A sign on the bulletin board reads, "It isn't a successful BBQ until some drunken idiot walks face first into a closed sliding glass door. I'm fine, by the way."
It happens. Rob Logic, owner of the Bancroft in Spring Valley, can rattle off a list, starting with the time in 1964 when James Nelson Spencer smashed his Pontiac Bonneville through the front door of the Tower Bar in City Heights. (A genuine tragedy — one dead and seven injured — though that didn’t stop the establishment from putting a photo of the wreck at the top of its website with the tagline, “Stop in for a drink.”) After that, there’s “The Jewel Box, Zombie Lounge, Tobacco Rhoda’s — that one I watched; it was a taxi — Wong’s…”
9143 Campo Road, Spring Valley
Only the first and last of those remain in operation. Also, as of April 27, The Bancroft, which may be the only one to get the business from a patron.
The man who chose “Drive” instead of “Reverse” and crashed his Ford F-150 through the bar’s wall just as the band was starting its set “has been coming here for years with his friends,” says Logic. “He was here for a retirement party.” After a couple of beers, he asked for a shot. “We said, ‘What’s in it?’ He didn’t know, so we said, ‘Then you can’t have it.’ He laughed and walked away. He didn’t leave mad,” and he didn’t leave for three drinkless hours. Go figure.
The photo on Logic’s phone shows the truck where the pool table should be — and where he had been standing a minute earlier. “I took out the recycling, and just as I threw the bag in — boom! I was, like, Who’s launching fireworks again? I had talked to a band about it two weeks earlier. Then I heard breaking glass. Who dropped a case at the same time? Sometimes, your brain just can’t process what’s happening.”
Trauma was relatively minor. “The guys who got hit were shooting pool.” They had been regulars when it was Fannie’s, stopped coming when they tired of the fight life, and returned when Logic took over and replaced punches with punk. “One guy got a broken leg. One got pushed through my office door. Another was in the corner drinking, because they’d told him he wasn’t drunk enough to make his shot.” He got missed. “They all came back the next day — we opened at noon, just to be open. Hugs all ‘round. They said, ‘Of course we’re coming back. We love the bar, and we love you.’ That feels really good; it means I’ve done something right. That’s kind of why I have the bar.”
Repairs are underway — physical and otherwise. “I saw four or five stupid memes online, and I was, like, ‘Oh, no.’ Then a buddy made one that said, ‘Crash the party,’ and I was, like, ‘Okay, this one’s ours. Let’s make shirts.’ Because as we’ve all seen online, if you don’t get in charge of your presence, then someone else will, and what are they going to do with it? It happened; people are going to talk about it. We just tried to get out ahead of it.”