After a devastating fire destroyed it last year, Midtown Billiards is back in business. Midtown will open its doors tonight for a ticketed event and be open for regular business starting this weekend. As one of the few bars in town allowed to stay open until 5 a.m., Midtown has been sorely missed by its loyal patrons, who now have reason to celebrate.
“When this place burned down, so many people, not just employees, not just me, so many people lost a home away from home,” said general manager David Shipps. “They lost their house. It’s like they lost their home. All the employees were unemployed, right then.”
Back in September, an electrical problem led to a fire that destroyed much of the business. Metro Disaster Specialists worked for months to rip out the damage and rebuild with all new materials. The bar was rebuilt and extended, new walls installed and even new tin ceiling tiles put in. Sadly, the venerated flat top was also lost and has been replaced with a new model. Midtown regulars will certainly notice the changes, though Shipps says crews worked to rebuild in the style of the old business.
“When we rebuilt this place, we decided we needed to go back as much to the original design and specs as we could within city requirements,” said Shipps. “Everything had to be brought up to modern code. The bathrooms are now ADA-compliant, so they’re much larger. The stage had to be repositioned, but everything else had to be rebuilt. There was just too much damage. They took the original design and rebuilt almost exactly the same way, just a lot cleaner.”
Don’t expect the clean walls to stay that way, though. Midtown is handing everybody who comes in tonight a commemorative Sharpie pen to get started decorated the walls and other surfaces in the same way they were before. Customers are encouraged to reapply the labels and signatures that were there before the fire. Shipps knows Midtown is more than just a bar for so many people, and he wants to make sure everybody feels back at home again.
“I just want to say thank you,” Shipps said. “Thank you for believing, the continuous belief that we would open again. I get 10 calls a day from people asking if we’re going to be open and encouraging us in our rebuilding. So thank you for the continued support, the continued interest in us. So often when this happens, people find new places to go. But the amount of people who still want to come back to Midtown, I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. This means so much to all of us here.”