Meet Your Merchant: Bar’s piece of history forges new memories |

Meet Your Merchant: Bar’s piece of history forges new memories

The lunch rush regulars at Tailgator’s Sports Bar and Grill belly up to a historic piece of furniture, but they don’t seem to notice.

Peeking out from under their hats at any of several screens showing sports behind the bar, they go about the business of polishing off a cold one and shucking peanuts.

But the bar itself, the slab of wood that gives their brew-hoisting arms a reprieve, holds a story all its own.

Co-owner Vic Hadley himself built the “oldest newest bar in town,” as he calls it, before the business opened on Nevada City Highway in Grass Valley a year and a half ago.

After a 180-plus year-old redwood tree was felled in downtown Grass Valley in 2005, Hadley got hold of the wood, finished it and built it on top of the existing bar at their Nevada City Highway location.

“It’s a little bit of history right here,” Hadley said.

He didn’t build the bar to be admired, though, Hadley said, but rather as a place where folks could gather to watch a game and bring their families to have a good time.

“We got into this business because we wanted to have a place to watch NASCAR or NFL games,” Hadley said. “My brother and I each coached Little League for a lot of years, so we love having families around.”

A San Francisco 49ers and Giants fan and Dale Earnhart Jr. loyalist, Hadley said he wanted a place in Grass Valley for all sorts of sports fans.

“We probably get a fan from every team here. (Green Bay) Packers fans come in with their cheese heads,” he said, glancing over at a wall of memorabilia from a variety of sports, while a tennis match plays out on the television.

“During the football playoffs, we have half the bar cheering for one team and half for the other,” Hadley added. “It’s fun.”

From buying NASCAR and NFL subscriptions to hosting special NFL breakfasts for the early games, Hadley said he tries to cater to his customers.

But even for sports enthusiasts, the recession of the last year has taken a toll.

“It’s been extremely tough,” Hadley said. “If you don’t have those guys out there making money, they aren’t going to come in after work with their families.”

The lunch crowd Thursday seemed steady, though, and Hadley pointed to one of the more memorable moments from the restaurant’s short history.

A photo of a man shaking hands with Hadley and his brother sits adjacent to the bar. Joe Bowman, a Grass Valley resident, finished off a 6-pound burger in one hour and seven minutes, fries and all.

“If you can finish it faster than he did, you’ll get it free,” Hadley said, laughing.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User