Meet Your Merchant: An uptown meal in Glenbrook Plaza
After years of running a Montessori preschool in the Bay Area, Teresa Dass was ready for a life change. She took a leap of faith, sold her school and booked a trip to a place she’d always wanted to go — India.
On the final leg of her organized tour, the group was scheduled to take a trip to a tiger reserve in the Himalayas. A new employee of the travel company — a New Delhi native named Julius — would be joining the group for their final week.
“I remember the first time Julius stepped on the bus,” said Teresa. “There was something about him. As I got to know him, I realized he was one of the kindest people I’d ever met.”
Things seemed to blossom from there, and the two maintained a long-distance relationship until Julius was able to move to the United States a year and a half later. The couple settled in the wooded town of Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County. Teresa worked as a certified massage therapist, and Julius at a nearby restaurant, which helped satisfy his love of cooking. They married in 2002.
In July of 2009, the Dasses bought a small business in Grass Valley called Uptown Burrito. Located in the Glenbrook Plaza near Staples and Ben Franklin, their goal was to provide high quality healthy food options at an affordable price. They also made it their mission to be an integral part of the community by contributing through fundraisers for local nonprofits.
“In big cities there is quantity but no quality,” said Julius. “But in towns like Grass Valley, there is quality.”
From the start, Julius and Teresa have barbecued their own meat on site and sauces have always been made from scratch. A variety of beans and rice are cooked with care, and greens are fresh. Customers can choose from an impressive list of burritos, wraps, tamales, nachos and smoothies.
Specialty wraps include the Chicken Club Wrap with fresh guacamole, the Orange Chicken Wrap, the Caesar Salad Wrap, the Thai Chicken Wrap, the Spicy Pork Wrap, the Taco Salad Wrap and more. Gourmet wraps include a choice of marinated steak or chicken, Cajun chicken, teriyaki chicken or vegetarian. Fajita wraps are made with marinated steak or chicken.
The popular “smothered burritos” include “The Bowery,” a vegetarian option that is smothered in mild red enchilada sauce or a spicier green chili sauce; “The Staten Island,” made with seasoned beef; “The Times Square,” made with chicken; the “Kansas City Barbecue” with shredded pork and “The New Yorker,” made with steak. Kids’ plates are also available.
Over the years, Uptown Burrito has built up a steady stream of loyal customers. Many come in several times a week, said Julius, and a few come every single weekday for lunch. Because they are open until 8 p.m. every day except Sunday (when they close at 7 p.m.), many busy families routinely pick up an easy dinner.
“We are an affordable, healthy option to fast food,” added Julius. “I take a spiritual approach to food. There is the material body and there is the soul. Fast food has no life force. Fresh cooked food with fresh veggies is nourishing. I love it when people tell me we serve the best burrito in town.”
Teresa, who has a degree in child psychology, says she loves it “when the kids come in.”
She is in charge of bookkeeping and marketing, while Julius serves primarily as chef. The couple has about five employees, depending on the time of year. Regular customers know there are a few of Julius’ special dishes that don’t regularly appear on the menu. A tribute to his home country, these include the East Indian dish chicken tikka masala and channa masala, both made with traditional spices and fresh herbs.
The couple has also recently hired a small crew for their new side business, All Star Hood and Duct Cleaning, which cleans commercial exhaust systems in larger local restaurants.
On July 1, Teresa and Julius will mark their sixth year in business at Uptown Burrito, and they are proud of what they’ve built.
“We will continue to try to keep prices low, serve healthy food and focus on service,” said Julius. “No matter how bad your day is, you will always be greeted with respect and a smile here.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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