Apr 19, 2012

Closing Time

The email came from Jack at 6:26 PM exactly. At first, I just thought Jack was going to watch the Sens’ game at the Pot.  Like we did so often over the years, after I joined the NDP Windsro/Glue Pot Hockey Pool in 1997.  The plaque hangs proudly on the wall.

IMG-20120419-01361“Heading down to the GPP for the game tonight. Rumour has it that it is the last night the GPP will be open.”

Say what?  Hard to believe. Jack must be joking. I didn’t really believe him, thinking that perhaps he was trying to get people to tag along with him.  “Grab the plaque, then!” I joked.  Nicole decided to show up, and she confirmed by sending an email at 8:59 PM:

“The rumour is true. The Glue Pot Pub is closing tonight forever.
The plaque is secure.”

Oh man.  I wish I had known ahead of time.

I expressed my sadness on twitter:
“The Waffle is really sorry to hear that the Glue Pot Pub will close its doors tonight. Forever. I’ve been going there for 15 years.”

Reactions were immediate, from all over the country:

@northwesternlad : BOOOO!!!! That is terrible news
@michaelgendron : That sucks, any idea why?
@MrsPremise4 : Had my first beer as Hill staffer at The Glue Pot in 1989.
@paulvieira : what’s replacing Glue Pot? Why Glue Pot closing?
@sfharris : We should buy it and re-open it. Nothing could go wrong!
@onammio : I am devastated by news of the Glue Pot’s untimely demise.
@RoddieGilbert : Triste
@_E_And : Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!
@JairusKhan : Isn’t that whole block getting demolished to make room for the new library?

So many questions, so little answers.  Why, dear God, Why?

The Sens’ were battling the Rangers, and I wanted to watch that game.   At the same time, so many memories at the Glue Pot Pub. I had to go.  Once the third period was over and the game was pushed into overtime, I jumped in my car and went down to the Pot, one last time.

The Glue Pot Pub is located in a building that once was the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in Canada. The building also houses the Adult entertainment establishment known as Barbarella’s Diamonds, and a neat Italian café known as Zucchero (Which took over from the famous Dill Pickle Restaurant a few years ago).  The Glue Pot Pub opened in 1988, some kind of a cross-over between a tavern and a sports bar. Over the years, it showcased live music, karaoke and trivia nights. 

The Glue Pot was written up on September 1989 as the place where the research staff of the NDP got together on Fridays to map out what great issues their bosses would tackle the following week.  And talk hockey, as soon NDP staffers and friends also used the location as an excuse to gather, make bad trades, and trash talk their competitors while watching some games. 

There is a copper-topped bar, black tin ceilings and old, worn wood tables and chairs and booths.  Over the past few years, however, they have done a good job modernizing their screens, and now, everywhere you look, there’s a TV, so no matter where you sit you can watch the game comfortably.

Just before walking in the Glue Pot, a guy in a suit, likely an out-of-towner on a business trip, asked about my advice - should he go to the Glue Pot Pub or should he go to Bâton Rouge? “Depends what you are looking for, Pal. Do you want cheap beers, pub fare and a rowdy atmosphere, or  are you looking for a good steak in a quiet, upscale casual restaurant?”

He went up the stairs to the Glue Pot.

IMG-20120419-01360I got in in time, before the OT started and was soon overwhelmed. 

Oh, there was a decent crowd -
but it wasn’t exactly packed the way it should have been for a playoff night.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t dead.

Yet, the Glue Pot Pub was indeed closing. 
The taps were drying.
Empty pitchers were put over the taps as one by one, the kegs were pouring their last pints.

IMG-20120419-01349The popcorn machine was silenced, empty.

No more over-salted yellow popped corns prepared to make you oh, so thirsty.

We would never fill those baskets again.
We would never again try to hit a glass across the table with one.
We would never again throw a fist load of it against an owner taking advantage of a lubricated opponent to make a one-sided deal.

Nicole was still there, Jerry was also there.
Jack had come and gone, securing the plaque. 

I sat down, kind of sad.

It being Wednesday, the Glue Pot was offering its usual Wild Wednesday’ specials, one last time.  You could get a personal pitcher of domestic draft for $6.99 and a pound of chicken wings for $7.99.  I’ll drink some beers, but I’ll skip the wings. 

