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Horse in the Alley is located in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Bakersfield, CA. It was built in the 1890’s. The building was the Bakersfield Elks lodge #266 from 1893 to 1924. There are rumors that the basement was a speakeasy between 1923 to 1933 during prohibition.
The rich stories about “The Office”, which opened in 1946 by Mr. Clyde Barbeau, start the next chapter for the building. Mr. Barbeau started out in 1945 by building the mahogany bar and using what is now the dishwashing room for a kitchen to put out sandwiches and the like. He was an immediate hit and the average day was most of the lawyers, doctors and judges three deep at the bar. Most of these people had offices next door in the Haberfelde building. (built in 1927). The Office was a watering hole at night and many times a patron would realize he was late for dinner at home. The tardy husband would slip into the phone booth and call home to tell the wife he was sorry but he was still at the “Office”. It must have worked because many patrons used that same story.
As business grew Mr. Barbeau began allowing some betting on football games, horse races and other sports. Before long he was a well-known bookmaker. One day a judge whom Clyde knew urged him to apply for a card room license. There is a breezeway and stairs between the buildings that leads down to a room with an old door having a peephole. Soon the room downstairs was converted to a speakeasy and the action on the card tables was high stakes. At some point Clyde’s license was revoked but the card games continued only with the occasional interruption of a raid from the police. One night a raid netted the chief of police and the mayor of Bakersfield.
Somewhere in this period the restaurant dining room was added. In our bar are pictures of “The Office” from 1951, before the 1952 earthquake, and it shows the bar before the dining room addition. As the current kitchen was being built the marble steps of City Hall were being replaced. Some of the marble ended up in the kitchen surrounding the cooking area. It is still there today.
In the early 1990’s to present “the Office” has been reborn as “The Basque Tradition”, then “Dave’s Deli” followed by “The Swing”, “Joe’s Place”, “Frank’s Office Bar & Grill” and “T.L. Maxwell’s Restaurant and Bar”.
Horse in the Alley looks forward to adding to the rich history of this building and location that is a landmark for Bakersfield, this door in alley, which is a gateway into elegance and history.
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