Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Curse of Jimbo's

Unless something can be done to change destiny, Bridgeport institution Jimbo's will be closing its door on September 30th of this year. Jim Levato, the 70 year-old owner of the bar/restaurant, says landlord Ray Degrazia has ordered Levato to vacate at the end of his current lease. Jimbo's is a favorite pre- and post-game stop for Sox fans. Players, coaches, and even GMs would join the fans after games. Ron Schueler had his own stool.

Levato says he was notified of the decision by letter and he has been unable to reach Degrazia for an explanation. I think the explanation is obvious. Jimbo's pulls in a bundle. It's one of the few options in the area. My dad and I were always more prone to a stop in china town than at Jimbo's, but for many Sox fans Jimbo was the only place they'd consider for a pre- or post-game meal. This became especially true once a couple of other local bars were knocked down to make room for Comiscular in 1989. Add in increased attendance and attention after last year's World Series, popular outdoor seating, and a Bridgeport neighborhood that has become comfortable and inviting for visitors to the park, and Jimbo's became a gold mine.

The same gentrification, team success, and smart business development that made Jimbo's so successful, is also the source of its doom. I suspect Degrazia wants to cut out the middle man and start pulling in some of that loot for himself. Patrons interviewed for today's papers didn't seem interested. "I don't know the politics of it, but if they think they're going to put another place here and we're all going to show up, that's not going to happen," said Ryan Hopkins, a Sox season ticket-holder who has been coming since 1990, told the Chicago Tribune. And Levato promises to put up a fight. At the very least, Degrazia's lawyers say they'll negotiate with Levato to keep Jimbo's open into October if the White Sox make the play-offs.

I'm not sure how fans of the Sox and Jimbo's can help. If anyone has any ideas, please share. Letter writing campaigns; to whom and to what end? Petitions; again, with what goal in mind? Fund raising; to what, buy the building? This doesn't seem like a problem with a solution. Degrazia can make more money running his own place or converting to condos. Anyone who drives to the ballpark from the west has seen how Bridgeport has changed over the years. Degrazia is now sitting on a very valuable piece of real estate.

I do know this: as Sox fans, whether we went to Jimbo's or not, we need to find a way to stop this. It has curse written all over it. Finally, after 88 years, the Sox break their World Series drought. Unlike Cubs fans, Sox fans generally stayed away from blaming the futility on a curse. But the Black Sox scandal, and possible karmic retribution, lurked in the back of every Sox fan's mind. It would be fitting, but really suck, if the very next year something were to occur that required another near-century of karmic payback. Forcing Jimbo's out of business is just that kind of something. So, I really hope there is a solution to this mess, because I don't want my kids to be wheeling me to South Side Park in 2093 so I can see one more World Series before I die.

By the way, I owe a special thanks to Deadspin commenter Iron Chef Xenu for calling my attention to the story this morning.


Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

If you didn't see it, I posted a tidbit for Jimbo's too. I figure any kind of fanfare is good for Jimbo's.

9:32 PM  

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