Moskowite Corners History

Moskowite Corners: A Short Version of a Long History

by Peter Kilkus (Draft, 5/6/22)

2 Moskowite Corners Historical


Known as a rural landmark and roadway stop, Moskowite Corners has been open since at least the 1960s. Entrepreneur and former Napa County supervisor Harold Moskowite's family was the founder of “The Corners” as it is known.

George Moskowite founded the Corners before Lake Berryessa completely filled. Here’s a transcript from an article from the Napa Register of October 1958 where George was also the only bidder for the development of Steele Park Resort.

Napa Register, October 1958

Three concessioners, bidding for leases on two of the seven proposed recreation areas at Lake Berryessa, outlined to the Board of Supervisors yesterday planned developments with a total cost of nearly three million dollars. The supervisors opened the bids and referred them to the Lake Berryessa Park Commission for further study. Six earlier proposals on three other areas were referred to the Commission two weeks ago.

In yesterday’s proposal, Wesley B. and Elsie G. Plunkett and Donald J. and Bernice M. McFarland, all of Napa, outlined a plan which calls for $1,751,000 of improvements in the area just north of Capell Creek over a ten-year period. Construction would start immediately upon the awarding of the 20-year lease, with picnic, swimming, boat launching, rental and storage facilities listed among the initial development. A resort lodge will be part of the ultimate plan.

George Moskowite of Moskowite Corners was the lone bidder on the Steele Canyon area, offering to put from $250,000 to $750,000 into the area by 1963. The initial development would be the establishment of camping and trailer sites, launching ramps, and picnic areas. 

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Another article from 1959 describes the rapid development of the new resorts.

New launch ramps May 1959


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 By 1961 Lake Berryessa was on everyone’s recreation map.

Lake billboard 1961

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By 1961 advertising for new lake homes in the Berryessa Highlands saturated the Bay Area and the Sacramento region.

1969 Highlands ad

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In 1966, just up Steele Canyon Road from the Corners, Steele Park Resort was advertising its wide range of entertainment.

Steele Park ad 1966


Steele Park Easter 1966

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By the early 1970s The Corners was in full swing. Notice the ambulance service mentioned which was finally discontinued.

Moskowite Corners ad April 1970+
Moskowite Corners ad April 1972

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A 1972 ad in the Napa Register mentions “Ed’s Moskowite Lounge.

Ed's Moskowite Lounge 1972

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Moskowite Corners old sign

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In 1983, a news item documented the founding of the Berryessa Senior Citizens, Inc.

The beginning at Moskowite Corners, September 1983

Seventy people gathered at Moskowite Corners to discuss plans to form a senior citizens group in the Berryessa area and to create the by-laws and structure. The membership age was set at 55 since they wanted members who were young enough to have energy and who also realized that the Center would be an investment in their own future. A great deal of enthusiasm was expressed over the prospect of a Senior Center in this isolated location of Napa County. Members of the original Steering Committee were C.D. Barnett, Ruth Ennis, Frances Henderson, Ethel mason, F. Ogden Miller, Robert Pearson, Betty Pederson, Ruth Spiteri, and George Trapp.

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Monticello Corners Store 1988
1988 Pearce Corners Gas Station
Moss Creek 1988 story

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 Moskowite Corners has gone through several changes during the last two decades (2000 – 2022) as various owners tried to make it a viable business again. Here’s a basic recent history.

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2007: Ron Watt opened the Corners Café and Shopping Plaza. The owner was one of the co-owners of Spanish Flat Resort, Lee Johnson. The business was unsuccessful. Ron Watt went on to run the Berryessa Quick Stop in the closed gas station across the Steele Canyon Road from the Corners. It too was unsuccessful.

Corners Cafe final 091706

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2008: Jim Keller bought the property in a bankruptcy sale for $1.1 million in September 2008.

April 2009: Mike Schildknecht and Jim Keller hoped to make Berryessa Corners a community gathering place for nearby residents. The business became the Berryessa Corners in January 2009; the restaurant and the bar were all open by May 2009. Mike’s sudden and unexpected death on June 9, 2009, left the whole Lake Berryessa community in shock. The Berryessa Corners enterprise ended with him.

An article in the Napa Register at the time described the high hopes that Mike and Jim had for the business.

New store, bar, restaurant at Moskowite Corners, by Mike Treleven, Apr 30, 2009

Mike Schildknecht and Jim Keller hope to make Berryessa Corners a community gathering place for nearby residents. Keller purchased Moskowite Corners, which had been in bankruptcy, and is launching a store and restaurant.

Some old-timers in Napa County refer to the intersection of highways 121 and 128 as the Corners. Most know the crossroads near Steele Park at the southern end of Lake Berryessa by its more formal name, Moskowite Corners. The grocery store, restaurant, bar and two outdoor patios at the corner have been shuttered for a while and in bankruptcy.

