When Forest Grove native Melinda Yeargin set out to open a pool hall last year, it was clear to her what she was going to name her business, The Lazy Eye.
"I was born blind and I'm still legally blind," Yeargin said, "and I have a lazy eye."
At the same time catchy, unique and personal, The Lazy Eye felt like the perfect name for the kind of pool hall and family business she set out to create.
However, not everyone feels the same. Since opening The Lazy Eye in October, some customers have expressed to Yeargin their discomfort over the new pool hall's name.
"I think they're more offended than I am," Yeargin said. "I don't look at it as this horrible thing that it could be. It doesn't bother me."
Meeting people who are uncomfortable about her eyesight isn't a new experience for Yeargin. Often, she has found herself in situations where she can sense people's discomfort. Rather than feel self-conscious in these moments, however, Yeargin finds amusement.
"You can't get too down on something that you can't do anything about," Yeargin said. "Some people have red hair, I just have an eye that does something else."
Yeargin's family has lived in Forest Grove for several generations and owned Schlegal's Bicycle Center, a bike shop that was open for over 90 years at 1913 19th Ave.
"We all grew up in business and working with the public," Yeargin said of the years at the bike shop, "and so I wanted to have a family environment like that one."
With her husband, Don Yeargin, a retired career military veteran, they purchased the space at 2036 Pacific Ave. and created a pool hall.
Soon after the purchase, Yeargin found out from her nearly 90-year-old uncle that her great grandfather and grandfather once owned the building she had just purchased back in the 1930s.
"It used to be a secondhand store," Yeargin said after she did some research to confirm her uncle's memory.
"The idea was to have a welcoming place, not just another bar," said Yeargin who decided The Lazy Eye would be open to minors so families could come in together.
All of The Lazy Eye staff members play pool and are willing to teach people new to the sport, opening the hall to people of all skill levels. Eventually, Yeargin, hopes to start a youth pool league for young people in Forest Grove.
The Lazy Eye has professional pool tables and darts, along with a full bar. Additionally setting the hall apart from others, it offers a selection of ice cream and has gaming systems like a PS4 and an Xbox available for play.
"We haven't had an ice cream shop here in a while," said Yeargin, reflecting on a lifetime spent watching businesses open and close in Forest Grove, "and I think we need one — even if it's a small one."
The Lazy Eye also has a full menu with typical bar food, all made by Yeargin herself.
"How I make it at home is how I make it here," she said.
In addition to creating a welcoming space for minors and families, Yeargin also wanted to make the space accessible to those with disabilities.
"A friend of mine, who is in a wheelchair, said to me once, 'I just want to sit at a bar like everyone else,'" said Yeargin, who made sure The Lazy Eye's bar was lowered so that people in wheelchairs could have a spot.
With a focus on building an atmosphere that makes all who enter feel like there is a space for them, The Lazy Eye confronts stigma about disabilities and belonging through its design.
"I believe that the only disability is one of a person's character," Yeargin said. "Everyone has a 'disability' of some kind, some people are bad at math, other people can't draw. … Your personality is what matters."
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