Riverview Church Coming to Old Lacey J's Site

Pastor Todd Tolson: “Riverview is the kind of church that you can come into with zero church experience and feel like you belong."

The building on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Woodside Avenue in Santee, known for most of its history as the Wagon Wheel dance hall and bar, and most recently as Lacey J's Roadhouse Saloon & Grille, will soon be occupied by an entirely new operation—a church.

Riverview Community Church, which began as a family prayer group in 2010 and currently meets at Cajon Park School, started a lease at the property at the beginning of January and plans to open for services Easter Sunday.

“Riverview is the kind of church that you can come into with zero church experience and feel like you belong,” said Pastor Todd Tolson in a previous article about the church. “And also if you’ve got a lot of church experience you can walk right in and feel fed."

“One of the things we’re looking to do is really make an impact on the community,” said Bob Surber, an elder at the church.

The property has changed hands and names several times in the past 70 years, acting originally as an Army ice cream parlor, dance hall and bar. The building and land are deeply rooted in Santee’s history and local nostalgia, according to an article written by the Santee Historical Society.

Riverview Church will join the more than 20 places of worship in Santee.

Visit the Riverview Church Facebook page or website

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Rob January 08, 2013 at 08:52 PM
I agree with Hank...I'll miss the Country Dancing ...I've spent many a night 2 stepping , waltzing and line dancing there...I hope the Church is very successful and saves a lot of lost souls...!
Joe Spencer January 08, 2013 at 08:58 PM
I agree with Doug..... and it's a shame that the new ownership couldnt make it work...though I think major mistake number one was never changing the marquee sign to reflect the new name. That should have been first and foremost on the list to do...how else are you going to let everyone know it's a new business??? At one point I considered looking into buying from Will (W.C.) because I have always thought this place could make a nice profit....the key was a) focusing on the menu and delivering good quality food....and the other was b) providing fun entertainment in the bar with the right mix of drink specials. It's a shame because the place is a huge piece of Santee......
Steve January 09, 2013 at 03:58 AM
I think this is a great move for the city of Santee. There are many cities like Santee with vacant buildings that have been sitting for years, with no one making any moves to do anything with them. I think we live in a time where folks are hesitant to start or expand a business. I am pretty sure that some corporate types have had their eye on Lacey J's and would've made a move a long time ago if it was a fit. Churches do more than just give back to the community, they generate business for communities. Most churches draw outside their demographic area, for example The Rock Church in Point Loma. I can guarantee you they draw more people outside of Point Loma than they do in a 5mile radius of their church. I would be willing to bet that Liberty station is what it is because of the folks they draw in on a Sunday that probably do come back during the week. All that to say...I think it's going to be great!
Dianne January 09, 2013 at 04:24 AM
"Compelled to sell or lease or whatever??? The owner wants to lease and the church has the money. That is the compelling factor. Businesses don't exist to provide tax revenue to city government.
Joe Spencer January 09, 2013 at 05:25 AM
While SOME churches certainly can generate business for a community...comparing The Rock in Point Loma to Riverview is ridiculous.....The Rock is a HUGE church that draws over 15,000 people for services every Sunday....Riverview MIGHT draw a FEW HUNDRED....so yes a church like The Rock will absolutely draw large numbers of people from outside of their demographic area...it is not logical to think Riverview will draw more than a handful of people from outside of Santee. There is simply not even a realistic thought that Riverview will generate business for Santee.
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Doug, As a long time resident of East County (Most of it in Santee) I would have LOVED to have seen Mulvaney's (or Wagon Wheel, or Lacy J's) stay in business. I remember learning how to line dance there on Sunday nights when I was attending Santana! I want to see ALL small businesses in Santee succeed! At the end of the day, I'm glad that Riverview has the privilege of leasing one of Santee's historic landmarks. Thanks for your comment!
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:09 AM
Hank, You're right! In the last year, our Church has helped bring in over 14 tons of food on the annual "stamp out hunger" days w/the Post Office. We've also put together 200 backpacks for under resourced students at Cajon Park School (where we currently meet as a Church), and have saved the Santee School District thousands of dollars and man hours in the projects we've done at Cajon Park for the last two Summers. I appreciate your support!
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:10 AM
Rob, I miss the line dancing too! That's why we're preserving the dance floor, and plan on hosting community "dance nights" through out the year! Thanks for your kind comments!
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:15 AM
Hey Joe, I appreciate your thoughts on this...and I agree - the proper is a HUGE piece of Santee...a historic landmark! I would have LOVED to have seen them stay in business... If you wanna grab some coffee some time, hit me up. Would love to meet you! 619.252.5278
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:17 AM
Steve - GREAT comments! Really appreciate the support!
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 06:18 AM
I've always loved the interaction on this site, especially from long time contributors like Doug & Joe. This is no exception! What a great city we live in!
sdbeachkat January 09, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Fantastic comments and a great attitude, Todd Tolson! I think community dance nights would be a great idea and I hope Riverview Community Church does well. We may just have to come visit sometime!
