Pickle Patch- Fresh Gets Hresher
Sierra Lodestar 08/19/09
By Antoinette May Herndon
San Andreas’s Pickle Patch is a win-win kind of place. A true life saver for Calaveras County employees at lunch time, it fills an ongoing need for just about everyone.
The Pickle Patch, with its broad covered deck overlooking lush gardens and small umbrella-tables, is tailor made for anything from wheeling-dealing power lunches to intimate tête-à-têtes.
Often I think back to the early days—my early days in the Sierra foothills. Seven years ago I was a Bay Area transplant well into the lunching out lifestyle. It was both how I did business (interviewing, networking, etc.) and how I had fun (dates!) But there I was in a whole new milieu. What to do? Where to go? A burger at Denny’s just didn’t do it for me and drive-thru wasn’t what I had in mind at all.
“I know a place you’d like,” my soon to be husband suggested. Charles was still courting me, sort of.
I doubted his opinion, but then we were both in that early, eager to please stage. I agreed to check it out.
What a pleasant surprise the Pickle Patch turned out to be. I loved the vintage1930s architecture on sight. Atmosphere.
But, of course, what really sold me was the excellent food and the classy, competent way it was dispensed. Why, the Pickle Patch could be in Menlo Park, San Anselmo or one of those darling little places out on the avenues!
guess I became an instant fan. And, seven subsequent years of work lunches, “just us girls” lunches and Charles and Antoinette lunches have only added to that initial enthusiasm. The Pickle Patch is always great, a consistent winner.
The master mind behind this successful enterprise is Gretel Allen Tiscornia, a pretty blond with know-how and energy that just won’t stop.
Gretel acquired the property, a former residence, in 1997 and within a year had turned it into a thriving restaurant.
“I’m a garden person,” she explains. “I love fresh vegetables. What I had in mind was a simple little place where people could come for healthy meals. I never imagined the business would take off as it has, be as big or as popular.”
Today Gretel has six people working for her—a loyal staff. Some have been at the Pickle Patch for nine years, none less than two. An active partner in the business is Gretel’s husband, Cole. The scion of a pioneer ranching family, Cole recently put in the new parking lot and does much of the maintenance work. “We’re constantly upgrading,” Gretel says. “The Pickle Patch is a work in progress.”
The couple has three children, Savannah, 16; Vincent, 6; and Wyatt, 4.
On a recent Monday, Charles and I enjoyed yet another great lunch at the Pickle Patch. A variety of salads, quiches and desserts were displayed in a large glass case opposite the entrance. Staff members were busy making sandwiches to order or ladling
hearty potato soup—the soup of the day—into cups and bowls.
It was business as usual despite the fact that the Pickle Patch had just filled a 70-lunch order for grand jury members of three counties who were convening that day.
The day’s specials were printed on a blackboard. Each looked irresistible. Choices! Choices! Charles went for the shrimp and avocado salad with blue cheese crumbles and red onion. With it came a cup of potato soup. ($8.95) He was one happy guy.
I had the ultimate BLT—toasted wheat bread liberally laced with cream brie cheese and—as if that weren’t enough—a side order of my favorite Pickle Patch salad, (three bean) came with it. ($7.95)
The ice tea ($1.50), perfect for a warm summer day, was real tea drinkers tea that had been allowed to steep before chilling.
What more can I say about the Pickle Patch. Some things just get better and better.
VITALS: Pickle Patch. 577 St. Charles St. San Andreas. Phone: 754 1978. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Active catering service. Restaurant available on weekends for special events. No credit cards—checks and cash only.
Gretel Tiscornia is the master mind behind the popular Pickle Patch.
2 shots of the entrance: The Pickle Patch is a beacon on St. Charles Street.
The Pickle Patch’s deck has an inviting outdoor-indoor feeling.