WSJ Story: A Lot of Lasts ...

Last night I finished writing my farewell piece to Guinan's for The Wall Street Journal. It was published today and you can read it here.

The story notes how Guinan's is a statistical wonder: only about 12% of family businesses make it to the third generation.

But we all know Guinan's is a wonder well beyond that. Hope to see many of you at some of the upcoming "lasts..." -- Last Irish Night this Thursday, last Friday night, last commuting morning on the 31st.


Ramon Ray said…
I'm sure the legacy of Guinan will last forever. Even though the business is closing the memories and lessons learn will live forever.

Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist,
Anonymous said…
How I wish I could have managed a visit to this place that came alive for me on the pages of your book. Thank you again so much for sharing your experience with this place and these people with everyone else. Best Wishes to the Guinan Family as they pursue their futures.
Anonymous said…
Goodbye: a word that doesn't invoke happy thoughts and the closing of Guinan's is a sad, unhappy event for so many reasons.

I've never set foot in this idyllic place, yet I've been there thanks to the words of Gwendolyn Bounds, first in her beautiful book, then in her subsequent writings about this "joint" that she loves. Family, strangers who quickly became friends, harried commuters ... all kinds of lives made up this tiny place by the river. Should it end? No, but nothing lasts forever no matter how perfect it all seems or how we wish it could stay the same. This family business managed to maintain what is so missing in today's high-tech, often frenzied world, a sense of peace, community and people you can depend on to be there. A comfort zone of sorts, a safe haven. No one can blame the Guinan family for moving on with their lives, but if only it didn't have to be so soon. Change is often good, but goodbyes never are.

Best wishes and thank you to the entire family, most especially to Jim Guinan for setting an example for not only his immediate family, but to all the strangers he welcomed to 'his home' and to all the faraway friends he made through "Little Chapel on the River." And to Gwendolyn, thank you for wandering into Guinan's that sad, sad week and for sharing your stories these last seven years. We are all the richer for all you contributed.

Anonymous said…
Thank you for creating a story based on this great Irish American family's creation. What Guinan's (and The Guinan's represent) is the wonderful depth, character, humour and strength of the Irish spirit - something all of us could use more of. I finally saw "The Chapel" this weekend and feel fortunate to have worshiped there.

Peggy Boyce
Director, Community Relations
NY Waterway
Anonymous said…
Subject: Guinan's
From: "Marc Polish"
Date: Wed, January 23, 2008 8:24

I read this article and it brought tears to my eyes.

My wife and I owned a hot dog place in philly.

It had been around since 1895, It was called Levis, anyone from Philly over the age of 20 should know of this place.

We were the first people out of the family to ever own it.

My wife got sandbagged into running it and did so for 10 years, even wound up on Good Morning America.

We sold it a while back, and everyday I have sadness that we did, It is now closed and there are many people for Philly that are sad.

Whenever my office door is closed and she cannot hear me on the phone, she knows I am plotting to reclaim the one that got away.

I do not know how many people are named Guinan, but I would bet if shares where sold for .25 each, they could sell a few million share and have enough to hire a manager with the passion you had in writing the article. and even turn a profit. I was going to do this with Levis, not for the money, but to let the people of Philly own a part of Philly.

I would consider changing my name to be a part of this and by some shares.

Thank you for starting my day with a feeling of what life should really be about.
The good old day and people.

Marc Polish
Margate, NJ
Larry Galler said…
As I read your wonderful article about Guinan’s Pub and Store in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, I felt so many conflicting emotions that I just had to comment.

Since I work with owners of small and mid-size business as a coach / advisor / consultant, the pragmatic side of me felt that their odds of surviving would have increased had they evolved along with “shifting consumer tastes” since the apparent authentic charm and personality of the establishment should have helped them compete well against the inauthentic, ersatz, cosmetic persona of most of their “deeper-pocketed rivals.” My clients face this battle every day and, if they are to survive, must evolve.

On the other hand, as I read your article my romantic side felt swellings of nostalgia for a long-gone Andy’s Tap in a rust-belt “changing neighborhood” of the 1960’s. My memory brought back the smells of the bean soup, chilli, warm ham and cheese sandwiches, and excellent pickles. The customers would ladle the always simmering soups into bowls themselves and I doubt whether those soup pots were ever emptied and washed. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Nostalgia aside, Andy’s and Guinan’s are shuttered and the world is a little poorer.

Thanks for that article. It wasn’t as good as bean soup and a ham and cheese sandwich but it brought an early-morning smile before I had to go out and help my clients face the future better than Guinan’s and Andy’s.

Larry Galler
Anonymous said…
I finished your book two hours ago. I had a notion to go online and find out what happened next. I had a pretty good hunch and alas, I was right about that.

I am fortunate enough to have a true "local" in my life, even if Benna's Cafe serves coffee rather than beer (except, rumor has it, on certain second Friday nights) and has only been in business for two years. But I haven't seen a community coalesce around a place so strongly since...

Well, since I was eight years old and my father would take me to Bid's Tavern in Norwich, Connecticut. My father loved that place dearly. Of course, I was eight and oblivious, and I mostly remember cheeseburgers and glass bottles and sour pops.

Especially the cheeseburgers. I'm a vegetarian these days, and whenever I get a stray craving for a burger I think, "what's the point? It wouldn't be Bid's."

But hmm, Google says the place still exists. I should investigate while I still can.

Thank you for a wonderful read. I wish you and your community the best.

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