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Business community helps Shady Lady staff

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As downtown’s Shady Lady Saloon undergoes a voluntary 10-day suspension of its alcohol license, owners are helping their 32 employees find work until the bar can reopen May 20.

When the establishment opened two years ago, a liquor license was obtained under the names of the three owners, Jason Boggs, Garrett Van Vleck and Alex Origoni. When the business was renamed Shady Lady Inc., the owners didn’t clear it with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Boggs said.

“Unbeknownst to us, you can’t do that,” he said Friday, three days after the bar’s closure for the license suspension.

Lori Ajax, district administrator for ABC’s Sacramento and Yuba district offices, said the violation is twofold – one for operating under a business name without notifying ABC and also for changing license ownership within a two-year period (a violation of a condition of its issuance).

“We thought it was a fair penalty,” Ajax said, adding that it is less than the normal penalty of a 10-day indefinite suspension until the paperwork clears and ownership is transferred, which can take a long time. “Basically, what we’re looking for is compliance, and they are complying.”

But for the 10-day period the 1409 R St. business is closed, the 32 employees can’t go to their jobs at the saloon.

That’s when, according to bartender Travis Kavanaugh, the owners did what they could to help the staff find work at other establishments.

Kavanaugh said multiple other restaurants have opened their doors to Shady Lady employees, a fact he attributed to Shady Lady owners’ efforts.

From 2-7 p.m. Sunday, Shady Lady bartenders will guest bartend at Tequila Museo Mayahuel, 1200 K St., for an event with Tequila Fortaleza.

“The owners will help bartend, and all that money and proceeds are being distributed to the staff,” Kavanaugh said, adding that he is thankful for it. “What company does that?”

At 8 p.m. Sunday, Shady Lady bartenders, including Kavanaugh, will be guest-bartending at Dive Bar, 1022 K St.

On Monday, Boggs will bartend at The Golden Bear in Midtown, 2326 K St., starting at 3 p.m. and give his tips to the Shady Lady Saloon staff.

Boggs said the whole central city restaurant community has opened up with support.

“Randy Paragary called me and gave me a pep talk,” he said with a smile.

Mulvaney’s B&L, 1215 19th St., is using Shady Lady Saloon’s kitchen and employing Shady Lady cooks to cater a wedding on Saturday, said Mulvaney’s Catering Chef and Kitchen Manager Robb Venditti.

“We’re trying to make use of a perfectly good kitchen and throw a few dollars in their cooks’ pockets,” he said.

According to Kavanaugh, the staff had time to plan ahead, since they were told 10 days before the suspension period what was coming.

“I’m good with my money, so I’ll be OK,” he said, adding that he plans to go camping.

Boggs said the business will be OK as well, but it’s still a big deal.

“It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “Contrary to what a lot of people think, there’s not a lot of profit in the restaurant business. We’ll definitely be running on fumes when we reopen, but we’re not going to close down or anything.”

In the two years the business has been open, it has seen its share of wear and tear, so Boggs said some minor renovations will be done before May 20.

“I’m refinishing the bar myself,” he said, adding that there will also be some repainting and a couple more benches installed in the front.

“It’s only two years old, but it’s seen some use,” he said.

Boggs, Kavanaugh and Ajax all confirmed that there was nothing happening at the bar in violation of ABC regulations other than the name it was operating under.

No alcohol was sold to minors, and no drugs were being dealt on the premises, Boggs and Kavanaugh said, referring to an incorrect sign that originally went up and was later removed.

The ABC did put the restaurant on a form of probation a year and a half ago, Ajax said, when one of the owners was caught with a controlled substance – but not at the business.

“One of the partners got pulled over and had a little bit of illegal substance on him,” Boggs said. “It’s got nothing to do with (the 10-day suspension) at all.”

Shady Lady Saloon owners are currently working on a restaurant in Galt called Brewster’s, which will be a dinner house, Boggs said. It is scheduled to open in two weeks.

Check The Sacramento Press next week for more information on Brewster’s.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell. 

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