Owner Truman F. Campbell and daughter Laurie say The Silver Dollar Hofbrau remains a Fresno tradition thanks to its unique bar, antique decor and one-of-a-kind (in Fresno) Hofbrau food style.
What's the history of your business?
The (original) owners of the old Fresno Hofbrau, the Saghatelian brothers (James, Tony and Sid), built the Silver Dollar in the image of the old one (at Tulare and R streets downtown; it was torn down in 2007). I used to come in when I was practicing law, it was my favorite hangout. Then in 1980, I bought it with five partners. All of the original partners are gone except my former law partner and I.
What are your biggest rewards?
Just the satisfaction of owning this.
Laurie: People know him. They've been coming here for 30 years. A lot of people say it has a beautiful decor and others say it's like a tradition in this town and they come here because it's a comfortable, cool environment. It used to be a landmark. Everyone knew where it was before the town got so big.
What are your biggest challenges?
Trying to compete with little hole-in-the-walls that have a flat-screen TV that people can catch on the way home without having the fear of a DUI.
Laurie: We used to be the destination for all the Fresno State students, but now they can walk to a lot of bars that are a lot closer so they don't have to risk it.
What is your philosophy on customer service?
Truman: We like to think we're the Cheers of Fresno, where everybody knows your name.
Laurie: His (Truman) big thing is being friendly with the customers, having a happy face knowing that without them you're nothing.
What is one unique memory from your time with your business?
When the bar needed refinishing, we had to extract all the dollars out of the bar. We took a hammer and tried not to damage the dollars. When the new contractors put it together they spaced the dollars differently (2,500 coins) and I didn't know what to do with the rest so I put them on plaques and hung them on the wall.
What makes you stand out from the competition?
We try to keep our prices better than competitors. I don't know where else you can find a nice, rare roast beef hand-carved sandwich and salad for the price that we serve it ($9.45). Also, other places are warehouse buildings — there's no decor, no ambience. There's nothing except tables and chairs. We have the most beautiful place in town.
Laurie: You come in here and you feel like you are in San Francisco.
What is the secret for staying in business for so long?
Consistency. People know exactly what they are going to get when they come here. We're not doing anything differently than we did in 1980.
The Silver Dollar Hofbrau
Owners: Truman F. Campbell and Andrew Capestro
Location: 333 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno
Phone: (559) 224-3600
Annual sales: $1.5 million
Online: www.thesilverdollarhofbrau .com
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