It was as though Lena’s came back to life for one mirthful and inspiring evening.
Lena’s was the century-old Italian restaurant and special-occasion spot in downtown Santa Rosa that gave up the ghost in 1996. The Lena’s sign and the great wooden bar became elements of a new community jewel constructed there at Adams and Sixth streets — Chop’s Teen Club, a gift from the estate of Santa Rosa civic leader Charles “Chop” DeMeo.
Saturday night, the youth center’s main auditorium took on the look of a 1940s supper club for “Back to the Future … Come Back to Lena’s for the Future of our Teens.”
Guests of the benefit bash sipped donated wines and tasted appetizers prepared by the Chop’s Culinary Crew. The club’s Jam Band kept a lively beat as folks toured the spaces dedicated to technology, art, workforce readiness, culinary training, music and recording, and sports and fitness.
At the bar that long graced Lena’s, bartenders on loan from the neighboring Stark’s Steakhouse — created within the historic walls of the beloved Michele’s restaurant — mixed classic cocktails.
Dinner in the retro-dressed gym was prepared by students in the culinary program at Maria Carrillo High, and diners were serenaded by Elsie Allen High choral students.
The evening concluded just as so many had at Lena’s, with post-dinner conviviality and dancing.