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Bonn Lair pub turns 20, let the party begin

01/23/2014 9:57 AM

01/23/2014 9:58 AM

For two decades, the Bonn Lair has lived up to its motto: “Bringing a taste of Europe to Sacramento.” Now the British-style pub is set for a 20th anniversary celebration, Friday through Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.

Before we get into the party essentials, let’s chat with owner Dave Boyet, a former track star who still holds the record for the mile at Sacramento City College (he also ran for UC-Santa Barbara in the early 1970s).

So, Dave, what’s the story behind the pub?

“I was an athlete and professional Russian dancer — you know, the guy who squats down and kicks out his legs,” he said. “I worked in England, France, Germany and Belgium, and was the only American who made a living out of it.

“I lived in London for three years and (hung out at) a local family-run pub at nights. Kids ran around, and uncles and aunts were always there. I thought, ‘This (concept) will work in my East Sacramento neighborhood.’ I danced for the next 10 years and formed my exit strategy by talking with every pub owner I met, asking about how they ran their businesses.”

Boyet returned to the U.S. in the 1980s and taught “character dance” to troupes at the San Francisco Ballet. Then, at last, he was ready to make his move to pub-keeper. Bonn Lair was the first non-smoking bar to open in Sacramento, a rarity in the day. “Everything was so full of smoke in Europe, and I thought I could come up with a British-style pub without the smoke,” he said.

The Bonn Lair has a concise pub-grub menu (fish ‘n’ chips, bratwurst) along with 18 beers on tap “mostly from England, Ireland, Belgium and Germany (and another 40 in bottles),” Boyet said. “We were one of the first bars here to do that.”

One more distinction: To the delight of its patrons, the family-run pub has televised every World Cup soccer match since opening day.

As for anniversary festivities, a beer garden and picnic tables will be set up in a tent out back; food and drink specials will be available; a food truck will be parked nearby on Friday; and commemorative glasses and shirts will be sold.

Festivities will include a reunion of the soccer teams the pub has sponsored over the years; a roasted-pig dinner (“Because it’s Bacon Fest week”); a roast of Boyet himself, by longtime friends; a drink coaster-throwing contest; and a special trivia contest.

Bonn Lair is at 3651 J St., Sacramento. For details: (916) 455-7155,


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