So a guy walks into a bar and says, "I'm not happy with what I'm doing." And the bartender says, ..."
Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it was actually the start of a real conversation that ended in a new project?#34;a public access cable TV show about "local people with passion who are actually doing things out there," says Liam Gallegos.
It was Gallegos who walked into the bar, the Friendly Tap at 6733 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, and confessed his unhappiness. His friend Robin Rolder was the bartender, working there like she does every day. And what she answered was, "I'm bored, too."
Rolder's been running the bar for her dad, Bob Rolder, who retired eight years ago after a mild stroke. She's loyal to her dad's regular customers?#34;carpenters, plumbers, pipe fitters, iron workers?#34;who come in for a beer after work, but she was looking for more.
A big fan of FitzGerald's down the street, Rolder loves music. The Friendly Tap is a great, intimate setting for a band, she believes, so for the past few years she's been experimenting with inviting bands to play occasional Friday nights. Just "a neighborhood bar supporting local musicians who want to play for tips," she says.
Both longtime Oak Parkers, Rolder and Gallegos met at Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1980. After graduating, he created and sold house music (his Missing Dog records occasionally turn up on eBay, he says), learning his way around computers and marketing, and later the Internet and video production. Now supporting himself as a carpenter and IT guy for other people's businesses, he'd been looking for a way to "make it big" when he had this insight:
"You don't need to conquer the world. Conquer next door."
Joining forces with an old friend at a neighborhood bar seemed like a great first step. So Rolder and Gallegos figured out a way to help each other. They decided to combine "her brick and mortar asset?#34;the bar?#34;with my digital asset, my video editing computer," says Gallegos.
The result is a half-hour show, The Street of Open Dreams, Friday nights at 9 p.m. on Comcast channel 19. The plan is to film a new episode each month and air it four times (catch the last showing of the April 8 premiere this Friday).
The name was Rolder's idea. "Roosevelt Road has always been known as 'the street of broken dreams.' With all the rebuilding, that's changing," she says. "Good things are happening here."
They'll feature the bar and the Friday night bands. And the rest?
Gallegos says the show will "go with the flow." He'll mix the music with interviews with local entrepreneurs "finding a way to make a living doing what they love," and add his own creative touches.
Rolder's dad has a part in the first show, filmed at his 80th birthday party at Friendly Tap. The Rolder family has lived in Oak Park for 47 years (still do). He was a supervisor at Sears with a wife and three young kids in 1968 when he decided to chuck the security and buy the bar. "He's never regretted it," says his daughter.
"He's a successful entrepreneur who followed his dream," adds Gallegos. Raw footage for the May show is also in the can. It's one of Rolder's favorite bands, Moco Magana, playing live at the bar?#34;not too loud, with a good mix of oldies.
"I don't want to run anyone out. My day customers are coming at night, too," she says.
"I'm making connections, her business is growing, the bands are on TV," adds Gallegos. "No money's exchanged, but everybody benefits." And nobody's unhappy.