Cabo Wabo Owner Responds to Hagar's Announcement

December 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The owner of the Cabo Wabo restaurant and bar is responding to Sammy Hagar's announcement that he is pulling his Cabo Wabo brand out of Fresno.Action News caught up with Milt Barbis Friday morning, and told us: parting ways with Hagar was a mutual decision.

Despite becoming one of the hottest nightspots in town in recent months, owner and developer Milt Barbis said Cabo Wabo wasn't the right fit for Fresno.

"I think it's best for both parties, we're happy with the way it's going," said Granite Park owner & developer Milt Barbis, "I know everybody wants to make it into a bad thing, the star's leaving town. I've wish Sammy no ill will, I think it's a great brand."

In a statement Thursday Sammy Hagar said, "If the owners of the current license in Fresno intend to keep the location open and change the concept, to something entirely different, it will not be under the Cabo Wabo brand."

It's a huge departure from just two months earlier, when fans lined up as early as 4 am for a chance to see the red rocker himself perform at the club.

While Cabo Wabo seems successful, the Granite Park development has faced growing financial trouble. "People are confused with the Granite Park Kids Foundation which are the back fields, versus the retail, which is the front. There are two separate companies, and the front retail is fine," said Barbis.

There's a lot at stake, including taxpayer money. The City of Fresno also invested in Granite Park. It guaranteed a $5-million dollar loan in exchange for public use of the athletic fields at the complex.

Council Member Jerry Duncan said he's hopeful Granite Park can still succeed, despite losing the Cabo Wabo brand.

Barbis promises it will only get better. "I think Fresno's going to like the venue even more than Cabo Wabo. I hope the people just give us some time and we'll get it going."

Barbis said he will announce the restaurant's new name next week. It will remain open during the renovations and transition, Tuesday through Saturdays.

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