Man behind the bar

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 20:00
Homestead’s manager prefers the shadows
Dan Graeber not only manages the Homestead Lounge, the 62-year-old also carries a 210 bowling average.

Dan Graeber manages the Homestead Lounge and Eagle River Bowl.

But there’s more to his story than that.

Graeber spent several years on the national bowling circuit and says he still carries a 210 average, a score that puts him among the top half-dozen senior bowlers in the state. He served on the city council of Cheyenne, Wyo. and ran for mayor.

Graeber came to Alaska in the mid-1980s. He operated the Pines Club, once known as Anchorage’s biggest and most popular country-western nightclub. A rodeo was associated with the club.

Now the 63-year-old runs daily operations at the Homestead as well as the Whaler Bar & Grill in Anchorage. Owner Lynn Lythgoe Jr. brought him on five years ago after the Whaler experienced some security problems.

Graeber said he trains all his servers personally. The Homestead Lounge scans the identification of everyone who walks in the door with an automatic ID checker, he said. The bar also offers free cab rides home on weekends.

Despite his colorful background and central role at the Homestead, however, most of the 20-somethings there on weekends probably wouldn’t recognize the manager.

And that’s just fine with him.

“I like to stay in the shadows,” Graeber said.

Despite its manager’s affinity for the background, the Homestead got a lot of unwelcome attention this fall.

Police reports reflected a series of assaults this summer and fall -- most the usual scraps in the parking lot that, as Graeber puts it, tend to brew up any place that provides a mix of booze, girls and young men. The Homestead also drew a few recent state liquor violation notices after investigators for the Alcohol Beverage Control Board said they saw people being overserved.

An incident at the bar Sept. 11 resulted in the arrest of three Mat-Su residents after police said the men acted aggressively during a bar check.

Graeber said he wants to work with police. His brother-in-law was the chief of police in Cheyenne. He understands the difficulty of policing when it comes to bars, he said.

In the meantime, he’ll try to stay behind the scenes. Graeber spends the afternoons in Eagle River, checking in on the bar and the bowling alley. He’s got 40 years of experience but doesn’t want out any time soon.

“I’m 63 years old and I still like the business,” he said.

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