NEVADA CITY January 18, 2013 - The new Crazy Horse Saloon is open and the bar at the old Stone House is serving drinks again. Lefty's, a popular Broad Street restaurant, is moving down across the freeway and Cirino's is shutting its doors.
The Horse in its newest incarnation is owned and operated by two women. They picked up the lease on the Commercial Street building after it stopped being the Crazy Cow, a failed yoghurt shop. They're showing some knowledge of "how it works" - a sometimes rare quality in local bar owners. Two bartenders on Friday night and cocktail waitresses scurrying between tables! Place packed. The previous bar operator was convinced a five o'clock Friday afternoon rock band was the way to go. Customers, not so much. Now conversations flourish and a comfortable leather sofa full of drinkers is on the former bandstand.
Commercial Street is being taken back from the doorway campers.
Meanwhile on the other side of the freeway two businesses are trying to strike sparks where commercial life always has been perilous. A sign painter who once did the restaurant signs for the creekside location that will house Lefty's carried the planning commission approved background sign color in his truck because the name changes were coming so fast. The freeway is a powerful psychological barrier - an end of things - to downtown strollers. Lefty's won't get any more of those pedestrians peering at the menu in the window. The eatery will have to make it as a destination restaurant. They have a strong customer following and it could happen. Risky, though.
Reopening of the bar at the Stone House was announced by a short-lived hand-lettered sign propped against the wall proclaiming it was OPEN TO PUBLIC. Except the L was missing. Building owner Nikko Wu has reopened the bar, which was last leased and run as part of a restaurant. Her upstairs tenant, Sierra Commons - a business stimulating endeavor, is looking for bigger quarters. The place is for lease at a mere five grand a month, plus another $2,000 if you want to use her liquor license.
And then there's Jerry Cirino. He is consolidating his two restaurants into one - in Grass Valley. Federal government requirements drove him to it, he said. Businesses of a certain size soon will have added financial responsibilities, like participating in health care plans for employees. Jerry just got smaller.
A Broad Street landmark, Cirino's was formerly known - by those that were here "when it was really good" - as Duffy's, a pleasingly low-class bar. Up the street Richie at McGee's continues to enjoy the hell out of running a bar full of his friends.
And they're smoking on the sidewalk in front of the Mine Shaft again. Cautiously. Smokers are assuming the cops are now busy checking homeless people for the newly required permits to exist.
Editor's note: The Mountain Messenger, California's oldest weekly newspaper since 1853, is published on Thursdays from Downieville, California.
The Mountain Messenger can be purchased for half a buck at the National Hotel (sidewalk), Nevada City Post Office (sidewalk), Nevada City SPD (outside) and Nevada City Express Mart (outside.)
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