Carla Williams said she just woke up one day, and she’d had it.
With another liquor license renewal coming up, the longtime owner of Beebe’s Thirst Parlor on Main Street decided that was that, she was not going to be a bar owner any more. After more than 20 years running the landmark bar arguably known outside of Granville nearly as much as slate, Williams said she’d just had enough.
Enough of the worrying when she wasn’t there but the bar was open, enough worrying about everyone getting home all right every night of the week, enough worrying about getting sued or hassles with the license.
Even before she owned the bar, Williams said she managed it for her parents mother Margaret Priscilla ‘Pert’ Beebe and stepfather Bud Beebe for about a decade and after that time, she just decided she’d had enough.
“I shocked the heck out of him,” Carla said gesturing to her husband Bruce. “I said ‘I’m all done, it’s time to go’,” she said.
“This is the worst thing ever. This place is like my home away from home,” Williams’ sister Joyce Devino said Friday. Known far and wide, Devino said she actually ran into a man, a pilot, who knew the bar and talked with him when on a flight returning to the U.S. from Mexico.
Devino said she had no plans to take over, however. “I’ve seen what she’s been through, no thanks,” she said.
With little parking thanks in part to the closure of Edward’s Market next door and the day to day grind of operating a business, Williams said she decided to put the whole operation up for sale.
Some good news for Beebe’s patrons, Williams said she has had some inquiries on the sale, but nothing firm enough to say the doors will be staying open. “We’ve had some interest,” she said.
“June 25 will be the last day, we’re closing up,” she said.
The small, square, metal building perched on a shelf actually touching the Main Street Bridge started life at a different location with a much different purpose. Only a part of its current size, the building now known as the Thirst Parlor started out across the street as a gas station. The gas station closed and the building was moved across the street. An addition was put on and the first beers were sold out of the building then known as ‘Murphy’s’, Williams said. After it was ‘Murphy’s’ a man named O’Connor owned the bar and christened it with its unique name: Thirst Parlor. After O’Connor, the bar was owned by Hayden Jones from whom Williams’ parents bought the bar in about 1985, she said.
“It’s been here at least since the 40s,” she said. Early in its days the Thirst Parlor was considered a “man’s bar” – to women came in, ever.
Williams said the decision came upon her suddenly and could not be tied to just one factor – it was an accumulation of many factors leading to the decision to put the place up for sale and essentially retire.
“I work at a dentist’s office a few days a week and I’ll keep doing that, maybe do more of that, but I’m just going to take some time. I’ve got a pool at my house that I hardly use, now I’m going to get a chance to sit outside and enjoy my pool,” Williams said.
Williams said one of the points of pride for her has been serving up a hearty lunch where “no one goes away hungry.”
With costs surging on lunch time staples like hot dogs, Williams said she just can’t make any money without jacking up her prices. “So if I can’t do that I don’t want to do it any more,” Williams said.
When asked if she would consider starting up another business, especially another bar, Williams made it clear this is the end. “Are you out of your mind?” she said. “I just don’t want to have a bar anymore.”
She will miss the regular customers, she said. Looking around the bar, she recalls fondly when a food critic came in from Vermont and wrote about the bar’s food. Or the recent trend of sticking dollar bills to the ceiling.
From those who come in many weekdays for lunch to those who make it a point to get to Beebe’s whenever they’re in town, Williams said she will miss the customers most of all.
Customers who declined to identify themselves said they would be sad to see the landmark go; it’s where they go when they’re going to go out for a drink. “Another one bites the dust,” said one man cracking into a fresh can of Busch Light. Another customer said he thought the cost of going out has more people staying to home. “We’re just as likely to stay home and get a 30-pack,” he said. “They had a good run,” another customer said.
Few patrons were as disappointed Friday at Matt Kelly. Beebe’s was the place he planned to have his first beer in early October when he turned 21. “I’ve been waiting. I had so many plans – I had my sleeping bag all ready packed,” Kelly quipped.