Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Conor O’Neill’s opened the year after I moved to Boulder, and now it’s closing because the rent is too high. Guess I’m in good company: That’s the same thing that forced me out.
Money is the reason the Pearl Street Cafe is now gutted in preparation for a bank with in-house baristas, and the same reason the Boulder Outdoor Cinema is gone and the Daily Camera is no longer downtown, and why Juanita’s Mexican Restaurant and Bart’s Record Shop are gone and relocated, respectively. It’s why my friend’s house was razed and turned into a furniture store nobody I know can afford to shop at.
Over the past two decades, I’ve watched a bagel shop get turned into a pizzeria, then to a Mexican restaurant and now into a Latin fusion place.
I know in my head that change is inevitable. And supposedly one of the keys to peace is embracing the constant flux around us. But my heart is dismayed that the town once filled with Subarus sporting “Keep Boulder Weird” bumper stickers is becoming a place filled with luxury vehicles circling the block, looking for a place to park before their $200 dinner. The Subarus have all moved to Nederland or Lafayette or a Denver suburb, and the stickers have all worn off.
Overwhelmingly, there’s been genuine dismay expressed over these changes. And there’s always a smaller group willing to take action. I’ve seen both a petition to save Conor’s and the suggestion of a crowdfunding campaign to keep it going. I signed that petition and shared it, while assuming it would never work because asking the landlord, W. W. Reynolds, to forego profit in exchange for local appreciation feels like a fool’s errand.
Is this how it is all over the world? Is it always going to be true that what you want doesn’t matter if you don’t have the coin to muscle it into being?
Every time something like this happens, every time another Conor O’Neill’s goes the way of the dodo, I feel less optimistic about Boulder ever being funky again.
Am I being naive? Should I just grow the fuck up and appreciate the fact that this is capitalism at work? Should I focus on the fact that change is inevitable and my only job here is to breathe deeply and continue forward? Maybe.
But once again, a buttload of people are out of jobs, our town just lost another favorite place, and ire toward Boulder landlords is freshly stirred. Right now, the only move I’m sure of is to focus our love on the places that remain. Go there, tip well, be kind and be thankful.