Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Fresno Wabo: The end has come


UPDATE: Here’s our full story from today’s Bee. To summarize: Sammy cut ties. Barbis says he’ll continue the club with a new concept, to be announced next week.

ORIGINAL: Sammy Hagar pulled the plug on Fresno Wabo today. Here’s the details:

Sammy Hagar announced Wednesday that he was severing ties with developer Milt Barbis and pulling his Cabo Wabo brand out of Fresno.

“The license has been terminated and the location will no longer be a Cabo Wabo come 2009,” Hagar said in a statement. “I have always stood for providing an exceptional experience for my fans and associating myself with like-minded business partners. If the owners of the current license in Fresno intend to keep the location open and change the concept to something entirely different, it will not be under the Cabo Wabo brand.”

Read the rest at

What do you think? Can the once-Cabo Wabo succeed with a new name and without Sammy? Can Granite Park?

- What the heck is going on at Cabo Wabo?!?
- When you can’t get Sammy Hagar, there’s always Ray Appleton

Responses to "Fresno Wabo: The end has come"

ShawnC says:

Told You!

will says:

is it too late to try that lobster burrito?

Robert Schultz says:

Would it really change anything by not having it called Cabo Wabo and represented by Sammy? It’s a decent venue if they do something with it.

ed says:

i think it could be successful as just a restaurant/club venue. i think initially people were going there because of the name brand, but are they still going there for that? make it a quality dining experience and a decent venue and it’ll do fine.

what do the finances @ the public house and the me n ed’s look like there? it seems it’s going to take all of those restaurants for the granite park venture to make it, and to further the wacky dreams of roller coasters and what not.

Alana says:

It’s been less than half a year, right? Tantrum much?

Nice venue, but the food wasn’t anything to get excited about. Rubio’s Baja Grill has better food if you are looking for a lobster burrito.

I saw Sammy there. That’s all a LOT of people wanted to do anyway.

The management in and around this place all were poorly chosen and were fired on a merry-go-round basis.

It was fun. It is going to be something else. Than it will become something else after that. Oh yeah, and after that too.

Fresno has this unequaled knack of having something cool and than just letting it die.


dave says:


thats all I got to say about that………

mikeV says:


This is my take on the downfall of cabo wabo fresno.

#1 Milt Barbis
#2 Milt Barbis
#3 Overpriced food and drink,What was milt thinking? That he was going cover building expences by gouging patrons? Charge $6 dollars for a draft beer,Offer fair mexican food at unreasonable price’s,It’s hard to get local support with those costs.

It’s a shame this did not work out.I guess we will have to go to place’s like club fred(for those CF defenders I have attended shows there for many years and it’s still a dump)
or indian casino’s to see hasbeen 70″s bands with one original member.

Too Bad for all of us.

Geanie says:

I went the other night and the food wasn’t very good. The waiter had to be asked to bring each item that comes with ordering nachos…oh like….plates when there are 5 of you at the table…then napkins…. then something to cut the nachos with. And that was after the kid has to go check with the kitchen (9:30pm) if they were still serving. I guess I’m spoiled with Livingstones and Million serving food and drink and being able to order both after a long work day.

Get past the poor quality of food and high cost, slow bar service (not the bartender but the waiter) and it didn’t make me want to return. I went to see a specific band play. When they were done, bright lights came on. Just like being at Selland when the show is over. Bright lights, blast Britney Spears throughout the bar after going to see a “rock band” and I saved a lot on not ordering more beer and leaving.

The lighting in the place looks unique; the place looks cool when you look up.

The band felt too far away from the bar and the patio is cut off from all of it. Then you have a very large VIP section that just screams segreation while us not VIPs have to look at them like they are an exhibit that was amusing. I didn’t want to sit in there. I’d rather of cracked jokes with the table next to me and said hi to people that I ran into. The place, it just didn’t flow together.

If the Russian bar ever opens, I’ll check it out.

