Mike Henning, owner of O'Hennings Bar, is flanked by the bar's manager Lana Griffith, left, and music liaison Kay-Kay Jagger. The photo was taken in mid-February, just weeks before Henning's death. 

His nickname was Grouch — as in “Oscar the” — but Mike Henning, general manager and namesake of O’Hennings Bar in Oildale, was the kind of grumpy that people love as opposed to the kind of grumpy that people don’t. Patrons and friends mourned the loss of the barkeep and former Kern County sheriff's deputy when he died unexpectedly at age 64 on March 10. 

In 2011, Henning went in with a partner to buy the Airport Drive bar — its most enduring name over the decades was the Skylark. By then, the tiny watering hole was run down, drawing a rough crowd, Henning told The Californian weeks before his death. But Henning rolled up his sleeves, made improvements and laid down the law: Get in a fight in my joint and you're gone.

“(We’re going to) just keep going the way we’re going," he said in February. "Just keep building up the business so it gets better and better.”

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