It was July 1, 2008, our 20th wedding anniversary and Andrew lost his job in the tech industry. Needless to say our world was rocked! While grasping for anything to bring income in, Andrew said “Well, I know how to make a great Tri Tip Sandwich.” So, we signed up for a street fair in Pleasanton, CA and bought a grill. Our friends and family were by our side to help us work the booth that weekend. The crowd went crazy over this uniquely cut tri tip sandwich with coleslaw and chipotle sauce! We didn’t make a profit that day, but we had the satisfaction that people loved what we made.
A few months later we were visiting Susie’s parents in St. Helena where we attended a downtown wine stroll. The restaurants were all booked and there was no other food for the masses of intoxicated people on the streets. So Andrew found the organizer and said “I know how to make a great Tri Tip Sandwich” and the organizer said “Awesome, can you be here next month.” That began a 4 year run with Cheers, St Helena.
Meanwhile, Andrew started his own tech business which he ended up selling to Petaluma-based, Intelisys where Andrew still works as Senior VP of Cloud blah blah blah. At that time the Tri Tip Heiress (daughter Hannah) was off to Emerson College in Boston and Andrew and Susie decided to make a move to the wine country.
While talking with a neighbor, we were told we should try to get into the Sonoma Tuesday Night Farmers Market. SO, we applied and our hobby turned into a full time job for Susie. 26 Tuesdays from May to October we would set up our booth, lug our ice chest and grills and get Sonoma hooked on our Tri Tip Sando. At the end of the season, we decided to take the next leap and bought a 30 foot red passenger trolley. That would turn into the most bad-ass food truck on the planet.
Sonoma wasn’t sure what to think of this, we weren’t sure what to think of this, but soon we were spreading tri tip love all over Sonoma County and as the demand grew, Trixie, our 2nd trolley was born in 2016.
Our business was growing and we needed a new space and one day while driving down highway 12, we noticed that The Vineyards Inn in Kenwood was closed. We stopped by and spoke with the owners of the property to see if we could post our trolley there until they found a new renter. Little did we know that we would be that new renter! After a grueling elimination process, we were chosen to be the next restaurant to fill this prime location.
A bit stunned, we realized that this was meant to be! You see, many years ago Andrew’s brother was killed by a drunk driver. He was in the restaurant industry and it was his dream to open a restaurant and bar and we always dreamed of someday honoring that. Never thinking it would become a reality, all the pieces fell into to place and this next chapter began.
It would take many months to get all the permits in place before construction could even begin on this 90 year old building that was once an old gas station before being several restaurants. Every single thing in the building needed to be brought up to code. Designs had to be decided, menus to be created.
While waiting for permits, we continued to plan. During this time, Susie’s Dad, our biggest cheerleader, died unexpectedly the day before Father’s Day. Heartbroken and faced with the reality that life will forever be different, we realized that we must keep going and live life to the fullest.
And then the fire…… The week after we got our county permits, the fire storm of 2017 happened. At 12:30am on that Sunday evening we were awakened by our chef to tell us that there was a big fire in Kenwood and we should go get the trolleys. Hammered by 70 MPH winds and embers flying all over, Chef helped us move the Trolleys to safety and hoped for the best. The next morning we knew that if the trolleys were still ok that we had a mission. We were going to use the trolleys for good! We thought it would just be a one day thing, little did we know that through the generosity of the community, and a remarkably dedicated crew, we would be able to feed the first responders for 10 days in Glen Ellen and Santa Rosa as they fought to save our county, feeding over 5000 first responders from all over the United States. It was amazing to be on the front lines and watch the huge sacrifice these men and women made every day. We will be forever grateful.
Once the dust settled, construction began and this old little caterpillar turned into a butterfly. With nods to the past with the original gas pump, and the old Golden Bear sign found under the building, we also wanted to pay tribute to those who lost their homes with an permanent art installation from pieces that were left behind. Today, world-renowned artist Helena Nash-Donzelli’s commissioned “Tree of Life” can be enjoyed in our courtyard.
It is our hope that you will feel the love of community, passion for food and the comfort of home everytime you walk through the door.
Wherever you’re from, welcome home.