It doesn’t help the unfinished vibe to see the unplanted trees and the amusment rides laying around. Why not send the trees back to the landscapers until ready for planing or finish the area just in front of Cobo? And the rides, get those items into storage and give the appearance you are taking care of them, not opening a junk yard for wayward amusement rides. OH and the porta-pottie on the curb. Can’t you put that behind the building for the construction workers? It’s these little things that add up to the big picture that I have to wonder, why doesn’t management see this and correct it?

Mike says:

It doesn’t suprise me that Hagar is pulling his Cabo brand name from Fresno. It was supposed to be a laid back place to get some good food, drinks, and see a live band. Instead, it was turned into another failed Fresno nightclub, full of loud club music and guys wearing affliction shirts. Granite park had the potential to be something great. The management, not the economy is running it into the ground.

bar fly says:

I’m not sure how that venue is ever gonna make it as anything? First, about the cabo wabo experience lets be honest, mediocre food (you really can’t glam up mexican food – it’s wierd – i don’t want mango chutney on my street taco), possibly the slowest (and worst) service in town – or on the planet. It’s bad. The place has the strangest layout of a venue I’ve ever seen. The patio seats 3 times the patrons that the interior does? AND you can’t get service out there either. The sound system and lighting system are bad ass!! But, do you know how many tacos you have to sell to pay for that?? if the service was speedy, you might be able to turn over enough tables to do that. You can’t spend millions on a place and then not train or have the right people in place. It makes no sense. Now, Fresno – once again – is that town where something really cool goes to die.

But let’s be honest. The population of people who go out in this town is not much! Whether you want to accept it or not, Fresno is a family oriented town. Had they ever opened that roller coaster and thrown some arcade games in that place, it would be thriving today – no matter how poor the service. Turn it into an incredible johns, you’ll have a line wrapped around the building constantly!!!

Fresno has some really cool places, that are locally owned. Open your mind and go check em out. Club Fred, The Crossroads, Habanos, Starline these places have been around forever for a reason! Just keep up with Mike Oz. He speaks the truth!!

Frezblo says:

Without the name “Cabo Wabo,” that place will sink, and Milt is a fool if he thinks otherwise.
In Fresno, cheap drinks and GOOD Mexican food are EVERYWHERE. What he has to offer now (i.e. over-priced mediocre food, and OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive drinks) is NOT in demand.

anita says:

better go before the signs come down:(

cowboy1822 says:

They better revamp the entire restaurant and concept if they want to stay in business. I knew from the beginning that this wasn’t going to work. Taco trucks have way better food and prices than Cabo Wabo. I got a shrimp fajita with 6 pieces of shrimp there, than I went to Tower and ate at a Mexican place where I paid the same price for a fajita with chicken, steak, AND SHRIMP….not only was it the best fajita I’d ever had, but I left full! The drinks are small and cost an arm and a leg. Barbis is a joke. He doesn’t care that he owes Fresno millions because he has Mommy and Daddy’s money to fall back on. This guy is not the sharpest tool in the shed, believe me. I don’t know how he got on this project. Oh wait, money talks.

Heather says:

Poor Mike Oz.

Eff the Cabo Wabo drama. May this be the last post you have to do.

Insider says:

This place was doomed from the time Milt Barbis got involved. He thought the restaurant business was easy so he tried to dabble in it to try to impress his friends. I wonder what his friends think now. The food and prices are all his work. He has an amazing chef who was not allowed to do what he was hired to do. Milt changed it all to what he thought it should be. Last I checked he wasn’t trained as a chef. The food and drink prices are so freaking high because he thought he could make more money. He didn’t think about the fact that people wouldn’t return to an expensive place to pay a ton of money for food that he created and for drinks that are priced $2 to $4 more than the prices that were suggested to him and created normal beverage costs. The failure of this place can be chalked up to pure greed, nothing else. Oh, one more thing. For someone who was so sure that things would be fine and had their publicist release a statement about the “few changes” coming to Cabo Wabo (wow, that sounds like a stupid statement now), he sure was hiding from the cameras last night. Why wasn’t he even there to defend his name. Can you say coward? He knows what he has done and now it is all coming back to bite him in the rear.

