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By Laura Stec

The Saddle Room - A True Friend of Kids

Uploaded: Jul 23, 2015

We've had an ongoing homage at The Food Party! for some of our local high dives and community watering holes. I Still Call it Rissotti's remains a top Food Party! blog. We have also featured The Office in Redwood City, along with the Pioneer in Woodside. Today we pony back up to another favorite, that "last neighborhood bar in Redwood City," the iconic Saddle Room.

The Saddle Room is a little place with a big heart. I had the pleasure of celebrating their Friends of Kids golf classic and BBQ last weekend. This all-volunteer effort started 25 years ago when regulars Bob Daley and Bill Kilpatrick wanted to raise some badly needed funds for Redwood City's St. Pius Elementary School youth basketball and soccer teams. They spurred the Saddle Room community into action, with lasting results and an annual event that has raised upwards of $325,000 for local youth activities.

"One of my best memories was when we helped fund American High School's (Fremont, CA) senior prom for kids with special needs," says Saddle Room owner Chris Gilman. "The school made a video of the event and we showed it at Friends of Kids the following year. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."

This year's tournament was the largest yet, with 96 registered players, men and women.

The game was followed by a classic Saddle Room dinner and raffle. Volunteer grill meisters Frank Molinaro and Jose Olvera cooked steaks for 100 on "the Room's" hand built BBQ constructed 30 years ago by the recently retired Harry Clarke of Clarke Masonry. "I had just started building it and was surprised to come in one day to find that Harry (a Saddle Room regular) had torn the whole thing out and started the project all over. He did a great job. It has lasted for years."

Accompanying the celebration meal were boiled potatoes, French bread, Caesar Salad, and big bowls of sour cream, butter and bacon. Oh my. But what really caught my palate was Mama Vasoff's Secret Chili Beans. I tried to eek out the recipe from Chris, but he's just not tellin'. Maybe I need to buy him a few more drinks next time?.

Friends of Kids made last year's goal of $18,000, but might be just shy of this year's $20,000 goal. So think about this totally homegrown, 501c3, tax deductible organization when next considering a charitable gift to a worthy cause. Or mark your calendar for next year and play! Friends of Kids is always the second or third Saturday in July.

The Saddle Room
1607 Woodside Rd. Redwood City, CA 94061
- Where the elite meet

Friends of Kids Board of Directors: Mark Musanti, Micela Musanti, Gil Martinez, Gary Richardson, Chris Gilman

Friends of Kids Community Sponsors: Dick Unsinn - Matagrano Inc., Southern Wine and Spirits, Young's Market, Kevin Kleczka - Morton Foundation, fifty-three 2015 individual T-Sponsors, and 80 more super people and local businesses that donated those terrific raffle prizes.