Where everyone knows your name

Published 12:59 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

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Last Saturday night, I was at Andrew’s Tavern in the 300 block of Main Street.

It was a party celebrating the tavern being in business for 30 years. Part of the party was to dress up in 1920’s flapper or gangster style. And the bar was full of people so dressed and having a good time. Somehow, I missed the message on the suggested attire. They let me in, but my cargo shorts and short sleeve shirt seemed more uncool than normal.

Mickey Howley

In my defense it was a hot night in Natchez. Andrew’s was hopping, there was a small sign outside that said, “Prohibition stops here,” and the party was on. Mind you it was late for me at 9 p.m.

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Years ago, when I moved to a small north Mississippi town, people would ask how I liked the place. I was polite and said, “fine,” and it was. But you know how it is. Sometimes the snark creeps in and I’d say, “but next town I pick I’ll check the bar to church ratio first.” In that town, the ratio was zero to 22. I wondered why that was so and it was because bars were illegal by local ordinance. Of course, I did not know that before I moved there and bought property.

When I took the job there as Main Street director, people often would ask me this rhetorical question, “You know what this town needs?” I would nod my head and say, “Yes I do and that’s the politics, baby,” or something like that. We went from one to seven restaurants, all where you could buy a drink and that was legal. A stand-alone bar never was.

And why would to the absence of bars signify something is needed in a place to most people who would at best be only occasionally patrons of such establishments. That applies to up there or even here. Maybe you just want to go a place where everybody knows your name, or it would seem like they might.

I’ll suggest a theory, not mine, but known the Third Place Theory. People like places like this because they are neutral ground and level ground, status seems to not matter as much. They are places where conversation is the main activity, and they are open and accessible. There are regulars and they give the place its tone and the regulars attract newcomers.

These places generally have a low profile, and the mood is playful and they’re a home away from home. People want places like this, even if it is to just know they are there. These establishments are important in any town.

Thanks again to Andrew’s Tavern for being that third place for 30 years on Main Street.


Mickey Howley is the executive director of the Downtown Natchez Alliance and can be reached at mickey@natchezDNA.org or 601 443-3350.