The Buzz: South Redding bar sees revival in spite of pandemic – Redding Record Searchlight


David Benda
Redding Record Searchlight

Published 11:12 AM EDT Jul 4, 2020

One couldn’t blame Mitchell Johnson for wondering if somebody doesn’t want to see the revival of The Tropics in south Redding.

Closed in early 2018 after nearly 75 years in business, the then owner of the bar on South Market Street was doing a remodel when a fire badly damaged the roof of the building and work stopped in December of 2018.

He sold the bar to Johnson last year. Johnson had introduced himself to the previous owner, offering him help with the remodel.

Johnson then started his own remodel, which includes an eye-popping mural that was painted on the wall in front of the bar last November.

A few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“One way or the other, I am getting that bar opened,” Johnson told me Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson wants to open July 24, bringing back a neighborhood joint that he affectionately calls “a dive bar.” Johnson used to tend bar there.

The parking lot has been repaved and restriped, the north side of the building sports a palm tree mural —done by the same artist who painted the tropical-themed wall mural — and work on the inside is progressing.

Stacey Winn was at the bar Wednesday helping with the remodel. Winn, a 1979 Enterprise High School graduate who grew up in Redding, said The Tropics was his favorite bar before it closed.

“Oh, I’ve got good memories,” he said. “All the workers that come in, I ask them, ‘You ever been here before?’ Everybody says, ‘I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never been in here.’ I’m like, I don’t know why because it’s a pretty fun bar. Now everybody around town is talking about it because it’s almost open again.”

Daniel V. Lindberg, a Shasta High graduate who is studying art at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, was inside Wednesday painting tikis that will adorn the bar.

“I think it’s awesome. I think having a new spot in town, I guess it’s not really a new spot, a revived spot in town, I think that’s really cool. Just because instead of tearing down another business, they’re saving one,” Lindberg said while taking a break.

Lindberg, who grew up in Redding, sees it as conserving some of the area’s history.

“And then they’re putting their own twist on it. They’re not just renewing an old bar, they’re bringing it up to modern day, so hopefully it will get more people to come,” Lindberg said.

Johnson said he got his permits in March and has been working to open ever since. Construction was deemed an essential industry, so The Tropics remodel wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The Tropics will serve drinks only, but customers will be encouraged to grab some food at Canelo’s next door. The bar also will feature entertainment with six speakers and an in-house D.J.

And when he opens, Johnson said the bar will follow health guidelines.

The Tropics will be open noon to 2 a.m. daily.

Wear a mask

That’s the message from the Redding Chamber of Commerce, which is partnering with the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency on a campaign to let customers know which businesses are following safe practices like social distancing and mask wearing.

Businesses will be able to place a sticker in their window to highlight their responsible pedigree.

“Businesses that are doing it the right way will absolutely want to show they are doing what is being asked of them and the public can trust them,” Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency spokesman Tim Mapes said.

As coronavirus cases surge locally and statewide, it’s more important than ever to keep businesses open, chamber President Jake Mangas said, adding that getting customers and employees to wear masks is a good start.

Local law enforcement officials have been clear that they won’t enforce the state order to wear masks in stores and other public places. Redding Police Chief Bill Schueller has said he does not have the resources to do so.

Meanwhile, Shasta County doesn’t want to suffer the fate of 19 other counties that on Wednesday Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered to shut down again due to rising cases, Mangas said.

Businesses closing again means people are out of work again.

“That’s the case in point for us as far as what we don’t want to see happen here,” Mangas said.

It’s important that business leaders like the chamber get the message to merchants that wearing a mask and following other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines can help prevent more economic hardship.

“I would say it this way, the chamber is doing whatever it takes to keep businesses open and so as far as masks go, we are hearing from health officials statewide and locally that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mangas said, “so knowing and believing that, we are encouraging businesses and customers to follow those guidelines.”

For more information about the Road to Recovery Star Program, go to and click on the “Roadmap to Recovery: Reopening Toolkit” link.

Bottom line: Look for the gold star.

Grants available to businesses

Grants of $5,000 are available to North State businesses that can show they have suffered a hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Redding Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the cities of Redding, Anderson and Shasta Lake on a program that is expected to help about 140 of the smallest brick-and-mortar businesses in those three communities.

Businesses must have five or fewer employees, did not receive a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan or other Small Business Association loans and can prove they have been affected by COVID-19.

The application period runs through July 31.

Chamber President Jake Mangas said the funds can be used for a variety of expenses and since it’s a grant, the money does not have to be paid back.

“What I have found anecdotally, the mom-and-pop shops, there are fewer of those that have for whatever reason been able to secure funding from the SBA,” Mangas said. “So I think this is going to be an effective strategy to reach those businesses.”

For more information, go to


  • Bay Area group buys entire block in downtown Redding
  • ‘We’re going to make it.’ Here’s why this new independent pharmacy is betting on Anderson
  • Pandemic helps boost cannabis sales by 25% for at least one Redding store

David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)