Missing Link ready to reopen, with Dead Reckoning Tavern
Story and Photos by Bob Doran
It’s taken some time, some patience, and a lot of work but Missing Link is coming back, stronger and better than ever. And with a new twist: Beer. Good beer. Before the year is over, Matt ’n’ Adam of Soul Night fame will join forces with their old friend Theo to open the new Dead Reckoning Tavern in conjunction with Missing Link Records, the classic vinyl shop.
The new place brings them full circle, right next door to where it all started, but we’re getting a bit ahead in the story. For those who don’t know what’s going on here, we offer some history.
Adam Pokorski and Matt Jackson worked in local record stores, but their goal was always to have their own shop. Their dream came true. Missing Link Records opened in 2009 around April Fool’s Day in a little hole-in-the-wall behind the Arcata Co-op, snuggled between Rita’s Mexican Market and 3 Foods Café on J St. They initially sold a select array of records and CDs, mostly drawing from their overflowing collections of classic vinyl.
As Matt explained it to me at the time, “What we want is a place where music heads can come and just hang out and talk about music. I think there’s a niche for … that kind of thing in this town.”
It was a success, enough for them to look for more spacious digs, and before long they’d moved to a bigger place on H Street next door to Pacific Paradise.
Missing Link 2.0 had a cozy vibe, where you could discuss records or comic books, shoot the shit, whatever, while lounging on a couch or an easy chair. There was a friendly cat, and you could watch Adam’s son, Henry, grow from a baby into a boy, all with the best soundtrack around.
They thought about adding a cafe or something to generate a bit more income, but retrofitting the H St. space proved too difficult. Summer of 2013, they closed up shop while looking for a new, larger home. There were false starts, including a potential move to Northtown, but eventually they found what they were searching for. Rita had moved her market to the new building by the Co-op. They had a place to move.
They brought in one of their old customers, Theo Brown (the bearded guy who always wears a kilt), and expanded the concept into a beer bar with a record store in the back. When we visited the new space around Thanksgiving, an Alchemy Construction painter was working on some final details. A new, very heavy iron bar was installed, along with a walk-in refrigerator. The record store section, up a ramp in the back, was nearly complete.
“We’ll have a neighborhood feel,” Adam explained, “just like at the old record store where we had a ‘just stop in and say hey’ vibe. We want it to be a comfortable place to hang out. As Matt and I have always done with the record store, it’s about stuff we like. There’s not one record in the store that I wouldn’t take home with me.”
Theo, who will run the beer bar, had the same attitude. “My favorite things are music and beer, so it’s like an extension of our living room – a little nicer.” Said Adam, “He’s going to ‘curate’ towards his taste. The man is knowledgeable beyond all belief when it comes to beer.” With Theo’s guidance, you’ll “try old favorites and brand new things that will become your new favorites.”
They’re planning on 30 taps (yes, that’s 30), with craft brews, including a few seasonal local beers and It’s Alive Kombucha on tap. They’ll have bottled brews from around the world. And they’ll offer an array of beverages for non-drinkers, coffee, iced teas and specialty sodas.
“Can we get root beer?” young Henry wondered aloud. “Yes, root beer on tap,” said Theo, and Henry chanted “Root beer! Root beer!”
While it won’t be a restaurant, they will have some things to munch on. Theo envisions little snacks: Bowls of Goldfish and the like. And they’ve picked up a brand new hot dog roasting case, which they plan on stocking with Taylor sausages.
Those who are familiar with Missing Link from the monthly Soul Night at Humboldt Brewery need not worry, those will continue. Now in it’s third year, the dance parties have been remarkably successful. Most sell out days in advance.
They started as a fundraiser – they had to pay their rent on H St. The city was tearing up the street, part of a grand plan to make it more pedestrian friendly. “You had to walk across boards to get to our door,” Adam recalled, “and no one was crossing across those boards to shop. We had to do something to pay the rest, so we had a rent party. That blossomed into three years plus of unbelievable Soul Nights.”
“We’ll ride it until the wheels fall off, as Matt and I always say,” Adam said.
Where does the Dead Reckoning Tavern name come from? Theo explains that it’s an old nautical term. “You can determine your position in a journey starting from a fixed point.” As long as you stay on course, you will reach your destination. In this case, he figures that means, “Good music and good beer. It’s the end of the journey, and the beginning.”
Thanks to a lot of hard work, especially by the Alchemy crew, the journey of Dead Reckoning Tavern and Missing Link Records is almost at it’s destination. Grand opening day is not set, but if everything stays on course they’ll be open by the new year. Expect one helluva party, one with great music and dancing.