When Revenge of the Nerds hit movie theaters in 1984

Enrique Montero­­ was eight years old and a student at Walnut Creek’s Murwood Elementary School. Like so many of that era, Montero became obsessed with the MTV pop culture of the 80’s, rocking’ parachute pants, and breakdancing to Beverly Hills Cop’s “Axel F” at Larkey Park as a teenager.

2023 Best of the East Bay: Nightlife

Put on your dancing shoes and head out to one of these hot spots after the sun goes down.

Retro Junkie owner Enrique Montero knew he had a hit nightclub just after its 2017 opening, thanks to high praise from some pop culture superstars.

“Just after we opened, the Property Brothers booked the club for their end-of-season wrap party,” says Montero. The HGTV personalities, known for their hip remodels of homes, were “blown away” by Montero’s vision. “They kept saying, ‘This place is perfect!’”

Montero, a Walnut Creek native, had put everything he had into transforming the former WPLJ’s bar into a 1980s time capsule, complete with a vintage arcade and countless tchotchkes from the decade. (There’s a neon sign from the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail and a karate gi autographed by Ralph Macchio of The Karate Kid.)

Montero, who spent many years running nightlife events in San Francisco, was excited to have his own club. Having grown tired of the music in the city’s scene, Montero realized the music of his childhood would play well in suburban Walnut Creek and began booking tribute acts on the weekends. Every Friday and Saturday night, Retro Junkie is packed with people singing along to the music of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Fleetwood Mac, George Michael, and countless other classic artists, performed by cover bands—and even the occasional rock legend.

“Earlier this year, I got a call from [Green Day front man] Billie Joe Armstrong,” says Montero. “He said, ‘I have a cover band, and I’d love to play your club.’ The show sold out instantly. Billie Joe wants to play again so everyone in his family can come.”

Retro Junkie occasionally books actual ’80s bands—upcoming shows include Missing Persons and Bow Wow Wow. Other entertainment includes stand-up comedy, karaoke with live band accompaniment, and movie nights in the outdoor beer garden. Montero is thrilled with the party vibe he has created in his hometown.

“My first bartending gig was at WPLJ’s when I was 21,” he says. “It’s kind of amazing to have come full circle like this.” retrojunkiebar.com.