Tweed says:

I actually think the place itself would be a really cool local venue if it had a more “local”, less corporate, feel. But aside from the high prices that everyone has previously pointed out, a lot of that would be up to us, the patrons to bring with us. Actually, without the cost of licensing, hopefully that will give Milt some more funds to pay his loans, employees, etc and maybe EVENTUALLY make the prices more reasonable.

Any word on if the doors will be closing at all or if the signs will just come down? I wonder what this means for those of us who have gigs on the calendar for 2009 over there…

mdub420 says:

this is a shame. when i heard about this on the news last night, i couldn’t help but think about kathy cabo gurl talking up the place yesterday on the hive.

now it’s going to take more money and time to get rid of the sammy painting and other cabo wabo decorations that are painted on the walls. hopefully it doesn’t take a lot of time to do those things but since it took a lot of time to get them up, i’m betting that it will take a lot of time to take them down.

so once 2009 hits in a few weeks, this place is no longer cabo wabo. I’m sure sammy is not going to want them to operate the restaurant at all until everything cabo wabo is taken down. they’ll have to close up shop and get that done and then reopen. who knows how long that will take? will the people be willing to wait?

DL says:

People like that fancy-looking crap and are easily impressed.

If they can get over the financial crap and get someone else in there to run the place as a restaurant first and foremost, I think it could succeed.

People in Fresno don’t mind paying extra to feel fancy, but bad service and crappy food won’t be tolerated.

floyd says:

i hope the tower district goes out of business!

mdub420 says:

the updated article basically answered my questions.

bobo says:

milt “the turtle” barbis.

Insider says:

The Granite Park complex had all of the right people involved but Milt Barbis is a Micromanager. He would tell his people not to agree with him just to agree with him but when they disagreed then he would tell them they were just trying to cause problems. Everything wrong with the place is all Milt. He has been doing what it is he wanted to do all along, despite Sammy Hagar, that’s why Hagar pulled the licensing. His name was getting drugg through the mud so that that Milt could sound better to the community. Sammy has been very hands off and this is what happened. All these big changes Milt is talking about are just more crazy ideas of his that won’t work either. All he is concerned with is how he can charge people more money to put more money is HIS back pocket. Don’t be shocked if the city of Fresno is cleaning up the mess at Granite Park while he still gouges people at his restaurants. I do hope that local bands still have a great place to play but I been exposed to this project for a while and have seen a lot, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’m sure getting rid of all of the Cabo Wabo paraphernalia will be a costly process. I wonder who is going to fit that bill. Oh, and it seems like it might be tough to get the Cabo Wabo emblems out of the cement floors. Wonder how he plans to do that.

couchlock says:

This is just like Running Horse.

MsJoey says:

All this Cabo Wabo talk makes me dizzy.

Michael says:

I’d agree with you Joey, but I’m shunning you for not showing up last night. :P

Mr. Incognito says:

Did I read that Milt plans on putting something else there? Come on people, Granite Park is $5.5 million dollars in the hole, not $500k, not $5k… $5 million!

Who cares what goes in there, Milt is obviously off of his rocker! The city is willing to take on such a huge deficit in Granite Park but how many small establishments are going under right now. I mean go and talk to Diablo (Cafe Corazon) about how willing the city is to help…

Milton Barbie is a FAILURE as a business person and it’s evident in everything shaking down at the moment. If I see him in his Mercedes, I’m going to give him the Cabo Wabo sign… (A mix between a C and a Wu-Tang, it’s kind of fresh to think about it).

Hey Ashley… The city better not drop a dime into this “pit”! Put money into affordable living units downtown and getting the owners of those condemned buildings to do something instead of waiting for a pay day…(Anti-Labs, yesterday)

I wish we had Allen Iverson talking about the money…”$5 million, $5 million, we’re not talkin’ about fake money, we’re talkin’ bout $5 million… Come on now, $5 million”!

ar says:

Couple of things real fast.

