"Chad’s has survived the wars, earthquakes, and the ups and downs.”

Rollin' into the Village on a hot summer Saturday afternoon, you can park your Harley in one of the "bikes only" spots alongside all the other shiny hogs and join in the revelry, dancing, and serious pool playing going on inside Chad's. Over a cold beer, you can swap stories with tourists and locals alike about the world situation, the Lakers, or the drought in Big Bear. Chad's today is truly an international gathering spot, at least by mountain standards.

But it wasn't always this way. In fact, that was probably the furthest thing from the minds of Fred and Blanche Chadbourne as they arrived in the sleepy town of Pineknot for their honeymoon in April of 1918.

The newlyweds very soon fell in love with the area and decided they would open a cafe in "town", the area known today as the Village. Fred was one of Big Bear's first commuters. He owned a men's store down in Redlands, and split his time between the two businesses until his permanent move to Big Bear in 1938. Known about town as a rough and gruff kind of guy, he was also said to have a heart of gold. Born in Maine in 1872, he moved to Redlands in 1909 and ran his store there for thirty years. After moving here full time, he lived only four more years, passing away in 1942.

As time went by, the Chadbourne's added Chad's Camp - an assortment of log cabins in the area today known as the Barlett parking lot. The last of these were torn down in the 90's when the Village was modernized. Blanche sold the business in 1944 and spent the rest of her days here until she died at the age of 76.

Chad's cafe moved from its original location two times and stands today at the corner of Pineknot Ave and Big Bear Blvd. Chad's has survived the wars, earthquakes and the ups and downs of Big Bear's economic cycles plus a series of five ownership changes. Over the years, Chad's the cafe and camp became Chad's the bar and developed a reputation as a rowdy place in the late 60's and 70's. As owning and riding a motorcycle become more acceptable, so did hanging out at Chad's.

Today, under the new owners, you are as likely to find doctors and lawyers among the leather clad riders as you are Hell's Angels. Old Fred and Blanche would be proud of their legacy - starting, owning and operating what is one of the oldest businesses in Big Bear.

-Excerpted from Big Bear Magazine: Nov/Dec 2002

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