What makes a great bar, a great bar? Without a doubt, the people in the bar, patrons, and employees are what make up the crux of a great bar. However, it is the owner, proprietor, publican, whatever one likes to label the individual who holds title to the business. It is they who sets the standard by which said patrons and employees gravitate to. In this case, Rick Holmberg set the atmosphere of The New Latitude18 and made it a great bar.
Last year, April 2016, I was on a music cruise with Dani. Our first stop was at St. Thomas, USVI. Our good friend Jeff Lange, who lives on St. Thomas, had set up an afternoon for the group of musicians that we were with on the cruise, to play at The New Latitude 18. Naturally, we were looking forward to it!
We were due into port at 8 am, however at 4 am I started having issues with my heart. I've had issues for twenty years, so I'm kind of used to them in a way. On the flip side, we're not talking about a hangnail. When your heart is having issues, you drop everything, before it drops you.
I checked into the ship's infirmary and they stabilized my situation, however, they insisted I be sent to the hospital on St. Thomas when we arrived in port. I told Dani to go to the event at The New Latitude 18 and I'd call and join her when I was released.
Bottom line, I wasn't released. I had to see a cardiologist who wouldn't be there for two more days. I told Dani to go back on the ship and I'd come back via the airlines. She wouldn't have any of that. So what's next?
Well, the owner of the bar, Rick Holmberg, got wind of the predicament, I believe from our friend Jeff Lange. Rick invited Dani to use the band room, which was an RV, at no cost. Not only that, he chauffeured her back and forth to the hospital a few times a day, about a five or six-mile drive.
Understand, Rick had only met Dani a few hours before and here he was offering her a place to stay, at no cost, in addition to driving her back and forth to see me.
If anyone looks up the word “Compassion” they'll find Rick's image next to the word.
I met the cardiologist on Thursday, had a procedure done and was released on Friday. That's when I met Rick. As you might surmise, he came to pick me up with Dani.
When we arrived at The New Latitude 18, I immediately was in love with the bar. Very relaxed, on the water, nothing false about it at all. My type of bar.
I got on with Rick from the get go. I felt we were cut from the same cloth. We had a great conversation when he drove me to the pharmacy. He told me some of his past struggles and loss and I told him some of my own. Talk about fortitude, here is a bar owner that no longer drinks, yet he's surrounded by it every day.
That evening he asked Dani and I if we'd like to pay at The New Latitude 18 on Saturday night? He didn't have anyone scheduled. Of course, we would!
Again, here's a man who when the chips were down for us, not only put two complete strangers up for free, but also gave us a paying gig!
Here are two Facebook videos of our gig at Latitude 18
So, what makes a great bar? This is what makes a great bar. People like Rick Holmberg. The individual at the top sets the standard by which everything else falls into place. The patrons and the staff were all just marvelous. I recall talking to a staff member about our situation and how Rick came to our rescue. They smiled, shook their head and said “That sounds like Rick”. Everyone we bumped into all had fabulous things to say about Rick.
Today I learned that Rick is moving on to new adventures. I don't know what they may be? I've seen him traveling a lot in the last year on Facebook, literally all over the world. In a selfish way, I'm sorry he's moving on. Dani and I often talked about heading back to The New Latitude 18 and hanging out with him again. However, life changes for us in many ways. Rick is off on a new adventure and I am very happy and excited for him. It also may be good that he's off on a new adventure. The world needs more exposure to folks like Rick. However, I do hope in his travels, our paths cross again.
Rick Holmberg is one damn good human being.
Bon Voyage my friend!