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Bar & grill on river side of San Joaquin levee

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Bar & grill on river side of San Joaquin levee

Rich Hogan spent months renovating Haven Acres Marina Bar and Grill. Since then sales have superceded his expectations and customers continue to flock to the San Joaquin River haunt.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED July 6, 2012 11:06 p.m.

LATHROP – When Rich Hogan took over the Haven Acres Marina Bar and Grill he had a vision.

The road to achieving it, however, called for stripping the existing building – a popular summer spot among boaters on the San Joaquin River Delta – completely down and renovating it into something that he felt customers would enjoy.

Now two months after reopening the doors his sales have steadily climbed and with the summer still going strong look to continue for the coming months.

While it’s not the relaxing, wine-style bar that he had envisioned when he agreed to lease the property, Hogan says he enjoys the festive party atmosphere generated by boaters that fill the establishment.

“The party atmosphere is just incredible,” Hogan said. “And being here on the river and getting to look out the window and see 11 boats tied up on the dock with people coming all day – it doesn’t get much better than that.”

And it isn’t his first foray into the restaurant world.

The one-time Carl’s Jr. counter worker and North San Diego County resident quickly rose through the ranks and ended up as a regional vice president before deciding to venture out on his own.

He would eventually own 11 Baskin-Robbins franchises in the Las Vegas area – where he still has a home – and ventured to Northern California to take advantage of an opportunity to operate the snack bar and food preparation service for Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center and Rookie’s Sports Bar.

It was there that he met the head of the Haven Acres Homeowners Association, and when the opportunity to lease the bar – which closed back in December – became a reality, Hogan said yes and began work on the dilapidated building with the hopes that it would attract a new clientele.

On a Friday or Saturday, he says, it’s not uncommon to hear the jukebox play for eight or nine hours straight, and when the sun starts to go down even accessing that part of the bar can be a chore – the open section becomes a make-shift dance floor as people groove to the music and enjoy the ambiance.

“The atmosphere here is just terrific,” he said. “I keep a combination ski and bass boat out front, so when the afternoon help comes in sometimes I put it in the water and go fishing or just cruise.

“I’ve got 15 years of retirement left. What a way to spend the time. And the customers are great and that makes me want to come in every day.”

And with a full-service menu – offering up everything from hamburgers to salads to appetizers – the reworked and reopened haunt has been something that Haven Acres park tenants have made it a point to visit.

Gaining the approval of the natives, Hogan said, is a huge compliment.

“There are 27 spaces here and 25 of them are occupied, and every one of them stops in at some point during the week,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to have that – to have people that appreciate what it is that you’re doing and give you their seal of approval.

“We’ve already gotten it from the boaters. It just completes things.”

Haven Acres Marina Bar and Grill is located at 1691 West Frewert Road in Lathrop. To get there take Lathrop Road west under I-5 and turn right on Manthey Road. Continue straight for roughly a mile and turn left on Frewert. Follow the road all the way down and veer right at the dead-end and continue up and over the levee. The bar will be on the left.

 

— JASON CAMPBELL
209 reporter

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