Chuck Lech had a successful career in purchasing in the food industry, working for Mars Candy and Knudsen. When Knudsen went into bankruptcy, Chuck ended up in bankruptcy work, obtaining his real estate broker’s license to help the company with mergers, acquisitions and selling properties. After traveling extensively for work for 15 years, Chuck decided to join Tosco Oil. He worked there for two years as a bankruptcy consultant, also teaching people negotiation skills. In 2002, he heard Dilbeck had a good reputation within the community and joined the local branch; he became the branch manager four years later. Chuck is originally from Chicago and moved to the Conejo Valley with his wife in 1978. He has been married since 1969, has one daughter, and three grandchildren.
Q: Favorite local restaurant?
A: I like a fish restaurant called Lure, they have a few of them. I’ve gotten into mostly trying to eat fish; they have a real good selection.
Q: Favorite local coffee shop?
A: They opened one in conjunction with the Westlake Inn, they called it The Stonehaus. Actually the gentleman that owns that whole area, was in charge of building Westlake. Westlake is a big planned community. He’s gone to Europe and as he has traveled he has purchased great artwork, which he put into the rooms at the Westlake Inn for people to enjoy. It’s more like a European place, that’s why they call it the Stonehaus it’s got a stone facade on it. It’s also a wine tasting place, they have some sandwiches and things, similar to maybe what you would find at Starbucks but they have outdoor seating, music, it’s just a really pleasant, easy-going place and you feel like you’re in Europe.
Q: Favorite day trip?
A: Santa Barbara is to me the most fun, or Solvang up in that direction generally. Sometimes we go further up to the Apple farm in San Luis Obispo. Eating, resting, just walking around…unfortunately going through an awful lot of shops, not my favorite thing to do but that’s usually what we do. That’s mostly it, just relaxing.
Q: Favorite hobby?
A: I like to fish but I don’t have much time for it. Going way back, computers were kind of a hobby of mine. I didn’t realize I had hobbies until my wife told me, my hobby was computers - I was quite involved with them. For instance, my daughter and I we went to Dr. Megabyte school, we learned how to program and it was so basic, a lot of that stuff is already done for you now. I also like the historic things in the area like the Reagan Library; they got a lot of great things over there.
Q: Favorite weekend excursion?
A: We go to a lot of wrestling tournaments in places like Clovis. One of the things I really enjoy doing is going up for a long weekend to either San Francisco or Las Vegas, those are two really good places and the third would be probably San Diego.
Q: Favorite organization to volunteer for?
A: I’m a commissioner for the area housing authority that deals with the section 8 vouchers. We actually have a lot of housing for people so that’s a real good one. I work with the school system here with the bond review committee that we have, we passed a $200 million bond two years ago, so they needed some people to make sure we were spending it the right way.
Q: Favorite Park or recreational area?
A: The best thing we can do is at night time go to the beach and watch the sun go down, and just take a walk along the beach. We have trails, we have one right across the street from our house where we can go up and walk through the mountains and those are quite nice. We kind of live in a recreational area.
Q: Favorite hidden treasure (hole-in-the-wall)?
A: When you go over the bridge to go to Lake Cachuma in Solvang, at the bottom of that bridge there’s an old hole-in-wall restaurant. It’s some of the best food you could find in California and it’s really a neat place, it’s called Cold Spring Tavern. The other place I really like is a restaurant in Visalia, it’s called The Vintage Press. You’re absolutely amazed that you’re in Visalia. They have stained glass windows that are all antiques that they built; they have a wonderful selection of menu items. You could have escargot, they have waiters that serve in tuxedos, and it’s in Visalia…really, really good place. One thing that is neat about it is if you go down and want to have some good wine you’re not going to pay four times what the price of the wine is. They have a markup on it but it’s less than double.
Q: Favorite family fun adventure?
A: We took our first trip to Europe as a family, to Prague and Vienna. We brought the grandkids and it was great seeing them really start to like travel and help pick out the restaurants. That was great fun. Seeing them as adults and learning from them, I thought I was going to take them on a trip and it worked out the other way around.
Q: Favorite holiday tradition in this neighborhood?
A: For Christmas Eve we have a big party in our house with a lot of friends, sometimes it will be 30 people. It’s an awful lot of work but it is really enjoyable. Sometimes we meet with some of them for other holidays. They’ve become our family we don’t have other family except back in Chicago, so we kind of trade off who is going to do Easter, who is going to do Thanksgiving. We have a 4th of July parade which is really cool.
Q: Favorite building or architectural style?
A: My favorite building is right on the border with us, but it’s the Reagan Museum. It’s just a nice style, it’s got so many interesting things inside it and it’s on such a beautiful setting, you overlook two valleys. We’ve had some events where you’re sitting right next to the plane he used to fly, and it’s interesting you go over the history of what he did as a president, and we’re lucky to have had him out here he was quite an interesting person. One of our friends worked at the museum. She’s originally from England and she’s just a very pleasant person. When Reagan died, many people came out here for the services and people were literally there around the clock. They had all the people who worked there on duty. When the ceremony was just about over, they told her we got somebody that wants to meet you, they took her to a room and it was Maggie Thatcher, who was really good friends with the Reagans, but she heard about her and she heard that she was from England and she wanted to talk to her. It’s so cool, when something like that happens you just realize we’re all just people - you don’t have to be special, some of the most special people in the world, you walk up to them and they’re just like you and I.
Q: Favorite thing about working and living in this community?
A: That I only have to drive 6 minutes to get to work, I used to drive an enormous amount of time. When we first moved here, everybody was young, it was a brand new community and everybody was moving in. Now, they have a full range of people and full range of ages and everything. It’s a very safe community. No matter what you want to do it seems to be available. My wife used to work for our city hall for about 23 years, so maybe I’ve gotten to know through her, all the great things we have and that are around that normally people might not follow as much.