After almost three decades of business in the City of Cotati, Friar Tucks Pub, located at 8201 Old Redwood Highway in the heart of Cotati, is closing its doors. I discussed the decision with owner Cheryl Nixon and her sons Rudy and Randy on Monday afternoon by phone. The Nixons announced the sad news on social media shortly thereafter. An exact date to close their doors has not yet been set but they’ll likely “go dark” according to Rudy by the week of January 18. Rudy said he wanted to give the public an opportunity to come by, take pictures and say goodbye.
Friar Tucks was started by Cheryl and her husband Marcus in 1992 near Oliver’s Market. It was Marcus’ dream, but they built the business together helped by good friends and family. Marcus passed away in 2013. Cheryl was the sole proprietor. According to Rudy, Friar Tucks was the longest originally sole proprietor, woman-owned business in Sonoma County. They moved to their current location downtown Cotati in 2007. Since their inception they have been an integral part of Cotati and the local community. The name originated when the Nixons and some friends were brainstorming what to call it. Some suggested since they all liked Robin Hood, that it be called Friar Tucks. And that’s what they did.
Friar Tucks and the Nixon family were heavily involved in their community. Cheryl served on the Cotati Chamber of Commerce for ten years. was president twice and was enshrined in the businessperson hall of fame, among other awards. The pub was a well-known event location for business meetings, social gatherings, theme parties, fundraising and sports viewing. One such event was the “Cotati Crawl” enjoyed by current and former students at Sonoma State University as well as local area families. It was originated and created by Cheryl Nixon and Friar Tucks in 1996. It is also known throughout Northern California and even in Nevada. SSU graduates often return with their families many years after they graduated to participate and relive the tradition. Graduates proudly retain their Cotati Crawl diplomas.
The family-owned business was also family run. Just about every member of the family, including grandkids, have worked at Friar Tucks in one form or another over the years. Janitor, waitress, bartender, cook or kitchen helper to name a few roles they took on. From designing events to executing them, whatever they needed to do, they did. Randy also acknowledged the non-family member employees. He said of their employees “that we couldn’t have done it without you”. Cheryl said she is proud of the legacy they are leaving behind. That legacy will outlive any of the events they sponsored over the years. And they sponsored many! Not just sports or pool teams, but a variety of youth activities and fundraising events for the good of the community.
Friar Tucks is not the first, nor will it be the last local business to close their doors. They are a casualty of the pandemic and health orders issued to combat it. When discussing the reasons for closure, Rudy said that with the new shut down orders and another “extension”, without immediate support they would be in trouble. The potential funds to help are too little too late. Closure is not of their own choice, but they realized they didn’t have any chance of survivability at this point. They wanted to go out on their own terms.