EVERY SMALL TOWN needs a Crow Bar & Grill. For the food, the drinks, but, mostly as a community gathering spot. A place to lunch with friends and family and neighbors. A place to socialize and sympathize and support and celebrate.
Thursday afternoon, Courtland, located along U.S. Highway 14 east of New Ulm, lost The Crow Bar to a wind-swept fire. It’s a devastating loss in a community of only 635. According to media accounts, the blaze started in the attic area and resulted in enough water and smoke damage that the bar and grill will be a total loss. But the destructive fire is about more than losing a building and a business. It’s also about the impact on locals.
Sunday morning I chatted with a friend and distant relative who, like my mom, has roots in Courtland. Howard is part of a Faribault-based accordion trio that recently entertained noon-time diners at The Crow Bar. Now he worries how his bachelor farmer brother will adjust to losing the place where he dined four days a week with friends. They’ll likely move across the street to Swany’s Pub. Yet, it won’t be the same, Howard says.
That’s the thing about small towns. Businesses and people are intertwined in a way that stretches beyond the wallet. Locals hold emotional ownership in Main Street businesses. They care. Without them, businesses cannot survive. The Crow Bar wove into the lives of those who call/called the Courtland area home.
- Love great people that visit the crow. And one awesome owner and staff.
- The Crow Bar has the freshest burgers around! Great small town bar and bingo on Saturday is fun too!
- Hi From Pensacola Florida! Loved Courtland when I was there! Great food too yall!! Miss it still!
Shortly before noon on Thursday, with customers already seated inside The Crow Bar for their noon meal, the fire broke out. Everyone exited safely, including an upstairs apartment resident.
Our heart goes out to our neighbors at the Crow Bar
My heart goes out to the folks of Courtland. Having grown up in rural southwestern Minnesota, I understand how devastating the loss of The Crow Bar & Grill to the community. When the lone cafe in my hometown of Vesta closed, residents rallied to build and open a community cafe. Courtland, at least, has Swany’s Pub. And, I expect with time, those who frequented The Crow will feel comfortably at home across the street.
That’s the human, beyond-the-fire, side of the story. How will Courtland area residents adapt? How are they coping with the loss of a place that’s been a long-time part of their community?
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling