Oh, Fern....

(and on the other extreme...)

Fabulous Fern's, in Blair Arcade on Selby, closes tomorrow, and it's like saying goodbye to a chunk of my past.

For the last 26 years Fern's (and Tommy K's before it) was the neighborhood gathering spot. We all went there after neighborhood meetings, ordering drinks and apps, dissecting the meeting, and making the real decisions. I'll never forget the first time Marianne Lanick (O'Brien, replay) told me, after I chaired one of my first Neighborhood development meetings "We had a quorum at the meeting, and we settled it at Fern's afterward." The next meeting, she invited me along so I could learn how it really happened. If you, for some reason, did NOT attend the post-meeting meeting, you were liable to find a to-go box "present" of leftovers at your doorstep from a giggling crew later that night.

Until the smoking ban, Fern's smelled like the inside of an ashtray. For awhile, to separate the bar (smoking) from the restaurant (no smoking), they installed this elaborate sliding door system, which did no good at all. You still had to arrive home from a meeting, strip nude in your front hall, put your clothes in a plastic bag, and wash as soon as possible.

Even on non-meeting weeks (rare) we seemed to eat there at least once, always sitting in Lisa's section, who knew just what I wanted and how I wanted it.

Fern's was the place you could go with a group and get reliable, reasonable food. Not amazing, but comforting. We all went there the night after my mother's memorial, and for various Thanksgivings and Sunday buffet brunches

There are a lot more great restaurant in our neighborhood now, and I go to a lot fewer community meetings. So I'm part of the problem, and I'm not surprised Fern's is closing.

We went tonight, for one last meal. The staff reported they were all told Friday about the closure, though they were not surprised per se. I could not order my beloved chicken dijon sandwich (what I always ordered) because they were out of the ingredients. It literally took our waiter half an hour to get us our bill to sign after taking our credit card.

So I'm not surprised, but sad.

And I still can't figure out why Ward 6 is closing this weekend, when they still reliably have 30-60 minute waits for a table. Or maybe that IS why....


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