Bar Owner Survives Haiti Disaster 

James Talley was working on humanitarian project. Only word: He's OK.


After what he's likely experienced during the past 24 hours, James Talley probably could use a beer.

Talley, the owner of Commercial Taphouse & Grill on Robinson Street in the Fan, was in Haiti when Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck. The natural disaster leveled much of the poverty-stricken island nation, which already was a humanitarian disaster area after decades of civil unrest and governmental instability.

It wasn't until well after midnight Tuesday that a friend somehow managed to complete a cell call to Talley to confirm he was all right.

“We got a message from him last night that he's OK, but we're not quite sure when he's getting back,” says Allison Libertine, an employee at the neighborhood watering hole. “We literally have nothing other than that he's OK.”

After a frantic day for employees at Commercial Taphouse, Talley was finally reached by the husband of a former employee, Libertine says. “He called and got through to him somehow on his cell phone,” she says. “I didn't think that would work — I tried calling him and my friend tried calling him.”

Talley, well known to Richmond's craft beer community, had more recently become known to some Haitians for his humanitarian efforts there. He arrived in Haiti Jan. 8 to work on a school in a small village.

Both Talley's Facebook page, along with the Taphouse's, have been deluged with well wishes from relieved patrons.


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