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Surprised??? Glitch at Mt. Charley’s, opening stalled

March 22, 2012

Considering the number of false starts recently at the local hostelries ; the Cat’s, Gardino’s, so on and so forth, Mountain Charley’s IS NOT going to open tomorrow (Friday) after all.  The details aren’t important, some paper work got screwed up.  Joe Farwell told me to push it back a week, but it might be sooner.  I’ll get the word out and I won’t succumb to rumors.  I get the word from the real guy, the owner and operator, Joesph Farwell, not from someone who heard  from someone who heard from someone.  If you haven’t heard, I hate rumors.

I beginning to realize that people who didn’t live in the Los Gatos area in the 1970s probably have no idea why we are watching the Mt. Charley’s opening with so much attentiveness.  It’s only a bar, after all, and my personal interest could be explained by my close friendship with the original owner, Jim Farwell, and the fact that I was General Manager of the place for a couple of years.   But there is more to it than that.

Jim Farwell is a descendent of the one of the founders of Los Gatos.  His family owns the building that Mt. Charley’s occupies.  After graduating from Santa Clara University he had the vision of a rustic but upscale “turn of the century” style restaurant and bar.  He knew nothing of the of the restaurant or the bar businesses, but he knew lots about Los Gatos history.    He engaged two groups of friends to build his image, the locals living in Los Gatos and in the surrounding mountains, and his more recent friends he graduated with from Santa Clara University.  These two divergent groups of young adults merged to build this very unique and vibrant new business.  Pre-law graduates took up hammers, saws and carpenter’s belts and rebuilt the derelict top floor of the Canada Building.  Mountain men learned how to build custom designed redwood furniture.  It was a common effort with a common goal.

Once Jim’s bar and restaurant were finished, the builders of the place didn’t move on to other jobs.  Nope.  They were all friends of Jim’s and they stayed on and learned to cook the great food their place was built to serve.  They picked up guitars and banjos and fiddles and stayed on to make their own music to entertain  Saloon patrons and they learned how to pour drinks to lighten the mood in the place they just finished dressing out.  They stayed on for years, and broadened their good will so it reached out past their business into town itself.  As these Mt. Charley’s originators eventually went on to take up their professional careers, their younger brothers and sisters came to Charley’s to maintain the good traditions and family identity now established there.

Think of it this way; you and your friends build a huge play house, and it looks great and it’s warm and comfy, and then you take it a little more seriously and you find you can make a decent living, a living working with your friends in the nice place you guys just built.  And you make people happy while you are doing it.  Could there ever be anything closer to the Emerald City in the land of Oz???   This was the ultimate extended family.

Straight people have their fraternities and service clubs to hold close and dear through all of their more mundane, older years.  We have Mt. Charley’s early days, our cherished years, to hold close.  And now it’s been resurrected.  This is much better than a 30 year reunion.

Wouldn’t you get a little giddy if your fraternity house was resurrected?

Give us a break!









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One Comment
  1. Dave Dowell permalink

    Thanks for the nice trip down Memory Lane back to Mountain Charley’s. Although I wasn’t there on opening day in 1972, I worked there for little over a year starting in the Spring of 1973 as the “little guy” door-kid and (sometimes) bouncer. Most nights I worked the door/floor with Bob Tobin and Fred Lavaroni, who’s idea of a good laugh was to send me in to break up a scuffle so they could see how long I lasted before they came to the rescue! I was ‘only’ 5’11 at about 215 to their much larger shadows! Johhny Hannegan was behind the bar and Jim Farwell was everywhere! Those were great days, starting with a delicious ‘staff dinner’, a fun shift with super people and music, and maybe a San Miguel Dark (or 2) after closing. Will be in Los Gatos this weekend (July 13th-14th) and can’t wait to drop in one more time!

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