The Ridge Cafe: worth the trip to North San Juan
February 11, 2014
"Dishin' up organic food made with love" is the motto at The Ridge Cafe in North San Juan, and it's pretty hard to ferret out a customer who would disagree. The walls of each room within the old-house-turned-cafe are brightly painted with different colors and accented by warm, well-worn hardwood floors. In the back room, there's an upright piano, banjo and two guitars for anyone who is in the mood to play a tune. To the side there's a couch, a book lending shelf and a kids' table. Just last week, an impromptu African drumming circle broke out in the backyard.
"There's just enough chaos here for creativity to take place," said Sarah Jean Lang, who owns the cafe with longtime friend Christina Reese.
"We wanted to create a place with good food that would inspire thought, art, music and conversation."
"This place has become a meeting place, a hub, a place to share stories," she said. "People come in to read, draw, catch up on local news and play music. It's like a home base for the community."
There's no way to describe a typical customer, said Lang, because there isn't one.
On any given day you might find artists, farmers, craftsmen, trades people, mountain folk, professionals, Ananda Villagers, neighbors, travelers, weekend warriors, health nuts, hippies and hillbillies, added Lang. For some customers, it's their first trip to town in a month.
While people may enjoy the atmosphere, no doubt they also come for the food.
"Our food is all organic, all made from scratch," said Reese. "It's locally sourced as much as possible — very thoughtful and love-based."
Favorites include the teriyaki or Mediterranean brown rice bowl; a hummus plate; and green salads with the option of adding chicken, turkey, tempeh, ham or smoked salmon. There are also a variety of burritos, wraps and sandwiches, including the "pesto brie," "cordon blue croissant" or "green garbanzo."
Breakfasts range from traditional waffles, bacon and eggs to huevos rancheros or bagels and lox. Many people come just to take advantage of the smoothies and organic juice bar. Their organic coffee comes from Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters in Grass Valley.
Lang and Reese bought the cafe from Ridge native Belle Star, who originally transformed the old house into a cafe, which sits among a handful of small businesses along Highway 49 in North San Juan. The pair kept Star's popular menu but expanded and diversified the offerings. Depending on the season, the cafe employs up to 17 people, said Lang.
Having traveled extensively throughout their lives, both Reese and Lang say they've gotten the wanderlust out of their systems and have put down roots.
"When it comes to this business, we really have a shared vision and shared values," said Reese. "We communicate well. It wouldn't be nearly as fun to run this business alone. I've got someone to celebrate our successes with."
"We bring different but complementary strengths to the table," she said. "It's so nice to walk through this adventure together — we want each other to be happy. The bottom line is, we both have the best interest of the cafe at heart. I think people feel that."
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.
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