music in the park san jose

.One Chapter Ends at Los Gatos landmark Charley LG’s

music in the park san jose

On a Thursday night in Los Gatos last month, DJ MARSHiANN bounced around Charley LG’s plush second-story dance floor, checking on attendees, as NAPA spun energetic electronic music. It wasn’t long before Brendan Sherry, one of the members of Where You At?, hopped behind the decks to deliver a slew of fresh-sounding beats, going back-to-back with other youthful DJs.

As the powerful and crisp sound wafted out along a mostly quiet North Santa Cruz Avenue, toward the bluegrass show at a Main Street coffee shop, preparations were underway for the bar’s future.

After about two-and-a-half years, Alex Hult, CEO of Flights Restaurant Group Inc., has decided to sell the space, which came with plenty of lore and baggage.

The venue was previously the home of Mountain Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon, which was founded by Jim Farwell and Jack McNamara in 1972. Farwell, a decorated Vietnam veteran and founding member of Santa Clara University’s rowing team, was the great-grandson of founding Los Gatos settler James Lyndon. The saloon was named after Irish mountain man Charles McKiernan, who was born almost 200 years ago and famously mauled by a bear in the 1850s.

Farwell died at age 48 in 1992 of pancreatic cancer. His wife, Sue Farwell, partnered with Los Gatos bartender Mark Achilli to continue the business.

In 2008, after selling the business to Esequiel “Paul” Garcia, Achilli was killed outside his Los Gatos townhome in a murder-for-hire that shocked the town. The criminal trial against Esequiel “Paul” Garcia was D.A. Jeff Rosen’s last hands-on case before he became Santa Clara County DA.

In December 2016, a jury awarded $45.1 million in damages to Achilli’s daughter, Alexandra.No payments on the damage award (which was reduced to $20.1 million on appeal) to Alexandra Achilli have been made, according to attorney Robert Bohn Jr. “It’s essentially uncollectable,” he said.

Garcia was imprisoned for life, with no chance of parole. 

Venue’s Fresh Starts

In 2021, San Francisco DJ Donovan Friedman and professional hockey player turned restaurateur Hult partnered to launch a dinner theater concept, called Immersive: Los Gatos, at the location, featuring spooky drinks, sword-swallowing and aerial dance.

“We’re tapping into something that nobody’s doing down here right now,” Friedman said at the time.

The quality of the production did match what you might expect to see in Hollywood or New York.

Around that time, an avid disability-lawsuit-filer swept through town and hit Hult’s Flights restaurant a few blocks away. He chose to let that location go to focus on growing his dining empire elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the partnership between Friedman and Hult didn’t play out as hoped, and Hult opened the rebranded “Charley’s LG” as a still-ornate but pared-down bar to a full house on Feb. 26, 2022. On Feb. 14 of this year, lawyer Neil Chan established DJJ LG15 LLC, which appeared on a change of ownership notice posted on the Charley’s LG door.

“Charley’s name will go away, the venue will look completely different, and for many a lot of memories will be lost,” said longtime valley nightspot operator Chuck Oliver on Facebook. “We are excited for a new business coming into Los Gatos and fully supporting them.”

Charley’s general manager Pam Davis said that despite ups and downs, the bar was doing well.

“We were hitting all of our goals that we wanted to hit,” she said. “We did not have Charley’s up for sale.”

When an ownership group with connections to Los Gatos made an offer, however, Hult—who has two kids and a baby on the way—went for it, Davis said, declining to reveal the price.

The buyers started making overtures around September, and the transaction was completed in April.

Davis adds that, now, Hult can put more of his energy into the restaurant-focused AI startup he’s developing.


  1. I lived in San Jose for 22 years and only went into Mt. Charley’s twice in that time but I thought it was a cool place to hang out and hear some good music. That place had a lot of history to it and I know it will be missed by Los Gatos residents.

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