Todd Anderson (owner/operator) The Old Corner Saloon and ‘bartenderess’ Melissa
The town of Clements has quite a bit of history behind it. With only a population of less than a 1,000 people, it’s one of those towns that might be small in size, but big in heart and roots. One of Clements’ local landmarks is the Old Corner Saloon, located across the highway from the building that used to be I.O.O.F. right as you come into town. It’s an establishment that has had many owners, many different businesses inhabiting it and many stories to tell.
Back in the 1880s, Clements was becoming a bustling little town with the railroad running smack dab in the middle of it and construction fueling the growth of activity within it. In 1889, a man named William Schmitt constructed a two-story building where the Old Corner Saloon sits today, and opened it up as the third general store in the town, naming it “William Schmitt General Merchandise.” The first story was the store and the second story was the apartment that Schmitt and his family lived in until he passed away in 1916. Schmitt’s son Louise took it over and ended up leasing it to a Mr. Ayers who turned it into a three-part business: a saloon, mercantile and ice cream parlor and named it “Herb’s.”
In 1941, Pete and Dora Kroencke purchased the building, the same time that the gas pumps and oil service were added on the corner of Mackville Road and the Highway 88. Pete then sold it to John and Aggie Kohnke, who lived in the house that still stands next door to the building. After several years, the Kohnke’s sold it to Ed Moyle, who later sold it to Russ and Carol Waters. From Mr. Waters, Bob and Lois Maitia purchased it in the early 1980s now known as the Old Corner Saloon, “the place where old friends return.”
Devastatingly, the original two-story building was the victim of an arsonist, and burnt down in 1992. The Maitias rebuilt it into a one-story, and after more than 20 years, Bob had passed away and Lois sought retirement, so she sold it to Bob Butler. After only a year, Bob sold it to Todd Anderson, the current owner of the Old Corner Saloon since 2005.
“Today, the Old Corner Saloon stands as a constant reminder of the perseverance of staff and individuals who, through good times and bad, have worked tirelessly to make the saloon prosper at this historic street corner. The ongoing business has become an important part of the cornerstone of Clements’ history,” said Dave Rosano, General Manager of Operations.
A Minnesota native, Anderson has lived in San Joaquin County since 1986. He expressed that Clements is “where the pavement ends and the west begins,” and is “halfway between Tahoe and San Francisco on Highway 88.” Anderson said he owes his success of maintaining the saloon by keeping it clean and providing good service and product prices, as well as taking good care of the customers and his staff, some who have been with the saloon for over 13 years.
Anderson is unique as a bar owner, since it’s not very common for the bar owner to put his own personal stamp on the fine wine that he serves at his bar. The wine comes directly from his own label, Anderson Vineyards, his estate vineyard. The varietal he provides is a beautiful Sangiovese, a red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin word “Sanguis Jovis,” which translates into “the blood of jove (love).” Anderson’s Sangiovese is sold at the Old Corner Saloon, as well as some selected fine restaurants.
On Friday and Saturday nights, karaoke is always the focus of entertainment, which brings in a little bit different crowd of young folks. Something else unique about this establishment is that they throw many different types of parties. From birthday parties to bachelor or bachelorette parties, it’s sure to be a good time. Anderson has a back room with a stage and pole to accommodate live music and comedy shows. He also has helium set up to blow up balloons and decorate at no additional charge to guests.
Local and out of town casino goers, campers, fishermen and skiers have made The Old Corner Saloon a must-stop on the way to and return from their journeys. Motorcycle enthusiasts consider the establishment a favorite, providing secure M/C parking and friendly atmosphere. Poker runs and biker get-togethers are scheduled frequently at the saloon
“It’s a clean, safe place to come have fun and it still has the old country saloon atmosphere,” Anderson said. “It’s the finest drinking establishment in the west; that’s my tag line.”
Todd Anderson and staff have taken the bar on to great success where “old friends return.” With the same industrious, inventive and congenial spirit of the original builders of the town of Clements from over 130 years ago, the Anderson legacy continues to improve upon one of the founding enterprises left: The Old Corner Saloon, a real tribute to society.