Crista Luedtke opened El Barrio, a cocktail bar in Guerneville, in 2014 because she needed overflow space. Her nearby restaurant, the farm-to-table Boon Eat + Drink, was regularly generating an hour-long wait list, and customers had few options for biding their time. The bars on Guerneville’s Main Street, like McT’s Bullpen and the Rainbow Cattle Co. (check it out at www.queersteer.com), leaned heavily divey. “They’re great bars,” Luedtke says, “but if you were on a date and wanted to sit down for a nice cocktail, there was nowhere in Guerneville to go.” By then, Luedtke’s presence on Guerneville’s main drag — Boon Eat + Drink, Boon Hotel + Spa, and Big Bottom Market, which she no longer owns — had already helped to change the face of the town. El Barrio further cemented that. The small Russian River Valley community, whose population barely crests 4,500, has worn many different faces throughout its history. As a booming resort town in the 1950s, Guerneville catered to vacationing Bay Area urbanites. Bikers and hippies retreated here in the 1970s, the runoff of the Summer of Love. By the ’80s, Guerneville was known as a haven for gay men and women — first as… Read full this story
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