State of the union: Grass Valley’s 151 Union Station to close its doors |

State of the union: Grass Valley’s 151 Union Station to close its doors

Union 151 owner Dana Milner serves a beer to a customer last week. Milner says the business will close but hopes it can reopen at another location under a different owner.
Elias Funez/

Fans and patrons of 151 Union Station in Grass Valley will be disappointed to learn that the popular beer/wine bar and music venue will close June 8.

A while back, Dana Milner was taking stock of his life and realized one important thing was lacking: he missed his family.

After owning and operating bar/music venue 151 Union Station downtown Grass Valley for four years, Milner said he realized the years are passing quickly, and he wanted to do normal things, like hang out with his two children on the weekend.

Milner and his wife Michelle made the tough decision to close the business and sell to someone who would carry on the tradition of libations and live music.

Preparations were underway for Teresa and Ryan Thomas to purchase the business and move in as soon as the Milner’s had vacated. The Thomas’ even had a name picked out for the business: The Pour House.

As it often does, fate intervened.

The owner of the building where 151 Union Station resides announced that he, too, was tired of owning a business and was going to sell the building to Eileen Hancock, owner of Body Balance Academy, a martial arts and wellness studio that has occupied the second floor of the Union building since 2007.

“I talked to (Hancock) about three and a half weeks ago,” said Milner. “And we just needed a verbal (agreement) so we could continue, because she doesn’t own the building yet. And she said, ‘yes I will do a two-year lease and then we’ll go from there.’”

According to Milner, however, Hancock decided to expand Body Balance into the downstairs level, which 151 Union Station currently occupies. It became clear to Milner that their deal to sell to the Thomas’ was an unlikelihood.

“It was a shock to us and kind of bad timing, so we were very worried,” said Milner. “I don’t want to bash them. They’re good people and I respect them. I wish them well, but next step is what do we do now?”

The Thomas’ have already started looking for a new location in which to open The Pour House.

“We don’t have a business to buy,” said Teresa Thomas. “We were buying the use of the space, the liquor license … unfortunately that part is over. We still want to open a similar business.”

Thomas said although they were surprised by the decision and have had to scramble to reorganize, she understands that sometimes, as they say, these things happen.

“The new owners have every right and we wish them well,” she continued. “Buying a building takes a lot of work. We’re frustrated, but not with them.”

Hancock guarantees the newly expanded studio will be an asset to downtown Grass Valley and the community at large.

Offering Tai Chi, Martial Arts, Kung Fu, Yoga and other classes, Body Balance exists to “help everyone achieve the benefits of lifelong health, regardless of age or fitness level.”

“We are very excited,” said Hancock of the expansion. “I loved the building from the minute I set foot in here, and asked the owner then if he would consider selling it. It was a dream. It’s a lifelong goal coming to fruition.”

Body Balance’s current location will remain open over the summer while the renovation of the building takes place. Hancock isn’t sure when they will be able to announce a grand re-opening but is looking forward to helping people in the community achieve healthy bodies and minds.

“Everyone feels something in this space,” Hancock said. “People walk up the stairs and take a deep breath and just feel something special.”

In the meantime Milner and his wife are making peace with all that has transpired, and are willing to help the Thomas’ find someplace to call their business home to the best of their ability.

“If they do find a new location we are willing to renegotiate our terms of the sale to help them move this equipment over,” Milner said. “If it doesn’t work out, then we liquidate everything and more than likely my wife and I will have to file for bankruptcy. It’s just unfortunate.”

The Milner’s aren’t going quietly, however. A post on 151 Union Square’s Facebook page announces a good-bye party, taking place June 8. They see this as an opportunity to thank their loyal fans and patrons.

“We’re kind of known as the venue for live music on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Milner said. “We’ve been very consistent with that, and to see that go away is frustrating. It’s sad.”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at or 530-477-4231.

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