1. Wabo Wednesdays SUCK their “happy hour” is littterally 1 hour a week. not good for business that is far from where the real party spots are at (north fresno) and (Tower) I’d rather go to applebees or fridays for a real happy hour or casa carona…

2. Never ate the food but heard is sucked and is overpriced so i’d rather spend 12 on 2 drinks.

3. before I go in i’m usually pretty drunk already there is a savemart right across the way and a little liquor store to get a soda with ice and you can drink down a bottle in the parking lot with a buddy that dosen’t help their revenue when you have to babysit drinks for the night because you are already faded but it helps your pocketbook.

4. The cops in that area are out of control! they should pull the cabo name and just open it up as a police station or an undercover sting operation. I was there 2 saturdays ago and there were 3 helicopters and about 15 cops on patrol INSIDE the parking lot. that will drive business away.

5. I think fresno party people will go out to the new spot at least once or twice. if its good they will make it out about 3 times a month but i don’t see a place without some sort of family appeal or already an established customer base making it where cabo once was. thats all for now.

ruffryder says:

cabo became too ghetto. the one time i went there a guy got shot and his buddy got stabbed. that alone keeps customers away. not to mention the high priced drinks. it’s not vegas….

GirlMakesSense says:

New name for the former Cabo..are you ready…LOCO BROKE-O!

chronell says:


JK5150 says:

The review given by Geanie is a prime example of why Sammy is pulling the Cabo name off this venue. The food, service and atmosphere at the Tahoe location and the original in Cabo San Lucas is excellent and the people running this location were not living up to Sammy’s high standards.

The problem here is Milt Barbis, because he’s not involved in the other locations and they’re thriving. River Park would have been a much better location for the Cabo Wabo anyhow, maybe replacing the World Sports Cafe which is nowhere near what it was upon opening. The size, layout, and location would made that a much better choice and probably would have lasted more than this one.

Of course the big draw is that people come hoping that Sammy will make an appearance or they line up if he has a show, but when it’s run well the Cabo Wabo will stand on its own. Hopefully Sammy chooses a better business partner when scouting the next location.

Celena says:

I never made it out there. Living in the Tower, I have so many bars and restaurants to stagger home from, with in 5-10 minutes of walking.
But get some shirts, they are gonna sell on ebay to other fressies.

Stephen says:

ruffryder, NUH UH! Didn’t nobody get shot or stabbed. Didn’t happen, and narnie on you for saying it did.

JK5150, Sammy pulled the plug not cuz of the food or drinks, but simply because creditors were going to Sammy (Cabo Wabo INC) for their money. Sammy didn’t like the way things were being run in the first place (more management than food and drink), and the money issues capped it for him. Sammy doesn’t want to take a chance on his good Cabo name taking a hit for any reason.


Daily Planet ruled, then closed. Coconut Club was a disaster. “M” restaurant just wasn’t right for that location. “M” the club had many permit issues.

But Samba Tower?!! LOVE IT. I think it’s the perfect fit for the spot. The bar area is still Daily Planet classic, with well-made drinks. The dining area(s) are split so well that you really feel like you’re sitting by yourself (or with your group), and feel undisturbed by others. There are long elegant tables, long tables that end in booths, and really cute tall 2-top tables with the Wishon window view.

Like Samba north, they bring that spit of meat right to your table and cut it right onto your plate…can’t get any fresher food than that. And they have a mediterranean salad buffet bar. Most orders are all you can eat. I had a Samba Sampler plate to go for $15 bucks, fed 2 with sausage, lamb, beef, bacon-wrapped chicken, and small gamehen sized chicken on the bone.

Delicious. Many kudos to Jay Ghazal for cleaning up his act and for NOT BEING STUBBORN. He adapted, he changed, and he didn’t give up. Give it a try…the garlic smell alone tripped my tastebuds as I walked by…

Insider says:

Just a quick correction to Stephen (although I agree with most of what you have said so far). Someone was stabbed out at Cabo. Security had just removed some patrons and out on the sidewalk leading up to Cabo the security guards and the people they were escorting out were jumped. A girl had her head smashed against one of the rides and a guy was stabbed several times. I know he was in critical condition at one point but I haven’t heard since. I have never heard of anyone getting shot though. The whole incident got swept under the rug. Not a single news story.

