Magnolia, it takes a Village

Magnolia Village, while quaint, is due for an upgrade-and no, it shouldn't become the next Belltown.

I don't know if the Village Pub will open up in a new location across the street-and if it does, I'd just as soon it didn't have a rooftop garden. I'm not so old I can't remember slamming down a half-rack of beer when I was in my 20s, and I know that my youthful judgment was flawed because of it.

The idea of a bunch of inebriated revelers carousing 15 feet over my head as I walk down the sidewalk leaves me more than a little nervous.

On the other hand, I have no problem with the pub itself, and I'd like to see our Village grow a little. A few more restaurants and maybe a decent, late-night cocktail lounge or two would be nice-and by late night I don't mean a 9:30 p.m. last call. I've heard 9 p.m. characterized as "Magnolia midnight," and except for the Village Pub, that seems an accurate observation.

Magnolia demographics, they are a-changin.' When my wife and I moved here in 1993, we were the youngest people on our block (yep, check my column picture again). We were awakened mornings by the clickety-clack of walkers and canes as our neighbors went for their morning stroll.

Those folks have moved on. Now we are surrounded by people in their 30s and 40s, many with children.

In the old days, the mature population returned home before dark (night vision and all that). This contingent ate regularly at Szmania's, as well as at the café that used to be where El Ranchon exists today. They ate early-really early.

Luigi's restaurant came in shortly after we arrived in 1993, but Niko's wasn't there yet, nor Mondello, and I recall that Kinaree was then a Japanese restaurant.

Today's younger crowd requires something different than did their parents, in terms of food choices, later dining hours and access to a martini, or maybe a Manhattan.

It may be time for Magnolia to ease into the 21st century.

This is not meant as a criticism of what we now have in the neighborhood but, rather, as a friendly warning that we don't stagnate out here on our little peninsula. I can't tell you how many times my wife and I have returned from an event downtown-say around 10 p.m.-and said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we had a quiet place close to home where we could stop for a nightcap, and not still be five miles from home?"

Change worries some people, and certainly I'm not suggesting the opening of strip clubs and their table dances. And I don't ever want to see a McDonald's or Jack-In-The-Box sign lighting up our small downtown-leave those down in Interbay.

What we could use instead is just a little upgrade, so that on any given evening we can go out for a later dinner.

My wife and I like to eat around 8 p.m., spending a couple of hours enjoying our meal, and maybe a cocktail after dinner. It would be nice if we didn't have to leave Magnolia to do that. We cherish our small-town seclusion, but that shouldn't preclude adding more places for our collective enjoyment.

Take, for instance, the appeal of the European approach to dining, which involves sipping a drink, listening to music and chatting with old, or newfound, friends.

In fact, we might all get to know each other a little better if Magnolia were to open up just a little bit.

Imagine a nice summer evening, strolling through the Village, popping into a small, cozy lounge for a drink, maybe a tapas-size plate of food, chatting with neighbors, meeting dogs and then moving on to another spot.

Except for the poor souls who have to rise and shine around 5 a.m. (I used to be one of them), most of us have a more sensible schedule, getting up later and going to work later. A more vibrant nightlife in Magnolia would mean we might have to forsake watching those tiresome reality shows; we could trade in our television time for meeting real people in our community-but what-the-hey, that might prove almost enjoyable and, what's more, the walking exercise could be good for all of us.

Just a thought as our new Chamber of Commerce goes to work.

Longtime Magnolia resident Mike Davis freelances for the Magnolia News. He can be reached at

[[In-content Ad]]