Even though you may never have met him in person, if you’ve ever visited The Bloom, you’ve either seen Jeff Warrenburg or read about something he’s done for Lake County. He’s been a Rotary member for twenty-two years. He’s on the board for the Chamber of Commerce, is president of the Fair Foundation, and is on the City of Lakeport Planning Commission. He shows up in photos about once a quarter in The Bloom, most recently helping out the Community Kitchen Project. There he stands, second from the left, holding a check. That’s how you’ll usually bump into Jeff in Lake County. He’s always looking for a way to help: It’s part of his philosophy. “The biggest thing for me,” he says, “Is I feel a need to give back to the community. They give to me and help my business, so I want to help them out.” Without people like Jeff, the county would fall apart.
Trudy and I first met Jeff in person at the Clearlake Rotary’s 2019 Seafood Boil. One day, out of the blue, he invited us to the boil; he had reserved a table and offered us two extra seats. We spent the evening talking and stuffing ourselves with an abundance of shellfish. That’s when we got to know Jeff. He’s not a loud guy, but he’s by no means shy; he served as president of the Lakeport Rotary for two years and can easily hold a conversation with almost anyone. He’s got a way of making people feel relaxed and welcomed. But Jeff’s more than just a nice guy. He’s one of the few people that lives and breathes for the community. For example:
ME: So what do you like to do with your free time?
JEFF: Oh, all these things I’m doing keep me pretty busy.
ME: That makes sense. You’ve got what, four different organizations you’re volunteering for?
JEFF: Pauses, thinking. Five. No, it’s four. I had to drop the 1 Team, 1 Dream board. I worked with them last year, and it was just too much.
ME: Is there anything else you like to do?
JEFF: Hmm. Pause. I like to scuba dive. But I haven’t done that in a couple of years. Pause. What else is there? Oh, I like to travel.”
In the moments when Jeff’s not volunteering his time, he works as the general manager for Skylark Shores Resort. I meet with him again mid-week, mid-morning, post-Labor Day, when the resort feels quiet and peaceful. The crisp fall sun filters through the office windows; a couple taking a stroll passes on their way to the lake.
“So, what would you like to know about me?” he asks, turning his chair to face the desk.
“I just wanted to catch up on your story,” I reply. “So, how did you end up Lake County again?”
Then Jeff tells me his story about changing career paths and overcoming setbacks. After graduating from Willits High School, Jeff ended up in the Bay Area driving a truck for Roadway Express for over a decade. But even though it paid the bills, he wasn’t happy. “I always wanted to start my own business,” Jeff says as he leans back in his chair. “I always wanted to work for myself.
“Have you heard of Newark Days?” he asks, then answers his question. “It’s a big festival they have every year. Now, I would take a week’s vacation to work the festival. I was talking to the carnival owner, telling him how I really wanted to own a business someday, and he told me about an amusement park he wanted to sell in Concord called Pixieland. He told me I could run it one weekend, so I called all my friends and relatives, and we did it. I ended up buying it.”
That moment began Jeff’s journey as a small business owner and plotted the course from the Bay back to the mountains of Lake County. Jeff expanded from his beginnings at Pixieland, buying Golf ‘n’ Games, a mini-golf/amusement center. Unfortunately, that business closed. But Jeff was already a step ahead, building Antioch Paintball Park in 2006 and purchasing Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch in 2008.
Jeff pauses for a moment to think. “I wanted to get out of the Bay Area,” he continues. “I went to Willis High School, remember? And I saw an opportunity. The skating rink in Ukiah had closed, so I had a chance to bring family entertainment to Lake County.”
In 2017, Jeff opened Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Lakeport, and at first, business went well. “We made it through the fires,” he says, a definite what it is expression on his face, “but couldn’t get through Covid. When they shut down all non-essential businesses, it did us in.” He looks up. “But I’ve still got the Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch and the paintball park.
“I no longer had a business here, but I didn’t want to leave Lake County. I love it here. So I put out a resume, and Priya Dias, who owns Skylark Shores Resort, heard from a friend about me. The interview lasted a couple of hours, and she hired me on the spot.”
Now Jeff’s taking his skills at helping people have fun and applying them to Skylark Shores Resort. “I love Lake County. I love being involved in the community. Also, my calling is family entertainment, making people happy. Whether they’re roller skating or staying at the resort, I want to make sure they have a positive experience.”
And Jeff didn’t add this, but it’s the same philosophy he applies to everything he does, whether it’s for Skylark Shores Resort or the Fair Foundation. Jeff’s at his happiest when everyone’s having a good time.
So keep your eyes open. You never know where you’ll run into Jeff’s handiwork. You may bump into him at the fair pouring beer for the Rotary or orchestrating behind the scenes of a Chamber of Commerce event. If you do, be sure to thank him; his hard work helps keep our community vibrant.