Nancy Long Remembered
By Julie Horner
Those who embrace the dragonfly as totem can’t help but shine their true colors. Defying categorization, Nancy Long was progressive, independent, earnest, and steady. Aquarius, mentor, teacher, ear, shoulder, pagan, she was so many things to so many people. Co-partner with Stephen Wyman at the legendary Boulder Creek Brewery, optimistic revolutionary at the Brewery Outpost, and consummate restaurateur at the Boulder Creek Roadside Cafe, she created a living room atmosphere for a community thirsting for connectedness.
Nancy passed away suddenly on July 30, 2020, but official remembrance was necessarily postponed by the pandemic and then the fire. Together we remember.
“Nancy and I met in December of 93-ish,” said longtime friend Makai Powell-Demeuth. “We went to a Dumb Supper, a Samhain ritual, where people are silent and there’s a plate and an empty chair for the dead.” The evening was reverent and solemn. At one point a server caught his sleeve on fire over a lit candle on the table. “We did our best not to laugh. Nancy started giggling.” They couldn’t get Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo out of their heads. “We thought, we are SO not going to be invited back to one of these.” A mutual cackling fit at a potluck some time later sealed the friendship. “She was one of those wild spirits who would giggle at a funeral and do it with the greatest respect.”
Nancy and business partner Stephen Wyman bought the building in Boulder Creek where they established the brewery in the late 80s. “Nancy loved having a hangout, having people bring the party to her.” Stephen wanted the brewing. “Brewing their own beer and selling it at the restaurant made it a thing,” Powell-Demeuth said. “In the late 80s there wasn’t much of that going on. They were trendsetters.”
And they had music. “We used to have big names…Pele Juju…we did a benefit to try to rescue Blue Sun Cafe. And on St. Patrick’s Day, Nancy invited everyone to bring their pet snakes.” When the brewery burned down, it was devastating. “It was her pride and joy. She scraped and fought to keep it alive.” The Outpost at the Odd Fellows was a placeholder. “It was disappointing to find out that the insurance was inadequate. It hurt. The Brewery had so much history…was so lush.”
Nancy Long married John Goolsby on May 28, 2013 at her home near downtown Boulder Creek. A master gardener, Goolsby said, “She made the mistake of telling me she loved roses. I put in about 50 roses for her…as many flowers as I could for her to keep blooming.” She collected hundreds of cookbooks. “She just loved her restaurants. When the Outpost closed down, she lasted a little while without but wanted to start another.” Goolsby told her, “I know it’s in your blood, go for it. She said, really? And I said, it’ll be your baby, I’ll be your go-fer.”
So when 9 Burger opened up, she jumped on it. January 11, 2021 would have been the three-year anniversary. “She had created this nest, a gift to the community,” Powell-Demeuth said. But the restaurant business has taken a hard hit with the pandemic. “Even after the fire, after COVID, we could have pulled it together. But there were so many things John couldn’t do because things weren’t in his name.” It became a decision not to go into debt for the restaurant.
The restaurant was an extension of Nancy’s home. “The pandemic was probably the most harmful thing that could have happened,” Goolsby said, “It shut her off from people. Her favorite thing was watching the kids grow up.”
Friend Sarah Hall said, “I never once heard her say a disparaging word about anyone. She listened exquisitely and without judgement. A true professional, she cared for her employees and treated them as equals.” She also contributed to local schools year round, whether it was a raffle or helping the team get new shirts. “Many have called Nancy’s restaurants the heart of town,” Hall said, “and so many bonds have been made over many years. I will always cherish that.”
Powell-Demeuth added, “She loved Graham. Graham’s mother from Scotland would call every Saturday night and Nancy would let him take the call on his break.” Friend Laura Snyder remembers Nancy’s generosity and kind soul. “She is deeply missed.”
Mo Moscoe, another close friend concluded, “As a fixture of kindness and compassion, she was a cornerstone of support for our community for decades.”