Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Padre Hotel reopens on an $18 million bet on downtown Bakersfield

 * ... WELCOME BACK PADRE: The historic Padre Hotel reopens today (Monday) after an $18 million bet that downtown Bakersfield can support a first class hotel and restaurant. I had a chance over the weekend to spend a few hours with the two principal owners, Brett Miller and Graham Downes, both entrepreneurs who have put their own capital at risk here. (their photo is below, Miller on the right) Downes is an architect from Durban, South Africa, who made it to the United States via professional rugby. Miller is originally from Visalia, graduated  from San Diego State (Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity) and has a long history in the hotel and restaurant business. Both live in San Diego and collaborated on Tower23, a sleek boutique hotel on Pacific Beach. (view its website here) Miller is also owner of Moondoggies (view its website here) and Gringo's restaurants in San Diego. This is their largest investment together and it has been a huge undertaking, and the results are stunning. I think our community is ready for the Padre, but Miller and Downes must be careful about the tone their multiple bars set and try to avoid the rougher late night crowd that has brought bad publicity to other downtown eateries. A couple of ugly incidents could scare off the demographic they need to succeed and cause irreparable harm. If they can do that - while providing good service and food - they will be a hit.

 * ... ANCHORS AWEIGH: Reader Wayland Louie wrote to correct me in my reference to the Navy fight song  "Anchors Aweigh" at the funeral for Claude Fiddler, the retired Chevron geologist and Navy veteran. "Your updates on Mr. Fiddler's services were helpful. I must mention though ... you said one of his granddaughters sang 'Anchors Away' at his service. I believe you meant to say she sang 'Anchors Aweigh." Naval personnel and boaters 'weigh' anchor... If you look at the song lyrics for each title, you will see that one definitely is not a naval song." I stand corrected.

* ... MAIN DRAIN ROAD: Local farmer Dick Porter sent me a humorous email noting that only in Kern County would we have roads with names like Brown Material Road and Main Drain Road, "and they don't even intersect!"

 * ... PARKING WOES? Reader Janice Holder wrote regarding the rumor that Trader Joe's may be thinking of moving to a larger facility on Rosedale Highway (a report the company says is not true.) Holder said she has "a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's. Love the store, hate the parking.  The parking spaces must be the absolute minimum size.  Love to park at Sam's Club, Kohls etc. on South Gosford.  Large, roomy parking spaces.  If you haven't been there, you should check it out.  Many vehicles are so large that minimum sized parking spots are no longer practical.  And while we're at it, how hard can it be to take your shopping cart to the designated storage areas?  I've seen perfectly "fit" people just push the cart up in between the cars and drive off leaving it to be some one else's problem.
 "On another note, I often affectionately refer to Bakersfield as "Bakerspatch."  We have Weedpatch and Pumpkin Center.  Why not  Bakerspatch?   Can't be all that bad, I'm a transplant from the mid west and have stayed here for some 55 plus years.  I have many great memories here."  Thanks for the note, Janice.

No comments: