A grill with a fryer: Lefty’s Fry House opened in early May in Grass Valley to accompany its Nevada City grill | TheUnion.com

A grill with a fryer: Lefty’s Fry House opened in early May in Grass Valley to accompany its Nevada City grill

Sam Corey
Staff Writer
John Cammack mostly runs Lefty's Fry House in Grass Valley, while his work partner, Chris Duncan, operates Lefty's Grill in Nevada City. The fry house opened in May.
Sam Corey/scorey@theunion.com


What: Lefty’s Fry House

Where: 840 East Main Street, Grass Valley

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday

In order to be in the wedding, John Cammack got ordained.

His friend, Chris Duncan, was getting married but had no space for another groomsmen.

Cammack jokingly suggested he should marry Duncan and his wife.

“Would you?” asked Duncan.

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Cammack met his future co-chef and friend, Duncan, at a Santa Rosa country club. Then, Cammack was a sous chef. Duncan was just starting out in food. Two decades later, they are still working together. They have been operating Lefty’s Grill for 12 years in Nevada City. Now, the left-handed chefs are splitting time between the grill and Lefty’s Fry House in Grass Valley, which opened in May.


A customer from Sonoma inspired the restaurants’ names, said Cammack. Once a month, the two chefs offered a food-wine pairing. A woman from New Jersey — who didn’t care for wine — would attend the dinner, but only if Duncan and Cammack were running the kitchen.

“‘Are the lefties gonna be there?’” she would ask in a northeastern accent. “‘I’m in.’”

Sometime during his stay in Santa Rosa, Cammack felt a pang to return to his childhood town and open a restaurant. Duncan and his wife decided to follow their friend’s lead.

“That dream kind of became their dream,” said Cammack.

Cammack said he always wanted to be in food industry. Initially, he wanted to be a pie man. Then, a baker or a cook. Finally, he landed on chef. He liked how food funneled people into the same space.

“The whole idea of the family gathering around the table for dinner was always — it’s kind of a special time,” he said.


It took about a year and a half to get the fry house up and running. Cammack said much of the issues were about bringing the building up to code. Fortunately, he said, Lefty’s Grill had its biggest year ever, which helped fund the new venture in Grass Valley.

The two restaurants are meant to play off each other, said Cammack. Lefty’s Grill is slow and more particular. The fry house, meanwhile, is efficient with a goal to provide a fast meal for $15. The co-chef said an app will soon be instituted for the restaurant to further expedite the ordering process.

“The anchor was always the fish and chips,” he said. “We do it well. It’s fast.”

The left-handed chefs negotiated the new restaurant’s menu, “playing tennis” as Cammack says, to create the best options possible. The fry house includes three types of sandwiches and salads.

Eventually, Cammack hopes to open more fry houses in Davis or Sacramento because university towns, he said, are spaces where service jobs are desired, and where students flock to eat.

For now, though, the chef is happy to have landed in the spot where he and Duncan had coincidentally wanted Lefty’s Grill to be. A decade later the left-handed chefs once again saw an opportunity. Together, they seized it.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.

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