Life often has a way of bringing us full circle. When my daughter was tiny, her father and I helped one of our tenants fulfill his dream of opening a restaurant in the old Decatur depot. I painted light fixtures while she napped, and I lugged her along in her car seat as I helped set up for the grand opening party 29 years ago this month.
Within a year, we assumed full ownership of the cozy neighborhood pub called The Freight Room, and both my children grew up busing tables, collecting loose change from underneath the booths, and doing their homework at the bar.
Music became a huge draw for customers all over the metro area, with open mike night on Sundays, bluegrass night on Thursdays, and local and regional entertainers on stage the rest of the week.
Neighbors would walk their dogs to the depot to eat outside on the patio. A striped gray tabby cat, appropriately named Hobo, took up residence in the office and earned his keep eliminating pesky critters from beneath the floors of the nineteenth century structure. A model train chugged its way through figure eights beneath the glass-topped bar.
Way goes onto way, and we sold the restaurant in the early 1990s. Now, in its latest, renovated incarnation, the old Freight Room has new life as Farmstead 303, a charming dining destination featuring locally grown food, some of which is actually grown in raised beds on the restaurant’s grounds.
Plus, and here’s the big plus — they have live music once again. The same spot where Freight Room musicians performed now holds a new stage for another generation of entertainers.
And the circle becomes complete as my friend and co-worker Mike Killeen takes the stage on Saturday, Nov. 20. Mike and I work together at Lenz Marketing on the Decatur Square, and he’s just about the same age I was when we opened the Freight Room. His two-year-old son Liam reminds me a lot of my son Raymond at the same age. Plus, Katherine, the tiny baby I took to the opening party of the Freight Room in November 1981, now has a daughter of her own making me the proudest grandmother around.
Decatur was a very different place in the early 1980s, when the Freight Room was one of about four places to eat in the city limits, had the first outside patio dining, and was one of only two music venues.
The heart and spirit of Decatur, however, remains the same. It’s still a place I’m proud to call home, and a place to find good food and great music. Come on out Saturday night. I’ll be there with pictures of my granddaughter.