Is Murphys Hotel Still Open – Californians may know Calaveras County for the nearly century-old frog jumping competition, which was canceled this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. But shelter restrictions have closed an older Calaveras gem — the Historic Murphys Inn. “To my knowledge, it hasn’t been completely shut down and operated in 164 years,” said owner Brian Goss. That is, until now. The hotel, located on a street corner in the heart of California’s gold country, is a two-story stone building with moss-shuttered windows and a wrought-iron balcony. Town residents say this is the heart of the Murphys.
‘PG&E shut down in California, we didn’t – our bar was open by candlelight and we cooked outside on the barbecue.’
Is Murphys Hotel Still Open
Goss says owning a hotel is like owning a museum. It’s a gold rush relic, a piece of history that generations of Californians have seen passing through since 1856. Now, for the first time in its life, the building is empty. “We’ve had some big fires come through here, we’ve never shut down,” Goss said. “PG&E in California shut down, we didn’t — our bar was open by candlelight and we were ‘cooking outside on the barbecue.’ Wild West Endurance Murphys Inn has weathered many storms, both economic and literary. Archival image of the Murphys in the 1860s. (Courtesy of Brian Goss) The gold rush brought thousands of miners to the area, and in 1852, the Murphys had a larger population than today, according to local historian Judith Marvin. “There was a three-story hotel, eight taverns, two restaurants, an express and banking house, nine carpenter shops,” Marvin said. “So it was developing then.” The area produced $20 million in gold, most of which was taken from the harbor right behind the historic hotel. Over the years, the hotel has played host to the likes of Mark Twain, Susan B. Anthony and J.P. Morgan. But then came Murphy’s first big bust. “All the easy gold was found and the whole county went into a great depression,” Marvin said. “But Murphys just kept going. Cheers, you might say.”
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Tourism Promotion The city itself was just passing through until the newest boom arrived: tourism. The old-style one-horse town on Main Street is now lined with 25 wine tasting rooms, an artisan ice cream shop and a pet store that sells elaborate dog vests. But, at least for now, they are all closed.
California’s shelter-in-place order hits as businesses in Murphys exit the slowest part of the year. “The next five or six months is when everybody makes their money,” said local resident Bob Russell, who manages a nearby golf club. next year until now again.” The city’s renaissance seems set to begin at the 164-year-old Murphys Hotel. But other businesses, like Doke Sushi, may never return. In the past six years, Josh Steck made the small Japanese restaurant a favorite. Now, Steck says he’s lost 90% of his business. Locals are trying to support the restaurants, but without visitors, it’s hard to do. The rainbow appears in behind the Murphys Hotel sign. (Courtesy of Brian Goss) “I’m not really sure we’re going to make it through the summer,” Steck said. “We don’t have the money and the resources to recover from these things and we’re the last ones to ask for help.” to have in the long run. Steck believes that with so many small businesses struggling, the personal touch – the very thing that draws guests to Murphy’s – may be lost forever. He believes a by historian Judith Marvin that it will be a long time before the Murphys return. His study of the town’s history led him to believe that bodies were often left behind in shops. I think we have to reinvent ourselves. Like everybody,” Marvin said. “And it won’t be mining.” But Russell still had an original take on the situation. “I was born and raised a Californian and I’ve always believed that California has always succeeded in stuff,” said Russell. “I think you’ll live.” Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or register for an account on our website to continue
From left, Brian Goss, Kevin Clerico and Joel Lacitignola pose with Murphys Inn owner Dorian Faught. Published by Joel Metzger
Three men have their sights set on the future of the Historic Murphys Inn, which they will purchase from owner Dorian Faught in the coming months.
Historic Murphys Hotel
Faught, who has owned the hotel for about 10 years, said he is not selling the building – instead, he is selling the bar, restaurant and lodging businesses. The sale ends when the State Liquor Control agency processes the liquor license transfer.
“I always felt like I was the keeper of the hotel,” Faught said, adding that the hotel has been in continuous operation for more than 150 years. “I tried to instill in those people that this is not a piece of property that you can own — it’s like a piece of history and almost belongs to the community.”
Since John Kautz purchased the hotel, Faught has implemented business practices that have resulted in a 10 percent increase in business each year.
“There is too much uncertainty in the future that everyone is stagnant, no one is moving forward, because they don’t know how deep the water is,” said Faught, saying that he has taken several dangerous trips during his business career, most which has paid off.
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One of the successful ventures was the purchase of a hotel and the implementation of its five-year business plan. Faught groomed the three men for several years, making sure they actually lived in the area and had the responsibility and integrity to run the businesses he carefully built. Once they take over, Faught plans to try retirement, though he says, “I’m not going to stop working.”
“I can travel and maybe see a Giants game at Giants Stadium. Maybe I’ll spend some time in museums and fishing.”
Kevin Clerico, 31, has been in the restaurant business since he was 13 years old and has long dreamed of opening his own establishment.
“I’m excited to be a part of this group, this town is an amazing place to be and I love the people,” said the five-year hotel employee.
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“It’s an opportunity for my future and for my family to take care of them and hopefully they won’t have to work for the rest of their lives,” he said. ‘food, so I really enjoy cooking. I’m proud of what I’m doing.”
Brian Goss, 31, has worked at the hotel for eight years. He says food and drink have always been something he’s passionate about.
“Having an opportunity like this is once in a lifetime,” he said. “With this job, I can semi-retire at age 50 or 60. It’s really exciting to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Looking to the future of the hotel, Goss said there will be changes but they will come in “baby steps.”
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“We’ll probably go with a seasonal menu at the restaurant,” Goss said, adding that they’ll keep the staples that everyone loves. “We’re looking at wine flights being done, wine dinners with small plate meals. For the most part, it stays about the same. You haven’t changed a good thing.”
“Even in a bad economy, we’ve grown 10 percent or more every year,” he continued. “We’re just going to keep the staff and keep the positive attitude and energy around here like we’ve always had and hopefully keep all the customers coming back.”
Comment Policy Calaveras Enterprise does not actively monitor comments. However, the staff reads to gauge reader interest. When abusive or offensive language is used or directed at other commenters, those comments will be deleted. If a commenter continues to use such language, that person will be banned from commenting. We want to encourage a community of communication and sharing of ideas, and we really value readers’ opinions. This is Season 2 Episode 8 of Hotel Hell.
The hotel is named after the place, not after a person named Murphy. I’ve seen some write it as an episode of Murphy’s Hotel Hotel Hell, but without the abbreviation because the name isn’t proprietary.
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