Home / Has Tombstone Become the Town Too Dumb to Die? – Part IV

Has Tombstone Become the Town Too Dumb to Die? – Part IV

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Part I of this series talks about the Great Handbill Crackdown. Part II is all about the Malling of Tombstone. In Part III we learned it is now illegal to walk down the streets of Tombstone in “authentic” historic costume.

Can it get any worse?

What about the great Six Gun City Shoot-out?

Will justice triumph?

Will the quest for authenticity sink Tombstone?

Stay tuned….

Tombstone was known for its fine dining, chefs, and extravagant restaurants. All of that changed on May 25, 1882 when a devastating fire roared down Allen street, destroying almost every “downtown” business. One of the few remaining original pre-fire buildings is Nellie Cashman’s Restaurant, which is basically across the street from the original fire department. Schieffelin Hall survived, but the Gage Building across the street (now a parking lot) was toast, literally.

This is the background you need in order to understand the fear of fire the powers that be in Tombstone seem to have. The new dining patio and bar at Six Gun City is constructed primarily of wood. According to the newly appointed building inspector, that points to a clear and present danger to the town of Tombstone, and it must be closed, immediately. Oh, and that permit approved by the previous building inspector — well, just forget about it.

Allegedly, on April 2, Tombstone building Inspector Mike Trotter served Mike Carrafa, the owner of Six Gun City, a bar and restaurant on Fifth and Toughnut, with a cease and desist notice. On April 3, Carrafa hand-delivered a detailed report of his plans to bring his new addition into compliance with the “structural provisions of the International Building Code requirements.” According to Carrafa, as of Friday, April 11, he had yet to hear back from Trotter.

It’s not like Tombstone is all that big, what with about 1400 residents. Let’s be honest, "back in the day" (the 1880’s) the population was at least three to four times as large, and the town was still experiencing a building boom. One could see how it might take the building inspector well over a week to get back to a business owner when buildings were sprouting up like mushrooms. But this is 2009. There aren’t all that many buildings going up in town (maybe a new house or two) and not all that much construction going on at all.

There is some question about the timeline of who reported what when, and when the arrests were made, but on Monday the 5th, during the middle of Happy Hour, recently appointed town marshal Larry Talvy arrived to shut down the new patio and bar at Six Gun City. In typical Tombstone fashion, what was just a “friendly” little reminder to Carrafa to keep people out of the new part of his restaurant became, well…at least shots weren’t fired.

But, in a move that some bystanders feel will one day be reenacted the way the Gunfight at the OK Corral is done on a daily basis, in sauntered the Town Marshal who announced that the new patio is now closed — right in front of a documentary crew from the UK, who caught the action all on tape.

Evidently Larry Talvy hasn’t been in Tombstone long enough to realize that you just don’t separate a barfly from his drinks during Happy Hour.

Perhaps Talvy would have had more credibility had the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce not used said patio a few days previous for a big party. It should also be noted at this point that one of the Chamber officers recently went on record with your humble correspondent, telling her in no uncertain terms to keep her nose of the current civic disturbances in Tombstone and let the community work things out, without making trouble. According to Carrafa, perhaps the city might have a bit more credibility if other businesses were required to follow the same new codes he is being required to follow.

All the city officials want to do is make things safe for tourists in Tombstone — or is something else afoot?

Mike Carrafa's restaurant, like the Tombstone Boarding House B & B, is off the beaten path a little. Carrafa, like my friend Sylvia, is almost dependent on distributing handbills in order to bring new business into Six Gun City. But now that Dusty Escapule has become mayor, he has ordered Larry Talvy to crack down on handbill distribution.

There are rumblings that the on-Allen Street restaurants don’t really want either Sylvia or Carrafa distributing handbills and increasing their business because it could hurt the Allen Street restaurants. But that’s just a nasty rumor.

Then there’s this whole reenactors problem. Six Gun City has regular gunfights — that’s why it’s called Six Gun City, don’t ya know. Because Carrafa is allegedly operating a “for profit” business, he has been refused a permit for his reenactors to perform the shows they’ve been doing for years.

Is the City Council trying to close the entire restaurant and put 30 people out of business in these uncertain times? That’s a valid question considering what will happen to the Tombstone Trolley when Fourth and Fifth Streets are closed. Then there is the city ordinance that now prevents people from walking — in costume — on the streets of Tombstone.

These past few years, though, there are tales told, in the dark, with hushed voice, often with a flashlight pointed at one’s face. They are terrifying stories, tales of heart-break, of dreams dashed, and ruined fortunes, of brave men and women driven into bankruptcy and business closure. Are these tales true or only legends? Is the myth of the little BBQ joint being forced to close rumor or is it fact? And if it did close, just who would force a mom and pop operation into ruin? Is it the same force now trying to destroy Mike Carrafa and close Six Gun City?

Did Larry Talvy actually push Matt Carrafa and slam a video camera in his face when he discovered the Incident at Six Gun City was being taped? Why did he push away a second video? And why did he arrest a 63-year-old bystander and force him to spend the night in jail?

Inquiring minds want to know – but this inquiring mind has been told to, well, mind its own business.

A quick restaurant review:

This correspondent, who is not exactly following the demands of the Chamber officer who told her to leave things alone and not publicize them, has only dined at Six Gun City once. It’s just not my cup of tea. On the other hand, aside from the Lamplighter, owned by my friend Sylvia (great salsa), I also like the Longhorn, located at the other end of Fifth Street.

The Longhorn has one of the best hot dogs this hot dog lover has ever consumed. The BBQ beef is quite good. And they have this legendary deep dish apple pie thingie that is to die for! Several months ago I attended a banquet catered by the Longhorn. It was one of the most professional and best catering jobs I’ve experienced.

Part V and the conclusion of this series is coming soon! Stay tuned.

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