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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 10th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 31

One door closes, another opens


An institution in Guadalupe for more than 50 years, Far Western Tavern was host to its last dinner at the historic Palace Hotel on Oct. 7.

The closure is only temporary, however, as the restaurant’s staff will be moving into its new home at 300 Clark Ave. in Old Town Orcutt, which is on track to open for lunch on Oct. 29.

The Santa Maria Town Center, which has struggled to keep tenants in recent years, has been sold, the Sun learned on Oct. 8. Town Center spokeswoman Amber Lease confirmed that the mall has found a new buyer, but wouldn’t elaborate on the transaction. The new owners weren’t disclosed as of press time. Seller Greg Kozak and his partnership group Town Center Street Scape have owned the mall since 2008. The group has spent millions of dollars on improvements and attempted a series of renovations, also bringing in locally owned businesses—such as Central City Market, the SLO Grind coffee shop, and One Way Boardshop—in an effort to increase foot traffic. A 14-screen movie theater planned for the empty Gottschalk’s department store has yet to materialize.

Third-generation co-owner Renee Righetti-Fowler, whose grandparents Clarence and Rosalie Minetti established the restaurant in 1958, said the transition is exciting, but it was difficult to leave the old building behind.

“It was a little more emotional than I had prepared myself for,” Righetti-Fowler explained. “Our family has had lots of memories in that building. … It was very bittersweet, but we’ll always have those memories there, and we’re looking forward to creating some new ones in Orcutt.”

Over the next few weeks, Righetti-Fowler said, Far Western staff will be busy ordering groceries, stocking the kitchen and pantry, and putting last-minute finishing touches on the new location.

“It’s moving right along. I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made in the past several weeks,” Righetti-Fowler said. “We’re getting there, but we need the extra time during this transition to be ready.”

Built over 20 months by head contractor Berto van Veen and Halsell Builders, the Old Town Orcutt Far Western Tavern won’t be entirely unfamiliar to regular customers. Furnishings carried over from the Guadalupe incarnation include its antique mahogany bar, Clarence Minetti’s cowhide curtains, and a hand-painted mural by Western artist Ernie Morris.

Novel additions to the building are a state-of-the-art kitchen customized by head chef Rick Manson, a multi-level wine cellar, an outdoor patio with overhead heating, a custom stainless steel barbecue pit, and a terrace for parties and special events.

Prior to opening to the public, Righetti-Fowler said, the restaurant will be host to several private receptions to allow the staff time to prepare for serving their new guests.

“We’re not going to make a big production of it,” Righetti-Fowler said. “I know the word is definitely getting out there that it will be our first day, so we’re just going to see what happens.”

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