During our trip to Santa Cruz last August, we returned to the Jury Room, the bar where Ed Kemper would hang out regularly in 1972 and 1973, as it was also frequented by the police officers involved in the solving of his murders. At the time, they had no suspicion about Kemper.
On the day of our visit, legendary owner and bartender Marv Easterby was at work. He told us that he wasn’t the owner of the Jury Room at the time of Kemper’s crimes and never met the serial killer. The Jury Room was owned at the time by a fellow named Joe Mandela, who owned several bars in Santa Cruz. Mandela was the owner from 1968 to 1976. He then sold the Jury Room to Marv Easterby.
Marvin “Marv” Easterby is a bartender’s bartender. Known for his collared shirts, stylish cuffs, curled mustache and soft-spoken but take-no-shit attitude, Easterby, or Marv to his friends and regulars, “is the quintessential, strong, handsome, silver-tongued, no bullshit bartender,” says Molly McVeigh. She’s tended downtown Santa Cruz’s Rush Inn since 2009 and has known Easterby for 16 years.
Born in Andover, South Dakota, Easterby was the youngest of seven. His first job behind the bar was in 1963, when he was 19, in a small town called Pierpont which, in 2010, boasted a whopping population of 135.
“You could drink beer at 18 and then hard liquor at 21,” he remembers. “When I interviewed, I told them I was going to be 22; I just didn’t tell them how long it would take me.”
After he was subsequently fired for being underage, he followed a sister to Washington state, where he found a job as a fry cook and eventually managed a bar and restaurant.
He arrived in Santa Cruz in April 1976 and soon bought The Jury Room for $75,000. Over the next several decades, he would fine-tune his skills, rubbing elbows with locals and authorities.
“When I bought [The Jury Room], it was a total cop bar,” he remembers. “If I had 40 customers at once, I bet you 25 of them would’ve been off-duty law enforcement.”
It seems he was always a favorite around town, earning the nickname “Judge Roy Beans,” given to him by a Jury Room regular, who also printed up business cards with the nickname and a caricature of Easterby on them. It’s the same caricature the bar still uses today on pins and other merchandise. During the holidays, local police acted as designated drivers for Easterby and gave him rides to and from their precinct parties, for which he helped supply the booze.
Easterby owned and operated The Jury Room for 23 years, until 1999, when a health scare made him relinquish some responsibilities. Still, he continued tending at the local institution, after Karen Madura purchased it.
In 2013 GTreaders voted Easterby the Best Bartender in Santa Cruz, a title he still cherishes proudly with a picture on his phone.
Jury Room tender Tim Hall says: “Marv’s said to me many times, ‘Anyone can sling drinks, but not everyone can be a bartender,’” he says. “He’s Santa Cruz’s Kris Kristofferson or Sam Elliott. A class act with the old school mentality. It’s a lost art.”
Warm thanks to Marv for taking the time to chat with us!
Source: https://www.goodtimes.sc/iconic-jury-room-bartender-marv-easterby-serves-farewell-drink/ / Photo and video: EKS