Profile: Mo Hodges Brian Felley

Fig.9 Mo Hodges & Brian Felley.

SS:  All right, let’s just do this for the transcription person…

MH:  Yeah–

SS:  I’m Steven.

MH:  Mo.

BF:  Brian.

SS:  Okay.  First, just a few general profile questions.  Least favorite kind of weather?

MH:  I would say, too many sunny days in a row.

BF:  [laughs]  I’m gonna say a mix of wind and rain.

SS:  Wind and rain.

BF:  Sideways rain.

SS:  Have you ever painted your face for a sporting event?

MH:  Yes.  I have.

SS:  What was it?

MH:  Well, it’s been a few times here.

SS:  Uh-oh.

MH:  [laughs]  Let’s see, we painted ourselves for the Phillies—-I remember when I was living in Colorado, the Phillies were playing the Rockies for a divisional thing and I had my face painted for that, we just did red streaks on the face, and then in college we would paint our face for some of the soccer games and stuff like that.  Eagles games, definitely, I’ve gone completely green…

BF:  He’s done it more than twice.

MH:  I never like it, though, ‘cause by like the third quarter it just gets everywhere and it’s like in like Arrested Development when David Cross is, you know, Tobias’s Blue Man–you just see the blue hand prints as the season goes on–that’s kind of how the end of the day turns out, you’re finding it everywhere, your bathroom is all green hand prints, and it’s just a greasy feeling on your face. I’ve done it a lot, but I don’t think I’ll do it again.

BF:  You’ve done it enough.

MH:  I don’t think I’ll do it again.

SS:   First concert you attended on your own, not with chaperone or parent.

MH:  Oh yeah.  I remember that.  My sister and I got dropped off at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby just outside of Philadelphia, and we saw the Meat Puppets with Cracker. My dad grew up in that neighborhood so I think they just went down to his buddy’s bar and got loaded while we were doing it.  But as soon as they pulled away, we both were like, you know, getting cigarettes out and I remember feeling really cool, you know, to go to a show by myself, I mean, we did, it was like when the Meat Puppets played, ‘cause they were kind of rock and roll, we got the crowd surfing stuff…she was in 7th grade, I was in 6th grade, and I remember I just was like, I don’t think I could ever go to a concert with parents again—

SS:  [to BF] You?

BF:  [laughs] Oh, man, it’s a tough one.  I’m not sure exactly which came first, but I’ll say that one that stuck with me which was Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tool opened up for Metallica. I went with a couple buddies of mine, same thing, folks dropped us off at the gates, went in, I think as we’re walking in the Coliseum is just packed with representatives from every Native American tribe in the state. The first memory I have is before walking in, you gotta walk down this little like tunnel, and there’s just this drunk, bloody-faced, Native American guy getting carried out by like three of his buddies, right?  And as he’s passing by, he reaches out, tries to grab us…this is what you feel like, this is what it’s like being at a concert–

MH:  It’s like going across the River Styx or something–

BF:  Oh yeah.  When Metallica opened, their first song, soon as the lights go out, literally 3,000 people from the rafters just start jumping over, and the security guards can grab one, so we were on the floor, we got the seats through my friend Zach’s parents who owned a hotel out there, and I just remember turning around seeing this charging mob from the crowd over the security guards and right to the front, so it was a pretty cool experience for sure.  Still one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

SS:  So: you’re opening another joint. Why do that?  Isn’t Benjamin Cooper enough?

MH:  Yeah, there might be some sort of masochistic thing going on there, I mean, we both come from art backgrounds, I went to school for metal sculpture but I grew up in an artistic household with parents who were both jewelry makers, stuff like that, so I think the artistic process is something we both really gravitate towards.

SS:  So you wanted a new project?

MH:  Yeah, another challenge, you know, it’s good stress for us and I think both of us kind of need that good stress, we like to be challenged and that’s why we change our menu here every week, to always be thinking, ‘cause if you get complacent it gets tired. We were talking about the circus earlier, like if you’re not re-adapting and redoing things, you eventually become the old road show that no one wants to go see.

