Archive » July 5, 2012
Putting the ‘West’ back in country
By SaraLloyd Truax, Staff Writer
To celebrate, educate and preserve the great legacy of the American West is the mission and mindset behind a new multi-media venue coming to Santa Ynez.
“We’re just about the West,” says Bill Reynolds, one of the driving forces behind the new venture. “Nothing about knitting or golf,” he says with a laugh, taking off his cowboy hat and sitting down with a cup of coffee. Coming from different but overlapping walks of life, they share a common goal, so they partnered to create the 21st Century version of the cowboy experience. You will find it at the Roadhouse, which is scheduled to open in Santa Ynez this August.
The project is the brain child of Reynolds, father and son team of Peter and Colin Cuneo, Jim Guercio and Bruce Pollock – the voice of Range Radio on AM1410 and rangeradio.com. It unfolds something like this: Close your eyes and imagine for a moment a bygone era. The day is done, cowboys gather ’round an open fire, the stars twinkling brightly overhead in the night sky. With their horses tied to trees, saddles and reatas (lassos) in a neat pile nearby, they settle in, friends gathered for an evening meal, to share stories and a song or two.
Keeping the romance – the hopeful outlook – well in mind, bring your consciousness forward to today. Replace the buzzing gnats and dust with a brand-new, clean and crisp interior design.
Rather than stars, think of environmentally green LED lights, not glaringly bright, but soft and quixotic. (“We are sensitive to community concerns about light pollution. People here like to see the stars,” says Reynolds.) Instead of beans, think high-end, locally grown ingredients prepared by a fabulous chef – seven days a week for dinner, Wednesday through Sunday for lunch (at least to start). With local wine and beer on tap, the beautiful, locally handcrafted bar (a knockoff from Hanley Saddle Shop in Oregon) has what you need to wet your whistle.
The entertainment is provided from time to time by musicians of national acclaim or local fame, and the stories can be heard each week told on Range Radio – broadcasting where you can watch the adventure unfurl through large windows – both from within the Roadhouse or on the sidewalk.
“We will be bringing in some big events during the year,” says Pollock, also of plenty of local performers keyed into local interests.
Pollock envisions interviewing residents of note during his Saturday morning radio show, which along with the accompanying Facebook page have fans from Japan to Kazakhstan, he says. “We see this as the ability to include civilians,” interjects Reynolds.
Perhaps while you wait for your meal, you open your copy of Ranch & Reata magazine, with its glossy photos, large layout and long format stories. It is altogether different than the tidbits of tales, which merely scratch the surface, that are found in the other 175 or so publications in the genre, says Pollock.
“We believe that people who love the West also love to read,” says Reynolds, explaining the theory behind the in-depth articles. To serve both the audience and the advertisers well, the radio show promotes the magazine and vice versa. The Roadhouse is just one more way in which they plan to appeal to all of their customer’s senses.
“We could see how media was changing – the old ways involving – we wanted to be ahead of the game,” says Bill Reynolds. AM/FM radio and print are no longer the go-to of a younger generation. They want to change with the times.
The thing about the American West people sometimes forget is that it transcends borders. Love for West and the allure of the era is strong in Europe, Asia and many other parts of the world. The Roadhouse crew aims to stay true to the cowboy tradition – keeping the West in country and hip hop out, they say.
“You don’t have to be a cowboy to be a cowboy,” Reynolds says teasing. “The Roadhouse is designed to be a place where people can come together.” That is a reason for choosing a location directly across the street from the post office.
“We want to create an all-access pass for the world to enjoy and have access to the best parts of the American West,” says Reynolds. The Roadhouse, with the companion businesses of Range Radio and Ranch & Reata magazine provide the opportunity to listen, read, watch, eat and enjoy – together or separately.
“With the Roadhouse, people will finally get the third leg of the milking stool,” says Reynolds.
Colin Cuneo says that when he and his father were presented with the plan, they really liked the idea. It was still in the conceptual stages when the economic bubble burst, to which Cuneo credits an increased interest in turning back to old-world American values. So even in hard times, it seems like a good investment.
“We are creating a new kind of platform,” but, Reynolds cautions, they are doing it with a great deal of sensitivity to the community. From parking, to noise and even to light sensitivity, they are looking for ways to be an asset and not a burden to the town.
“We want to be as local as possible,” providing jobs and traffic for other area enterprises. They have already established a relationship with the Santa Ynez Historical Museum, the FAA and 4H at the high school and California Rangeland Trust.
The bulk of their business will be after 5 p.m. when other shops are closed. During the day, they will focus efforts on those already in town with an aim not to impinge on the limited parking that is available. And they plan to keep the music within the venue’s walls and not let it seep out to disturb the quiet of the neighborhood, they say.
“We realize there is a long history of tourism here,” says Reynolds. They want to support and encourage that, but not necessarily cater to it. “We want to be an environment where local families want to come.”
And while the focus of the Roadhouse is local, the digital and radio audience is worldwide. The online version of the magazine translates into 60 different languages, with mandarin Chinese being the 5th most used. They hope to use that to draw visitors to the Valley and offer another way to help the community, while keeping the legacy of the American cowboy and West very much alive and well.