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Weed's last bar, Papa's Place, closes its doors

Shareen Strauss
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers
Dave Culbertson and Daniel Anderson stand in front of Papa's Place on Weed's Main Street, which has closed its doors for good.

Papa’s Place, a fixture on Weed’s Main Street since 1989 and the last of the town’s cocktail bars, has closed its doors.  

Dave Culbertson, along with his wife Cherokee, bought the building when it was gutted out by a fire 31 years ago, at a time when Weed boasted more than a dozen bars. Over the years, Papa’s Place thrived as the local evening hotspot.

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Papa’s Place held pool, shuffleboard and dart tournaments and hosted live music and themed parties. People enjoyed special occasions and countless class reunions there, thumbing through the Weed High School yearbooks that date back to 1919 which sat on shelves along the  bar’s wall.  

Organizations like the Siskiyou Motorcycle Association originated at Papa’s Place, Culbertson said as he removed memorabilia, funny signs and photos from the bar’s walls this week.

Weed's Dave Culbertson points at some black and white photos of his bar, Papa's Place, from the early 1900s. As he removes all the memorabilia from the walls, he tells stories of his life as a bar owner through the years.

“I’ve been in the bar business 38 years,” he said. “It is about time to get out. I made a lot of friends. It’s been a fun ride.”  

After 40 years of marriage, Cherokee died in March. That, coupled with the bar’s state mandated closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, are the reasons Culbertson is retiring.

Culbertson’s friend Daniel Anderson helped him move antiques from the bar this week, including black and white photographs of Weed’s early days, when the sidewalks were made of wood.

“Cherokee was definitely the glue that held this bar together,” said Anderson.

Dave Culbertson stands behind his bar under his late wife Cherokee's memorabilia as he cleans out Papa's Place in Weed, which has closed its doors for good.

Originally built in 1906, Papa’s Place was originally called the Western Hotel and Saloon. There were rooms upstairs, a small kitchen in the back of the bar and four tables for playing cards. 

“Almost every bar in town had a kitchen in the early 1900s because there were 1,200 to 1,500 people working at the mill and railroad at that time and 80-90% of them were bachelors,” said Culbertson. 

In 1917, there was a fire at the hardware store where the Veterans’ Hall stands today that burned down the whole block. After it was rebuilt in 1916, the bar became the Rex Café, also known as the Rex Club.

A black and white photo shows the Western Hotel and Saloon in Weed in the early 1900s. Although it burned twice, the location has been a bar ever since.

In the 60s, the bar became the Night Cap when it changed owners. Then another fire gutted the building and it stood vacant until the Culbertsons bought it.  

“This bar was home away from home for a lot of local folks,” said Anderson. 

“I have always loved Papa’s Place,” said Culbertson’s daughter, Christy Forry, who worked behind the bar side by side with her parents for the past 13 years. “My parents worked hard to make it happen, rebuilding that burned out building. What a great dream to reality for two bartenders that have worked for others and then make it on their own.”

Forry said it is hard losing her mom and the bar in the same year. “It is definitely bittersweet to know that Papa’s Place has been sold but we all know it was time. (Papa’s Place) will always be in my heart.”

Dave laughed as he shared some of the bar stories he accumulated over the past three decades. Sobering, he said, “When you have a business, you are married to it.” 

The Papa’s Place building is now in escrow and Culbertson is hoping it will reemerge as a beer bar – probably with a new name – as it has again and again over the years.