SS:  So you’ll have a piece of it, it’s really your time more than anything, like you’re not gonna be out any cash…

MH:  Yeah, yeah, that’s–

SS:  –someone said, “We want you to do this, and—”

MH:  You get investors.

SS:  “–we want you guys to do it for us.”

BF:  Yeah, exactly.

MH:  We’re 50 percent owners with him.  Whereas this place we are finally finalizing being 100 percent owners, which is great.  It’s kind of American dreams and stuff really when you think about it, ‘cause we had nothing at the beginning and now, just with sweat equity and and putting in the time…

BF:  I think you nailed it when you talked about challenging yourself. At one point learning about liquor was exciting, ‘cause it was kind of the next tool on your belt.  And then it was, okay, I ran a wine program before, so it was always trying to kind of make it so you’re adding tools to that belt of accomplishments. The stuff that excites me now are actually the things that terrified me five years ago, like writing a business plan and doing number projections. It’s more challenging, it’s more rewarding.  So taking on a new project, being back behind the bar is great, we love it, but getting out of that and challenging yourself, doing something that’s a little outside your comfort zone–

MH:  It’s definitely a new skill set, convincing rich guys to give you their money–

BF:  Yeah.

MH:  –to build something out.

BF:  Yeah, but I mean–

MH:  –and then also making them happy, you know, making them feel involved–

BF:  –even overseeing construction, the first time you do it it’s kind of daunting, you don’t really know what’s going on, the second time it gets a little easier, so it makes me excited to do it another time–

MH:  Yeah.

SS:  And when you look back, if you reverse engineer where you are compared to where you grew up, do you see any of the seeds of experiences or interests that led you into this business?

BF: Like I said earlier, my parents were artists, they had a jewelry business in New Mexico–my mom’s from Coney Island, my dad is from Philadelphia.  They moved out West, to live their dreams, start their business, and so I grew up around this entrepreneurial kind of…bone that my folks had.  And I still remember, I was maybe, 8, 9 years old, every Sunday, going with my dad, he would have to go do the casting, so he would go and he would basically be making all these little silver pieces that the workers would come in the next day and assemble, right, and so I would go with him every Sunday and I just loved watching the little centrifuge that would just spit the metal into these molds. I always knew I wanted to work for myself, you know, and at some point back then I thought I was gonna probably take over my parents’ business, but it became pretty evident I didn’t want to do that, and I didn’t want to be in New Mexico, you know, by the time I got to high school. So the entrepreneurial bug was put in me early; I was never really happy doing things for other people, I always wanted to do it for myself.

SS:  And then you started bartending?

BF:  Bartending was completely by luck. I’d left school, I wasn’t really giving it a go, I was skipping class, I was partying and stuff, so after a couple years then I was like, I’m not gonna waste my money on this school anymore. I went back to New Mexico to see a buddy of mine who was a chef, and his buddy that was the GM of this restaurant ended up hiring me the day of, right, so I got in just to say hey to an old friend, and the guy’s like, Yeah, you want a job, come back tomorrow.  Started waiting tables, within a month I was bartending, then I ended up running that little lobby bar and restaurant that was in a downtown hotel in Albuquerque. That was kind of how I got into it, and then I was making money, I really enjoyed it, and I never looked back. I knew I had that skill and I knew I could get a job, so that was kind of the impetus for me to come to San Francisco. I didn’t know if I was going to be in the bar industry for the next 10 years but, you know, I think that you carve out a niche and say, Okay, well how do I turn this into a more legitimate career? For us, that meant ownership and opening our places.

SS:  [to MH] And you?

