Frank Calabretta of Bail House Bail Bonds Gives Back to the Community That Has Been So Good to Him
Placer County, CA
So how does big city boy, Frank Calabretta, thrive in the bail bond business in a provincial county nestled in California’s Sierra foothills?
He gets active – and stays active – in community affairs and launches and sustains an innovative advertising campaign, that’s how.
It was 36 years ago that Frank Calabretta decided he’d had one too many winters in his native Windy City, Chicago. “Four feet of snow one weekend convinced me to start looking for warmer climes,” Calabretta recalls.
Frank and his wife Ann settled on Auburn, California, about 35 miles into the foothills from Sacramento and at the intersection of Interstate 80 and State Highway 49. Auburn is below the snowline and above the dense tulle fog that shrouds Sacramento every winter.
In 1973 Frank opened Frank Calabretta’s Bail House Bail Bonds, Placer County Bail Bonds, Auburn Bail Bonds and Nevada City Bail Bonds. His first office was across the street from the old Placer County Jail that could accommodate about 50 inmates. When a new county jail, which now has over 500 beds, was built in the 1980’s Frank opened a new office directly across the street from it and soon became known as Placer County’s Bondsman, or “Bail Bond Bwana,” a sobriquet that still drives folks to dictionaries.
Frank’s expertise in cooking Italian dinners for community events has made him a culinary legend in Placer County. Whether it’s a fundraiser for Little League, Crime Victims United, or an awards banquet for the sheriff’s department or any other worthy cause, Frank and his crew whip up dishes that leave the diners wanting seconds and even thirds. “I live here, I work here and I want to give something back to the community that’s been so good to me,” says Calabretta.
Business-wise, what separates Frank from his competitors is his advertising program. For example, when you open the Yellow Pages to “bail bonds,” the first thing you get is a full page ad of Frank Calabretta’s Bail House Bail Bonds, Placer County Bail Bonds, Auburn Bail Bonds and Nevada City Bail Bonds complete with a photo of a smiling Frank and a picture of his Bail House Christmas decorations that include more than a quarter-million lights. “The lights are great advertising for me,” says Frank, “but they also provide some holiday cheer for the guys and gals who see them from behind bars in the Placer County Jail. The jailers love them, too. The electricity bill for it last Christmas was $18,000.00, so I guess PG&E also loves ‘em.”
Frank says that the first question asked by many people who phone his office is, “are you the outfit with all the Christmas Lights?” A lot of the callers aren’t even seeking bail bonds. Rather, they call to say how much they and their children enjoyed the holiday decorations.
Frank always treats the community to good food and spirits when he throws the switch in early December to light up his place. More than 1500 people showed up last year. And every year he chooses a charity to receive donations that visitor’s contribute during the light-up party.
Nina Salarno-Ashford, Executive Director of Crime Victims United, numbers Frank as one of her closest friends. “I’ve known many people in the bail bond industry for many years,” says Salarno-Ashford, “but none of them can hold a candle to Frank Calabretta when it comes to community service.”