Letter to the Editor

in Letters to Editor/Voices by

An open letter to John North

Dear Mr. North,

There’s something you should know about Hemingways: It is one of the coolest bars in the world. And I say that with authority because I have been to many bars around the world.

Besides the friendly staff, the cast of local characters, the cheap drinks, the indoor and outdoor seating, and the funky décor with dollar bills covering the walls and the ceiling, this tiny bar on Bay Street has a strong spirit that refuses to bend to bullies.

In this case, you are the bully. You have attacked Hemingways with lawsuits with claims about noise violations and drunk patrons. You have wasted the time of the courts and forced the owners to pay legal bills to defend the right to operate their iconic business. I don’t know the motivation behind your persistence to destroy the heart of Beaufort’s vibrant little downtown, but from the outside it appears resentful and narrow-minded.

Hemingways is a place that contributes to the local economy by providing jobs. It is a place that returning visitors love to come back to and a place that new visitors will always remember. It is a place unlike any other, and your efforts to shut it down fly in the face of what makes Beaufort great — a city where small businesses that promote unique, positive experiences can thrive.

Someone on Facebook recently posted a picture of this sign taped to the door outside of Hemingways:

“CLOSED SUNDAY: We are operating on an extended temporary license while the court and the Department of Revenue review the protest filed by John North. Due to delays in legal red tape we did not receive our SUNDAY license in time. We will be back on Monday at 10AM.”

The comments on social media were not very sympathetic to your position. And the community has every right to be outraged. That Sunday, Oct. 1, was a beautiful day, and it would have been the perfect day to sit outside and enjoy a drink overlooking waterfront park. Instead, a business lost revenue and would-be customers were denied a good time.

During Tropical Storm Irma, photos from Hemingways were widely circulated on Facebook, showing the bar still open with a hearty clientele in rain gear despite the nearly knee-high water. My favorite photo was the owner of Higher Ground using his standup paddleboard to enter the bar. A storm couldn’t keep loyal locals out. A storm couldn’t stop the staff from serving drinks and helping people and providing a place to gather and spend time together. A storm couldn’t close Hemingways, and neither will your mean-spirited attempts.

I hope at some point you are able to understand what this one-of-a-kind spot means to so many people, and the good it represents. Perhaps then you can redirect your energy toward endeavors that bring this special community together, instead of tearing it apart.

Pamela Brownstein