MH: My dad really is probably the reason I’m into bartending. My mom too, I guess. Their social nature is pretty much why I ended up doing something that’s as social as bartending is. As early as I could remember, going out and cutting this little celery-looking thing in the backyard, kind of like a tubed celery, and cutting those to bring in so my parents could make Bloody Marys with them when their friends were over.  And then learning how to make a Bloody Mary at a young age, so I think getting that kind of thing down, you know. My dad’s friends all played in bands, or they all worked in bars, or some of them were cooks and stuff, so I definitely spent a lot of time with toilet paper in my ears, watching bands in bars, you know, back when you could probably still bring a kid to a bar.  They’d usually set me up with a soda in the back room, playing shuffleboard or something, my sister and I would be there, or we’d be off to the side, watching music and stuff, but I think the dance of a bar, the vibes, the low light…I always got excited to go out to dinner, to see music and stuff, it was just something that I always was really excited about. My parents were very like middle class, 3 kids, you know, if we went to dinner as a family, it was big, big shit.  And one thing that stuck with me the whole way through was when it came to service, when we would get bad service or something would go wrong, my parents were always really cool about it, they were really humble and they would never make a big deal and never ask for anything for free or anything like that–but I remember they’d get the bill at the end and it’s like, you go out and patronize a place, and you get bad service or disrespected or something, it’s bad ‘cause it’s people’s hard-earned money.  So that stuck with me, that kind of blue collar approach to service, that started at a young age.  And in college I was an art major, so I had a pretty keen schedule which was awesome, like independent study basically.  So I’d go

bartend at the president’s house when he would do things and I’d work banquets and stuff and I was with the other work study kids, the kids that couldn’t afford to pay full tuition.  So there was a camaraderie in that, and also learning those skills at an earlier age, as opposed to getting out of school and then trying to figure it out on the fly when your career dies. That was something from my dad, he said, Just learn how to bartend, you’ll have a job for the rest of your life.  And I kept falling back on that, you know, like I had an art gallery at one point, but I was still bartending at night to supplement income, and eventually I just thought, well, I’m always supplementing my income with bartending, why not make it my full income and get serious about it? I just kind of decided, and that’s around when I decided to move out to San Francisco. And I met Brian and then, you know, the rest is…

SS:  Yeah.  How’d you guys meet?

BF: I had just opened up Big, which was a menu-less cocktail bar a couple blocks from where we’re at now.

SS:  Menu-less.

BF:  Yep.  No menu.  So everything was a consultation, right, you’d come in, it would be, Hey, what do you like to drink? You know, we’d have a spread of herbs and fruit, people would give you a little direction. It was by no means a great business model, by no means was it really scaleable, you know, you’re really not maximizing anything except for–

MH:  You can have it for–

BF:  –except for the experience.

MH:  –a 15-person bar

BF:  Yeah, I mean, but–

MH:  About 15 people could fit in this place. Or 20 people, maybe(?).

BF:  That bar was amazing for us, reputation-wise.  It really kind of–that’s kind of what set us off, and it’s why, when we opened this, we really had a lot easier time than what we did there.  But I just opened that–I was opening it up like Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights at the beginning.  I had Iris working with me, I had no other help, all the bartenders that I wanted to work with were all running other bars in the city, and they’re like, We’re not gonna leave our bar to go try this, you know, stupid fuckin’ crazy–

MH:  Who are you guys?

BF:  –yeah, what do you think you’re doing, some menu-less bar–people kind of shied away from it. But the guy I was buying booze off of, he was good friends with Mo, they had mutual friends in Denver, and he actually dropped me Mo’s resume, he’s like, Hey, this guy wants to move out here, you should meet him, he’s a great bartender, he’s the missing piece you’re looking for.  I was kind of wrote it off, like “Denver, oh…”

MH:  [laughs]

BF:  Who knows how to bartend in Denver, we’re in San Francisco here!  So to be honest at first I didn’t really give it much thought, again for the next, I think, maybe–

MH:  It was about a week.

BF:  I couldn’t get anybody really to come in and help me out over there, and finally I just gave him a call. So when he moved out–he moved out on a Tuesday, I think we had lunch on Wednesday–

MH:  –I got here Tuesday, we did lunch on Thursday.

BF:  We did lunch on Thursday.

MH:  And then I worked that night–

BF:  –and that was basically the beginning of it.

SS:  And so you were renting that spot?

