Trout's Nightclub in Oildale played a unique role in honky-tonk culture in the southern Central Valley.
But then it ended — with a whimper. And now the North Chester Avenue building is on the real estate market for the third time in three years.
Last year's sale of the old saloon to Kern Medical Properties LLC seemed to signal the final last call for Trout's, which for decades had championed the Bakersfield Sound, the twangy, feisty, Fender Telecaster-powered country music made famous by the likes of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and many others.
Ganesh Acharya, a partner at Kern Medical Properties — not related to the local hospital of the same name — said last year that the property would be developed as a medical office.
But that didn't happen, and the property has since been sold to another group, Aqua Properties, said Vikram Reddy, of Coldwell Banker Commercial. The property could still become medical offices, Reddy said, but he noted it’s too early to say exactly what will become of the old structure.
"That still may be a possibility," Reddy said of Trout's becoming some sort of healthcare-related facility.
Could it become a bar again? Could it become Trout's again?
Reddy said he's not discounting any possibility.
"We haven't had any indication yet," he said.
Potential tenants have the option of leasing a smaller 3,969 square foot section of the building, or the full building with 8,193 square feet of floor space.
Residents lamented the fate of Trout's on Facebook, with many feeling like the loss of the classic honky-tonk is yet another blow to the Oildale community — and to the larger community of Bakersfield.
"What a crying shame," commented Shannon Moss. "I have some very precious, vivid memories of that place. There won't be another replacement for it. Just like the old Blackboard or KUZZ studio on North Chester, or a number of other monumental places like those. Another generation and era put to uneasy rest."
One ex-patron said he wishes the actual bar — which had been removed as of Tuesday — could go to the Kern County Museum.
Others lamented Bakersfield's less-than-stellar record for preserving historic structures and artifacts.
The now-famous Trout's fish sign, believed to be in the possession of former owner Thomas Rockwell, has not been seen since Rockwell posted a Facebook message on May 20, 2017 announcing that the sign had been taken down for restoration.
Even without the honky-tonk intact, countless Oildale residents would like to see the sign preserved at the museum. But with each year that passes, that seems more unlikely.
"My late husband and I danced there every Friday or Saturday night for many years," said Cindy Marshall-Morrison. "Such fond memories."
As workers strip everything familiar from the walls of the tavern, memories may be all that is left.