New York-Style Pizza and High-Caliber Concerts in the “Switzerland of California”

Martin Kuprianowicz |
June Lake aka the “Switzerland of California.” | Photo courtesy of Reddit.

Some call the area surrounding June Lake the “Switzerland of California.” It’s home to four alpine lakes, towering peaks, a quaint, European-style mountain village, locally-owned and operated cafes and restaurants, a microbrewery, a cannabis shop, a spa facility, world-class backcountry skiing, and two Ikon Pass ski areas: June Mountain, which is right in town, and Mammoth Mountain, which is about a 20-minute drive away. The Loop, as it is affectionally known, is also just 35 minutes from the entrance to Yosemite National Park during the summer months. With only 613 year-round residents, June Lake is the type of mountain town that survives from tourism. That’s why when the pandemic hit and the nation’s economy locked down, its small, family-owned businesses had to get creative or die.

Jamie Schectman is one such June Lake business owner that made it out the other side of the pandemic. Schectman owns both the June Pie Pizzeria and the T-Bar Social Club and, like everyone else in a similar, service-industry-boat, he was forced to close down his bar and limit his restaurant to take-out only by mid-March 2020. Luckily for Schectman, pizza is the ultimate social distancing food, which can be ordered over the phone and picked up at the window. It just so happens to be a plus that his pizza is downright delicious.

The June Pie Pizzeria serves New York-style, thin-crust pizza that his team learned from “the Guidos in Staten Island.”  Each pizza is baked to perfection in a rotating brick oven set to 710 degrees and it’s the “tastiest pizza in June Lake,” according to Schectman because of the fresh ingredients he uses. Schectman told me in a phone interview that the June Pie Pizzeria is the “breadwinner” out of his two businesses but that the real fun happens downstairs.

Right downstairs of the pizzeria is the T-Bar Social Club. It’s a personal, mountain-people-atmosphere social bar that hosts a wide range of national touring acts and reeks of delicious New York-style pizza. Schectman modeled it after some of the jazz clubs he visited in Chicago before officially opening it in 2018. It’s got a speakeasy, lounge feel, and a state-of-the-art sound and light system for live performances.

Schectman loves pizza and he loves music, which is why the T-Bar hosts so many live performances. Before the onset of the pandemic, tons of musicians traveling from Los Angeles and heading north to places like Reno or Tahoe would stop by the T-Bar in June Lake because it’s often the perfect mid-way point for a show. All sorts of great artists and big names would visit June Lake for a bonus performance while they were traveling on tour. Schectman boasts that they have had a Country Hall of Famer, Top 40 Recording Artist, and Grammy Award winner perform on their stage. But then the world shut down and so did the T-Bar. It closed for 15 months when Schectman figured out a clever way to reopen his nightclub during an ongoing pandemic.


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The T-Bar became one of the first venues to require proof of vaccination to enter,  back in March 2021. Since then, virtually the rest of the industry has adopted the same policy. Live performances and full-capacity nightlife are back at the Eastern Sierra hangout spot for everyone that shows proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Public response to his decision to only allow vaccinated guests has been generally positive, according to Schectman.

 “Since reopening to live music, attendance has been better than expected. People have been pent-up and they missed live music. It’s a critical piece to a lot of people’s lives. It’s therapeutic. I can’t tell you how many people have pulled me aside at shows this year and just said ‘thank you’ for opening up again and in a way that lets them feel safe.”

The T-Bar’s upcoming lineup is filled with a variety of excellent live performances in early 2022 with more shows being announced soon. Guests must show proof of vaccination to attend. | Photo courtesy of the T-Bar.

The T-Bar’s concert lineup includes Jelly Bread for New Years, Marbin, Hunter & the Dirty Jacks, The Trespassers, and legendary reggae artist Pato Banton for 420 celebration. For the warmer summer months, the bar also just added an outdoor patio area dubbed the “Tiki Terrace,” which now gives bar-goers the option of relaxing outside when they come to enjoy some drinks or a show. The T-Bar is a spot for tourists and longtime members of June Lake’s interwoven community of mountain lovers. Schectman is passionate about the community that makes up June Lake. He’s served as Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce for two years and has been known to frequently donate pizza and event space to different local programs and events like the June Lake Triathalon and the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. His business model is “to be a good steward to the community” and he has a dream of seeing June Lake grow coming out of the pandemic.

“I’d like to see an increase in year-round residents and a few more small businesses to support it,” Schectman said. “We don’t have a bank. There isn’t a mechanic. There isn’t a doctor here. It’d be nice to grow a little bit while still retaining our authentic character.”

With enchanting landscapes, an Alps-like atmosphere, two ski areas, and unbelievable backcountry skiing it’s easy to see why anyone with an affinity towards the mountains would want to come here. So when you do, just make sure you pop by for pizza and a show.

The Tiki Terrace: the T-Bar’s newest outdoor patio area. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Schectman

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5 thoughts on “New York-Style Pizza and High-Caliber Concerts in the “Switzerland of California”

  1. Great article about a true visionary. Jamie brought music, pizza and growth to June Lake. He has a vision for a better future for the “loops. Yes, he came in with guns blazing, big dreams and put just about all he had on the line to make these things possible . For those of us who had the opportunity to watch these changes take place, it’s been an inspiring journey.

  2. Switzerland is way better. They have bigger, better ski resorts with no out of bounds rules. They also have way more ski resorts in a smaller geographical area. Also everything is connected by an amazing train system.

    California does not have one ski resort even close to Switzerland. Squaw and Mammoth are pipsqueak’s built near main highways for convenience. Squaw has pathetic altitude and snow conditions.

    The best high altitude terrain in California that could rival Switzerland is all permanently protected as wilderness, never to be skied except by diehard tele skiers who are willing to hike and camp for 3 days to get in there. California and the Sierra’s could rival Switzerland and the Alps. It has the terrain. It just does not have the legal access or the ski resorts.

    California could have some of the best heli skiing in the world. It’s all just shut down and protected by the enviro’s.

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