BF: I came in as a revenue sharing partner, I wasn’t really an owner, I didn’t have equity, I was just making cents off the dollar. Jordan Langer, who spawned all of Big, he built that place out, it really belongs to him and Pete, they own 620 Jones over here, they just reopened Big, so basically they found that place, it was in a little hotel called the Vantaggio, which was like a hostel/hotel, a lot of exchange students would rent out rooms for 3 months.  So we had this funny little bar in there, and then eventually that building sold, which was why we lost the space. It’s now a Marriott.  So where our bar was is now just a white–

MH:  –it’s a fire egress.

BF:  Yeah.

BF:  We had fun working with each other too, right off the bat, it was like, my dad is from Philly, he’s from Philly–                MH:  There was a lot of rapport, you know, like a long lost relative you didn’t know you had, like you would go down there and just have your brains going crazy and we brought in a couple other people, it was definitely one of those artistic times in your life where everything’s creative, everything’s flowing, you know, and that’s the vibe that was in there.  And I think, because there was no pretense in the relationships, it didn’t really have a hierarchy of who was who, so we all felt like equals, it kept people just doing what they should be doing, which was taking care of people, making drinks, having fun, and we’ve tried to keep that going into this place.  Little more responsibility here, we’re kind of more the dads here, but at the same time, we’re still behind the bar.

BF:  The great thing is we have a complimentary set of skills even though we have some overlapping, there’s areas he really excels in that I don’t, there’s areas I really excel in that he doesn’t, he’s very eloquent when he writes, I can do math, I can do numbers, so we have this little differentiation–

MH:  –yeah.

BF:  I know what my job is and he knows what his job is, and we never sat down and said, Okay, you’ll do this and this, it just happened that way–

MH:  –yeah, kind of letting the game come to you a little bit.

SS:  Since you got into this in a serious way, what’s changed the most in the business?

MH: I think the starting point for cocktail knowledge for the average Joe walking in is probably higher, now they’re aficionados if they’re from Kansas City. The people really know what they’re talking about here, sometimes you have people  talking about whiskey and stuff, and you’re like, wow, you should work here, man–

BF:  –yeah, yeah.

MH:  I think that’s the level of knowledge you get here. Now, there was a time where there was a lot of bowties and little moustaches and such which, you know, I think it’s great when people dress up and have fun with a vest, but that definitely represented a certain snootiness, like a pretentiousness, and I feel like it’s come back towards the middle, bartenders have checked themselves a little bit on their egos, there’s a little less correcting going on, you know, like there’s a little more Yes and a little less No.  Which I think is important. I’m not gonna be carrying every single vodka flavor, but I’m gonna carry things when I hear enough people asking for it; it’s an easy Yes. And then, if you do that really well and you get them they’re drink and you made them happy, then they’re gonna watch and see what you’re doing after that, cause their guard’s down, they’re gonna say, “Oh, what’s that drink with the piece of rosemary hanging out of the top?” Now you got them, but what you did at first was you gave them what they wanted.  And I think people are getting back to that, a little bit more about the room. We’re lucky enough in this city to have a clientele that want to come in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and that’s allowed us to always have something to work with, as opposed to just weekends. You can refine your craft every night of the week here, so you’re given a lot of opportunity, and that’s how things have really changed.

BF:  I think you hit it right on the head, the attitude of the bartender has changed a lot. For me a bartender’s mentality should always be that you’re lucky to have the guest in front you, they’re not lucky to have you in front of them, right?  So we definitely see a swing back to taking care of people, not trying to cram down people’s throat what they should be drinking or what you think is the best cocktail.

One thing I really think is fun to look at is bar design, the layout of a place, is it a hidden door, like, okay, you can do elevated stuff in a dive bar setting, or you can have a jukebox and it can be a little rowdy and it’s not all about Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood—

MH:  –no cellphones–

BF:  –yeah, exactly, like you have to respect the people around you, don’t come in and bug every girl at the bar, sometimes we have to check people but there’s no list of rules.

MH:  Yeah.

BF:  So you’re seeing that dive bar mentality come back, but with raised, elevated bar programs.

MH:  Another thing you can say about the industry now is people have realized that longevity in this business is a tough thing to come by, so when you’re running a business or you’re working in a place, it’s like, Hey, do things the right way, take care of people the right way, otherwise you’re not gonna be here long.