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Community dance nights! What a creative idea to keep the dancing going at that building.
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Thanks, BeachKat! Would LOVE to meet you!
Don January 09, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Isn't this right next to another "mega" church? I realize that everyone needs a place to gather and Todd this was probably a great deal, but that is two open places of worship right next to each other, i can see the parking wars already starting. God bless and Good luck!
Rosie Becker January 09, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Yes, I love the idea of community dance nights. Hopefully, they will use The Patch to advertise the dance nights. Hoping they will be "Country!"
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Rosie - you better believe they're gonna be country! ;)
Todd Tolson January 09, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Don - TOTALLY legitimate concern! Fortunately, Sonrise & Riverview are separated by an RV sales lot & a cross street, and our parking lots are self-contained. Thank you for the well-wishes!!!
Rosie Becker January 09, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Yeah! Thanks, Todd!! :)
Carol Ann January 10, 2013 at 03:37 AM
"Build it and they will come"...or ".....and from a small mound, a mountain will grow" (I made that one up!) :) KEEP THE FAITH!! It WILL happen!!
adam paul January 10, 2013 at 05:03 AM
I am very disappointed that it will be a church. I think the city of Santee needs to put a moratorium on churches. I have nothing against churches and religion but Santee has way too many of them. Sorry its just another wasted opportunity and the fact that the Rock is even brought up in the conversation is ridiculous because Liberty Station was booming before they were even there. A lot of what the rock brings is crazy traffic and the majority of the people who live in the area hate it.
Todd Tolson January 10, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Carol - I love it!
Peter Soto January 10, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Todd is a great man and has been helping the community for a long time, we need positive leaders and he's one of them.
Kathy January 10, 2013 at 06:20 AM
If Magnolia Mulvaneys wouldn't of kept serving alcohol to minors, they still would be in business but when you lose your Liquor License, you might as well close the doors. I am surprised Sonrise didn't buy the property just to prevent this Church from moving in. As far as too many Churches, is there such a thing. I don't go to Church but I have no problem with others going to Church or how many Churches we have in Santee. However, I would of loved for someone to of taken this space over and made a more updated Country Western Dancing Club. There are many residents in Santee, Lakeside and El Cajon that love Country Western Dancing and there just isn't any nice places in East County. A vacant building is an eye sore and often just a place for Vandalism.
adam paul January 10, 2013 at 07:35 AM
Yes there is a thing such as too many churches. Just like a few years ago when there were too many money lending places in Santee. A corporation owned the wagon wheel and had the liquor license which wasn't lost. The Wagon Wheel was owned by a corporation called Renegade Holdings and than they did a deal with the gal who opened up Lacy Js and it was them who owned the liquor license. God no not another country western place, That is where all the crap happens. If you want that go to in cahoots.
Todd Tolson January 10, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Ahhh...thanks, Peter! I'm grateful for your kind words!
Todd Tolson January 10, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Kathy - you're right! It's going to cost us to fix up the building, and repair parts of it that were vandalized. :( I promise we'll take good care of it though. :)
Todd Tolson January 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Adam - I appreciate you for a couple of reasons: 1. As a SHS alumni, and former football player, I'm grateful for all the help you give Santana. Len Gallo has mentioned to me before how valuable you are to the team! 2. I appreciate your candidness here in the Patch forums! That said, I am curious: what's the metric for determining "too many Churches" in Santee? I can understand if we lived in Dallas, and there was at least one Church on every corner...and that's not even an exaggeration! But in Santee, with 58,000 people, there are only 26 places of worship (as best as I can tell via Google). That's only one place of worship for every 2200 people. Churches (and other religious groups) do a lot of good for the community, especially the ones in Santee. Our Church, for example, along with a few others, brought in and organized more than 14 tons of food for the Santee Food Bank within 12 months. In that same time period, our Church purchased 200 school-supply-filled backpacks for under-resourced elementary & middle school students. We've also saved the Santee School District thousands of dollars, and countless man/woman-hours with the "School Beautification Day" for the last 3 years. Even Santana benefitted from that. I think those are things we want MORE of in Santee, not less. Hey, I'd love to meet you sometime! Call me at 619.252.5278. Coffee's on me!
Jeffrey J Hamilton June 15, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Todd, I hope that you do have the occasional dance event. I found it a shame that the previous establishments always tried to mix a live band with dance - it never quite worked. I am sure that the dance community would be happy to make a "donation" of a few dollars and drink water to country dance to a good DJ. For those who don't live in Santee, how might you advertise such an event.
Joe Spencer July 23, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Todd... I would have loved to have met up for coffee....but for the last year I have lived in Henderson, Nevada.....obviously I still keep touch with Santee as I will always (despite having lived in Lakeside and not Santee) consider Santee home. Hoping one day to return. I love your responses on here to everyone and think you have a great passion. Certainly what it takes!


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