Feb 5, 2013 7:37 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Most communities along the central coast have them. Most locals have been to them. They all have a few things in common: booze, a bar, and a chance you're going to feel like family the minute you walk in the door. Such is the case with the Old Cayucos Tavern. It's more proof There's No Place Like Home.
No matter what the sign says, there is ambiguity over what the rustic old watering hole in downtown Cayucos is called. The Cayucos Saloon? The Cayucos Tavern? The OLD Cayucos Tavern? "It's whatever you want it to be." says Andrea Pulaski,owner of the place. "You know, it is!"
Most old-timers I know simply refer to it as "The Tavern". An establishment along the main drag of downtown Cayucos that's been there at least since 1904. "There were 12 bars in this town at one time." says Pulaski. It was a time when this dairy heavy community was a main trading port. Today, it's kind of more of a tourist town, and the Tavern is the only one left of the originals. And it's kind of the California Coastal version of Cheers. "I would say a little more cheers than cheers is!" Pulaski laughs.
She ain't kidding. From the banter that happens belly up to the bar, to the fact it's hard to walk in undetected, it's a comfortable home away from home for regulars. "It's kind of like our big old living room. We don't have to mess up each other's houses, we just come into the tavern and we have fun here." laughs Linda Brannock, a Tavern regular.
Bartender Liliann Hernandez admits she'll usually have regulars' drink served up and waiting for them on the bar by the time they take a seat. "Um, they don't really switch it up that often. They kind of know what they want. So once I see them through the windows here, I just have it ready for them."
The Cheers factor to the tavern doesn't stop there. One of the regulars who keeps things entertaining at the end of the bar is Norman "Norm" Kurth. Yep. Norm! "Feels like home." he says. And yes, they do yell Norm every now and then when I walk in."
Pulaski says the Tavern crowd really has out-cheers, Cheers. "Totally" she says. She has owned the place for almost 20 years now, but she's been hanging out here for much longer than that. It's why she's been hesitant to make many changes to the place. "Maybe a little too much. Don't like to change!"
And that doesn't seem to bother too many people. It's kind of the wild wild west with the marine influence of a coastal community. You see people of all walks of life, all incomes and zip-codes killing a little time here. "Yeah it's a cowboy coastal town. So you get fisherman and cowboys and bikers and rockers and everything, every kind of people in here." says Pulaski. And even out-of-towners can end up regulars. "...San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, even overseas they come back and you know, they're tourists but their friends, because they come back."
It's a hot spot for winding down and catching up on local gossip come quittin' time, but after dark, things can get wound up a bit, especially back in the card room with a game of Texas Hold-em. Like most old west saloons, gambling has been a part of the history here since before it become legal in 1984. And two nights a week, the card room gets busy, and so does business up front. "And you know Friday and Saturday nights there's live music and it's hopping and fun and live bands. And so it's kind of a good little mixture. people will be dancing in every little spot they can in here." says Hernandez. "You know it brings everyone together on the weekend and Friday and Saturday nights are really rockin' here." adds Nancy Dye of Pismo Beach.
It's different every day and every time of day. But you're always sure to find a colorful cast of new friends if you hang around long enough. So does what happen at the tavern, stay at the tavern, I ask? "No!" says Kurth immediately. "The stories get bigger and better!" adds Brannock.
Whatever you call the watering hole on Main Street in Cayucos, I call it more proof There's No Place Like Home.