Tara Guglielmo Muccilli

Written by Liz Hodges

In the 1920s, prohibition-era tunnels mapped a hidden bootleg network underneath downtown Santa Cruz. A bar we now know as The Asti was a speakeasy at the time, with two tunnels leading to its basement. They still have that basement today, although the doors are now gone and the secret tunnels have collapsed.

Our Woman of the Week, Tara Guglielmo Muccilli, has owned The Asti for about 20 years. She grew up in Willow Glen but her parents had a boat in the harbor, so Santa Cruz was always her second home. She left the area to get an art degree at Cal State Long Beach, and was offered a full-time teaching job when her father made her a different kind of offer. He’d owned The Asti for about 10 years. Now he wanted to teach his daughter the business, and have her take over if she decided she liked it.

So Tara turned down the teaching job and packed herself up to Santa Cruz, where she learned the ins and outs of running a bar while substitute teaching. She wanted to give back to her parents for putting her through school, and felt like it was the right thing to do. Well, it just so happens that she actually really enjoyed it. She fell in love with the social and community aspect of the business and still runs The Asti today.

“It’s a fun place—there’s no changing it,” she says, “There’s no pretentiousness in it.”

Tara is a real people person. She was a sales rep for Silpada jewelry for five years, and reached top ten in the country during her last four years there. When asked what her secret is, she says that it’s all about being social and getting out into the community. “Don’t be afraid to do new things and meet people… It’s fun to meet people in your community that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

And it’s the same way with her bar. She says, “I just like seeing the people.” The local community is her business. Although many people live in Santa Cruz, from all walks of life, it really does have that small-town vibe. People here have plenty of similar interests, and they’re always out and about.

She makes a point of not judging people. Tara grew up in a bar, and her godfather was one of her father’s regulars. He seemed down one day and her father told him, “Hey, don’t worry. I’m going to make you my daughter’s godfather.” Turns out, he’s a great guy. And she mentions late-nighters shouldn’t look askance at the older people who visit the bar early: it’s their community hall. They’re there to socialize.

Tara has a daughter who’s 13 and a son who’s 11, so she’s also busy volunteering at their school. She felt it was her duty, and when she stopped selling Silpada she started getting really involved. Now she’s co-president of the HSC.

I think Tara’s life philosophy can safely be summed up in one quote: “It all connects around; it’s a small world.” Truth. Thanks, Tara!

Thank you to our fabulous blogger: Liz Hodges of Verdant California.

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