Mountain Charley's Rebirthed

Joe Farwell, the son of the saloon's original owner, has turned this remodel into a labor of love.

The remodel of is a labor of love for new owner Joe Farwell.

His father, Jim, opened the legendary downtown watering hole in 1972.

Farwell grew up "running around in the bar."

It when its owner, Erik Garcia, the brother of convicted murderer Esequiel Paul Garcia, could no longer stay in business.

Prior to the Garcia family taking ownership of the business, it was operated by the late Mark Achilli, murdered in March of 2008 by a hit man hired by a , according to authorities.

Farwell, who worked for Achilli as a bartender for seven years, is acutely aware of the bar's star-crossed history and said he's ready to move on from it.

"I'm reluctant to talk about [the murder]," he said. "I just want to move in a positive direction."

With a top to bottom renovation and remodel, Farwell is off to a good start.

"Nothing significant has been done to that space in nearly 40 years," he said of the just-over-3,000 square foot property. "For lack of a better term, the space has been rode hard and put away wet. It was a disaster in there."

Farwell's wife, Lara, said that the changes have been both cosmetic and structural.

"We've changed the heating, the pipes. The bathrooms used to be pink," she said. "We started around Christmas time and are still going."

In addition to upgrades and new installations, including a new back-and-under bar, Farwell has also brought out the space's original brick facade.

The plan was to open Mountain Charley's today, Friday, but hang-ups with fire and health inspectors have tentatively pushed opening day to next Friday, March 30.

Farwell is anxious to get the bar operational. He's poured a "significant" amount of money into the renovations, more than double what he initially thought.

His family owns the La Canada building that houses the bar, making him both a landlord and a renter.

"I had to convince my family to lease me the space, which was a little bit more difficult than I thought it would be," he said. "But they did. They took a leap of faith with me and here we are just trying to open the doors."

As he's breathed new life into Mountain Charley's, Farwell's family has seen that the place just might work, he said.

He's keeping the same theme that his father first incarnated; an early 1900s saloon. Staff will "look the part," dressed in floppy bowties and corsets.

"It will be interesting to see how people respond to it," Farwell said. "They may like or they may think, 'Boy, these guys are trying way too hard.' If that's the case, we'll change it, but that's how we are going to start because that's how it started back in the day."

The space will have a 185-person capacity and feature regular live bands, DJs and dancing. While it won't serve food beyond bar snacks, Farwell said patrons are welcome to bring in meals from surrounding restaurants.

Despite riding the roller coaster of emotions that come with opening a new business, Farwell said that the reason for his blood, sweat and tears is never far from his mind.

"I need to remind myself that it really is all about my dad," he said. "This is a piece of him. It's a piece of his legacy in town."

Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz March 23, 2012 at 03:53 PM
MT. Charlies coming back? Are you kidding me? This is GREAT NEWS!
Maury Nelson March 23, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Joe and Jason were both in my class at Daves Avenue. Great young men. Good luck Joe and welcome back Mt. Charlies. Maury Nelson
justin smith March 23, 2012 at 11:30 PM
How terrific! Jack McNamara and I were partners with Jim. I have so many fond memories. To this date I hold Jim in high esteem. He was a wonderful man and I miss him dearly. Good luck Joe. You will do great Justin Smith
Jim M. March 28, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I helped Jim F, Justin, Jack Mc, Jock McCoy, Jim Bacigalupi, Peter F, Cousin Richard and a cast of thousands build and operate the original Mt. Charley's in the 1970s. I remember Joe running around the place with mother in hot pursuit. Great times and great people. We were blessed. Thank you for undertaking this great task of renewal. I wish you well and will come visit in the future. Jim M.
Mary Pratte January 04, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Back in 1972 my then boy friend asked me to marry him and here we are 40 years later. Tom and I have fond memories of Mountain Charley's. Wishing you the best of luck and would love to see it again. Even though we would stick out like a sore thumb because we are now in our mid 60's. Mary


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