Goodnight, Sweet Prince

IT IS WITH HEAVY HEARTS THAT WE SAY goodbye to our friend and neighbor, Ernie Chaires, who passed away on March 23. He was 62.
     Ernie was the focus of our Know Your Neighbor feature in the March|April issue, and when I met him at Rosepepper to take his photograph, he offered no indication that his health had taken a turn for the worse; quite the contrary — he was very upbeat and excited about the entire experience, wanting me to make sure I did right by him with my photograph. He loved the idea of having his picture taken at the corner table with the old photographs that once hung in Es Fernandos many years ago serving as a backdrop.
     The last time I saw Ernie was about a week later when I was in Rosepepper for lunch. I tried to say, “Hi,” but he was busy pitching in during the lunch rush and I couldn’t get his attention. He loved Rosepepper and was proud to have been a pionier in East Nashville’s bar and resturant renaissance.
     A memorial service held March 31 at Rosepepper in his honor was a testament to the community Ernie helped build. The tequila flowed right along with the tears, and, though bittersweet, the joy of celebrating a life well lived outweighed the sorrow of Ernie’s passing.
     Here’s to Ernie Chaires. Peace be with you, my friend.