IMG-20120419-01348Nicole got up and to get a small pitcher of the only beer still available – Keith’s Red.  

The three of us watched the game, talking very little as the Senators and the Rangers were going up and down the ice.

It didn’t last long!  Kyle Turris scored after less than 3 minutes and the Glue Pot errupted in cheers! Like the Good Old Days….

Ottawa tied its Eastern Conference quarter-final series 2-2, with Game 5 on Saturday in New York. But you won’t be able to watch it at the Pot.

One of the waitresses on staff, who seemed in a good mood despite the fact she was losing her job tonight, told me that the current management of the Glue Pot Pub thought the rent was getting too steep, so they didn’t want to renew the lease with the property owner. Hence the closing. Staff found out 2 days before. Rumour has it that there are plans to build condos on that corner, though nothing seemed to be firmed up.

The crowd thinned out quickly after the Sens game was done, most customers not being very interested in the Blues-Sharks game that followed.  We stayed, watching the game, talking about our memories of the place and, oh horror, trying to figure out what our next meeting point would be.

We kept drinking from the drying tap.  A few new customers arrived, looking for a late snack.  Most ordered chicken wings, and after a while, their scent was too tempting.  I flagged another waitress, whom I have known for years, and who seemed a little more distraught by her employment situation.  Even though I shouldn’t indulge, I wanted wings. ”Oh, I think he is closing the kitchen.  They are running out of food anyway.  But let me see what I can do for you.”  The staff had always been very friendly at the Glue Pot.

“You are getting the last order,” I was told.
Yay.
I guess.

It took a little longer than usual. They were not super hot, either.  But here they were:  the last Glue Pot Pub Chicken Wings. Ever.

And clearly, I got more than a pound. 
I was glad.  None were left behind.

IMG-20120419-01354

The wings were crispy, yet not dry. Not very meaty, though, but they have never been at the Glue Pot.  I had asked for their hot ones, and they were nicely heated, good hot sauce flavour, the wings were nicely coated yet they were not bathing in a hot sauce pool at the bottom of the basket.   But more importantly, they were very, very comforting.

It seems we have come full circle - one of my first food entries was about the Glue Pot – and it wasn’t on this blog, but rather  in the restaurant guide Cheap Eats Ottawa where I stated matter of factly, about the Glue Pot Pub,  that “although they have modified their menu and you can no longer choose any toppings on your pizza, it is still quite good and quite cheap.  Their burgers are also good, but their fries are overcooked.”

But it doesn’t matter now.

Glue Pot, I shall miss you.

——————————————
UPDATE  25-04-2012 @ 21:18 PM

Sources are telling us that the Gluepot, or a version of it, is set to re-open soon.  
Greg tells us that someone else has apparently stepped in and taken the lease.  We shall see. 

In other news, there is indeed a long term plan for condos to be built, but we are likely still years away before they close the aging brick complex.  It should be a heritage building, really.  It seems that the plan would be to preserve the brick facade as part of the deal to build the condos.  It’s a new trend in the National Capital Region, and it can be nice if the architects do their homework, but it didn’t work so well for the Duke of Somerset, did it?

——————————————
UPDATE 23-05-2012 @ 8:44 PM

The Waffle has heard through reliable sources that the Gluepot is re-opening tomorrow, at 11:00 AM. Apparently, management from Barbarella’s have decided to take over from the previous management, who left in a huff… It is not the first time that folks from downstairs have owned and operated the Glue Pot. The big problem with leaving the Glue Pot closed is that they share the kitchen, which is actually located on the Gluepot’s premise. This in itself may explain why they made the move, in order to keep having access to the kitchen.

The Glue Pot Pub on Urbanspoon

4 Responses

  • Great tribute to the Gluepot Pub, Karl. I’ll keep you guys updated if I hear anything more about it re-opening. I think we should intervene at city hall when these permits come up for approval…next, they’ll close the Lafayette and the Carleton, and other great old pubs in Ottawa and replace them with condos..

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  • So, I notice that lights are coming on in the kitchen and people are milling around in there – could this be a sign of the supposed reopening, or is the place just being cleared out?

  • Actually, the GP has re-opened, as of about a week ago – kind of a skeleton staff right now as the place gets geared up again, but it’s nice to have it back in operation. Some of the old staff are back too, and it’ll be interesting to see what the new management – the same folks as Barberella’s, it seems – will make of it…

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