Nevada City Advocate
The former Five Mile House, 5 miles outside of Nevada City on Highway 20 to Tahoe, has been rumored to be a lot of things – a brothel due to a city rule at the time that no whorehouses could be within five miles of Nevada City, a stagecoach stop, a gangster hide-out, and an outlaw hangout in the days of Wyatt Earp – and more recently, a succession of short-lived restaurants.
Jim Harte and Simon Olney, co-founders of ol’ Republic Brewery in Nevada City, purchased the Old Five Mile House over a year ago and on Oct. 10 they opened the ol’ Republic Roadhouse.
Combine their commitment to product quality and a good customer experience with their convivial down-to-earth personalities and Jim and Simon are sure to cement the Roadhouse’s place in the infamous Five Mile House history. Jim has owned a restaurant previously so he is aware of the pitfalls. In short, these guys know what they’re doing and do it well.
“We were wanting to come up with an extension of our brewing business that blended our taproom atmosphere with food and a full bar. We wanted to stay relevant in this time of so many microbreweries coming on the scene,” Jim said. “We looked at the Five Mile House and thought it would be the perfect place to have our Roadhouse. While Simon and I and many good friends in the trades were working to get the building ready to open bicyclists riding the trails would stop in and ask when would we be open. I feel confident the Roadhouse is going to be enjoyed by many because there’s something here for everyone.”
But don’t let the roadhouse designation fool you. Casual yes; short-order cooking no.
“It all came together for us very serendipitously. We didn’t go scouting for our culinary team,” Simon said. “We met our general manager, Dennis Yadroff, in Oakland at The Hog’s Apothecary. We started talking, and now he’s with us and has been for over a year, helping us formulate the Roadhouse menu and general operations.”
“At a later date, we met his then-fiancé, now wife, Jenn Harrison, who is our baker,” Jim said. “On our menu if flour is an ingredient, Jenn makes it right here in our in-house bakery from scratch – pizza dough, hamburger buns, bread, pies, scones, biscuits, pretzels ….”
“Then we met our chef de cuisine, Rose Fisher, because we know her boyfriend but had never met her. She was living in San Francisco at the time and wanted to move up here, so we said, ‘sure, we’ll talk to her, can’t hurt’,” he said with a laugh, adding, “she was perfect, so here we are!”
The experience and education in each of their own specialties that Dennis, Jenn and Rose bring to the Roadhouse are impressive and suffice it to say they create a perfect storm of culinary creativity and results.
“The point of the Roadhouse is, that while we are offering familiar things – hamburgers, steak, fried chicken, salads, desserts, drinks, beer, wine – we want you to leave having discovered your new favorite thing,” Dennis said. “We source our distilled beverages by tasting them and choosing the best quality and value combination. As a result, many of our brands are small, lesser-known brands but as good if not better than your familiar brands. We source all our inventory as locally as is possible. For instance, a gin we use is made in Alameda.”
Rose added, “I’ve been in this industry so long that I understand food and know what goes together, but I don’t want to be creative just for creativity sake. I have a serious appreciation for the produce and food that comes out of Northern California. That is why I am here.”
The menu’s salad and produce offerings will change with the seasons because Rose only uses what’s in season and only cooks with fresh ingredients from scratch, nothing pre-processed in this kitchen. She and Dennis are now working on creating takeaway holiday meals for those in a hurry that will consist of a lightly smoked turkey and all the trimmings to be finished off in your own kitchen for a fresh and hot Thanksgiving dinner.
Jenn is as committed to buying local and fresh ingredients for her baked goods as Rose is for her savory menu.
“I don’t order anything from a delivery truck,” she said. “For instance, we drive to Petaluma to purchase the flour I use, which is organic and in some cases heirloom. I also take advantage of the malted barley Jim and Simon order for the brewery and use it in some of the loaves of bread and even created a malted whipped cream topping. Malted barley has many different flavors that add depth to bread and pretzels.” She makes the soft pretzels the old-fashioned way with a beautiful brown crunchy outside and soft inside and a splash of hand-harvested sea salt.
“We are working with the County Health Department to be able to sell Jenn’s Roadhouse bread to other stores in our area,” Jim said. “Currently, our Roadhouse customers can buy a loaf of bread while they are here, but we’re looking to expand that.”
Jenn is also working to make whole pies available for sale to Roadhouse customers throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.
If it’s not evident already, the Ol’ Republic Roadhouse is a passion shared among the 25 employees who work there. “We are open five days a week – Wednesday through Sunday so the staff can all have the same two days off,” Jim explained. “Our employees mean everything to us and we want them to be happy. Our dream is to be able to offer profit-sharing someday. We want our people to stay with us, to grow with us.”
The Roadhouse kitchen is open Wednesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and “In-Between” for light bar snacks while dinner prep is underway from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday weekend brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays are Fresh Oyster Nights until they run out. They will be closed Thanksgiving day. Reservations are highly recommended any night of the week. The Roadhouse is also available for private parties, holiday parties, and company parties.
Ol’ Republic locations :
124 Argall Way, Nevada City
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday noon to 11 p.m.
11151 Trade Center Drive, Rancho Cordova
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.,
Friday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
18851 Hwy. 20 Nevada City
Hours: Wednesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
for lunch, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
About the Photos:
Roadhouse General Manager Dennis Yadroff and chef de cuisine Rose Fisher work closely to develop the menus and are referred to by other staff as the Flavor Crew.
Photo by Stacy Drake
In-house baker Jenn Harrison makes anything with flour in it for the Roadhouse menu, with the exception of the ice cream- it doesn’t have any flour in it, but she makes it there too.
Photo by Stacy Drake