story: Joshua Corbelli photos: Paul Heath
BASSHOLE BAR AND GRILL
Cheryl and David Dulon had a dream. Then residing in the San Francisco Bay area, the idea that they would one day own a business was always at the forefront of their minds. They saw an ad, made a move and now, 13 years later, the Basshole Bar and Grill is more of a destination than it’s ever been.
It’s located at 20725 Lakeshore Drive, just off Interstate 5 in Lakehead. The 25-minute drive from Redding through lush greenery is more meditative than it is a nuisance. When the couple first took over the business, it was not more than a bait shop attached to a bar. The Pacifica transplants spent the next year knocking down walls, remodeling the kitchen and adding some much-needed zest to the place. “We always wanted to own our own bar and restaurant,” Cheryl recalls. “My husband saw this ad in the San Francisco Chronicle. But when he went to call the next day, the ad was no longer there.” Thinking the business had been sold, he almost brushed it off, but decided to call anyway. As it turned out, it hadn’t been sold; the former owner’s listing had just expired. “That was kind of a sign for us,” Cheryl says.
The Dulons, along with their three children – 14, 16, and 18 years old at the time – made the trip north to check out the business, and immediately liked the area. At the time, Cheryl was enrolled in a teaching credential program at San Francisco State University, but made the choice to move when the opportunity arose – and she harbors no regrets. “You couldn’t pay me enough money to move back to the Bay Area.”
Moving to a small, tight-knit community such as Lakehead, the Dulons met some initial opposition. They were called “flatlanders,” but David, a lifelong hunter, fisher and outdoorsman, challenged the naysayers to a stint in the woods. Soon, the locals took a liking to the family, whose ties to the community are now wrenched tight.
Walking into Basshole, one feels at ease. The regulars that crowded the bar in no way prohibited good service and friendly conversation with the patrons during a recent visit. Upon entrance, the bar is straight ahead; pool tables and abundant dining are to the left. To the right is a door leading to an outdoor patio, which the Dulons fenced in some years ago. The bar still remains a lucrative part of the business, but Basshole has garnered quite a reputation as a worthwhile eating establishment. Taco Tuesdays – where for $1 customers can customize their tacos – has been a tradition since the first year in business. Another draw is the Thursday pizza night. A $10 bill gets a 12-inch pizza and hours of free billiards. Don’t miss out on a weekend breakfast with the bar’s specialty: a bloody Mary.
Hanging above and behind the bar are numerous T-shirts with fire department logos. This trend started in 1999 when the Horseshoe Complex (an amalgam of some 15 fires in the Lakehead area) brought 2,500 firefighters to the area. “These guys would come in after working long shifts for dinner or whatever. When they left, some of them gave us shirts from their own departments. Ever since then we just started collecting them to show our appreciation for the firefighters,” Cheryl says. Nowadays, when travelers come through and see the shirts, many leave theirs behind, even without having fought in the area.
In 2000, Dave and a friend started the Shasta Lake Trout Derby – an event that has since been a great success. The goal was simple: to bring people to the area in the fishing off season. “So many of these businesses locally rely on the tourism that the lake attracts, we just wanted to do something to help bring business.” Each year the derby draws 170 to 225 participants, but the Dulons don’t take a cut for themselves. The money is all reinvested into the derby, fish pen projects and other related donations. The Dulons have also started golf tournaments and various other projects throughout the year.
Adapting to the uncertainties of the economy, Basshole Bar and Grill, along with the adjacent bait and tackle shop, is still going strong.
Basshole Bar and Grill 20725 Lakeshore Drive, Lakehead (530) 238-2170 • www.bassholebarandgrill.com
Hours: Open: 4 to 10 pm Monday; 10 am to 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday; 10 am to 2 am Friday; 8 am to 2 am Saturday and 8 am to 10 pm Sunday.