Raise your hand if you saw this coming a mile away? By my calculations, the biggest show of hands right now are on Tybee Island. You know, Savannah’s little beach town where everyone not only knows each other’s names, but typically they know each other’s business as well? Yeah, well, the gossip mill out on the island has been running at a fever pitch the last few months and it all revolved around everyone’s favorite little dive bar, Doc’s.
I won’t bore you with the entire back story, but Doc’s is an institution on Tybee. Heck in the region. Anyone who enjoys a beverage or two and has spent any amount of time on Tybee Island has been to Doc’s. In fact, a little known bit of trivia here…the very first discussion about the concept that would later become Eat It and Like It was discussed late on a Friday night after the beach bum parade, at Doc’s. So I have a soft spot for it, as many do. Everyone on the island practically has a soft spot for Doc’s, so imagine the scuttlebutt when word broke that it was going to close?
Everyone rallied. This can’t happen! “We must save Doc’s” was quick to fly around town. Thennnnnn word started to leak about alleged mismanagement, back rents, water bills, property taxes and other assorted tidbits of water cooler fodder that just as quickly extinguished any real hope that Doc’s Bar would survive on the island. We prepared to say goodbye. A week-long vigil ensued; heck, a bunch of us that worked together out on Abercorn Street once upon a time talked about getting together to honor the News Director that hired us all, Michael Sullivan, at Doc’s. He was a Tybee Islander who never missed an after work stop there. Many an employee would have a bad day and know where to find Michael. It was the stuff of legends. They’ll all tell you that.
Well, the group never got together for a proper goodbye, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make an effort. I went out to Tybee, had breakfast at The Breakfast Club and planned for a lunch time stop at Doc’s. While at breakfast, I ran into my former co-worker Lyndy Brannen who told me he had driven out to the island from Register to pay a final visit to Doc’s as well. It was then that I was told there were already rumors that it would re-open. Fair enough, I thought. As I pulled up at Doc’s just before noon, the ATM was being carried out. Walked in, had a beer, busted off a selfie, and bid farewell to a place that held a ton of memories for me. Doc’s closed that night following a wave of $35 hats and t-shirts that had been made in honor of their closing. Cash grab? I don’t know. You be the judge.
Mix in some chain saws, busted up bumper pool tables, broken glass and a couple of arrests later, and we arrive at the dawn of a new day on Tybrisa Street. It’s not exactly easy to make light of criminal situations. People have reasons for doing what they do. Not for us to judge why, but the bottom line is the business community on the island realized Doc’s was too much of a good thing to let go away for good. New management is in, we assume the rent is up to date, utility bills are paid and Doc’s is about roll again!
Steve Kellam is the owner of Tybee Time, another local establishment around the corner from Doc’s. He’s taken over, given it a tiny makeover, worked on getting some other things in compliance with the city and he’s good to go. Meantime, islanders are dancing in the streets – not that they need much of an excuse on Tybee, especially after dark – because one of their own is now in charge of such a critical piece of Tybee Island’s history. By all accounts, and people that I have spoken to, Mr. Kellam is a solid business man who would not have taken this project on if it weren’t a great investment. I’m told most of the old employees are being brought back, including the cook, and they are even looking to bring back Roy and The Circuit Breakers. The guy on the corner with the music? Yes. I’m told he’ll be back. With enticements like that, it’s only a matter of time before I’m down there cooling off with a Diet Shasta Chocolate. (No, they don’t carry that, but this is a family publication, you know?)
There will be a soft opening Thursday for Doc’s. Thursday at 5:00pm, doors will open and a $10 donation will be accepted at the door in honor of Lauren Brown, the young lady who was killed on Wilmington Island a couple of weeks ago. She leaves behind two children. Their care has become a priority to Ms. Brown’s relatives. I’m quite certain it will be standing room only.
So Doc’s Bar on Tybee is back, a local has become a hero for taking over and keeping it around and it’s business as usual on Tybrisa. They even have a Facebook page. Spring filled with drama turns to Summer and the unsuspecting tourist rolling their coolers out to the beach this season will have no idea that the last 80 or so days of our lives had been turned upside down.
Like sands through the hourglass.
See you on TV.