When you walk around the Oregon District, you take in some of the great places that people frequently visit. You have Omega Music and The Record Gallery for all of your music needs. If you are looking for an establishment to have dinner at, Thai 9 has become one of the premiere places to partake in. If you are looking for a night involving drinks, you certainly have your fill of the many options, with Lucky’s to Trolley Stop to Oregon Express and more.
One establishment that you couldn’t help and check out when you were in the Oregon District was the sophisticated and trendy Sidebar. The lounge was very distinctive as opposed to other nearby bars with their exposed steel beams, old brick walls and hardwood pine floors that creak with every step. Sidebar’s sleek layout with a very stylish vibe gave the bar its own staple in the area.
Sadly, the crowds that flocked to the business each and every night will no longer be coming. The dim lighting that gave the bar an intimate vibe will no longer be turned on. The building that gave the neighborhood a suave, New York/Chicago vibe will become a building that will sit empty, collecting a colony of dust in the inside.
On July 30th, Sidebar owner Brian Higgins decided to close the doors of the bar for good after unpaid rent and taxes. Employees were not only told about the closing, but they also weren’t paid for weeks. If they received a paycheck, former employees would only see that check bounce. The men and women who gave their life to the bar, who sacrificed everything, now were left with nothing.
With the people of the now-obsolete hotspot becoming a thing in the past, and the folks of the Sidebar now having to find jobs, they still needed to figure out how they were going to make ends meet in their everyday life. With rent, utilities, insurance, children, and other things piling up, times are sadly going to be tough till they can get on their feet. In spite of all this, light streaked through the clouds.
Bob and Lisa Mendenhall, owners of the Oregon District’s popular watering hole Blind Bob’s hosted a benefit concert for the former employees of Sidebar that took place on August 7th. Also that night, a raffle took place of prizes that were donated from companies located throughout the Dayton area. Some of the prizes were a certificate for a $50 payment to any utility company, pieces of art from local talent, t-shirts, 2 bottles of Grateful Dead vino, ton of CDs, steel tipped darts and a schnapps branded dartboard just name a few.
The turnout was simply astonishing. The weeks leading up to the event, people went to the Facebook event page to not only voice their frustrations about the undoing of the establishment, but also show support. The closer the event came closer, the number of people going increased. As the night of the benefit show went on, Blind Bob’s became jam-packed.
The live music from all the bands was filled with a little bit of everything. The first band that came out to perform was Orange Willard. The five member band that is known for the grunge/prog rock sound stripped down and performed acoustic. The set was raw, intense, and emotional. M. Ross Perkins sang songs of businesses corruption and being hurt by phony people. Roley Yuma changed the pace of the show with their brass, unapologetic set of punk blaring thru the bar. Me & Mountains finished the show with their smooth indie rock sounds, giving the crowd a little bit of everything.
The night raised over $3300, giving some of the former employees of Sidebar a little help. The night also raised awareness of the depth of love that Dayton residents have for one another. Strangers coming together at a moment’s notice to help others in the time of need. Giving back to others who they have never met. It didn’t matter. The former employees of Sidebar will always remember this generosity.
Editor’s Note: video footage courtesy of the great Gem City Diamond YouTube channel. We’ll be featuring more of their videos in the coming months here on Dayton Most Metro.