Reasons to Love Mary-Lynne
Certain people can make a city great.
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.