CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP— Darlene Carmody was 47 years old when her journey started in 2007 during Crystal Township’s Fourth of July celebration.
The holiday began much differently than in the previous years for Carmody and her family. The Carson City woman recalled the packed sidewalks with grandparents, baby strollers and folks waving the U.S. flag while she was feeling sadness, separation and anxiety as she watched the floats, classic cars and marching bands go by.
“I stood out here and watched the parade as I always have,” Carmody said. “The groups of people celebrating the holiday and for me I had tears coming down my face. It was a tough day for me and my family.”
Carmody was moving to South Carolina to start a new job in hopes of making a better life for herself.
“My car was packed and parked on a side street,” she said. “As soon as the parade was over I hugged them all, I said goodbye to my family and drove off leaving behind a part of me.”
It was a tough drive south.
“I cried almost the whole way,” she said. “If I remember right, I was in tears 811 miles.”
Carmody took the job in South Carolina because Electrolux had left Greenville and the plastic company she was working for paid far less than she did when she worked for Electrolux.
“I couldn’t even make my house payments,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until I got the call. I couldn’t say no and I am not the healthiest person either so the job seemed to make sense.”
She was offered a supervisor’s job with Electrolux in South Carolina.
“I got down there and bought a house I was ready to start over,” she said “It wasn’t long before (Electrolux) downsized again and I lost that job. I would have come home then, but I bought that house so I ended up still working for them indirectly, but not what I was making. It was a struggle the whole time.”
For the next five years, Carmody struggled with her finances. She had two houses — one in Michigan and one in South Carolina. Her attempt to make it while she was away from her main support in Michigan, her family took all of her perseverance. Meanwhile in Michigan, her family struggled with Carmody not being near them. All they wanted was for her to come home.
“It was time for her to come back to Michigan where she belonged,” said sister, Judy Gyurnek of Sumner. “She is family and we love her and we just can’t be that far away from each other.”
The opportunity for Camrody to come home came from a place she worked at years ago.
Carmody used to mange the Uptown Bar in Crystal Township 20 years ago when Dick Harry owned it.
“She managed the bar for me years ago, she did it well and worked as a manger for nearly seven years,” said Harry, a Crystal resident. “She left when I was thinking of selling the bar.”
Harry, who bought the bar about 35 years ago, sold it and after the bar changed hands a few times he ended up with possession of it again.
“I kept it almost 20 years before I sold it,” he said. “I recently re-acquired the bar. She is purchasing the bar from me now.”
Harry believes Carmody is the perfect owner for the Uptown Bar.
“Darlene desperately wanted to get back to Michigan and her family wanted her home too,” Harry said. “I gave her the opportunity to buy this bar and we’re all excited about because she is a well liked person and well respected here in the community.”
Harry is amazed at the support Carmody has and how her family and friends have pitched in to get the bar ready for business.
“Her family has pitched in a unbelievable way,” Harry said. “Before she even got back to Michigan they were in the bar cleaning and restoring the place, making major repairs to the foundations under the coolers and just cleaning the place up.”
Judy Gyurnek and her husband, Bill, provided a small portion of the help Carmody has received from her entire family.
“The whole family has helped,” Judy Gyurnek said.
Painting and new wallboards are just some of the maintenance done on the place.
“We wanted to give the place a face lift,” Bill Gyurnek said. “We are ready to for Darlene to open this place for business.”
The Uptown Bar has members of Carmody’s family helping on the business side too. Her cousin, Diane Jenks of Sumner, will be her assistant manager.
“It is awesome that Darlene has the bar,” Jenks said. “I am really excited that we are getting this place going.”
The Uptown Bar will have karaoke on Friday nights and a menu of bar tasty treats, according to Jenks.
“We are getting the kitchen ready we will have lots of good food,” she said. “People have to come in and try our uptown burger. It comes with two half-pound patties built your way.”
The Uptown Bar has been trying to use Michigan-made products, according to Carmody. They have a selection of beverages and are thinking about consulting with area farm markets to purchase more local products.
“My heart is in Michigan and I’m from Michigan,” Carmody said. “I am just getting started but I am looking at products made in Michigan. So far all of our pop is Michigan-made.”
Carmody has faced one more trial since taking ownership in May. Getting the liquor license transferred took most the summer. She was hoping to be open in July, but that didn’t happen.
“With today’s technology I just don’t understand the problems I have had,” she said. “It was like a roller coaster ride, one day I am told something and I am riding up high and two days later I call and I am down low again. It was the worst ride of my life.”
The ride was finally over Aug. 1 when Carmody entered the bar with cheers and friends hugging with the liquor license.
The Uptown Bar officially opened Thursday. Staff members are planning events in August including a pool tournament, golf outing and more.
“I always wanted to be a owner of something,” Carmody said. “Now I got my chance and if it wasn’t for my family I don’t think I could have done any of this.
“I don’t think anyone can go without family in their life,” she said. “It is because of my family and my friends who believed in me that I am back home in Michigan opening a bar that I managed years ago.”