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June 16, 2013
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Apple Alley owners focus on customers' satisfaction


Terri Perry is a self-professed control freak, but in the world of restaurants, customers wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Everything has to be made very fresh and from scratch,” she said. “This place is a real reflection of us — it has to be as perfect as possible.”

Terri, who owns the Apple Alley Cafe with her husband, Doug, says the restaurant “is like our home” because the pair spends more time at the cafe than they do at their house in Auburn.

Located at the “Y,” where Brunswick Road and Colfax Highway intersect, Apple Alley’s modest exterior does not do justice to the extensive renovating done inside since the Perrys bought it four years ago. While the everyday breakfast/lunch dining area suggests the ambience of a comfortable down-home country cafe, the adjacent new dining room — once home to a thrift store — has been completely transformed into a formal fine dining area with plush, intimate booths, linen tables and a space for live evening music. While the cafe is open weekdays until 2 p.m., the dining room is only open on the weekend — for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Wednesday, Terri was busy taking reservations for Father’s Day, when prime rib is the most popular entree.

“Running a good restaurant is not hard if you know what you’re doing,” said Doug. “It’s all about good, homemade food. For example, we make our lasagna and chili from scratch.”

Chances are Doug knows what he’s talking about, as he’s been in the restaurant business for the past 29 years, having run, among others, two successful establishments near the San Francisco Bay in Emeryville. That’s why he’s able to fill in as cook if needed.

Terri started waitressing at the age of 15, and these days — in addition to waiting on customers — she does the restaurant’s bookkeeping in her back office. During the off hours at Apple Alley, Terri turns her attention to her “other job” — working as an accountant for two Sacramento law firms, which she’s done consistently since 1990.

Doug is no slouch either, as he writes software, builds websites and writes and arranges music in their home studio. In the past, he’s owned companies having to do with construction and landscaping.

“Between the two of us, there isn’t much we can’t do,” said Terri. “We married nine years ago, and we make a good team.”

In both sides of the restaurant, dishes are prepared from fresh ingredients right when a customer orders, said Terri.

Classic examples for breakfast include various kinds of eggs Benedict, blueberry crepes, Belgian waffles, the fisherman’s omelette with bay shrimp, crab and Swiss cheese and the Portabella mushroom omelette. Among the lunch favorites are the Apple Alley burger with Angus beef, the grilled chicken club sandwich with bacon, avocado, melted Swiss and tomato on sourdough bread or the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Examples of popular dinner dishes are chipotle salmon, coconut shrimp and the beef enchilada dinner.

Although the Apple Alley building has seen many incarnations since it was built in 1959 — such as a Chinese restaurant, a pizza parlor, a steak house and a Mongolian barbecue joint, the Perrys say they know they’ve hit upon the key ingredients for a successful eatery.

“I can’t say it enough — it’s all about fresh ingredients and meals that are made to order — we don’t crack an egg until a customer orders it,” she said. “Once people come in the first time, they keep coming back. With many of our customers, we’ve truly become like family.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at cfisher@theunion.com.


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The Union Updated Jun 18, 2013 05:29PM Published Jun 18, 2013 05:36PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.