The Grapevine

I never thought I was someone who found change difficult. I really believed that I was a “change is necessary,” “go with the flow” kinda gal. Hooooaaa no. No, I am not.

We learned last month that our favorite restaurant, the Grapevine in Salem, was closing. We had known that the owners were trying to sell, but that had been true for a long time, with no results. Then suddenly it was a done deal. The restaurant had been sold. So when Justin had finished up at the hospital last night, we decided to go and say goodbye to everyone who had made us feel so special over the years. We were too late. The restaurant had just reopened under new ownership.

As we pulled and pulled at the door to the bar, a young woman poked her head out a different door and pointed us to the new entrance. We almost did not go in, but it would have been rude at that point, so in we went, through the formerly private dining room that sat fifteen of us together at our monthly wine dinners, now filled with tables for two. No one looked familiar.

As we made it to the bar, we saw one of our favorite servers, who greeted us with smiles and hugs. He introduced us to the new general manager, who pointed out other physical changes that had been made to the space, and added, “Trust me, it’s an improvement.” I bristled.

There were two seats together at the bar, highly unusual for a Saturday night, so we sat down and were greeted by two new bartenders. The drink/wine/beer list was a sheaf of papers (a SHEAF!!) and we each ordered something that I guess was supposed to be interesting (pineapple rye?) but I had had enough. I was miserable, almost angry. We glanced at the new menu, but neither of us had any interest in staying.

On our way home, I tried to put words to my emotions, my deep and true sadness. Justin did it for me. He recounted the sixteen years that we had been going there, for our monthly wine dinners, but also the hundreds of other nights when we wanted what only the Grapevine offered–a haven, a place where we felt special; where we could sit at the bar and leave with six new friends; where we were greeted by name, treated like VIPs, and served consistently exceptional food.

So to Kate, Vittorio, Chris, Jennifer, Carolina, Patty, Susan, Oscar, Jose, David and everyone else who made every visit to the Grapevine a wonderful evening, thank you. We will miss all of you. And we will miss the Grapevine.

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