Napan Jim Keller purchased the one-acre retail center in September 2008 and is giving the place a much-needed face-lift. “We are after all, the gateway to Lake Berryessa. We are the first impression that most people get when driving up here to go to the lake. So it’s important to make a good impression,” said Michael Schildknecht, who will be operating the retail businesses for Keller.

The two men are changing the name of the retail outpost to Berryessa Corners. “But for many it will always be The Corners,” said Schildknecht. Keller said he paid about $1 million for the 6,000 square feet of store, restaurant, bar and two outdoor patios. He said he has “invested thousands of dollars cleaning the place up” so that improvements can be made. “We are not just investors trying to make money but are trying to blend in and be a part of the community,” Keller said.

The grocery store reopened in January, while the restaurant — Mike’s Barbecue — will open this week. The bar is scheduled to open in mid-May. Schildknecht said the hours will be more consistent than under previous ownership. He plans to be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week “and hopefully later on weekends and holidays.” “We are here to cater to the locals and not so much the tourists,” Schildknecht said.

For Schildknecht that means having a well-stocked grocery store where residents can buy not just chips, soda and beer, but all the items for fixing a home-cooked meal. Shoppers will now find shelves of pastas, soups, bread, fresh vegetables, eggs, milk and more. Schildknecht said that 75 percent of the area locals have told him they’ve never come into the place before, and he’s aiming to turn that around.

Lake Berryessa is headed for what may be a slow summer, with at least four of the lake’s seven private resorts expected to be closed for a second consecutive summer as the transition from old operators to new continues to be hammered out by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Yet Schildknecht and Keller believe that the lake will thrive when things settle down and that they hope to help set the tone. “We’re looking forward to making the best of it with the lake being down,” Schildknecht said. “We feel the future is bright up here. We are trying to be visionaries. Things will happen. We think this place has a lot of potential.” Both men said the locals seem to be embracing the changes going on at Berryessa Corners. “We are trying to make up for 50 years of what other owners did not do right,” Schildknecht said.

On weekends, Schildknecht wants to host wine tastings from local producers. “There is no place around here where people can congregate,” he said. Both men have the vision of making Berryessa Corners an informal community gathering place for the roughly 5,000 people scattered throughout the area.

The owners of Berryessa Corners are also reaching out to the community — doing everything from letting Girl Scouts sell their cookies in front of the store to donating to fundraisers at the local schools.

On May 15 and 16, Schildknecht said they have offered their parking lot to the Davis Bicycle Club, which is sponsoring a 100-mile race originating in Davis. The Corners is at about the halfway mark of the ride. In the parking lot, the bike club will be able to set up food and medical stations as well as port-a-potties.

“You have to give back to the community,” Schildknecht said. He is overflowing with ideas to make Berryessa Corners the place to be seen.

Keller added, “I think we are being well received by the locals.”

Mike and Jim Corners


Above: Michael Schildknecht and Jim Keller

Berryessa Corners opening 020509
Corners ad 060409
Mike's BBQ

 

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Crossroads

 

In August 2010, Jim Winchell and his family took the business over under lease from Keller and opened the Crossroads at Lake Berryessa. They had a great pizza shop and restaurant and remodeled the bar. Unfortunately, they did not have a liquor license and could only serve beer and wine. After a couple of years of hard work, with no help from the delayed rebuilding of Steele Park Resort by Pensus, the Crossroads closed in March 2012.

Crossroads ad
Crossroads outside 110711
Crossroads patio 052811
Crossroads inside 052811
Winchells at Crossroads

 

Crossroads Band


Goodbye from the Winchell Family

Dear Customers and Friends:

As we write to say thank you and goodbye to all of our faithful customers and now good friends, we leave you with a few words...

It is with heavy hearts and deep sorrow that we are writing this article to inform you, the people who have become like family to us, deep regrets that we are closing the doors to "The Crossroads At Lake Berryessa." When I (Jim), sat in the empty parking lot almost 2 years ago now, counting the cars that passed by as prospective patrons, the path to which I was heading down was much like Rte.121 or Rte.128...a long and winding road. It was a road that led our family to embark upon an adventure we will keep in our hearts forever.

When we opened for business in August of 2010, we were greeted with curious neighbors, thankful bikers, and many more of you that would become "regulars."  We made some changes, first and foremost, its new name, "The Crossroads At Lake Berryessa," applied fresh paint here and there, and updated the bar for casual dining or watching the Super Bowl with friends. 

We even got some flowering plants to blossom through the sweltering 100 plus degree summer days with a little help from neighbors at Capell Estates who would water them when they were looking a bit sad!  More recently, a new patio was constructed (thanks to Shawn Duarte) beyond the bar for anyone who cared to "be with nature." On several occasions the patio was home to a local group of musicians who treated us and the valley with southern country-rock music and dancing under the stars.

