Meet Your Tahoe Merchant: Thirty years of family fun at the Village Pub
April 26, 2013
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — "Hi Steve."
"Good morning, Dan."
"What'll it be today Nicole?"
“My theory on bartending is that you need to know their drink or their name, and you’re lucky if you know both.”
You expect Kirstie Alley to walk in, because with the frequent banter and home-away-from-home atmosphere, it's the place where everybody seems to know your name.
The Village Pub, tucked away on Tanager Street, will celebrate 30 years this July — owner Steve Webber says he hasn't advertised in 29.
The Pub is one of Incline's most local hangouts and has been around for nearly three generations. Steve's kids, Stephanie and Nick, now work behind the bar with him, pouring drinks for friends they've grown up with.
Nick says he hangs out with friends before his shift. Steve comes from behind the bar to hug Stephanie's friends, teasing them first, making them breakfast second.
Nicole Everett, who comes by the Pub for a drink at night, or a burger for lunch, or sometimes for breakfast on the weekends, said she doesn't call it The Village Pub.
"We call it 'home' sometimes, or we just call it 'the bar,'" she said.
When asked why she comes in, at first Nicole wasn't sure of an answer.
"Because these are my family," she said. "I come in here because I love them and the food. I have fun here."
Steve is known for his burgers, his weekend breakfasts, and the summertime Cocoloco drink.
He has a secret sauce recipe and uses poppyseed buns for his burgers that customer say "are the best burgers on the lake."
Because his bar is a local hangout, Steve says he doesn't experience the rise and fall of business with the rise and fall of tourism.
In fact, Stephanie said, a lot of service industry workers find solace and comfort in the less-tourist ridden bar in the summer.
"They're out every day with tourists," she said. "But you know what it's going to be and who's going to be here."
Pool and Ping-Pong, darts and shuffle board and an advanced jukebox make The Village Pub what Steve describes as "interactive."
Business people, as well as friends, come in for Pub Olympics. The bar also has a "Buy Your Friend a Beer" whiteboard, with "Name / Drink / Message."
The whiteboard is filled with different colored smiley faces and silly drawings and messages like "I Owe You One!" or "Best Lil' Bro Ever!"
Patrons "go all out" for the Pub's themed parties at Halloween and St. Patrick's Day. And in celebration of Village Pub's 30-year anniversary, Steve says he'll have a "big shindig" in late July.
While the Pub is a known spot for locals and has a niche, running a bar isn't always easy, Steve said.
The owner/bartender/chef keeps a fun atmosphere while keeping a level head and managing well when things get crazy.
Daniel O'Toole tends bar at a different location but hangs out at The Pub. Daniel says he looks up to Steve and that the seasoned man "taught me everything I know."
"I watched him and listened," Daniel said. "Steve is an intelligent person; he always has a handle on what's going on. He's a chef and a bartender — he knows drinks that no one else does."
Stephanie tends bar during the day, and it's clear by her finesse with customers and quick service that she has learned the trade from her father.
"My theory on bartending is that you need to know their drink or their name, and you're lucky if you know both," she said.
"Half of bartending is … being social, attentive and fun," she added. "Nobody wants a downer bartender."
And when she is in a bad mood, Stephanie says she cheers up when she comes to work, because hanging out with her friends lifts her spirits.
"How many people get to hang out with their friends while they are at work?" she said.
Although his daughter doubts her father will ever truly retire, Steve has different ideas.
"I'd like to see them take over and me wander off into the sunset," he said of his motorhome dreams.
Steve also looks forward to a more low-key job, perhaps a day job on the golf course, as he said he wouldn't mind driving the carts and hanging out on the green, to switch over to a "slower paced way of life."
But, as Nick said, with Incline Village and with the Village Pub as well, everyone always eventually comes back.
"After 30 years, I think this is his baby just as much as we are," she said.