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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #119: Cancun Saloon, Durham


Another Durham restaurant that isn't there any more - and frankly, wasn't there for very long. It was such a brief comet in the downtown galaxy that I've been completely unable to find a single picture of it anywhere online. The location has been a variety of bars, none particularly durable, inhabiting the downstairs lair between Town & Campus and the Red Carpet flower shop on Main Street. The most memorable of these to me was the momentary Mexican joint, the Cancun Saloon.

I'm not a Mexican food guy, but this place became the site of several fun senior year memories because of a scheduling quirk. Becky Turner and I came into office as UNH SBP/VP in the summer of 1996, and come fall we needed to find a time for our executive committee meetings. It was a diverse group, busy as RAs or with labs or sports, and it was tough to get everyone together. Eventually we landed on Wednesday nights at 9pm (ah, college). We'd meet for an hour or so, and then would break into two groups. We had a young crew, and the under-21s (Jason Heaney, Julie Schum Kirkwood, Erin Buzuvis, etc.) would head back to their dorms while the elder statesmen of the team (some combination of myself, Becky, Peter Finkle, Tim Famulare, Margy Grant, Edward Prisby, Geoff Grant) would wander downtown where we had learned - I don't know from who - that the Cancun Saloon boasted two-dollar frozen margaritas Wednesday nights after ten. It became our post-meeting watering hole, where we'd reflect with icy, fruity tequila concoctions, and deepen the bonds of friendship that helped us endure the slings and arrows of student political life. I distinctly remember watching some of the 1996 Yankees-Braves World Series there with Peter (and losing a bet that had me wearing a NYY hat at the next Senate meeting). He and I disagreed on just about everything then (as we do now) except for the importance of student autonomy. But I learned from him then, as I continue to try to learn from my friends with whom I have deep political differences. Sometimes, tequila helps. Sometimes not.

I also think, if memory serves, we got Buzuvis out there for her 21st, or shortly thereafter. For once, my memory for details fails me. Again, sometimes the tequila doesn't help. So yeah, the Cancun Saloon is long gone, and I can't remember the last frozen margarita I had. But I would spend a lot more than two dollars for an evening of reflection and fellowship with that same gang - and I have to assume that by now, everyone would be old enough to join in.

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