New owners breathe new life into longtime bar
Nevada City Advocate
In the summer of 1936, you might have been tempted to beat the heat by riding over – either in car or on horseback – to the Dew Drop Inn, a former stagecoach stop between Grass Valley and Auburn. They were just opening their new “plunge,” a 65-foot by 85-foot stream-fed pool with 6,000 feet of “sparkling river sand beach.”
The admission price was 25 cents (35 cents if you rented a swimsuit and a towel), and if you were there on opening day you could also have a full chicken dinner – for 75 cents. Local legend has it that Olympic medalist (and movie Tarzan) Johnny Weissmuller once swam in the pool.
Today, the pool is long-gone, filled in with a beautiful lawn area for outdoor events, but the Dew Drop Inn is still going strong and has been sitting on the site of the original pool house since 1942. It is truly an example of an original “road house,” and new owners Marcus and Lori Godfrey like it that way. The couple took over the business in April 2017 and has breathed new life into the local landmark while keeping its traditional feel.
“The Dew Drop has been a family gathering place for my family, the Holcombs, for many years,” Lori Holcomb Godfrey said. “My grandmother bartended here and my uncle played music here since the late 1960s early 70s, and I also bartended here when I first moved up here. We had our family reunion here last year. One day I met my aunt and uncle at the Dew Drop and the old owner was showing the bar to somebody, in order to sell it. Well the guy came in and wanted to tear it down.”
Lori had been a paramedic for 14 years and had been looking for a career change away from the grueling emergency service.
“We had been looking for a plan in order to get her off the ambulance,” Marcus Godfrey said. “When she told me the bar was for sale, I thought that was the coolest idea. I said ‘That’s the plan. Let’s do that.’ So, we came in and talked to the owner, kind of circled the wagons, and we figured a way out to do it.”
Marcus also has a background in the medical field, as an ER nurse, which led to the couple’s initial meeting.
“She brought me a patient at three in the morning, and I asked her out,” he said with a smile. This has also led to a that the Dew Drop is the safest bar in town, with two highly trained medical professionals that can answer questions while serving the cocktails.
“We may be new to the bar business, but we know the medical business,” she said, laughing.
Under the guidance of the Godfreys, the bar has rapidly expanded its musical offerings, as well as other special events. A large schedule board for February shows bands twice a week, as well as nine-ball tournament (Monday), karaoke (Tuesday), BFMC Bike Night – Veterans half off drinks (Wednesday), pool league (Thursday), plus two nights of Burlesquersize.
“We also have the Burlesque show every fourth Saturday of every other month,” Marcus said. “It’s very popular and super professional, and I think we’re about to have our fifth one next month.”
The Naughty Bawdy Revue show is put together by Diedre von Derriere, who has a troupe of talent from all over Northern California, and each show is different from the next. She also teaches the Burlesquersize class at the club.
Being located north of Auburn and 10 miles from Grass Valley along Highway 49 has not seriously impacted the club’s business, according to the couple.
“Our main clientele is everybody between Grass Valley and Auburn,” said Marcus. “There’s about 85,000 people in this area, living within about 15 miles of here. Our group is the neighborhood, and the neighborhood is huge. We just hope they don’t all show up at once!”
Lori also noted that they host special events, such as toy drives and memorials, for motorcycle clubs and day riders, but it’s not a large part of their clientele.
“The Dew Drop sort of had the reputation as being a motorcycle club bar, but now it’s everybody’s bar,” Marcus said. “As we were buying the bar, we made a point of coming here and meeting the regulars. And we promised them we wouldn’t change the vibe of the bar, but we were going to make it more accommodating for a younger crowd, a hipper crowd. We wanted it to still be comfortable for the regulars. Lori’s done a great job of cleaning the place up, putting a nice polish on it, and updating things.”
The Godfreys have left iconic features such as the ceiling (which sports money and other memorabilia pinned to it) and some of the original color schemes, so the locals still recognize their familiar haunt. “Everybody that walks in it’s like they are coming into a place they have always known, it’s like home,” Lori said.
Besides a full weekly schedule, the couple is planning for more special events in the future.
“We have a festival in the works for October, a country/bluegrass concert. It’ll be outside and will have multiple stages for entertainers to play as well as jam,” Lori said. “A musician came in yesterday from Jamaica, and I booked him for a reggae show on March 18, and he wants to do a reggae festival as well.”
With new ideas, but keeping a traditional feel, the Godfreys are reviving a true Gold Country roadhouse and are looking forward to making more memories at the Dew Drop Inn. There may be no more 75-cent chicken dinners, but there’s plenty of good vibes and great entertainment at this historic neighborhood club.
The Dew Drop Inn is located at19729 Cerrito Road, Grass Valley. For information, call 530-268-1065.
About the Photo:
Marcus Godfrey and Lori Holcomb Godfrey purchased the Dew Drop Inn south of Grass Valley in April 2017.
Photo by Andrew Wedgbury