Stephen says:

Yah, Insider, I should clarify…I was saying no one got stabbed and then someone shot in the same night. Didn’t happen.

I did hear about the stabbing tho. Critical condition, yikes!

Kevin B says:

Dude I work with serves at Cabo 1 night a week. According to him, the new name is going to be “the jungle” or something along those lines, which we both agreed was stupid. He also said they aren’t planning on closing up shop during the remodeling. I haven’t been there. I imagine it is decorated with nothing but images of Sammy and the name Cabo Wabo. Is it at all possible they won’t close to remodel?

Nspleen says:

Fresnans are too tired, broke, and practical to be “hip”. Give us cheap booze, big TVs, bathrooms with doors, no cover charge, a decent parking lot and we will gladly lay down our overdrawn Visa Checkcard for you. As for entertainment? There is a reason why karaoke is the go to moneymaker for bars throughout the city (if i close my eyes I’d swear that was Steve Perry!) We want to get drunk, laid, and a decent snack if the first two don’t work out. We save our live music money for the umpteenth time Metallica or George Strait comes to town. Any band you want to see that warrants a road trip? Well, that’s why they call you “fans”.
Sorry, but I’m just telling you what God told Moses.
The city chooses you, not the other way around. It seems to have made it’s decision. Now, as Chrissie Hynde would say, “STOP YOUR SOBBING.”
By the way, anybody wanna road trip with me to S.F. to see Ozomatli?

unhappy camper says:

I have heard a lot about Milt Barbis but what about the other owner?
My friends and I frequent The Public House often but the past couple times we have been in there have not been as awesome. First, we were greeted by a hostess (if you would even call her that). Her name was Lindsey and she was very abrasive and harsh she spoke to us like she was reading a script and you could tell she didnt really know what she was doing. After we were sat and we ordered our drinks and some appetizers. We got our food and we were eating, drinking and having a good time when this guy comes up and introduces himself as John and asks us how everything is. We tell him its as good as it always is. He then starts talking to us we were his best friends and kept asking us questions. He was loud, annoying and fake. We had come out to enjoy time as friends and we didnt appreciate him cutting in to it.
I asked our waiter who John was and she told me he was one of the owners. Why did that not surprise us?!
The worst part was that later that night when we ordered dessert we saw John at the bar taking shots and drinking beer. It was very disappointing.
Dont get me wrong we absolutely love The Public House and we have always gotten great service and wonderful food. But going in now and seeing John or Lindsey there has really put a bad taste in our mouths.
The employees of Granite Park need a HUGE pat on the back for putting up with these clowns.

tlc says:

Thank God Cabo is closing. The ghetto trash that went there disgusted me the few times I stopped through. It reminded me of a Whitesnake concert in the 80′s! Chicks falling down drunk, men leering…just disgusting. Hopefully by changing the name that nasty rocker/ghetto group will stop going there!

I LOVE the Public House. Sure, sometimes the service sucks but the food is always fantastic! I agree that the girl Lyndsay seemed abrasive but the guy John seems nice. Who cares if he’s taking shots!? Hell, if I worked at a restaurant and had to deal with a public that was being fed constant drama about us, I would be taking shots too!!

mich says:

i heard that the GM got fired because she is one of the people posting MOST of the negative comments on these blogs. Kinds sucks, doesnt it Insider? probably a bad decision to do that through the company’s computer when you dont know how to clear the history!

Chef Mike says:

To the Granite Park employees that use this as a venue to vent:

You should be ashamed of yourself. Publicly slandering your employer shows a serious lack of work ethic. You find it acceptable to make money from this company then degrade it behind its back? How does adding to the “noise” help the business succeed? The success of this business determines your ability to make a good wage. If you honestly feel that this company is as poorly managed as you say it is, go find another job! And while you’re unemployed waiting to find “better” work, you might want to reflect on your disgraceful disloyalty.

another employee says:

Everyone will know the truth…in time.