Charley’s—or “Willie Nelson’s bar,” as many fondly refer to it as—has not been sold and is not for sale, according to General Manager Nancy Garcia. “There’s always interested buyers, but it’s not up for sale.”
Entering through the large saloon doors, and welcomed by a 12-foot-tall replica of Nelson’s famous Trigger guitar, Charley’s remains a special entity on Maui. Owner Jim Fuller has operated it for nearly four decades, revamping the property after a fire in December 2007.
A myriad of admirable national and local talents, including Nelson, friends and family, have graced Charley’s stage. Tourists make it a point to visit the saloon, which is adorned with rock memorabilia and a charming, rustic appeal that solidifies its undeniable attraction to live acts.
“I played my first show with the first incarnation of the Vince Esquire Band here,” said Maui musician Vince Esquire. “A lot of history there. I’m glad to see it’s staying around.”
“Charley’s is the epitome of that iconic North Shore landmark,” said local musician Tom Conway. “Some of my fondest memories playing music are here… Pā‘ia has a great tourism draw and there’s money to be spent there. Hopefully, now that the rumors of it turning into a sushi bar aren’t true, people will appreciate it even more.”
The rumors are indeed false, said Garcia, and were presumably sparked by the construction in its back parking lot. Since mid-October, the renovation has “negatively affected” Pā‘ia businesses, with popular locales experiencing a consistent drop in sales.
“It’s frustrating—we’re pretty much a construction site,” said Garcia. “We still have our loyal regulars, and great breakfast and lunch crowds, but we can’t expect customers to be walking around, late at night, after parking far away.”
The multi-month Pā‘ia Town Center project eliminates a major portion of downtown parking, which is already limited, and although Garcia said the Charley’s crew was “aware the construction was possible for many years,” she understood that the contractors of West Maui Land Co. Inc. would begin this January.
“Yet, they started early,” she said. “The company said it took 10 years to get permits signed, so once the county gave the go-ahead, they didn’t waste any time. I know in the long run, it’s a good thing, but right now is supposed to be our busy season, and it’s just not.”
Meanwhile, parking is available for employees and business owners in the church lot near the Pā‘ia Community Center. The police in Pā‘ia said parking is also available to customers at the center itself.
The project’s deadline is mid-February, but Garcia was told “they’ll try to be done by Christmas.”
“We’re hopeful,” she said. “We’re working on making it and we need everyone’s support.”