When news spread early last month that Paddy’s will shut down and relocate, I kept getting asked the same question over and over again: “What are YOU going to do now?”
It’s not a secret that the local coffee shop was my office. I spent more time there these last two years than I did in my own apartment. Community members knew they could find me there and would leave me messages. If they saw me at a Starbucks, they’d say, “Ooh, I’m telling Paddy!” shaming me for my infidelity. The workers at Toppings Too next door to Paddy’s even think I’m owner Paddy Iyer’s son.
And I guess that’s not much of a stretch. Iyer is a father figure to many in the community, which is one of the reasons that I’ve been to the coffee shop almost daily since moving to Union City.
Sitting inside of Paddy’s is how I came to know Union City.
I came here in July 2010 by way of Stockton and San Francisco to launch Union City Patch. I had absolutely no knowledge about Union City, its citizens, its culture, its politics.
In all honesty, I thought I would hate it here. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know where to go. Patch wasn’t an established brand, and everyone I met thought I was a salesman, shooing me off when I handed out a business card. One day I went to the now-closed Kingdom clothing store on Smith Street and chopped it up with owner Anthony Pabros. He said if I wanted to know anything about what’s going on in Union City that I had to go next door and talk to Iyer.
Though Iyer ducked me at first (people really hate salesmen), Iyer eventually gave me 15 minutes to hear me out and explain what I was trying to do with Patch. He gave me guidance and a helping hand.
Since then, I’ve been going to Paddy’s several times a week. I get a majority of my story ideas there. Most of the stories you read on Union City Patch, including this one, were written there.
There’s something about the environment at Paddy’s that invites open, friendly conversation among its patrons. And the ever-charming Iyer makes it a point to introduce me to others, saying “Forget the mayor, this is the man to know in Union City.”
Every friend I’ve made and just about every meaningful connection I have with this community stems from Paddy’s.
I can’t imagine my life in Union City without this place. Paddy's is the reason I love Union City.
As cheesy as it sounds, the staple product at Paddy’s isn’t coffee but community. It’s a space for creativity in a city of strip mall clutter, a late night haven for students who can’t concentrate in the confines of their home, a place for a news editor to find some grounding and spark a conversation when he’s tired of reading government staff reports.
I know this will continue when Paddy’s reopens. And like many in the community, I wish him well in his future endeavors. And I hope he opens nearby, and much sooner than later.
I need it.
Union City needs it.
Paddy’s Grand Closing Party will be held today from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring their own food and beverage items, as well as donation items for the Tree of Hope, a holiday donation drive benefiting Centro de Servicios.
What are your favorite memories at Paddy's? Share them in the comments section below.