1031 Orange Avenue, Coronado
“A little piece of Coronado is dying,” mumbles Jim. We’re all feeling a little melodramatic. This cantina, Costa Azul, is closing down, tonight. New owner. No mercy.
Jim is more stunned than most. He helped create this place. What’s more, he has become the unofficial Godfather here. Especially on this crazy, final evening. People are coming up, embracing him. Like Don Miguel, the place’s chef, who has watched so much football with him, or Earl, who sang here once a week, songs such as “El Paso,” and “Come a Little Bit Closer.”
Then Curtis , the doctor who sometimes lunges at the mic and sings his own lungs out. And César, the waiter and boxer for whom James is getting a gown made up to wear into the ring, and “Boiler,” the cook who has another life as a lucha libre wrestler. And now, Sherry, who had a run-in with James, comes and gives him a silent embrace. “Lots of love,” says Eric, who was involved in the neighboring Island Surf shop, until the new owner raised the rent and the business folded. And Jeanne, the fitness guru who retrains Navy Seal candidates who flunked BUDs and want to try again. And Robert, who has a cough he says comes from Agent Orange, and Michael the barman, wearing a black tee that Jim had made for tonight. It says “ADIOS.” They all come to say their goodbyes.
But Brant, who started this place, is nowhere.
Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar” blasts out, then The Who’s “Eminence Front.”
Lisa, who works at Boneys as well as here — college-age kids to support — comes up and steals a slurp from Jim’s tequila. She always does. Michael fills it again. Then another gal called Lisa jumps up on the bar and does a bunch of spectacular splits.
Then, at last, Brant appears out front in a golf cart. He gets jostled in.
He looks up. “I think I’ll keep those blue lights,” he says. “Just in case.”
Now Ron’s Garage, the best cover band on the island, launches into “My Way,” and the whole vast room stops and joins in, many pointing at Brant. And corny as the song is, there’s a lot of voices cracking as they belt it out. “We’ve come to every birthday for the last ten years,” shouts Caitlin, “This sucks.”
Ron’s Garage (Ron, Claudio, Phil), strike up “Brown Eyed Girl,” and right after “Do you remember when?” everybody’s la-la-ing like crazy.
Then Bea Falletta jumps up on the counter. “Shaddup! Quiet!” she yells. “I — shut the f…! Just wanted to thank Brant for making this a hangout for all of us. Look at us! United Nations!”
“Costa’s just the last in a long line to come and go here,” says Brant. “Remember? First was the Mexican Village. Sixties, seventies. Then it was the Brigantine, then Chart House where I started, then Costa Azul, and now, who knows?”