Silver Dollar Hofbrau closed its doors for the last time Tuesday night after more than three decades in business.
The Shaw Avenue property and the furniture is being sold to a new, unidentified owner, said Truman F. Campbell, 87, one of the Silver Dollar’s owners.
It won’t reopen as the Silver Dollar, he said, adding that the buyer had told him it may be turned into an Asian restaurant, another hofbrau or other business.
“We had a great ride,” he said. “This has been a landmark and for the first 20 years it was the place to be.”
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Campbell — who introduces himself as “Truman like the president, Campbell like the soup” — bought the business in 1980 with several partners.
The bar and restaurant had nights where people were packed eight deep at the bar. Big Fresno State basketball and football games and the Super Bowl would bring in crowds so big that customers would use up every glass the hofbrau had, Campbell recalls.
It served the traditional hofbrau menu including corned beef and tri-tip sandwiches, along with wings and potato skins. And it had the old-school hofbrau feel: elaborate woodwork, circular booths and a dark atmosphere.
But the outside world has changed, Campbell said.
“Time has passed us by,” he said. “Everyone has moved north. People don’t want quality food anymore.”
A heavy police presence in the area aimed at cutting back on drinking and driving also affected business, he said.
One of the hofbrau’s partners moved to Arizona and the other, Campbell’s cousin, has died. Campbell said if he were 20 years younger, he’d try to keep it open.
Customer Mack Morales, who sells cars nearby, has been coming to the hofbrau for 20 years. He and others were surprised to find the doors locked at lunchtime Wednesday.
“It’s too bad,” he said. “They have a lot of customers.”
Campbell was in the process of deciding what to do with the business when the buyer approached him.
The closure happened quickly. Management was trying to keep it under wraps, but word got out and by Tuesday night a post on the Facebook page confirmed the closure.
Fresno lost its other iconic hofbrau, the Old Fresno Hofbrau, in 2007. It was torn down and replaced with what is now a Grocery Outlet at Tulare and R streets. The short-lived Downtown Hofbrau at 1920 Tulare St. was replaced by Dukes Downtown.
Hofbrau fans will have one option when the Clovis Hofbrau, now under construction, opens at Temperance Avenue and Highway 168. That business, unrelated to the Silver Dollar, is scheduled to open in mid February.
Campbell, who plays clarinet and saxophone and sometimes piano, played his last night with the band Tuesday at the Silver Dollar. He wondered Wednesday if he’d ever find another place to play.
“I’m brokenhearted,” he said.