Whiskey Creeks’ lost hopes

whiskeycreek

In years past, Whiskey Creek restaurants in Bishop and Mammoth were kind of the “place to go.” No more. Friday, owner Greg Alexander whiskeycreekcloseclosed the doors of both restaurants. Something like 100 people between the two businesses have lost jobs. Alexander said losses in Mammoth brought down Bishop.

When they heard the news, local residents said they were sad about more depressing news. Whiskey Creek Bishop was a favorite watering hole and dinner house back in the 70s when Sam Walker rebuilt the Kitty Lee Inn. Walker also opened Whiskey Creek Mammoth until he sold both to Greg Alexander about 15 years ago.

Two years ago, Alexander invited a room full of local business owners to the Bishop restaurant where he explained at great length how he had lost the Mammoth business due to real estate machinations and then leased it back. Alexander also described a new remodel then underway in Bishop. It all sounded hopeful and even reminiscent of the older and cozier Whiskey Creek of the 70s which was complete with fireplace, lots of carpet, cushy booths and the most popular bar in town back then.

The last two years did not realize the hope anticipated. Alexander had let the word out that he planned to shut things down on January 24th. He lost his lease to Mammoth Brewing that will move operations into the old Whiskey Creek Mammoth. Alexander told Sierra Wave Media that both restaurants are in a C Corporation and could not be separated easily. He said, “The losses whiskeycreekmamin Mammoth brought down Bishop.”

Alexander called the Bishop restaurant “a good stand alone. We were planning only to be in Bishop but decided to spend one more winter in Mammoth. We really haven’t had a good winter in four years,” he said. The restaurateur said the Mammoth shop was down $200,000 in January. He said, “I didn’t feel like keeping Mammoth open one more winter was a big risk. That was my Achilles heel,” he said.

Alexander explained that his company, High Sierra Hospitality, bought the stock of Whiskey Creek, Incorporated, which included the Bishop and Mammoth restaurants and Angels. He said creditors can come after Bishop for Mammoth’s obligations – not a financially sustainable situation, he said.

Alexander also named the RIM Fire and government shutdown as big problems last Fall and pointed to the current occupancy rate in Mammoth at 32% for the weekend. He also noted that there is “far more competition in Mammoth now. You have to see those things out. The Village is right behind me.”

When we talked to Alexander, he had just finished an hour-long sit-down with Whiskey Creek founder and holder of a note on the business, Sam Walker. Said Alexander, “Sam said he was so sorry. It was bad luck.” Overall, he said people were very kind on the dark day of closure. With hope hard to muster, Alexander said, “We may work at trying to revive this. People are already inquiring.” Meanwhile, the Varsity Soccer coach wants to stay in Bishop for his family.

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Brian Williams
Brian Williams
7 years ago

Sad to read this. I was fortunate enough as kid to have the oppotunity to fish Arcularius ranch, when it was still owned by the Arcularius family. Great little cabins with wood cook stoves, outhouses, and the sweetest water ive ever tasted dipped with a bucket from the beautiful upper… Read more »

ram
ram
8 years ago

Street vendors are another sign of a bad economy..

eric
eric
8 years ago

WC became a junk sports bar frequented by mostly locals after work. no management. bad food,and poor service led to its demise. it was once before a special place with good food and atmosphere, great music and dance floor downstairs. music was usually local country rock. it was packed. mammoth… Read more »

BWM
BWM
8 years ago

Karma.

Last one leaving Mammoth, turn out the lights…..

southshoresoldier
southshoresoldier
8 years ago

Talk about all the bad service you want! Was in mammoth early dec.last winter , looking for a late night bite and drinks, cabbie dropped us off at Whiskey Creek around 9,late by ski town hours on a Monday. Headed up too bar upstairs, no body there but bartender, greeted… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

I think you must have been hallucinating the whole thing. That never happened in Mammoth Lakes.

Tom O
Tom O
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Happens all the time to those who give off a friendly vibe. Sorry it hasn’t happened to you Ken…maybe some day.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Tom O

Diminish me to elevate yourself. How is that friendly? Do you get a lot of free food that way? From the dumpster at McDonalds with the bears?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, perhaps you might consider that you have done some put downs of others too.
BK

Reality Check
Reality Check
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, your mom says you should stay in your room

Joe
Joe
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken and Desert Tortoise would make a great couple.

Curious
Curious
8 years ago

Oops .. Checking every few days ^ not beret . Haha

Curious
Curious
8 years ago

Bennett , can you write a piece about the dry cleaners in bishop? Went to drop off some clothes and a sign said it was closed until further notice . I’ve been checking beret few days and it looks like it’s closed for good . How are people going to… Read more »

Curious 2
Curious 2
8 years ago
Reply to  Curious

Is Bar-B-Q Bills closed forever or just for “the season”?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Curious 2

It’s unknown. The owners closed it, but word has it that someone might re-open it.
BK

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

…probably gave away too much food to people with positive attitudes..

