner when I realized that someone else in the bar needed to know. A local man who frequented the bar quite a bit also grew up in this man’s church. I eased up to him and told him that the preacher was walking through the door. He looked at me like I was crazy but realized that I wasn’t joking. To make sure that he wasn’t seen, he got off of the bar stool and laid down flat on the floor. The preacher walked by and never saw him.

Meacham’s has been closed for a long time, and a few restaurants tried to take its place. None of them worked, and the location now looks something like this.

Despite its demise, a bunch of people in my town spent a lot of time in Meacham’s. Some of it is fun to remember, but, frankly, some of the memories are fading with time.

12 Responses to “In Memory of Meacham’s”

  1. DyingNote December 27, 2013 at 03:49 #

    Reminds me of a music store I used to frequent growing up. So much so, there were people who thought I worked there to earn some pocket money. It was called, very simply, Music Junction. The owners were always very kind to me, let me pay for the tapes I bought any time that I could and introduced me to a lot of music. Even after I left that town, I’d land up at MJ every time I went to meet my parents.

    My parents shifted to be closer to us 3 years back. That was the last I went to MJ. Param and Channi had greyed but the smiles, and Music Junction, were still there.

    • Rick December 27, 2013 at 03:58 #

      No matter who we are or where we are in the world, we all have places like that. I hope the music store is still there. You need to make your way back there.

      • DyingNote December 27, 2013 at 04:09 #

        MJ is still there – thanks for asking. I will be there some time in Jan or Feb.

  2. Manu Kurup December 27, 2013 at 04:04 #

    “I can remember one night when I found myself in the same room with three women whom I did not want to be in the same room with. Wait, I didn’t feel comfortable with them being in the same room with each other.”
    – That was funny, man. I remember having the same predicament with two women, once. To agree with you, that wasn’t a very comfortable thing and to add to the fire, they were both drunk. 😛
    Nice post about the local restaurant.

    • Rick December 27, 2013 at 04:07 #

      Thanks. I trust you found your way out of that situation.

      • Manu Kurup December 27, 2013 at 04:08 #

        With a scratch mark on my neck, yes. 😀

  3. colemining December 27, 2013 at 14:44 #

    A great remembrance- isn’t it amazing the way some places can continue to be the storehouses of history long after they are gone? Lovely post.

    • Rick December 27, 2013 at 14:52 #

      Thank you. I’m that person who goes by buildings and tries to name off what used to be there. Weird.

  4. jcalberta December 27, 2013 at 17:52 #

    I’m sure everybody relates with your story and can think of at least place that is now gone. Which we dearly miss. We had a drug store in an innner community that had been serving people since the early 60’s. One day a Super Drug Mart decided they would build a store across the street. There was other locations they could have gone. Community people protested – even created a petition – asked them to locate elsewhere. Nope.
    One year after Super Drug Mart opened the old place went under. I will never shop at a Super Drug Mart. Not that they care.
    Petco? a bad trade.

    • Rick December 27, 2013 at 21:38 #

      Ironically, the guy who owned Meacham’s was connected to a chain restaurant. His dad started Cracker Barrel. I wonder how many “meat and three” restaurants have suffered because of it.

  5. Mark R. Cheathem December 28, 2013 at 03:15 #

    I miss Meacham’s. Our town needs more character places like it and fewer chain restaurants. You and your brother should come up with one for the development.

    • Rick December 28, 2013 at 03:44 #

      You’re right. We have a few lunch places, there’s not a good dinner place. Maybe we can get Monty to invest in a restaurant.

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