BF:  We’ve been lucky, we’ve been real lucky here for sure.

MH:  Yeah.

SS:  We were talking about Speed Rack earlier, so let’s talk about women in this industry. It’s obviously very male dominated.

BF:  Sure.

MH:  It’s a boys club.

SS:  And yet the clientele is fairly mixed, women like to go to bars just as much as men do.

MH:  Oh yeah.

SS: Is it getting easier, do you think, for women to–to get into all the areas of this business?

BF: Women in this industry right now are doing amazing things all across the country, like Ivy Mix with Leyenda and of course Julie Reiner with Clover Club and–and Reiner, but while there are some really, really amazing women on the forefront of this industry, it’s still very male dominated.

MH:  Yeah.

BF:  But in this city we’re of a very open mind.

MH:  Yeah, San Francisco’s in it’s own little realm–

BF:  –and I would say it’s getting to the point where if you’re good at what you do, people notice.  I definitely think that we’re seeing a lot more female bartenders, but—

MH:  Women inevitably do have to work a little bit harder to prove themselves, any kind of weakness in their performance behind the bar will get judged a little harsher, and the misogyny is definitely a big thing in this country. I’d like to be positive and have a good outlook on where things are going, but I still think there needs to be a complete non-sexualization of people’s roles, you know. The women have to put up with a different level of shit. So more guys have to stand up for women and let people know: You don’t talk that way, we don’t need that kind of behavior. The social norms have to be changed, and I think bars are a great place to start, that rhetoric needs to start in a bar.  I think we have a large responsibility in the service industry to—

BF:  –set new standards.

MH:  Yeah, set new standards.

SS:  I feel like all female bartenders should have yellow cards–

MH:  Yeah!

SS: First time he does something sketchy, he gets the yellow card–

BF:  If you get the red, you’re gone.

SS:   Exactly. So how many times a week does somebody come in with something that they want you to carry?

MH:  You get approached a lot and I think we’re lucky in the sense we’ve built up some really good relationships with the people that sell us stuff, you know, they’re excited to bring it in and show it to us, and when you have people approaching you like that, it’s really fun.

BF:  Yeah, I mean, I’ve been a buyer for quite a while now, probably 10 years or so, and one thing I’ve learned is be really straightforward and don’t bullshit.

MH:  Yeah.

BF:  The first few years, I did a lot of bullshitting, like, “Let me work on that, maybe I’ll bring that in,” and now I I don’t want to waste your time. It’s just like management skills, right, like the first time you have to fire someone it’s really difficult, and then it gets easier every time. Buying is like that. I probably put my foot in my mouth a couple times. I remember with a Mezcal brand, I told the guy the label looked like it should have been on the back of like a dirt bike in the X Games, you know–

MH:  –an Ed Hardy t-shirt–

BF:  –yeah, I said it looked like an Ed Hardy t-shirt, and I didn’t realize this guy was the developer of the brand

MH:  I remember when I first met Jonathan, with you guys, he had come in with 2 guys from Wine Warehouse, and they had come wandering in and they said, “Hey, we got this new thing, we’re kind of thinking about bringing it out, we thought we’d bring it by you guys and see if you liked it,” you know, so that’s kind of fun, when you’re a part of their process as well.

BF:  In the past I’ve had people coming in three, four time a week, but we don’t really get that that much anymore. When people do swing by, usually it’s with a good purpose, they know that they’re gonna have something we’re interested in.

MH:  There’s some back-scratching for sure, but that’s the dance, because there’s gonna be times when we’re gonna need something from them–

BF:  Yep.

MH:  –and when there’s a good rapport, there’s a trust, those are the relationships we want. And in this industry, you’re always within a couple degrees of separation on things, so you gotta mind your P’s and Q’s, you know, really.

So we never try to burn any bridges, but we also try not to bullshit people either.

SS:  In terms of brands and categories, what’s the last thing you want to see another example of?

MH:  Well, you know my answer–Mezcal.

BF:  Yeah, yeah, that’s–yeah. I love Mezcal but–

MH:  I love it too, but it’s just flooded, here comes another overly-praised–

BF:  –hundred dollar bottle–

MH:  –that no one’s ever going to fucking order.

