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Publication Date: Friday, November 14, 2003

Wagon Wheel demolished Wagon Wheel demolished (November 14, 2003)

After standing vacant for the last three years, Walker's Wagon Wheel Restaurant and Casino -- a Silicon Valley landmark for more than half a century -- was bulldozed to the ground this week.

The demolition, which began on Veteran's Day and was slated to take two or three days, was something city's officials had been calling for for a long time, according to co-owner Stephen Gazzera.

"Apparently they thought it was an eyesore," said Gazzera's father, who has the same name as his son.

There are no immediate plans for the lot on the corner of East Middlefield and Whisman Roads, Gazzera said. The property is zoned for commercial use.

"I imagine you will see a vacant lot for a long time," Gazzera said.

Asked if the city threatened legal action if the old building wasn't torn down, Gazzera gave a long pause before finally saying, "No comment." City Attorney Michael Martello couldn't be reached for comment by press time.

News of the Wagon Wheel's demise has made Rosiland Bivings, a longtime community activist, "sick."

"It is a sad thing," said Bivings, who attended the restaurant's closing party in May 2000. "This was just such a historic place."

Known as the after-hours meeting place of many Silicon Valley tech pioneers -everyone from the original Fairchild Electronics to Netscape executives was known to grab a beer or sandwich at the bar -- the Wagon Wheel became the subject of a failed fight by city leaders to keep it open after its card room came under fire for not being in compliance with the California's 1997 Gambling Control Act.

-- Julie O'Shea


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