by Emily Inwood
In an urn above the bar rest the ashes of Pete Cecchi. Pete was the son of Riccardo (Dick) Cecchi who, with his wife, Dora, founded Dick’s in 1934. Dick worked as a logger for 20 years after emigrating from Italy with his father. He opened the business, then called Dick’s Liquor Store and Café, just as prohibition ended, veritably ensuring success. At the time, they offered Italian family-style lunches to loggers in the dining room—where the dart boards and pinball machine are found today—and sold liquor in the front room. They continued to offer meals until 1961, when the business became solely a bar.
The Cecchi family lived in the adjoining building, where Rubaiyat Beads is found now. When Dick died in 1967, his son Pete took over and continued to work there until his retirement, even after selling it to the Mendocino Hotel owners in 1982, writing into the contract that it would remain a “working man’s bar.” In 2013, Eula and Mike Lenihan, who met each other while Eula was bartending, bought the business and have maintained the working man’s vibe that is Pete’s legacy.
Today, locals and tourists alike find familiarity, nostalgia, and great drinks at Dick’s Place. During the day, the door usually stands invitingly open, while on dark, misty nights, the neon martini sign, grandfathered in by the Historical Review Board, acts as a beacon for the thirsty and lonely. The bar has a museum-meets-man cave feel. One wall is covered with photos from logging in the early 1900s, and the rest are papered with all sorts of memorabilia: bumper stickers, Giants’ paraphernalia, and countless personal touches by the many people who’ve celebrated and found solace in this special haven. There is a complete miniature replica of the bar created by Chris Hayter, and a hallway of murals by Jacob Hewko that leads to the bathrooms. There are four TVs inside and one on the back patio broadcasting sports, windows overlooking the headlands and bay, a jukebox pumping tunes, and dart boards and pinball in the back.
At Dick’s, each bartender has their own style and specialty, but there is one consistency: the award-winning Bloody Mary, voted best in town a few years back. Visitors to Mendocino come back for the drink, and locals know to order it regularly. Though there is no substitute for sitting at the glossy bar, chatting up friends and strangers, and taking in the details covering the walls while sipping this spicy, tangy cocktail, here is the cherished recipe:
Dick’s Place Bloody Mary
Serves 6, 10 oz. glasses or “buckets.” Mix together in a pitcher:
- 1 32oz. container plain tomato juice— Campbell’s
- 1 heaping Tbsp each: dill weed, black pepper, horseradish, and celery salt
- 12 dashes each: Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
Fill each glass with ice, add a shot of vodka, then fill with above mix. Garnish each serving with a spicy, dilly green bean, a lemon wedge, a pepperoncini, and two olives.
Dick’s Place | 45070 Main St, Mendocino (707) 937-6010
Open daily 11:30am–2am
Emily has called the Mendocino coast home since 1983. She loves to hunt for mushrooms, make pies, and run around outside.