Pete's Brass Rail and Car Wash is Danville's answer to "Cheers."
People really do know each other's name. Servers actually mingle with regulars. Employees are invited to customers' weddings.
"Our customers range from teen-agers on first dates to retirees," says Amy Graham, the restaurant's marketing manager and an 18-year employee. "They feel comfortable. It's familiar. It's a home away from home."
Pete creates its home style atmosphere with food, service and a sense of community.
On Mondays, regular customers get discounts on beers.
On Tuesdays, Pete's spices things up by offering foods from different parts of the world. This week was a no-brainer. It'll be corned beef and cabbage. On Wednesday, the same special will be offered for St. Patrick's Day.
The NCAA basketball tournament will also be a big draw. The restaurant will have the March Madness games on throughout the day, starting with the first games on Thursday.
Pete's was established in Danville in 1987. That's when original owners Franklin and Donna Kistner opened their doors at a facility down the street from the current location.
Franklin owned a Pete's Fish Market in New Jersey. There was also a Brass Rail restaurant. Hence the name. However, Donna disliked brass rails in bars, so none were ever put in.
Then, for a joke, Franklin added the car wash. Part of the restaurant's campy humor. In fact, whenever a sarcastic customer asked about the car wash, Franklin handed them a bucket and brush he kept handy.
They even adopted the slogan: "There's no brass rail, there's no car wash and who the hell is Pete?"
In 1990, the Kistners drew up a caricature of the mythical Pete and allowed customers to come up with different personalities such as famous singers, cartoon characters and celebrities. More than 10,000 have been submitted and 100 have been chosen to be on display on the restaurant's back wall.
Eleven years ago, Pete's moved a few blocks to a facility three times larger at 201 Hartz Avenue. In 2005, the Kistners retired and Dave Homer, the restaurant's manager, and his wife Susie bought the place. The ownership changed but not the philosophy.
"We're very unpretentious," says Dave Homer. "People come in as they are."
That sentiment is echoed by its customers.
Julie Murrin, who works at The Steven Kent Winery in Livermore, is a regular, along with her husband, Matt.
She says the comfortable atmosphere is felt by younger and older customers alike. She notes there is always a large crowd at Pete's the day before Thanksgiving because college students come home for the holiday and head to the restaurant to reunite.
"You can come here with family. You can come here with friends," says Murrin. "Not many places can pull that off."
John Schreiber, an Alamo attorney, has been eating lunch at Pete's for a dozen years.
"The food is great. The service is great. It's the whole atmosphere here," he says.
On some afternoons, Schreiber can been seen discussing politics with T. J. Daly. The San Ramon resident is an East Coast transplant who quickly discovered Pete's when he moved here almost three years ago.
"I love the atmosphere and I love the people here," he says.
Pete's is also known for its beers. They have 20 on tap at any given time, but they are constantly rotating in beers from breweries all over California and elsewhere. In January, the restaurant poured its 1,400th different brew.
They also have a Connoisseur's Club for regular beer tasters whose names are on the wall next to the Pete's caricatures.
"You can get something here other than Bud. The wide range of beers is definitely an initial draw," says Graham.
The regular menu also remains popular. The restaurant has everything from large salads to beer battered fish and chips to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It's best known for the 11 types of burgers it offers.
"It's the best bar food anywhere nearby," says Murrin.
Pete's is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. It's easy to spot on its corner location with the large oak tree shading the patio dining area.
"We have quality food and good service in an environment where people can enjoy them," says Homer.