Low Key – Classic Retro Dive and More!

By Chris Murphy
Photos By MJ Mangano, Chris Murphy and Low Key Cam

Low Key Saloon is one of Modesto’s coolest reboots. The White Hawk lounge had been around forever it seems. At the beginning of the COVID, this long-time watering hole, loaded with regulars, was transformed into a cool 70s vibe modern dive bar called Low Key. One of Modesto’s promotional, bar and restaurant experts and former Fly Boys founder, Clint Shaw brought his theme and management skills to the partnership of James Marsden and Seth Bassett. Throughout the starts and stops of COVID, LowKey began to thrive again, and even recently bringing their dance party nights and karaoke back.

Now where is this cool place? If you remember the Heat Wave skateboard park that was in the parking lot of Beno’s, the iconic Modesto department store that was in the same location where the WalMart Supercenter is on North McHenry. Take the road that used to go back to the theatre and Low Key is there. It brings back great memories be in that space where Modesto’s skate scene thrived in the 70s. Now it is a cool dive bar, with a retro Americana theme.

Other thing that makes Low Key cool is that it is “veteran owned”. Owner/Partner and Modesto native James Marsden is a proud Marine and he makes sure that Low Key is a veteran friendly place to hang out. Look for many vets events throughout the year and make sure you speak up if you are a vet. James grew up here locally and wants to make sure that this is a local friendly place where people can be comfortable and welcome.

One of the best things about Low Key is the regulars that mix with the new fans. Even more than that, Becky Bean has been bartending in this space for over 15 years. Her relationship with her long time customers rubs off on the new people that are joining and are expanding the family. She quickly pours your regular cocktails with ease, delivers the craft cocktails in a breeze and is quick to make sure your cold tap beer is full. There are so many options at this full service bar.

When you’re not tipping your pint, Low Key has the fun games like pool and darts to help make your days more fun. DJ Tease spins regularly there along with DJ Dade, DJ Suga Shane and others. Better dress to impress as the Low Key Dance cam is always checking out the action and you can be social famous @lowkey209.

They also have the rum I like and hope to see you there at the bar.

Low Key is open at 10 am to 2 am daily.
Tuesday karaoke, Sunday Fun Days and Friday Night Dance Parties
3848 McHenry Ave Suite 370

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.