For years, this same location housed a pair of misfit of bars. First named “Infusions Lounge”, it later changed names to “The Rocks.” Although one of the only places in town for dancing, the architecture lent nothing to Petaluma’s heritage and the clientele of mostly out-of-town patrons appeared to equate drinking with fighting. Police visits were the norm. Other local bars viewed The Rocks’ patrons with suspicion, as it wasn’t unusual for them to start trouble. In fact, the powers that be imposed a month long liquor license suspension on The Rocks simply to allow the bar to cool off and get their act together (and maybe to give the police a bit of a breather.) The Rocks simply never fit in, not by a country mile, if for no other reason than that it took no heed of what locals wanted from a downtown watering hole. What may work well in Santa Rosa or even San Francisco does not automatically work in our unique and storied Petaluma downtown.
Not surprisingly, the closing of “The Rocks” in early 2013 met with a collective sigh of relief. Fast forward to this past spring and for some that relief turned to skepticism as renovations started on a new bar. Raising more than one eyebrow was its name – Jamison’s Roaring Donkey. Although not an unusual name for a pub back in the UK, that kind of name is synonymous with “party bar” here in the Colonies. However, a peek in the door during construction soothed some of those anxieties. The former cold neon club space was not simply whitewashed over but was instead being stripped down to its roots. The use of reclaimed lumber and steel transformed the space into something more befitting of the neighborhood and the natives.