On the Nile

A painter brightens up the outside of the Nile Theater in 2005, as part of renovations undertaken by Klarke Garl, who told The Californian: “Part of the nostalgia is it’s still in the old Nile Theater. It’s still the spot where the Nile Theater was. Regardless of what happens here, the building has been revived. It’s been brought up to today’s standards, no matter what way you look at it.”

Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Santa Barbara-chic buildings at Bakersfield prices? Klarke Garl knew a good thing when he saw it, which is why he snapped up two historic downtown buildings about a decade ago and lovingly restored both before his death on Dec. 13 at age 54. 

Visiting from his home in Santa Barbara, where he already had started various businesses, Garl spotted the New Yorker apartment building at 18th and F streets and bought it in 2004. Built in 1910 in the Mission style, the three-story complex was a beauty but a beauty who had had some work done, not all of it successful. So with his own hands, he began a restoration project that was still underway at the time of his death.

"I know he did his homework as far as restoring everything as far down as the crystal doorknobs," said Frank Kruz, who manages the New Yorker. "He researched finding the right pieces that belonged at that time and finding the parts."

Garl also bought the Nile Theater, a landmark that had fallen on hard times after a brutal cycle over the decades of openings/closings/remodelings/and more closings. By the time he made his purchase more than a decade ago, the 19th street movie house, filled with broken glass and debris, had been closed for years.

Garl converted the 10,000-square-foot building into a nightclub, the Nile Bar & Grill.

"We had the Nile for about 11 or 12 years," said Kruz, who managed the club. "It was one of the first super-nightclubs. Klarke said he paid off all the money it took to put it together the first year or two."

The Nile is now owned by a church.

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