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Garlic Gone Baby

Several years ago we rented a farm house to a couple new to the area. Ironically the man’s father-in-law had just purchased our property in Hopland, making it possible for us to purchase the small acreage plus the house in Healdsburg. We planted the small property into grapes.

The tenant had a boat stored in our equipment shed, which I had approved. One day he came to me saying that some friends needed a place to store their boat and could they store it in the equipment shed also.  I tried to avoid his question by saying that I would think about it.

The next visit to the property, behold, there was the friend’s boat, put in the shed right next to the tenants boat. I contacted the tenant and he explained that the friends arrived at his home towing the boat in the rain. He certainly did not want their boat to get rained on. The boat was owned by two guys named Steve and Guy. And they were going to open a restaurant here in Santa Rosa named Johnnie Garlics on Farmers Lane.

Well, I was not pleased. But there was a second garage I owned that was on the property a few yards away facing Bailhache Avenue. The boat could go in there. My tenant assured me that I would receive ample compensation for the intrusion of the boat.

I soon met the boat owners, Steve and Guy. Very nice guys and they invited me to try their food as often as I could, of course complimentary.

The first store was a success. Soon after came a store in Windsor, then Petaluma, and a second store in Santa Rosa called Tex Wasabi opened up. Steve was a natural looking guy, but Guy had a progressive haircut and lots of flash. Steve, the business man stayed in the background. Guy went on TV and soon became a food icon. He added more progressive clothes, jingles and plugs. Guy’s name became a household word for food. He stared in a regular TV show titled, “Diners, Dives, and Drive Inn’s”, authored books, sold silverware, and T shirts, and opened a restaurant in New York.

About this time Steve added a catering business for fiestas, fairs, and other occasions. This necessitated food trailers, a couple of equipment trailers, a steam cleaning trailer, and a motor home. By this time we had purchased the adjacent property and had left a small area for loading the grapes.  So all of the trailers were stored in that space. Steve assured me all the equipment would be removed during harvest. The reality was that I moved it out to the road for a couple of days. Out of the way.

I continued to enjoy some food from their restaurants. All of this became a concern when an article in the local PD indicated not all was well at the Garlic. I called Steve and indeed there was a division in the works. Not to worry.  I would be all well with the Garlic.  However, one by one the catering trailers began disappearing. Within months all that was left on my property was the boat which was in the second garage.

The PD again listed Garlics in their editorial giving them a thumbs down. I quickly wrote a letter to the editor indicating they should have a thumbs up for dividing up the property peacefully.  Steve had stayed behind and ran the business while Guy continued with his stardom.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that Steve had closed both Farmers Lane and Windsor Garlics. Petaluma was closed several years ago. Garlic had been open twenty years. Tex Washabi is still open downtown, as well as several restaurants in other cities.

But there is no Garlic in Santa Rosa.  I got no great detailed explanation from Steve. I certainly had nothing to do with the decision. I will miss being able to go in and get pro bono food. But most of all I have had a great lifetime experience because, “I was there when it started”.

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