I gave up my regular barstool at Café Europa years ago, but sometimes I circle back to reclaim it on weekday afternoons before the after-work crowd files in. That’s where I catch Jakub Pucilowski at the bar running his hands through his hair, a copy of the 18-page RFP before him.
The document outlines new terms for the business which has been here since the late 1990s, when legendary bar owner John Rudy stepped up to fill the space that had trouble keeping a tenant: higher rent, new landlords, a payment structure that looks almost like a kickback scheme and whole sections that seem as open to interpretation as the Talmud. It’s gonna take him days to fill this thing out, he estimates, but that’s his plan.
“What else can I do?” he asks, of no one in particular.
There at the bar, Jeff Barbour has an answer.
“I’ll tell you what you do,” he says. Barbour picked up the Europa banner early, igniting the firestorm on social media last week and keeping the fire burning.
“You don’t let up!” Barbour says. “Once you’ve got these [fellows] on their heels, you push even harder.”
Jake’s not so sure about that, not so sure about the RFP, not so sure about anything since the city gave him notice earlier this month that his entire business, where he worked for 10 years before buying it in 2014, is on the chopping block.
He’s not even sure we should all be sitting at the bar like this, which I feel duty-bound remind them is, technically, a collusion of sorts. Other than that, I got nothing.
I’m not feeling so good about the fate of my last regular bar in Greensboro. It looks to me like the die is cast, and I tell my friends so right then and there.
Barbour’s clenched for a fight, though, with plans in the works to assemble a figurative flaming bag of dog crap, needing only the proper doorstep on which to leave it. He’s calling it the project “Europa-dope.”
But neither one of us are equipped to help Jake compile his RFP, which is the immediate task at hand. The rest of it, it seems, is out of his control.