The Owl Grill & Saloon closes its doors |

The Owl Grill & Saloon closes its doors

Tyler Stewart said he found The Owl Grill & Saloon filled with trash and broken bottles when he arrived early Tuesday.
Submitted to The Union |

An employee of The Owl Grill & Saloon in downtown Grass Valley for almost eight years, Tyler Stewart hoped to find the landlord the morning after the restaurant closed for the last time.

He approached the Mill Street business around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday and found the doors unlocked, Stewart said.

“The place was trashed,” he added. “Water was left running. I turned the water off, that way it wouldn’t flood.”

On Wednesday a yellow sign that states “Owl Tavern is Closed” was taped to the front of the building, signaling an end to a business that has existed in some form since the mid-1800s.

News of the business’ closure circulated quickly on social media, which included photos of broken bottles and trash scattered through the building. A Facebook post purportedly from Melissa Graham, The Owl’s manager, claims responsibility for the condition of the business.

“My heart goes out to those that are now out of jobs and I truly wish I could have told you sooner,” the post states. “We loved the Owl, we love this community and I’m so very sorry I let you all down. I really want to do everything I possibly can to set things right … at least as right as they can be.”

According to Grass Valley police, the issue is a civil matter.

“It was determined the owners damaged their own property and were allowed to be in the building,” Lt. Joe Matteoni said, adding that there appears to be no damage to the building itself. “Several bottles were broken and items thrown on the ground.”

Neither Melissa Graham nor her father, owner Steve Graham, could be reached for comment.

The building’s owner, Hoot Venture LLC, also couldn’t be reached.

“It’s going to be a civil issue, if anything, between The Owl and the owners of the building,” Matteoni said.

The building was constructed in 1857 after the Great Grass Valley Fire burned the town’s business district. Originally used as “Montgomery’s Bank,” the building was sold in 1883 to Patrick S. Murphy, the saloon’s first owner, who named it “The Bank Exchange Saloon” in 1887, records state.

At some point the business became “The Owl Tavern,” as it never closed and served miners during the Gold Rush at all hours of the day.

Joe and Tom Blight took control of the bar sometime after 1907. The business soon began serving food, steamed beer, hot beef sandwiches and liquor.

The business continued to change hands over the decades, with Steve Graham becoming its latest owner in 2012. At the time he said he intended to stay.

Now without a job, Stewart on Wednesday said he’d already distributed some resumes and filed for unemployment.

“I’ve got more resumes I’m dropping off today,” he added. “Just trying to find something.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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