As a nearby resident and the original owner of the Tavern on Main, I read Clara Harter’s article on its coming rebirth with great interest.

I purchased the business from Willie Tiffany in the mid-‘80s with the intent of turning the local bar into a neighborhood tavern with lunch and dinner daily and occasional live music. We tore out the grill at the bar and built a full kitchen in back, opened the front wall to the sidewalk and added an intimate patio in the rear. The Tavern featured 50 different beers from across the globe and the ”Round the World” beer club where adventurous locals received honors – and discounts — for exploring new selections of those international varieties. The operation quickly became known for quality food, friendly staff and affordable prices.

The Tavern on Main was a double success for me, in that it was also where I grew to know my wife Jeanne, another local who was active in neighborhood community projects.

In the mid-90’s I opened Rusty’s on the pier, and as that business grew in popularity I turned to my then-manager Rick Clarke — who had earned the opportunity to own the business himself through his hard work and friendly attitude as manager – and we worked out a plan for him to purchase the business over time. He added “Rick’s” to the sign and his own touch to its operation, and after he sold the business I continued to support The Tavern through Howard’s tenure.

I talked with Rick by phone only a few months ago as we reminisced about the privilege we shared in serving this incredible Ocean Park community. I can assure Van Gessel this is a great neighborhood for the sort of operation he envisions.

It is exciting to hear the new owner’s plans to reinvigorate the original spirit of The Tavern, and I can assure you that my wife and I will be among the first to experience the planned rebirth with a short stroll from our OP home.  Hopefully the entire community will join us and turn out to support what promises to embrace the best of what The Tavern was originally conceived to be. To Van Gessel we say: “Congratulations, and Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Russ Barnard, Santa Monica