Acclaimed New Moon Cafe in Nevada City is up for sale

Peter Selaya (credit: Lisa Redfern for Sierra FoodWineArt magazine)

The New Moon Cafe in downtown Nevada City — one of the Sierra Foothills’ best fine-dining restaurants since the mid-’90s— is up for sale for $1.2 million.

In an interview, longtime resident, chef and co-owner Peter Selaya confirmed the sale of the iconic local business: “I’ve been doing this for around 60 years and that could be enough,” Peter said. “My dad started me in this business when I was seven years old.”

Once the restaurant sells, Peter said he’s still interested in teaching up-and-coming chefs, just as he has been doing for years. He’s mentored some of the area’s best professional chefs, including Ike Frazee of Ike’s Quarter Cafe, right across the street. As for the New Moon, Peter said it’s a good opportunity for an enterprising chef/owner: “Somebody can come in and have the whole thing, the restaurant and the building.”

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the fine-dining restaurant at 203 York Street. “We’re still rocking and trying to be the best we can be,” he said.

Selaya and Buzz Crouch, also a longtime resident who runs the front of the house, began their restaurant on the new moon in October 1997.

“We consider Peter the dean of real-food cooking in the foothills,” as our Sierra FoodWineArt magazine has written. “He was cooking with fresh organic food long before it became fashionable.”

The listing of New Moon comes as Friar Tuck’s, on the corner of North Pine & Commercial Streets in Nevada City, is under new ownership. Some other well-known buildings in the historic downtown also are up for sale, according to Loopnet, including 100 Union Street — the handsome mixed-use real estate building —for $3.2 million, Cooper’s bar at 235 Commercial St. for $1.5 million, and the BriarPatch Cooking School building at 649 Zion St for $425,000. The National Hotel also is being refurbished under new ownership.

“A legacy of fine cuisine”

“Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty’s Commercial Division proudly presents the exclusive offering of one of the finest restaurants and restaurant locations in Nevada City,” according to the real-estate listing on Loopnet and a real estate brochure. “This is the first time on the market for this fully turnkey property and is an opportunity to continue a legacy of fine cuisine, presentation and excellent service into the future.

“The real estate included is the 2,848 square foot building, plus a 448 square foot basement in addition to approximately 500 square feet of deck used as an outdoor dining area. The building was originally constructed in the 1930s, but has been substantially remodeled and renovated since.

“It is one of the only restaurants in downtown Nevada City with dedicated parking (8 spaces) and benefits from being on a raised foundation which allows easy access to the building’s infrastructure and plumbing. The furniture, fixtures and equipment are included with the sale, as well as the New Moon name, which is synonymous with the best dining experience in western Nevada County.” Jon Blinder and Tyson Tucker of Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty are handling the listing; Jon and Tyson have been on a roll with local commercial listings.

“Big city dining with a small town atmosphere and lots of love. Sophisticated and local,” has been the New Moon’s motto. The menu begins: “We love cooking with organic, natural foods… from local farmers when available…to sustain them & all of us!”

The New Moon’s menus change with the season; and the wine and beverage menu, and the dessert menu, have been known to change with each full moon. The wine list (Buzz’ forte) is exceptional. The restaurant also is well known for supporting nonprofits. A Sacramento Bee restaurant review is here.

Peter’s passion for cooking came from his dad, a longtime chef at well-known Bay Area restaurants. He learned to trim meat at the age of seven (and there’s a picture in the kitchen to prove it). He previously had owned the restaurant Selaya’s in Nevada City since 1986.

We first met Peter when he ran Selaya’s and ate there with my brother- and sister-in-law; we all live here now. And we are regulars at the New Moon. Peter and Buzz have been good friends. Peter likes to show me that photo of himself in the kitchen at Scotty Campbell’s in Redwood City, when he was a boy. We laughed because it turned out that’s the same restaurant where I went with my date for the Saratoga High School prom in 1981. It’s a small world. Best of luck to Peter and Buzz! It’s going to be hard to top the New Moon.

(Photo: Lisa Redfern)

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