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Santa Rosa bar owner dies in crash

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department on Friday identified the woman who died in a one-car crash in southeastern Santa Rosa on Wednesday night as Trinh Dolan, the co-owner of a local bar and grill.

Dolan, 53, was a Napa resident but was well known in Santa Rosa as co-owner and driving force behind Dolan’s Den, the bar and grill in the Piner Road space formerly occupied by the Nutty Irishman. The bar was open Friday, but workers there sounded stunned by Trinh Dolan’s passing.

“She was an awesome human being,” said John Timberlake, a manager at Dolan’s. “I don’t just throw this around. She was an amazing person. And will be greatly missed by so many people. I regret I wasn’t able to know her sooner. I so regret it.”

Timberlake met Dolan in June of 2021, he said, when he consulted on her plan for the bar and grill. He quickly came to see her as kind, loyal to her staff and tireless in her work ethic. Dolan routinely pulled 12-hour days at the business, Timberlake said. If a bartender called in sick, she’d swoop in to pick up the shift.

“Trinh always had a smile on her face, she was always in a good mood,” Timberlake said. “She greeted guests warmly. She was new in the food and beverage industry, but she embraced it. She always wanted to run a restaurant. This was her dream. And basically, she did it.”

Thursday, Dolan’s had posted a message on Facebook and Instagram that read, “We will be closed today for a family emergency.”

On Facebook, the post was followed by several comments from patrons and acquaintances expressing their heartbreak. Timberlake said emotions ran even higher on his personal Facebook account.

Trinh Dolan was born in Vietnam and “raised as an Airforce brat,” according to the bar and grill’s website.

“Trinh spent her childhood in different countries and was exposed to many different cultures,” the description reads. “Her love of cooking might have derived from cooking for her 3 siblings as her parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.”

She was married to Sebastopol native Derek Dolan, who works as a plumber in San Francisco. Timberlake said Derek is devastated by the loss, which came about three weeks after Derek’s younger sister died.

“The man’s heartbroken,” Timberlake said. “Nobody would be right in this moment. The grief he’s feeling, not many people go through that.”

The couple loved to travel. The business website shows photos of them posing happily on trips to Cozumel, Mexico; Moab, Utah; and Luquillo, Puerto Rico.

Trinh Dolan crashed Wednesday night near Petaluma Hill Road and Yolanda Avenue after hitting a utility pole. She was ejected from her 2003 Mercedes-Benz sedan and pinned beneath the car, according to authorities.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said she was not wearing a seat belt, and a witness told authorities she had been driving an estimated 80 mph just before she crashed.

Timberlake said they had recently talked about additional plans for the bar and how they could accomplish those goals together.

“We all know people who died in our lives,” Timberlake said. “And sometimes, you’re not completely surprised. This is just not that case. This is just tragic.”

You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Skinny_Post.

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