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Perfect Pilsener

When city bureaucrats and Amgen workers are troubled or thirsty, they don’t go out for any old beer. They head to Thousand Oaks’ Yukon Belle, where Tony Sauceda pours a picture perfect Pilsener.

The glass is immaculate--a 12-ouncer, three-quarters of an inch of froth on top, a square cardboard coaster on the bar beneath. Plenty of peanuts and pretzels within reach.

“I make it look really good,” said Sauceda, a father of two.

Good-looking beer is just one of the draws of the humble saloon owned and run by Sauceda, a former Air Force mechanic, and Barb, his wife of 38 years. Walls cluttered with horse tack, license plates, neon signs and snakeskins are also appealing, in a gritty sort of way. But what makes the Belle special, Sauceda believes, is the overall feel of the joint.

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“We try to make it homey,” said Sauceda, 63. “I treat customers like friends. The majority of my customers, I know by name. If they’ve only been here four or five times, I might not know the name, but I’ll know what they drink. If they come in 10 years later, I’ll look at their faces and remember their beers.”

Whether customers are wealthy or working class, Sauceda treats them well, so long as there is no fighting, no abuse of the pinball machines and no over-indulgence. He will escort a rowdy patron to the door, cut off someone who has had one too many and loan a few bucks to a good customer in need.

The last few months of saloon-ownership have been rough, Sauceda concedes, what with the smoking ban. Yet he still looks forward to his 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift.

“I always wanted a bar,” he said. “I thought it would be fun. And it is. It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. I’ve found out I’m not as introverted as I thought I was and I work with people well.”

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