Kathy Saldana says she wasn't expecting to stay long in Vale when she bought the A Street Tavern. Thirty years later, this is "my home," she said. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

VALE – Tragedy comes in all sizes and shapes, and for Kathy Saldana misfortune arrived one day in July 1987 at Marvin Wood Products in Baker City.

A planer saw accident sheared off most of the fingers of her right hand and thrust Saldana down a three-year journey that included five surgeries and a permanent disability.

The accident led to Vale and her ownership of the A Street Tavern for more than 30 years.

On Oct. 1, Saldana sold the tavern at 170 A St. to Rebecca Lamott.

Saldana said she will miss her customers but felt that after extended state-mandated closures because of the Covid pandemic this was the right time to sell.

Saldana used a settlement from Marvin Wood Products to the buy the A Street Tavern in 1993.

Saldana said she didn’t intend to stay long in Vale.

“I was going to be here maybe two or three years and then sell and go. Now, 30 years and five months ago, this is my home,” said Saldana.

Saldana said she was 31 at the time of the accident and she was leading a different life.

“I was just like everyone else – working to make a paycheck and I was purchasing a home in Baker. For my age and at the time, that was pretty good,” said Saldana.

For Saldana, the past 30 years are filled with memories, most of them good, of different people filtering into the tavern. The decision to sell wasn’t easy, she said.

“How do you give up so much and let go? People become your friends and are like family. That building holds a part of you,” said Saldana.

Saldana said she didn’t quite know what she was getting into when she took over the A Street Tavern but she learned a valuable lesson early on.

“When you do your own business it’s a lot of work if you are going to be successful,” said Saldana.

“I look back and it’s like, I have really grown. I’ve learned so much,” said Saldana.

Lamott, the new owner, said she has wanted to buy a business and live in a small town for a long time.

“I also wanted to part of the community, interact with people,” said Lamott.

Lamott, who works in a remote job for IBM, was born in Portland and moved to Boise in 1999. Eventually, she and her husband decided Ada County wasn’t the place for them.

“Boise got crazy. Grew too fast. It was just too much for me,” said Lamott.

Lamott said she does not plan any major changes to A Street Tavern and so far, her new side gig has been “really good.”

“The community has been great. It is very social and I love social,” she said.

Lamott, 53, said she was able to buy the tavern because of a plan she made two decades ago.

“I made a deal with myself that when I got a raise I would take $20 and put it in retirement or savings. So, I have invested quite a bit. And my husband and I have flipped houses to make extra money,” said Lamott.

She said she and her husband also remodeled their house in Boise over 10 years and then were able to sell it at a good price.

That helped with the down payment on A Street Tavern, she said.

Saldana, 63, said she believes Lamott will be “quite successful.”

“It felt good to me to be able to turn the helm over to someone I know will love it and give it their all,” said Saldana.

Saldana said she will focus on her other tavern – Quinns Bar in Ontario – for the time being with her eyes set on a retirement in the next five years.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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