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Ode to The Union Bar and Grill (opinion)

By Don Dike Anukam
Published: Last Updated on

By Don Dike-Anukam

On Saturday December 20th the Union Bar and Grill on 9th and Virginia streets celebrated its last night of business. I decided to go say goodbye for the last time. The location wasn’t always TheUnion for me.

When I was in college at the University of Nevada, Reno, TheUnion was two places: the Breakaway, first, and then the Corkscroo Bar & Grill. TheUnion is closing because the Regional Transportation Commission has purchased the building and land to make way for a downtown bus stop–part of the ongoing developments of the new Gateway District.

Don Dike-Anukam says goodbye to TheUnion.
Don Dike-Anukam says goodbye
to TheUnion.

The previous iterations of that establishment weren’t exactly a positive place for me. I have a lot of mixed emotions and feelings about my personal experiences and events that occurred in that time; namely, that of a lot shame, regret, humiliation, and blackouts.

As I am now older and wiser, I look back on those days of wild youth and life with sober reflection and thought.

I reflect on my time as a customer at that place as rather dark and with a lot regret, head shaking, and thoughts, such as, “Did I really do that last night or say that last night?”

It was a lively crowd that came out to celebrate one last Saturday night of the week. I encountered quite a few people in attendance who were sad to see the place go.

The common refrain I heard was,”I remember when this place was…”

The owner, being a fairly young man who appeared to do very well with this location, is having to close a vibrant and successful business at the top of his game.

One of the things I’ve noticed as TheUnion is closing, is that for other people besides myself, it doesn’t just appear to end the close of a business. It’s the end of an era at UNR and Reno’s social life in general as we transition from old kind of Reno to New Reno we are becoming.

That location brings up a number of positive and fond memories for people.

As memory serves, when the location was the Breakaway, they used to have toward the back wall at the end of bar Polaroid photos of people who successfully completed their 99 beer tours.

Not much is known about where those pictures are at this time. When the Corkscroo took over at the beginning of a decade, the pictures appeared to have permanently disappeared.

On early Sunday, I stood in the bar as last call was called around 2 a.m. and officially finally served at 2:15 a.m. The bar was still full and the mood was celebratory, but defiantly somber, with a DJ and the crowd bouncing to the music. 

As I took my final sober steps out the door there was a sense of sadness, but closure also washed over me. It was in knowing that a chapter  of my story, part of my adult life, and University life in Reno was going away forever.

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