Rea­sons to Love Mary-Lynne

Cer­tain peo­ple can make a city great.

Vancouver Magazine - - Ed Note -

and I rst­heard the sounds of’90s rock and­fol­lowed the mu­sic up and into the Co­mox Long Bar—a live band was play­ing a ridicu­lously wide range of gen­res and eras—Icouldn’t have known that this out-of-the-way place would be­come a reg­u­lar haunt of ours. For one, it’s above thein­ter­sec­tion of Co­mox and Den­man, and, like most Van­cou­verites, I rarely leave street level nor no­tice any­thing above it. (RIP, ev­ery restau­rant that tested its fate at Den­man and Bar­clay.)

But a lack of pre­tense about the place and the draw of Fri­day-night karaoke kept bring­ing us back—that, and one par­tic­u­lar server who has an un­canny abil­ity to re­mem­ber each of our drink or­ders week after week, along with lit­tle de­tails about what’s go­ing on in our lives. “How did that wed­ding go last week­end in Strath­cona?” she might ask, or “How’s your red­neck cousin do­ing?” She’s also charm­ingly blunt.

When the team at VanMag started think­ing about this month’s story, “25 Rea­sons to Love Van­cou­ver” (page 29), we knew there would be big­ger mo­ments on the list: a chang­ing, star­chi­tec­ture- lled sky­line, Chi­na­town’s evo­lu­tion into a ve­gan hot spot, the launch of In­dige­nous Fash­ion Week. But we wanted to high­light some of the peo­ple who are light­ing up the city’s smaller cor­ners, too—and who are mak­ing a big im­pact in their own part of the neigh­bour­hood.

Andthat’s where ours­erver, Mary-Lynne MacGowan, comes in. When I rst learned that the Co­mox was clos­ing this fall, I asked her where she was head­ing next—think­ing that where she went, we would likely fol­low and make that our new favourite spot in the city. “I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’m 63 years old.” And when I stam­mered out my dis­be­lief, she said, “Honey, I’ve been work­ing here since 1984.”

For 33 years, Mary-Lynne has been at the Co­mox, crack­ing up pa­trons and charm­ing celebri­ties. “I got to be bud­dies with Far­rah Fawcett,” she told me. “I knew she had the a¨air be­fore it came out.” She’s poured drinks for Norm from Cheers, Kenny Rogers and John Tra­volta. And she’s got ahand-writ­ten note from Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, la­ment­ing that he missed see­ing her at the bar.

But she’s best at re­mem­ber­ing the reg­u­lars who crowd her pub on any given night and mak­ing them feel at home. If it’s the peo­ple who make a city great, then it’s great peo­ple like her who can make a Fri­day night in an­ever-ren­o­vated, four-decades-old beer joint feel like the best place in the world to be.

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