Historic Los Gatos bar celebrates final days before closure

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The BentPeter Band wrapped up the closing night party June 1 at Charley’s Bar Los Gatos. On June 2, Charley’s closed its doors for good after an all-day jam session featuring musicians who played at the nightclub during its 52-year history. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

After more than 50 years in the community, the beloved Charley’s Bar Los Gatos on North Santa Cruz Avenue has closed its doors.

Owner Alex Hult sold the venue that’s famous for its live music from local bands to a buyer that management has yet to identify. Longtime patrons and employees celebrated the bar’s historic presence in the Los Gatos community with a full week of events, culminating in a closing party on June 1 and an all-day jam session with local artists on June 2.

Pam Davis, who has been Charley’s general manager for three years, called it “the end of an era.”

“We’re not your average nightclub where people just come in, they don’t know who the owner is, or they don’t know who the manager is. We touch every single person that walks in that door,” she said.

  • Restaurateur Alex Hult, right, and event producer Donovan Friedman pose in front of the bar at Mountain Charley’s in downtown Los Gatos in 2021, when they reimagined the longstanding nightclub as a dinner theater called Immersive: Los Gatos. After their partnership dissolved, Hult rebranded the venue as Charley’s LG. Hult recently sold the club, which was set to close on June 2. (Courtesy photo)

  • Charley’s, a historic bar in Los Gatos that has been in the community for over 50 years, is closing in Los Gatos, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • Charley’s, a historic bar in Los Gatos that has been in the community for over 50 years, is closing in Los Gatos, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • Charley’s, a historic bar in Los Gatos that has been in the community for over 50 years, is closing in Los Gatos, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • Charley’s, a historic bar in Los Gatos that has been in the community for over 50 years, is closing in Los Gatos, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • Charley’s, a historic bar in Los Gatos that has been in the community for over 50 years, is closing in Los Gatos, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

    Charley’s was founded by Jim Farwell and Jack McNamara in 1972. The venue went through several ownership changes over the years, but Hult eventually took over in 2021 and fostered a rebrand from Mountain Charley’s Saloon to Charley’s Bar Los Gatos.

    The local, homegrown feel that Davis speaks of with such pride stretches all the way back to the club’s origins, and it reverberated among its patrons through the end.

    “I have this upper area on Charley’s where I stand and I look around and I’m just like, this brings me so much joy to see people being happy … and the friendships that cultivate from it,“ Davis said.

    A 52-year run also means that generations of Los Gatans and Bay Area residents have passed through Charley’s at some point. A member of Bent Peter, the band that performed at the nightclub’s closing party on June 1, met his now-wife at Charley’s, which is part of the reason they were asked to play, Davis said.

    Davis said she met a patron recently who excitedly told her that his parents first met at Charley’s, decided to settle down in Los Gatos and eventually raised him in town.

    “We’ve heard just so many stories, because 52 years is a long time to be here,” she said. “Even before we announced the sale, people have come in and told us these great memories.”

    Davis took a circuitous route to managing the bar. She was working for Santa Clara County on a program to provide Medicare for low-income residents when a friend brought her to Number 1 Broadway, a nightclub just down the street from Charley’s. She returned to Charley’s multiple times as a patron, then as an employee. Before she knew it, Hult was asking her if she wanted the general manager’s position.

    “It’s kind of funny,” she said. “I never drank until I was 50 years old.”

    What’s next for 15 North Santa Cruz Ave.?

    “The space will be transitioning to the new owners with a fresh, new concept, new look, new name,” Charley’s website reads. “We hope that you’ll give them the same warm welcome you’ve shown us.”

    It will remain a music venue, Davis said, and she plans to stay involved with the music community in Los Gatos.

    “People are very sad to see it go, because it means a lot to people,” Davis said. “But at the same time, I fully support the new business that’s coming in, and I totally understand it, because we have to create new memories for the younger generation. And so we have to appeal to them and appeal to what’s going to bring them in to keep Los Gatos alive.”

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    About the Author
    Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

    (source)