Meet Your Merchant: A place in North Lake Tahoe andamp;#8216;where everybody knows your nameandamp;#8217;
TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; The year is 1976. The sweltering Tahoe summer air begins to cool as the sun bids farewell to another bluebird day. A crowd of rowdy, clammy softball players parades into Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters in Tahoe City. They exchange high-fives and celebratory pats-on-the-back. Itandamp;#8217;s the end of another legendary softball night in Tahoe City, and no matter who won or lost, a sense of camaraderie overwhelms the small-town sports bar. Fast forward to 2011 and not much has changed at the local watering hole. Over the years, the pitch has gone from fast to slow, the league has changed from menandamp;#8217;s to co-ed, the trophies lining the perimeter of the tavern grow in size and number, but the enthusiasm remains the same. Since opening its doors in February 1976, the character of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters has been built around the tradition of softball and sportsmanship, said David andamp;#8220;Johnny B.andamp;#8221; Rutter, owner of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters for nearly three decades.andamp;#8220;Softball has always been a strong event in this community and really served as the foundation of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters,andamp;#8221; Rutter said. andamp;#8220;Whether you win or lose, teams always come down to Peteandamp;#8217;s to have beer, unwind and talk it over.andamp;#8221;
Rutter relocated to North Lake Tahoe in September 1973 and immediately began his bartending career at the Bear Pen in Squaw Valley andamp;#8212; a job he scored from longtime friend and well-known Tahoe City bartender, Doran andamp;#8220;Montanaandamp;#8221; Cahill. The Squaw hotspot was famous for its andamp;#8220;localandamp;#8217;s night,andamp;#8221; where rock-and-roll legends like Pablo Cruise, Bob Weir, Eddie Money and Huey Lewis would pack the house with eclectic sounds symbolic of the 70s.andamp;#8220;The Bear Pen was the local spot for everyone from Truckee to Lake Tahoe,andamp;#8221; Rutter recalled. andamp;#8220;It was a great experience to come out here and be thrown right into the hottest bar around. That was just an incredible time in Squaw history.andamp;#8221;Rutter went on to bartend at the Hearthstone andamp;#8212; now Rosieandamp;#8217;s andamp;#8212; in Tahoe City before joining the Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters crew in 1978. After a short stint as General Manager at River Grill Restaurant and Lodge from 1981 to 1983, Rutter was given an offer he couldnandamp;#8217;t refuse.
Pete Perata and Peter Paine had created a successful partnership for several years as co-owners of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters before Perata decided to move his Truckee-based excavation business to Hawaii in 1983.andamp;#8220;Pete Perata wanted to sell out at Peteandamp;#8217;s, so I had an opportunity everyone in the service industry dreams of,andamp;#8221; Rutter said. andamp;#8220;I came back and bought his interest out in 1983, and Peter Paine and I had fabulous partnership for almost 30 years.andamp;#8221;Under the new partnership andamp;#8212; which lasted until 2009 when Rutter became sole owner andamp;#8212; Paine and Rutter maintained the softball spirit that was synonymous with the establishment, but both businessmen wanted to make a larger contribution to the community outside of slinging drinks and hosting softball heavyweights.andamp;#8220;I attribute much of our success to the involvement weandamp;#8217;ve had with the community and the various charities Peter and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of,andamp;#8221; said Rutter.
In 1984, customers and employees of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters hit the pavement canvassing local businesses for raffle prizes to raise money for the North Tahoe High School athletics program. That initiative helped raise more than $200,000 in the 20 some years it operated under Rutterandamp;#8217;s and Paineandamp;#8217;s leadership, Rutter said.In 2004, Paine and Rutter were approached by a group of local business owners who wanted to take the fundraiser to the next level. Thus began the North Tahoe Booster Club, which has raised more than $200,000 since its inception nearly seven years ago.andamp;#8220;Itandamp;#8217;s about working with the community and giving back, not just taking, not just being here and making our money,andamp;#8221; Rutter said. andamp;#8220;Youandamp;#8217;ve got to give back in this business.andamp;#8221;The giving doesnandamp;#8217;t stop there with Rutter. Over the years, Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters has hosted numerous fundraisers for community members in need and has generously donated proceeds to local organizations like Meals on Wheels andamp;#8212; one of Rutterandamp;#8217;s favorite charities. The overwhelming success of these fundraising events would not be realized without the loyalty of Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Petersandamp;#8217; customers, Rutter said.andamp;#8220;People always ask andamp;#8216;whatandamp;#8217;s the key to your success?andamp;#8217; and I think aside from our employees, itandamp;#8217;s our customer base,andamp;#8221; said Rutter. andamp;#8220;Our customers are the ones that make Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters what it is today. You can come in here on any given afternoon and see certain people who are in here all the time andamp;#8212; they have their favorite bar stool and theyandamp;#8217;ve been coming here since 1976.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8220;These steadfast patrons donandamp;#8217;t come here to see andamp;#8216;Johnny B. Goodandamp;#8217; andamp;#8212; they come here to see the employees,andamp;#8221; Rutter boasted. andamp;#8220;I canandamp;#8217;t say enough about them.andamp;#8221;Bartenders like Suzy Walden, Duke Eberle and George andamp;#8220;Alfieandamp;#8221; Howell have been a part of the Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters family for a combined total of 60 years, Rutter said.andamp;#8220;Johnny consistently hires really good people and when you work with people you enjoy being around, it makes it a lot easier to go to work,andamp;#8221; Eberle said during a quiet evening behind the bar. andamp;#8220;Weandamp;#8217;re a family here and with employers, thatandamp;#8217;s not always an easy thing to establish, but around here we have been able to maintain that.andamp;#8221;Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters will celebrate 36 years of business in 2012, and while Rutter hopes to retire within the next five years, he foresees handing the business over to his reputable staff.andamp;#8220;I would love to trade Pete andamp;#8217;Nandamp;#8217; Peters over to the employees, to give them the opportunity to carry it on,andamp;#8221; Rutter said. andamp;#8220;Thereandamp;#8217;s no doubt in my mind we can go for another 36 years.andamp;#8221;
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