Imaginative restaurant designs in Placer County and Nevada County CA

“Dining out is rarely just about food. A simple meal seems that much more appetizing when paired with appealing furniture, finishes, and alluring lighting.” —Architectural Digest

WE COULD NOT AGREE MORE, and our region’s restaurants — from fine dining to casual — have some imaginative and unique designs, thanks to our local professional and artistic talent. They have opted for a bucolic lifestyle instead of city life and are a real asset to the community.

Some of our favorite restaurant design work is at Hawks Restaurant in Granite Bay, Restaurant Trokay in Truckee, ol’ Republic Brewery and Three Forks Bakery & Brewing in Nevada City, and Diegos, Kane’s, Maria’s Mexican Restaurant and Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli in Grass Valley, among others.

The handiwork runs the gamut. It includes the original tile work, eclectic decor and Latin American-inspired patio at Diegos; the sleek bar and romantic dining room at Hawks; the reclaimed wood, communal table, and bike racks shaped like salmon at Summer Thyme’s; the patio and bar at Maria’s; and the wood-fired oven at Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co, built by Mugnaini in Watsonville. The ovens also are used at Culinary Institute of America, Chez Panisse and Sunset’s demonstration kitchen.

The designs are a tribute to creative owners, such as Amy and Chamba Cooke of Summer Thyme’s; Shana Maziarz and Dave Cowie of Three Forks; June Atkinson Henriquez and her mom, Diane Robison, of Diegos; and Michael Fagnoni and Molly Hawks of Hawks. The husband- and-wife team of Michael and Molly are opening a second restaurant, Hawks Provisions & Public House in Sacramento.

The innovative restaurant design also is a credit to our region’s local architects. Siteline Architecture of Nevada City has been a major player in local restaurant design and architecture.

Siteline is led by Andrew Pawlowski, an architect, and Richard Baker, a designer-project manager. The two partners — who exemplify the professional talent that is helping to revitalize our region — have more than 45 years of combined experience.

Siteline’s restaurant projects have included work at Summer Thyme’s, In the Kitchen (now the BriarPatch Cooking School), ol‘ Republic Brewery, the Old Five Mile House, Smiley Guys SmokeHouse and Pete’s Pizza & Tap House, among others. Siteline also is working on a beer and wine lounge planned for Penn Valley.

The firm has a knack for handling the intricacies of permitting a project, as well as the design work. It also has expertise working with historic buildings. “We know the issues and can get to the end faster,” says Richard.

The talented artists, furniture makers and interior designers from our region also are major contributors. Some of them include David Yonenaka of Fine Line Joinery; Monica Hughes of Naked Tree Woodworking; Sally Peterson of the Funk Yard, who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show for her design work; and the Curious Forge, a shared space where members share their artistic skills.

“Imaginative and unique designs, thanks to our local professional and artistic talent.”

Local artwork comes from artists belonging to Art Works Gallery and Artists’ Studio in the Foothills in Grass Valley, Carmel Gallery in Truckee, and DANK at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, among others.

The restaurants and wine-tasting rooms also are enhanced with original artwork. Some of our favorite local artwork displays are at Smith Vineyard tasting room and Summer Thyme’s in Grass Valley; and Matteo’s Public in Nevada City, with a vibrant new painting “Martini Ensemble” by Sally Rodriguez.

An attractive newcomer with its design is Pete’s Pizza & Tap House in Grass Valley. It is set in a restored Gold Rush-era building, with exposed brick walls, handmade tables and clever signage such as “That’s how we roll.”

One example of the local handiwork: Naked Tree Woodworking collaborated with the Funk Yard to create an imaginative table and chairs. “We used re-claimed lumber for the legs, hickory and glass for the top, and fabricated the base with metal, and the seats cool and comfy tractor seats,” says Monica Hughes. Monica also made “sip n’ spin” cupping tables for Summer Thyme’s, using skateboard wheels, a clever design.

(Photo: John Burnett, Sasha Cobin and Monica Hughes)

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