OAKHURST –The Snow Line, one of the area’s most storied watering holes, has reopened.
The tequila has been flowing since mid-September, says owner Jennifer McMillan, who purchased the iconic bar and grill property a year ago after it had been shuttered for a number of years.
McMillan has rehabbed the Snow Line as an upscale country bar, complete with live music and country line dancing. Located at 42155 Highway 41 on the northern outskirts of Oakhurst, the bar is open weekends-only right now.
The Snow Line, which features a large dance floor and stage, has been spruced up from top to bottom since McMillan purchased the property in September 2018 for $305,000.
In recent years, a number of owners and operators have struggled to turn a profit at the “world famous” Snow Line — which in its heyday drew throngs of loyal locals and lively groups of tourists en route to Yosemite.
The building itself was actually last operated as a local thrift shop. Since it was built in 1960, the bar and grill also has been called the Snow Line Depot and the Snow Line Lodge.
The two-story structure also includes a small apartment upstairs and a large outside deck offering stunning mountain views.
So far, the reborn watering hole is garnering five-star reviews on Facebook. “Amazing atmosphere, very friendly staff,” said patron Ryan Hansen. “It’s what you’d expect — and you get it.”
Meanwhile, several other properties McMillan owns in downtown North Fork also are in the process of getting major facelifts.
Construction work continues on the block formerly known as the Betty properties, which includes the old auto parts store. The exterior of those buildings have been resurfaced with a log cabin-like siding and McMillan, who also owns and operates popular event center Bandit Town in North Fork and Bandit Town Trading Post in Oakhurst, said she hopes to eventually open an antique store, small diner, bait and tackle shop and ice cream and candy store in downtown North Fork.
SNO caught up with Jen McMillan this week and asked her for the skinny on the Snow Line…
SNO: You’re calling it the Snow Line Country Bar, right?
McMillan: Yeah. We really like old Country Music and it also has a Country feel with the way I chose to decorate it so didn’t want to fool anyone so we named it that. We also call it The Snow Line Saloon and plain old Snow Line so you can call it anything you’d like [haha].
SNO: How would you describe the renovation process? Were there a lot of surprises? Was it more expensive than you thought it would be?
McMillan: Was pretty simple just took a while. Just replacing the roof and some flooring here and there and LOTS of little things. The roof was pricey and we were going to wait on it but it was raining indoors and a local contractor came forward and lent us the $ to get it done before winter God bless him. The walk in also had to have all new parts. Had to buy new refrigerators, etc but all in all it wasn’t too bad.
SNO: What day did the Snow Line officially reopen and why the “soft” open so far?
McMillan: We opened Sept. 14th. We just wanted to finally get it opened up for people to enjoy and felt it would be slow on the weekdays. We also currently can’t afford to hire anyone to be there so we are just keeping it manageable on our budget. We also have a ton of toddlers between us that need us during the week. We plan to open full-time Memorial Weekend through Labor Day Weekend next year.
SNO: What are the days/hours the bar is open now? (Will there be a formal grand opening and will the operating hours expand?)
McMillan: Hours right now are Friday 3-12, Saturday 12-12 and Sunday 11-9. We aren’t going to do a grand opening. We just figured everyone up here will make it eventually and then it won’t be too crowded and they can actually enjoy it. The hours and days will expand but we close purposely at midnight because we believe it will curb people from being too drunk and causin’ trouble. Shaving that last couple of rowdy hours off will keep my girls safer too and get them home at a decent hour.
SNO:How has business been so far?
McMillan: Been great. We are super happy. People are loving it.
SNO: What is your chef’s name?
McMillan: Her name is Sandra Miller. She’s amazing and also a great pastry chef so excited to try new things with her. The food is SO good. We also have Heather Supernaw in the kitchen and she is awesome as well — and her pies are so good. My husband [country musician Whitey Morgan] smokes and prepares all of the meats and makes our brisket and chili and he has been perfecting burgers so we are starting to offer them this weekend. I was a vegetarian when I met him and still would be if his brisket wasn’t so dang good.
SNO: Anything else you’d like me to mention about Snow Line or any of your other local projects?
McMillan: Just to stay tuned for new menu items and great live music and line dancing classes most Saturday nights. Working on getting Bandit Town open on weekends next summer and downtown North Fork is getting some love this winter as well.