A hip food-lovers hangout may emerge in Nevada City, near its farmers market

Some of our favorite “foodie paradises” are in the Bay Area, and we are regulars. The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco and the Rockridge Market Hall come to mind. The Ferry Building also is home to a popular farmers market where we used to shop.

Now, we believe, this phenomena may be coming to historic Nevada City, the well-preserved Gold Rush town in the Sierra Foothills.

A “foodie paradise,” complete with a microbrewery and long-needed artisan bakery, may rise from the remnants of a furniture building (where, by the way, we bought some wonderful leather chairs some years ago — before the real estate crash forced Broad Street Furniture to shut down).

This building is only a stone’s through from the Nevada City Farmers Market on Union Street, now a fixture on Saturday mornings. (We are sponsors). The area also was home to a recent farm-to-table dinner that our family attended.

In mid-August, the Nevada City Planning Commission supported plans for a handsome remodel of existing buildings known as the Alpha Annex and Connector Buildings. They were built in 1964 and used for retail and office purposes.

The exterior remodel includes used brick on the connector building walls, Galvalume steel panels, new awnings, roll-up doors and new windows and awnings, among other features. The colors will be grey and brown. The details are here.

But the developers — longtime downtown real estate owners Gary Tintle and Ken Baker — have been more quiet about plans for the interior. No plans have yet been submitted to the city.

But a brewery and bakery are being actively discussed, according to the owners of Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. This would be a welcome addition and help transform the neighborhood to a “food lover’s” block, focusing on fresh, local products. More details are here.

Nevada City already has benefitted from an expansion of Lefty’s Grill, a popular restaurant across Highway 49 on Deer Creek (but within walking distance of the farmers market).

And the Harmony Ridge Market has opened a marvelous homemade sandwich shop on South Pine, a needed addition. Up the street, Matteo’s Public, is one of our favorites, with its carefully chosen craft brews on tap. It hosts regular food-and-beer pairings.

In the nearby Seven Hills Buisiness District ol’ Republic Brewery has proven the popularity of locally made brews. It is expanding, as we have reported. The expanding eateries are discussed here.

A downtown bakery in Nevada City has been a real void, however, so it would be welcome.

One catalyst for the revitalization is a grassroots effort to keep the Nevada County Courthouse downtown, which proponents believe will help to keep the city vibrant. (We support that premise). An effort to move it to the County buildings out of town has been stalled.

Baker and Tintle recently sold the downtown BofA building to Nevada County to house the district attorney’s office — bolstering the case to keep the courthouse downtown. The Probation office is upstairs of Friar Tuck’s restaurant, and now the county owns that building too.

The Nevada City food-lover’s project developed out of the Alpha Building collaborative that came from the Nevada City Sustainability Team a few years ago.


Over in Grass Valley, the same architecture firm that is handling the remodel at the Alpha Building — Siteline Architecture — is now working on the expansion of SummerThymes Bakery & Deli, a catalyst for the fresh, local food movements. The details are here. We’re going to be writing about SummerThyme’s expansion in our winter issue.

Grass Valley also has benefited from an expansion of Kane’s Family Restaurant, which includes a handsome bar and lounge.

All told, the projects show an emerging food culture in western Nevada County — long a less sophisticated foodie scene than, say, Tahoe-Truckee. In fact, this fall food activist Michael Pollan is speaking in Grass Valley, courtesy of Center for the Arts.

We look forward to the revitalization and will be supporting it.

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