Barkeeper inspired watering hole

Owner and operator Dustin Evanger envisioned a place where bartenders would drink.

For Bartenders Union Local 408, a new bar that will open where the old El Azteca Bar was on Monterey Road, owner and operator Dustin Evanger had a simple philosophy in mind. What kind of bar would a bartender want?
“This whole place is inspired to be a place where bartenders would go and hang out at themselves,” Evanger, 37 said.
Evanger, his father James and father-in-law Terry Meister, spent June and July ripping out the of the building he and his wife Carrie bought, updating the old watering hole into a sleek, new, downtown hangout, decked with pool tables, dart boards with 20 beers and four wines on tap as well as a fully stocked bar. Evanger hopes to be open in mid-August pending approval from the Health Department and the city of Gilroy, who both need to do walkthroughs.
“It’s basically a total overhaul,” Evanger said. “We’ve ripped everything out and completely redecorated everything.”
At Bartenders Union Local 408, Evanger has eschewed live music and a dance floor for a jukebox. For someone who wants to wet their whistle with a cold pint of craft beer, play a game of pool or watch a Raiders game without a DJ blasting out the hits in the background, Evanger envisions Bartenders Local 408 as the place to go in downtown Gilroy.
“This is really going to be a place to hang out,” Evanger said.
The bar hit a snag when on July 3, the dump trailer they used to haul away debris, was stolen.
“We had the trailer locked up in the back of the building and some guy just came in and snapped the lock and took off with it,” Evanger said. “We constantly were making trips to the dump and that really stalled what we were doing. We’re back on track now.”
Evanger is not new to the bar and restaurant business and took much of his inspiration from his former ownership of The Hill Bar and Grill in Morgan Hill.
“I sold The Hill back in October and this building, kinda, came across my desk,” Evanger said. “I looked into it and I looked into Gilroy and I liked what I saw.”
Originally from Monterey, the Evangers have found the South Valley to be a great mix of family, fun and business opportunities.
“I like how this area is close to a little bit of everything,” Evanger said. “We’re close to family in Monterey and the beach in Santa Cruz and close to the city in San Jose, but we still have that small town feel which is important to us as we raise our family.”
As Evanger works to overhaul the building, the remnants of what had been the El Azteca Bar are gone, making the building look almost brand new from the storefront to the interior.
“There was a lot of rotten drywall we needed to tear out along with black curtains they were using as ceilings and we replaced that we corrugated steel,” Evanger said. “We’re keeping the original bar, but we’re refacing it, giving a brand new look to it. The floors are new, the paint is new and we’re completely redoing the bathroom, seating and lighting. We literally took it down to the bare bones.”
While the Bartenders Union Local 408 will not serve food to bargoers, they will allow people to bring in outside food.
“With the kind of liquor license we have we will not be able to serve food at all,” Evanger said.

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