SS:  Right. And you can’t put it on the menu ‘cause it’s too expensive.

BF:  I think for us, the stuff that we really like seeing come in are modifiers, right? Like vermouths to amaros to liqueurs, cause a lot of that is really where–

MH:  Cognacs, brandies–

BF:  –you’re gonna add all of your flavors–

MH:  –stuff that’s a little more exotic, you know–

BF:  Yeah.

MH:  –different piscos, you know, eau de vies, we get really excited about eau de vies–

BF:  Yeah–aquavit, all this kind of stuff–

MH:  Yeah, yeah.  The foreign stuff that you don’t see all the time.  Those are the things I get really excited about. Things that innately have a story.

SS:  Right. Can you imagine yourselves moving into something completely different?  Or is this what you like doing?

MH:  Yeah, I mean if you get into the dream stuff, you know, I want to start putting together more creative projects, maybe going back and getting an MFA. One thing I have been seriously thinking about is getting into distilling. I love traveling, and I think that if I could do more of that, spirits seem to be a good reason to travel, you know, it’s fun to travel with spirits in mind. But I definitely think having a little more worldliness and possibly moving into actually making a spirit, going through the challenge of that, or even just apprenticing some place, learning another nuance of that, and figuring out a way to tie things together, start bringing music, art and whatever else is going on. Be more like a cultural attache, or a liaison of some sort.  That kind of stuff excites me.

BF:  I always wanted to be big fish in a big pond, right, so you’ve gotta be in New York, you gotta be in San Francisco, and once we get to that point where I feel good with what we’ve done here, I would love to go back and do something on a smaller scale. I’m from New Mexico, and the longer I’m in the city, the more I realize eventually I’ll probably want to get the hell out and some land somewhere.  And taking what we’ve learned here and bringing it to Middle America, take it to another place where maybe they don’t have it yet.

MH:  We always talk, Brian and I, so you catch us next week, we might have a whole ‘nother answer for you.  And I think that’s why I really like working with Brian, we’re always scheming on something, like could we open a bar on the rooftop of a place in Tokyo?

BF:  Yeah.

MH:  Who do we know there, how would that happen? That’s the kind of stuff that we’re always looking at, and then we talk them out and then we figure out which ones stink.

SS:  Right. So who is Benjamin Cooper?

MH:  This is Benjamin Cooper, right here (indicates photo on wall).  You’re looking at him.  So Benjamin Cooper was born May 8th, 1885, in New York, and eventually he went to law school in Philadelphia, where he got kicked out, something happened with the Dean’s son, he broke up a fight, he was being inappropriate with women, and he ended up beating the crap out of the Dean’s son, got thrown out, then ends up running whiskey from Pennsylvania out to the middle of the country, and then he ended up on a riverboat, up and down the Mississippi, he was a card dealer, that’s where he learned to play cards, so he was known to be pretty good card guy, actually got shot at a few times for it. He ended up in New Orleans where he met Leona Palomino. They married in 3 days, she was working in like a cabaret thing, he kind of rescued from it, and they fled out to New Mexico, where she was from.  So she was actually from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  And her family had a big, big ranch out there, so they went out there and they learned all these old traditions and stuff, they were pretty like cosmic for their time. They ended up in Reno, but got ran out of town, because Benjamin set up a 3-day long card game and he took all the money basically, so he got shot at on his way out of town. They moved to San Francisco and then ended up living above this place called Frank Delafor’s, this old bar, probably around this neighborhood somewhere, this is right before the earthquake.  So they got free rent for cleaning the bar, they would do maintenance at the bar and stuff every night. [clears throat] And then Leona got pregnant, with what would be their first son,  so they moved to the Bolinas area, to get out of the city, ‘cause she was pregnant and she was having troubles with it.  So, right after the son was born, the earthquake happened and Frank was killed in the earthquake, and little did they know Frank had willed the bar to them. They moved back down here, rebuilt the place, reopened it, delightfully called it Frank’s in an homage to their guy.  And then war breaks out, you know, World War I, and Benjamin was older, so he got fast-tracked to an officer role, and he saved some general at the Battle of Belleau Wood, like jumped in front of something, so he won some Bronze Star or something over there, comes back and the bar was doing a lot of stuff for the veterans and stuff like that, so really ingratiated in the community, so Benjamin eventually started running for City Council at one point, and then the temperance movement happened, you know, after the war, and there was a big, big protest, a fight broke out between these people and he got caught in the middle, gets hit by the street car, goes into a coma, and then eventually dies on the day Prohibition’s enacted.  So this bar is dedicated to him.

