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Rodeo cowboy gives Penryn’s landmark Valencia Club new life

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Roseville’s Deborah Goodwill craned her neck as she was driving along Taylor Road, saw an open door at the Valencia Club and slowed to ask a question. “Are they ever going to open?” Goodwill asked. “We’re open right now,” was the answer. “Come on in.” Goodwill was soon at the bar and when owner Travis Kevie – the man who answered her question – found out that she was a Corona drinker and none was in stock, he scooted over to the store across English Colony Road to buy a case. Kevie, whose own comfort zone includes climbing aboard bulls itching to inflict pain and adrenalin-pumping thrill rides on unsaddled broncs, said he just wants to make people comfortable and smile. “If you’re happy and smiling and feeling good – then smile when you’re here,” Kevie said. “That’s how I want people to feel.” Kevie said that paperwork on the bar sale hasn’t been finalized but that he has moved into living quarters at the bar and will be keeping it open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. “It’s a dream come true,” Kevie said. Kevie’s dreams also involve professional rodeo. He said he’s put that side of his life on hold while getting the bar going and finding trusted people to work there. In high school, Kevie was a state champion in bareback bronc riding. His father, Gary Kevie, of Newcastle, was a state champion bull rider and Travis followed in his footsteps, joining the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. His list of victories included a first in bull riding at the 2006 Wild West Stampede rodeo in Auburn. Kevie is off to a good start in the sprawling semi-rural community of Penryn with his decision to reopen the Valencia Club after its closure over the Memorial Day weekend. The club opened again over the weekend, with the hum of the refrigerator cutting through the stillness and the glow of neon again in the windows signaling a new start in the old bar. Dating back to at least the 1930s, the Valencia Club – with its on-again, off-again, giant neon sign out front and a commanding presence on Taylor Road – is a unpretentious meeting place for locals and a rustic destination for out-of-towners. Already in receipt of his first $1 bill earned at the bar he’s in the middle of finalizing the paperwork on, Kevie, 29, is reveling in the chance to make his mark and have some fun with a local landmark lovingly referred to as “The V.C.” The Valencia Club – one of the survivors from a mid-20th-century America when motor courts, road houses and streamlined V-8 cruisers made in Detroit filled the old Highway 40 with color and noise – is Penryn’s only bar. And it hadn’t been closed in living memory until the previous owners pulled out last May. “Since it’s been closed, there’s not a lot going on around here,” said Mike Richmond. Richmond ambled in to just have a quick look and check to see if it was really open again. Newcastle’s Bill Holder popped in to what he described as a place that was his favorite bar. “You knew just about everybody who came in here,” Holder said. “I hope it gets going here again.” Kevie said he doesn’t know the details behind the decision by the previous owners to close the bar. He’s looking to the future, with plans for an Elvis impersonator on Aug. 1 and a vision to give residents and patrons what they want in a bar. “I have fun with life,” Kevie said. “I live it up and take it for what’s it’s worth.” Goodwill, who first stepped into the Valencia Club three decades ago, was soon on the phone to let a friend know that the bar was back in business. “This needs to be open,” Goodwill said. “There is such a variety of people who come here. It’s been an icon forever.” ------------------------------------------------------ Auburn’s Power Club back on track ------------------------------------------------------ The Power Club bar at 195 Harrison Avenue in Auburn has opened after a short closure with reset hours. Owner Alfred Lee said that the nearby Power’s Mansion Inn bed and breakfast and facilities for weddings have been thriving. But the Power Club, which was opened last year, closed in an effort to regroup and has started up again with new hours and an emphasis on the prize-winning beers made on premises, Lee said. Hours will be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The bar previously was open during the day as well. – Gus Thomson