2020, am I right?

❤️❤️ to these two ladies who dropped our produce off @foodgatherers today.

Posted by Banfield's Bar & Grill on Saturday, March 21, 2020

I hate to come back on these terms, but I’m worried about Banfield’s.

In March, when bars and restaurants were closed in response to the pandemic, they marked down their souvenir shirts, shipped a carful of extra produce to Food Gatherers, and pivoted to full-takeout. For a week, they updated their Facebook daily with specials and hours. On March 23, the updates ended.

As other Packard fixtures like York Ann Arbor and Fraser’s Pub reopened with outdoor seating and distanced indoor space – as the Brown Jug became a campus hotspot in multiple ways – I would drive past Banfield’s hoping to spy cars parked in the lot in front of their space, maybe some tables out front. It hasn’t happened yet.

Friends are telling me that Google identifies them as having closed. Although the Facebook posts are still up, they didn’t respond to a Facebook request for confirmation. Their stand-alone website is offline, and dialing their phone number returns a phone-company out of service recording. These are the extent of my efforts — which is a fair amount of work, for this blog — and I would love nothing more than to retract this as soon as possible.

Of all the things I’ve seen closed, and written about being closed, this one, if true, hits a little harder — because it was at Banfield’s, one night in April 2017, when I revealed to some friends I had registered a domain, set up a WordPress site, and was working on my first couple of posts for a2retail.space. They gently mocked me, even though one of them was the one who had been urging me to set up a blog. I had no idea where it would go, but I felt pretty great about it because I was sitting at one of those tables in the center of Banfield’s big wood-paneled dining room and I had one of their enormous glasses of beer in front of me, probably filled with Soft Parade.

Some longtime townies may recall the expansion to Scio Township, when Banfield’s took over the onetime Paul Bunyan’s restaurant at Jackson and Zeeb, and rechristened it “Banfield’s West Side.” It has operated continuously since, and although its current ownership just calls it “The Sports Bar,” they kept the lovely neon “West Side” sign over the front door.

Banfield’s was always happy to help host fundraisers for the nonprofit that owns my neighborhood pool, and I’m sure many other local orgs. I enjoyed bringing the occasional out-of-town visitor in to check it out. I’ve seen a lot of businesses close this year, but this time the survivor guilt is particularly strong. Again, I look forward to writing a retraction.

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