We had some of the hardest and dedicated employees. They were always willing to “work over" or "come in early," depending on the specific needs of the day. Eventually as business slowed down shortly after Labor Day and the campers and boaters went back to school or work, we did have to let some of our staff go. We thank them all, especially Molly, Tyler, Steve, Pat, Jenn, and our sons, Jim and Shawn, for hanging in with us to the end.

We are hopeful there is a party out there that will show an interest, as we did, and continue what we began. There WILL be a vacancy, a building with heart and soul for just the right visionary, with the financial backing that is needed during those slow times, especially when the winter rains start and even the drive up to Berryessa is a trial in itself.

Whether you came on a bicycle for a banana and vitamin water, on a Harley for hot coffee and warm apple pie or stop in on Friday evening for a rib eye steak for you and tacos for her, or stopping by to pick up 6pack and a pizza on the way up to the Highlands, it was all appreciated.  Ice for the cooler and wood for the campfire seemed to fly out the door. We enjoyed the most when the "little ones" would come with pockets and hands full of coins or maybe even a 1-dollar bill and stand and look over all the candy for what seemed to be forever, before they finally made a choice!

Your every purchase, kind words of gratitude for our presence, and the manner in which you took our family into yours, does not go unnoticed. Circumstances beyond our control are unfortunately forcing us to close. So, as we exit the building for the last time as "The Crossroads At Lake Berryessa," the sounds of the motors winding thru the valley let you know the guys and gals in leather are on their way.  Sorry we missed you and God speed to you all.

With Great Love For All,

Jim, Pat, Shawn and Jim III

 

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In 2011 Jim Keller listed the Crossroads at Lake Berryessa for sale for $1.29 million but was unable to find a buyer. After the Winchell family left there was no interest until Yevo Jeworowski opened a brew pub, Steele Canyon Saloon, in early 2016. Berryessa Highlands folks would finally have a place to go again for groceries, food, drink, and socializing.

He will open Steele Canyon Brewery and Steele Canyon Pizza in October. He and his partner are installing a mini brewery now. The Steele Canyon Saloon has a liquor license and will serve a full range of cocktails along with delicious craft brews, pizza, and appetizers. Yevo also acquired a partner, Greeley Wright, to open a market in the site.

Greeley Wright and his family opened the Lake Berryessa Market on weekends. Greeley is a very outgoing person who is enthusiastic about his new venture. He and his family recently moved to the Berryessa Highlands from San Jose. People can stop by on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays now for a range of items.

Yevo had previously run Boone’s Saloon in the Spanish Flat Village Center. Under a special California law that allowed liquor to be served in brew pubs, he was able to open a full bar.  He invested tens of thousands of dollars in new brewing equipment and improvements. Unfortunately, he had not factored in the new state water quality regulations that had been passed regarding beer brewing systems. His effluent would not pass the new standards without an upgrade to the wastewater system run by the owners of the Capell Valley Estates across the road, which declined to do so.

Despite some good bands and great times, he was forced to close the Steele Canyon Saloon before the end of 2016.

Steele Canyon Saloon ad


 After the demise of the Steele Canyon Saloon, the Corners site remained closed with no buyers in sight.

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On January 11, 2019, Moskowite Corners was sold by Jim Keller to Thuyen Tran of Oakland for approximately $699,000. Tran, who comes from the restaurant industry, said he bought the parcel because he has great confidence he can create a destination for both locals and visitors. Jim Keller carried the financing on it, but it took so long to revive after the pandemic, fires and closure of Lake Berryessa resorts, that Tran decided he didn’t want to move forward and essentially, he gave it back to Keller.

The former Moskowite Corners property and building needs updating. A potential sale to Tran fell through a couple of months ago when the buyer found out how much it would cost to bring the site up to the latest code requirements.

Keller recently listed the property for sale for $649,000. He said that to bring it up to current standards, it would cost probably half a million to a million dollars depending on what the buyer wanted to do there. He said he doesn’t see anything really happening for another two years with that property until new concessioners start building their resorts. Napa County in October decided to negotiate with Sun Communities to redevelop and run Spanish Flat, Steele Canyon and Monticello Shores resorts

A few years ago, Jim Keller told me that he had approached several mini market chains like 7/11 and Kwik Trip to locate at the Corners. None expressed interest. The success of the Corners has always been tied to the success of Lake Berryessa as a recreation destination, especially Steele Park Resort. The Sun Lake Berryessa revitalization of Steele Canyon Recreation Area and Spanish Flat Recreation Area is scheduled for 2024 completion.

Corners for sale 2022
Corners for sale 2022 photo collage

 

And how about a futuristic concept for the Corners!

Moskowite Corners new collage

 

pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2021