“Passing the apron” at Tess’ Kitchen Store

Tess’ Kitchen Store store in historic downtown Grass Valley has been in continuous operations since 1931, when original owner Tess Hawkins had a gift and card shop. Since then, the store has relocated on Mill Street, each time to a bigger location.

In 2010, Steve Rosenthal and his wife, Rachel, purchased what had become Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley. “I always had an interest in small business,” said the retired Hewlett Packard Co. worker, who also is a food lover, kitchen connoisseur, and world traveler.

No one has done more to expand Tess’ than Steve. It has become the largest cooking store in the Sierra Foothills, with three floors of retail space, a cooking school, and a restaurant-quality kitchen.

If that wasn’t enough, Steve recruited Alan Tangren, a veteran of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, as the in-house chef. He introduced “Chef’s Table” dinners, where guests are served a themed menu prepared by Chef Alan. We have repeatedly enjoyed those dinners — one of the best dining experiences in our region.

This week Steve called us with a “scoop”: He said he was selling Tess’ Kitchen Store and retiring for good at year-end. Now Steve can spend more time cooking and traveling with Rachel, a retired college administrator and world-class photographer. Steve also enjoys the sport of sculling (the use of oars to propel a boat), and he’s going to build his own sculling boat.

Steve told us he has sold Tess’ Kitchen Store to Alice Penny Short of Penn Valley. Penny (as she is known) is passionate about home decor and cooking. She has been Tess’ general manager since April 1, learning the nuances of the business. The sale has been in discussion for a while, according to Steve, adding that Penny is a great fit for what has become a downtown Grass Valley retailing institution.

Penny ­plans to keep Tess’ on its current course, with the cooking classes, Chef’s Table and Chef Alan.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” she said, observing that her roots are from Nevada County.

We wish Steve the best in retirement and look forward to getting to know Penny and continuing to patronize Tess’ for kitchenware, cooking classes, and Chef Alan’s cooking.

(Photo: Shannon Pelline)

115 Mill St, Grass Valley, CA 95945

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