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Stagecoach Saloon

The Stagecoach Saloon is a warm, friendly place to quaff a draft beer and indulge in a round of pool and shuffleboard while keeping track of your favorite sports on a big-screen TV.

Perched on the corner of California and Third streets in Jacksonville, the Stagecoach has a full liquor bar, with wine and tap beers ranging from Fat Tire and Widmer Hefeweizen to Mirror Pond and Worker's.

"I like the ambience — and you always see the same friendly faces," says local Denn is Owen.

If you want a snack, there's lots of 10-inch pizzas to choose from, as well as calzone (folded pizza), a penne pasta dish with filet and lamb meatballs and $1 hot dogs served with housemade barbecue potato chips — all prepared by Gogi's Restaurant a few blocks down and warmed up in convection ovens at the bar.

The food was created to take Stagecoach "beyond the French fries and chicken wings" of many taverns, says Gogi owner Jonah Murphy. "It's an Italian bar menu, with a lot of housemade, thin-crust pizza made on a marble table top and with everything from scratch and seasoned with herbs from our garden.

"It's bar food with a fine dining twist and clean, crisp flavor. We bring it down daily and all fresh," said Murphy, whose background is in fine dining cuisine, inspired by an education in Italy with German, French and Italian food.

You'll find Caesar salad, available with chicken. A popular Mexican dessert, churros, come rolled in cinnamon, sugar and whipped cream with chocolate sauce. Prices are reasonable — nothing over $10.

The pizzas come in basic cheese, classic Margherita (mozzarella, basil, tomatoes) and Hawaiian (ham, pineapple, tomatoes, onions, provolone, marinara). Calzones include cheese, Italian and Hawaiian.

Stagecoach owner Mike Feldmann plans to expand into the Redman Hall above, making it a relaxed jazz spot with the same food, and to rename the premises the Stagecoach Saloon and Jazz Club.

The upstairs, due to open Oct. 28, will offer the same ambience as the familiar saloon — "a friendly place where anyone can come dressed up or come-as-you-are from work," says Feldmann. "We don't put on any airs. It's a fun place for locals and tourists both. And if you're not looking for fun, you're in the wrong place."

The saloon has live music every Friday and Saturday and the Jazz Club will feature music Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with its house band, the Stagecoach Jazz Band, plus other acts.

The Stagecoach is something of a sports museum, its walls adorned with signed photos and jerseys of the greats, including Jack Dempsey, Howie Long, Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco and Ken Stabler. You'll also see balls signed by legends Steve Young and Joe Montana and one from Michael Jordan.

There's also a free shuffleboard tournament from 6 to 9 Wednesday nights.

The Smoky Red Quintet will play at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, and at noon on Saturday, Oct. 10. It's jazz, blues, rock and funk with Marcella Rose on vocals, Jim Quinby on piano and vocals, Brent Norton on guitar and vocals, Jeff Addicott on bass and vocals and Mike Fitch on drums.

The restaurants accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express, but does not take checks.

— John Darling