Taverns have flourished along Santa Ynez’s Sagunto Street at least since 1906. Sixty years later, four busy bars lubicated the local and through the Last Chance, the Bum Steer and Parker’s have faded into history, the legendary Maverick Saloon remains a lively constant in Valley life.
In 1963, Jerry and Diane Thompson bought nine bare lots from publisher tycoon Hastings Harcourt and drew up plans for a museum, restaurant, two-story hotel and the Maverick Saloon, which they named after the TV series starring James Garner. The barn came later (approx. 1968) at the behest of Buddy Dean, a Santa Maria DJ who was convinced that given a dance hall, Santa Ynez could become “the Nashville of the West.” To achieve an antique look, the Thompsons used materials salvaged from demolished Victorian houses. Before the Maverick Saloon took over the barn for a Dance Hall, it was at one time “Lulubelle’s” Restaurant and a Tool Rental Facility. It became part of the Maverick Bar in 1992.
To draw visitors, the Thompsons and their tenants promoted weekend swap meets, and invited the Lompoc Rawhiders Fast Draw Club to stage shoot outs. They welcomed folks who attended events at Cotton Gray’s roping arena, which sat across the street and counted cars (and horses) at the Last Chance Saloon two blocks away to monitor the business they hoped would head their way. Bad timing, lack of municipal sewer and soaring interest rates conspired against the Thompsons and their frontier town never grew beyond the first three buildings. In 1977, the Thompsons sold the property and abandoned their quest to provide a diversion for all the tourists.
In 2003, Mark and Travis Burnett became the 6th owners of the Maverick Saloon. The bar was redesigned and expanded as was the outdoor deck. More live entertainment was added along with Rick Barker’s “Nashville2You” Concert Series that brought famous and soon to be famous stars to the Maverick, including Sugarland, Pat Green, Dierks Bentley, Paul Azur, Craig Morgan, Paul Thorn, Confederate Railroad, Jennifer Hanson, Rhonda Vincent, Jeff Bridges, Tanya Tucker, Wil Ridge and a bunch more.
Today, the logo mirrors, posters, lighted beer signs and rusted horseshoes line the wooden walls, giving way here and there to the snapshots and ball cap offerings that reflect decades of revelry. Overhead, the ceiling flutters with paper money bearing scribbled birthday wishes, business cards, meeting notes, names and wobbly autographs, an aerial guest book just waiting for more entries. The Maverick has been seen in several movies and television shows and is also home to the very popular “Tales from the Tavern” Concert Series, which runs in the Spring and Fall months.