Unhappy Hour

Local Mitch McKay provides a guest commentary regarding a recent decision of the Boyne City Commission

By: Mitchell Jon McKay

Mayor Ron Grunch of Boyne City, Michigan, a lake side community haven for both residents and vacationers—riparian, mariner, camper, summer-homeowner, sailor, hiker, cycler—won’t allow alcohol to be served at outdoor tables contiguous to the town’s restaurants.

He’s not alone.

Four of five commissioners voted to nix the proposition. What is wanted is a popular vote, not five people. No public hearing; no inclusion of outdoor alcohol vote at the next meeting. That bill is dead, like the business it banned.

It must be realized of course that by not providing this service many potential customers will go somewhere else next time, after dining and drinking indoors or immediately opting to move along to the next town for friendlier ambience. Boaters and motor-homers can easily depart for Petoskey or Traverse City for their pleasures and take their money with them.

What is it with these people? These few who determine the decorous nature of dining and drinking as if reciting a church catechism want a tidy little environment wherein no sloppy degenerate drunks are wanted. Are they unaware of the tourist trade that reflects so much money spent on entertainment? Outdoor drinkers and diners are no more raucous or boisterous than your ordinary backyard cookout revelers with beer coolers. What is this: The Inquisition? A Salem witch hunt? The Vatican? A convent? A monastery? Perhaps a tea party.

This is Boyne City, guys and gals, the historic place founded in part by the black family Zack and Mary Morgan seeking freedom, lumberjacks, onetime home of the Tannery, hotels, brickworks, a pioneer village that attracted folk who wanted a healthy environment and opportunity to engage in enterprise in the burgeoning post-Civil War state via land grants and entrepreneurial energy. You mean on a hot day they couldn’t sit and drink a beer outside the hotel restaurant? This is just silly, petty and prudish to outlaw a beer with your burger if you choose the sidewalk patio. Preconceived notions of behavior or inference are insulting and a calumny. Good intentions overwrought are presumptuous tea-totaling arrogance.

This is a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face, as Granny used to say. These commissioners are not thinking ahead but back to some frozen time period such as Suffragettes with axes demanding their menfolk come home to feed the kids instead of their profligate Ten Nights In A Barroom dereliction. Wake up and uncap that bottle, folks; it’s not all that heinous to sit outdoors and drink a beer or a cocktail. We’re not talking drinking and driving, smashing glasses on the sidewalk, brawling, cursing, yelling, or breaking the Sabbath. This is a summertime activity. It will not corrupt the youth, won’t cause Swat teams to converge, insult the clergy, create disagreeable scenes, or be written up in Tattler tabloids as Sin City, USA.

This City Commission must be of the proclivity of staid and sedate churchgoing fuddy-duddies. But for one member they speak as if they were doing the work of God’s angels in dissuading the demon rum from their streets, medieval zealots demanding exorcism. No, thanks, I’ll just mosey along to Petoskey for lunch. Maybe that newest brewery has a sidewalk table.