As I listened to Mark Welch speak at a special fundraiser preview event at the new honky-tonk in West Chester called Lori’s Roadhouse, I couldn’t help but think that government is good, at least in West Chester. When I say honky-tonk, I’m not talking about the old days of Gilley’s in Pasadena, Texas, where Urban Cowboy took place. This place in West Chester is more like the modern Gilley’s in Las Vegas, very nicely put together luxuriously. There is nothing cheap about it; it’s an ample space to host very large national talent for concerts. It’s something special for the Cincinnati area, and it’s great to see it located in West Chester, Ohio. It’s not by accident. The endeavor is a combination of great government that pushed out of the way as much nonsense as possible so that the dream of Greg and Lori Fisher could put all their great efforts into creating such a wonderful venue. I’ve been to places like Lori’s Roadhouse in parts of the country far away from Cincinnati. But the moment I stepped into Mark’s fundraiser and saw what the owners were up to, I was enchanted. There wasn’t a better way to show why Mark Welch should be re-elected as trustee of West Chester. It’s not so much what an elected official can do for a project like Lori’s Roadhouse, but what kind of nonsense Mark can remove from the Fishers to let their creative input do the great work of creating such a wonderful place.
I view business as a creative enterprise, and I deeply respect people who go out on a limb and build new things that contribute to an economy. Something like Lori’s Roadhouse is one of those things that adds to the many other things there are to do in West Chester. There are so many options, and a lot of the reason is that the government has been small enough not to crush the hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs along the way. It is hard enough to come up with an idea and then fund it with seed money. It’s quite another to deal with politicians and other bureaucrats who embed themselves into the system to make a molehill of regulation into mountains for their benefit. Usually, projects like Lori’s Roadhouse would be crushed before a business plan could ever be conducted because of politics. I can think of hundreds, if not thousands of places around the country where a place like Lori’s Roadhouse would do well. But, the politics of those areas would prohibit the dream from becoming a reality.
I had a chance to talk to Lori and her husband Greg Fisher quite a lot which was nice. It was busy at the fundraiser, and I wasn’t sure if I’d get the chance. As it turned out, Lori is the perfect front lady for such a place. She’s very friendly and optimistic, a fun personality which a place like that needs. She told me she usually likes to work behind the scenes, but I can see why her name is on the place. It deserves to have her name on the place. Then there is her husband Greg, who had just spent months and months working out every little detail of this spectacular venue. The food was great. The bar was full. The bathrooms are designed to still look good after lots and lots of drinking. There is plenty of space for the men and women to have their dignity and get back to the action of live country music, a sports bar setting in much of the place, but a vast stage and dance hall area complete with VIP booths. It was all top class, and the acoustics were fabulous as personally supervised by Greg. As he ran down the list of all the elements of the place, it was apparent, he had a genuine love for the work, and I was happy to see it. That’s where someone like Mark Welch comes into these kinds of things. Mark had worked in the background ever so subtly to help take away the burden of government from the Fishers so they could focus on the important stuff. Like securing the millions of dollars a place like that would cost and building a reputation that would bring in the big acts from all over the country. A modern Gilley’s, but I would say better and with more class. Something specific to West Chester.
TC Rogers was there; he is one of the commissioners of Butler County, where some of the legacy zoning issues made the project hard to get moving. But at least West Chester didn’t do as other places do and compound the problem. There were a lot of big-name politicians at Mark’s event, which was a good way to open a good American testament to goodness that Lori’s Roadhouse was offering. It was undoubtedly a place anybody could enjoy, but country music, big leather boots, and cowboy hats draw a certain kind of political flavor, and it was on full display. I had just returned from Jackson, Wyoming, where they have a similar high-class flair to their country background. They have some very classy honky-tonk types of places there, but Lori’s Roadhouse was far better. It looked and felt like something right out of Music City, Nashville. It was unapologetically American for sure. It had the kind of swagger that I had just been bragging about that I saw at a Cody, Wyoming rodeo. They were similar in their boot-kicking display of Americana and a tip of the cowboy hat to great family tradition.
The community will have an option not just for the concerts but for a place to stop by after work, have a few drinks, and talk to people in the community; Lori’s Roadhouse will be a real treasure. It’s not fair to give Mark so much credit because the Fishers did all the work along with their crews. But I have to give Mark and the trustees credit for not getting in the way, and Mark specifically for helping where he could make the process of dealing with the government not such a challenging endeavor. I had to smile a bit to myself as I listened to Greg and Lori talk about their new place because I have heard so many hundreds of stories over the years from people who never get things like this launched into reality. And they had managed to do it. Usually, what ends up happening is the life gets sucked out of a project like this by all the rules and regulations of government. It’s not often where a dream comes close to the original vision, and in the case of Lori’s Roadhouse, it’s easy to see the dream of the owners as they intended it to be, and that is the result of good government that knows when to help and when to get out of the way. Often the skill of politicians is in knowing when not to be part of the problem, but in being part of the solution. And when they figure that much out, great things like Lori’s Roadhouse happens. And I am very excited about the results.