SS:   Wow.

MF:  Now, I should tell you, that is a fictional story.

SS:   Ah.

BF:          But that’s the story.

MH:  That’s the story you read on our website, but really, it’s Benjamin which is my mother’s maiden name, and Cooper which is his mother’s maiden name.  And we said, “Hey, that sounds like a guy.  We should probably have some folklore.”

BF:  So that whole story was made up.

MH:  And then we needed a photo, we were trying to find a picture, and eventually I was like, you know, what if someone walks in and says, “That’s my grandfather!” you know, so, my parents have the original of this in their house, that’s my great-great-great grandfather, it’s like 1860’s or so, that’s Benjamin Franklin Logan

BF:  We actually had a historian, a local historian–

MH:  A guy that wrote a book called Drinking the Devil’s Acre.

BF:  He came in and he had a couple Chardonnays in him–

MH:  –he’s getting a little pissed off, ‘cause he was like, “My book just got past its final edit, and it’s going to print—”

BF: “—and I’ve never heard of this guy.”

MH: “How the hell did I miss HIM?” And he believed it up until the last paragraph–

BF:  [laughs]

MH:  –he’s like, you had me on everything.

BF:  Yeah, he came in later and that was the first thing, he was like, you motherfuckers, you had me! [laughs]

MH: Our new spot, that was kind of it, as well.  We had gone through a few different working kind of names and then since the hotel’s called the Tilden Hotel, after the Tilden family, which were a pretty big family out here and most importantly, they had a son named Douglas Tilden who was kind of the father of California sculpture.  He did a lot of sculptures, bronze casting around here–

BF:  Deaf mute.

MH:  –he was a deaf mute sculptor.  Pretty amazing guy.  So, we decided this one was for the mothers, we’re gonna make this one for the more patriarch side, his dad’s name’s Doug, so we called it the Douglas Room. The Tilden family has a really cool story, this is actually a real story, I’m not bullshitting you here–the Tilden family, when they were coming across, they’re in a group of about 11 parties that got to Truckee, which is just, you know, right by Tahoe, they got to Truckee and Chief Truckee, the native there, said, “All right, don’t go that way, you should follow me, I’ll take you on a safe passage.  South.  It’s gonna take a lot longer, but you’re not gonna go through the Sierras here, you’re gonna go south.”  So, eight parties decided to follow him, the Tilden family was in of those eight parties. Made it safe–

SS:  They survived.

MH:  –made it safely.  These other 3 were of the name Donner–

SS:  Uh-oh…

BF:  Yes.

MH:  So they should have listened. Good lesson on that one.  So I’d like to incorporate that story into the place, a bar is a great, great place for history to be told in this whispered-down-the-lane kind of way.

SS:  Right.

MH: The oral tradition of history should live in a bar, for sure.

Profiles in Pourage Volume I Jim Meehan

A Singani63 Edition
63 West Hudson Street
New York, N.Y.

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Profiles in Pourage Volume II Tiffany Short

A Singani63 Edition
63 West Hudson Street
New York, N.Y.

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Profiles in Pourage Volume III Rael Petit

A Singani63 Edition
63 West Hudson Street
New York, N.Y.

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Profiles in Pourage Volume IV Ivy Mix

A Singani63 Edition
63 West Hudson Street
New York, N.Y.

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Profiles in Pourage Volume V Mo Hodges Brian Felley

A Singani63 Edition
63 West Hudson Street
New York, N.Y.

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actually, no, i’m not interested, take me back to where i came from. NOW!