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

About this Whiskey Creek thing. The valley needs something that is affordable, fun, and good. In Carpenteria there is a cook it yourself steakhouse with a salad and Bean bar that runs about $12/$15 a person FOR STEAK!, The Palms. It’s got good authentic Western ambiance, it’s cheap, and it’s… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Maybe not so much of a market any more for big meals of comfort food and booze in an increasingly health conscious outdoor recreation clientele? Just asking ……

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Not only that — there’s an obesity epidemic so fewer and fewer people have the energy to get up off the couch and go to Mammoth to ski. Skiing is not easy if you are out of shape. Also, there’s just too many of the same kind of businesses trying… Read more »

ULYSSES
ULYSSES
8 years ago

WHAT MANY PPL WONT TALK ABOUT IS THE RIDICOUSLY HIGH PRICES, THE LOUSY SEVICE AND HOW THE OWNER IS SELDOM SEEN AT HIS PLACE OF BUSINESS, MANY PPL IN THIS COMMUNITY THINK ITS OK FOR THEM TO CHARGE EXORBITANT PRICES JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE LOCAL BUSINESSES, LOOK AT BBQ BILLS… Read more »

Wondering
Wondering
8 years ago
Reply to  ULYSSES

Ulysses, Wow are you ever bitter….my thought from your rant is people are rude to you because you are rude to them. I am saddened by the closure of the businesses here in our Community, and what you don’t think about is how it trickles down to all of the… Read more »

Tony Cumia
Tony Cumia
8 years ago
Reply to  ULYSSES

Please stop screaming… cap lock off please

gene thomas
gene thomas
8 years ago

Unfortunately, this closing, and the reported closing of Barbecue Bill’s, make Bishop a much less attractive headquarters for out-of-area spring and summer tourists. Previously for many years, a group of six of us would come up for long weekends, fish Lake Sabrina and others (now pretty much dry), and we… Read more »

Pedro
Pedro
8 years ago
Reply to  gene thomas

For quality takeout or outdoor seating try Burger Barn in Bishop or Copper Top for BBQ in Big Pine. Holy Smoke for indoor BBQ in Bishop. Hate too see WC and possibly BB go, I’m not much into chain restaurants either.

ULYSSES
ULYSSES
8 years ago
Reply to  Pedro

HOLY SMOKE IS NEXT

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago
Reply to  ULYSSES

Ulysses, why would you say that? They have great food and great service.

chris
chris
8 years ago
Reply to  gene thomas

We have plenty of other restaurants in Bishop that serve really good food for reasonable prices, and have great service, to boot! Try Astorga’s for Mexican Food; but if you want hard liquor with your taco, go to La Casita. If you’re looking for good pasta, try Upper Crust where… Read more »

DESCO
DESCO
8 years ago

Correction, Whiskey Creek had good food, a long time ago. When I was a skier from Socal in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was the place to be. When I lived in Mammoth in the first part of the current century it was still a pretty good place… Read more »

Mr. Pickles
Mr. Pickles
8 years ago

Should of called in “Restaurant Impossible” and maybe they would of had a chance. So sad to see them go.

ferdinand lopez
ferdinand lopez
8 years ago

will a gondola fit into whiskey creek?

Yaney LA MacIver
Yaney LA MacIver
8 years ago

Well, I wonder if this is sign of the demise of a tourist economy in the OV? And heck no on the chains! 100 folks that’s a huge hit in an area with such a small population. I remember the Copper Kettle and even the Kittie Lee Inn so am… Read more »

enoughalready
enoughalready
8 years ago

There are some fine memories of some fun nights at Whiskey Creek in Mmth. Some fuzzy memories too. Like Rafters it was the hot spot for a while. Those days are past and time to move on. Both locations peaked a while back with a long downward run-out. If the… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  enoughalready

I ate at Whiskey Creek only once in the last 15 years. Breakfast. It was put on my table with the eggs and potatoes cold after a long wait. It was more expensive than a dozen eggs; a loaf of bread; pound of bacon at Vons. I never went back.… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

I think your half correct Ken. Your correct about there prices, but I would be surprised if the Bishop location isn’t open again real soon. Every tourist going to Mammoth and Yosemite has to drive thru this tourist trap. And Whiskey has close to the prefect location for this town… Read more »

Uncle Tom
Uncle Tom
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, if the future is steet vendors, then count me out.

familygal
familygal
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken- you sound like such an unhappy person. i wish for you lots of encouraging and loving friends. it’s gonna be okay – i promise – everything is going to work out okay. but being negative and without hope will not get you to the good stuff in life. be… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  familygal

Pray for me and light a candle…

butterbreadt
butterbreadt
8 years ago

I see a “marijuana Pot-Shop” in Bishop’s future ūüôā

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago
Reply to  butterbreadt

Butterbreadt- I see all the Nancy Reagan Reaganites rolling in their graves right now. Just say no. Luv Ya!

