The closing of the Silver Dollar Hofbrau is a Fresno heartbreak.
Built in 1975 by my father, Tommy, and his brothers, Jimmy and Sid, every detail of the place was designed to give folks a great meal for a fair price in a John Wayne saloon atmosphere.
Born out of Leon and Tommy Saghatelian’s Old Fresno Tavern in the old red-light district, using the blueprint from the Old Fresno Hofbrau on Tulare and R streets, “the Dollar” was created by the Saghatelians, who painstakingly collected German beer steins and saved every vintage silver dollar, circa 1883.
But Fresno herself was the reason for her creation and success. Attorney DeWayne Zinkin persuaded the Fresno City Council to change the zoning from residential to commercial in 1974. Inland Showcase hand-crafted the exquisite woodwork. Every guy who poured the terrazzo floor was on his hands and knees for days. Fresno craftsmen designed and poured then seldom-used plexiglass bar top.
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Delivery guys braced for Uncle Jimmy’s withering critique of whatever they were selling. It was a man’s bar, but women were always welcome and safe. The Silver Dollar worked because the brothers insisted on that long-forgotten motto: the customer is always right. Cheers, and tears.