For nearly three decades Kenneth A. Melendy presided over Melendy's, a Coddingtown-area cocktail lounge that became a regular nighttime destination for members of the Oakland Raiders when the team held summer training camps in Santa Rosa.
Melendy died July 26 in an assisted senior living facility in Santa Rosa. He was 88.
Family remember him as a street smart, savvy businessman and a genial host, quick with a wise crack or a joke. And Melendy's was his stage.
“He was in his glory on a Friday night, with the bar buzzing full of friends and customers,” said his daughter, Jill Melendy of Sebastopol. “You could get a good drink anywhere, but you only get Kenny Melendy there at Melendy's.”
Born in San Francisco, Melendy and his four brothers were raised in the Great Depression by a single mother. At age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent nearly four years during World War II in the Pacific as an aircraft mechanic.
After the war, he came to Santa Rosa and rented a room from the family of his future wife, Barbara “Jane” Elmendorf. The couple married in 1949.
In the early 1960s, Melendy opened a restaurant and bar in Fort Bragg named the Anchor Inn. After five years, he sold the business and purchased the former Capella's cocktail lounge, which he renamed Melendy's.
The business at Cleveland Avenue and Guerneville Road had a rule: no food for sale. Melendy later told a reporter he didn't want to have to keep food-sales taxes straight from the liquor taxes.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Melendy's became one of the regular watering holes for Raiders players, including Super Bowl champions Ken Stabler and John Matuszak, when the team was practicing in summer at the former El Rancho Tropicana Hotel. Melendy's was the scene of the players' annual air hockey tournament. The team's training camps ended in Santa Rosa in 1984.
At the bar's closing in 1996, Melendy said he loved having the Raiders around. “They were a different ballclub, a better ballclub, if you don't mind me saying so,” he said.
Jane Melendy died in 2009.
Melendy was a history buff who enjoyed collecting gold coins and making jewelry. In later years, he gathered regularly for lunch with friends at the Italian Affair restaurant in Santa Rosa.
Along with his daughter, survivors include two sons, Marc Melendy and Rick Melendy, both of Santa Rosa; two brothers, Bob Melendy of San Francisco and Dick Melendy of Sacramento; and by eight grandchildren.
Friends will gather to celebrate his life at 2 p.m. Monday at the Italian Affair.
The family prefers memorial contributions to Sutter Care at Home, 110 Stony Point Road, Suite 220-C, Santa Rosa 95401 or the American Diabetes Association.
— Robert Digitale