Jason Bauerfield
Jason Bauerfield
8 years ago

Whiskey Creek had a great smoked salmon spinach fettuccine in a creamy Alfredo sauce. I even smoked my own salmon and copied it (don’t forget the capers!). They took it off the menu several years ago, for some reason. Benett, I admire and appreciate your work. Your motto regarding the… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
8 years ago

Whiskey Creek in Mammoth hasn’t been the same since Daniella left to back home to Brazil, not only was she an outstanding waitress but easy to look at too.

What are the cops gonna do now at 2 am?

JP
JP
8 years ago
Reply to  Tinner

Exactly. No more sitting around on their fat keister looking for people to harass. Next stop: Mammoth Brew Co!

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
8 years ago

Sorry to read of the demise of both Whiskey Creeks. It looks like the location will continue with the brewery in Mammoth. I hope something similar will occur at the Bishop location.

Best of luck in the future to the owner and all the displaced employees.

Jason Bauerfield
Jason Bauerfield
8 years ago

Thanks for the explanation, Benett. And I appreciate your being forthright in defending your belief. But it still rubs me the wrong way; it come across as an arrogant way of thinking for modern media. ‚ÄúThe newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

You won’t be the first person I’ve rubbed the wrong way.
BK

tbone
tbone
8 years ago

Yes, Jason, I’m sure that motto smacks of class warfare, which FoxNews is currently focusing their corporate-controlled lens on. I’m sure you prefer something more ominously orwellian, perhaps “we report, you decide”?

So sad
So sad
8 years ago

So long flat iron steak and bloody Mary’s you will be missed.

Jason Bauerfield
Jason Bauerfield
8 years ago

“Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.” Bennett, I don’t think that is a very good motto for a responsible journalist/reporter. It comes across as simplistic and rubs me, at least, the wrong way. af¬∑flict (of a problem or illness) cause pain or suffering to; affect or trouble. “serious ills… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Humorist Finley Peter Dunne (early 1900s) coined the phrase. “The newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands the militia, controls the legislature, baptizes the young, marries the foolish, comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, buries the dead, and roasts them afterward.” Many… Read more »

Jason Bauerfield
Jason Bauerfield
8 years ago

The WC model is out-dated – very high overhead, etc. The best food in places like Thailand and Mexico is from street vendors – green curries with shrimp, crispy carnitas tacos, etc. I have noticed an increase in street vendors, in Bishop, and am planning my own food business based… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

kinda hard to sit with friends and have a drink and an appetizer at the street vendors!

LeonD
LeonD
8 years ago

Obamacare was probably another factor.

JC
JC
8 years ago
Reply to  LeonD

How?

LeonD
LeonD
8 years ago
Reply to  JC

How? Any full time employees would fall under the employer mandate…with two WC restaurants costing tens of thousands to insure. Eating away at the bottom line. Why to you think Target, Wallmat, Costco all are blowing off their employees to part time? Wake up its a disaster

I Love To Fish
I Love To Fish
8 years ago

Tourist Business Improvement District TAX Claims is first victim….

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  I Love To Fish

Sad all the way around…sad for the Alexanders, sad for the employees and sad for the people of bishop and mammoth. WC had really good food!

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

This is really sad, you never want to see any business go. The business climate is getting harder by more fees/taxes, higher minimum wage and the cost of food which keeps going up every month. I hope things will work out and Whiskey Creek to make a come back in… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Yes, most certainly — it’s the cost of labor. I can’t understand how any California business can stay solvent paying wages to it’s workers. What we really need to turn this economy around is to legalize slave labor again. And when a slave gets too old or sick to work,… Read more »

Tom O
Tom O
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Coming from someone who apparently does not under stand econ 101. Still firing blanks at the TV when CSI is on Ken?

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Tom O

Some quotes from Adam Smith, one of the founding intellects of market capitalism: “Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects… Read more »

JC
JC
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

It’s the drugs in the food that keep packing them in.

JP
JP
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Wow. Ken is really on it! You guys got more like him up there? I hope he’s not a gun owner

John Barton
John Barton
8 years ago

I’m sorry to hear this. WC has been a landmark for so long. I have fond memories of meeting friends and family there for a meal or drink for past 20 plus years. I think what would thrive in Bishop for years to come, rain or shine, snow or no… Read more »

I Love To Fish
I Love To Fish
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

I totally see an Applebee’s in Bishop

Tina
Tina
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

I guess all the thumbs down are employee-trolls of other restaurants who are happy to see WC gone and don’t welcome any competition. Another chain other than Dennys would be great that offers decent meals at an affordable price.

brian
brian
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

Trader Joes and an Applebees would make Bishop a much nicer place.

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

Whiskey Creek was much better than any of those places. I recently ate at an Olive Garden and I ordered a dish similar to the steak fettucine at WC, WC’s version totally blew the Olive Garden version away..no comparison. Best we can hope for is WC comes back revamped!