Senior Staff Writer
When it comes to eating out, sometimes less is more.
Restaurateur Jim Eckardt is banking on this concept with his new Club 141 at 141 East Main Street in downtown Grass Valley.
“We’re not a restaurant – we’re a tapas bar with smaller portions,” Eckardt said. His business also is a public place and not a private club, though the venue can handle closed parties.
Tapas is what the Spanish call appetizers, and that’s essentially what Eckardt and top worker Rich Fuxjager are offering.
Stuffed mushrooms, small fish tacos and skewers with swordfish or beef are some of the items that have made it onto the menu in the past month since Club 141 quietly opened.
“It’s geared to share for different tastes,” Eckardt said. “I’m all about trying different stuff, otherwise, I’ve be working in a factory.”
“It’s inexpensive and people like eating lighter sometimes, especially in weather like this,” Fuxjager said while standing behind the club’s copper-topped bar. “We want everybody to be able to afford to come here and it’s a meeting place with the couches and chairs.”
Club 141 has small tables, but the couches and chairs are already a favorite with new regulars, Eckardt said. “It creates a relaxed atmosphere,” he said.
Along with the Tapas food, Eckardt serves patrons wines from Nevada County and a full selection of beers.
“We use local products to keep the local economy going,” Fuxjager said. “People are open to that.”
Eckardt has spent the past 30 years in the food business, starting out in Telluride, Colo, washing dishes. Before he knew it, he was cooking breakfasts and learning the craft from a chef there.
The eatery owner arrived here in 1987 and ran Jimmy’s Takeout on Colfax Avenue for four years. He later worked banquet rooms in the Tahoe area and also started concentrating on his catering business here.
“This appeared one day and I needed a kitchen, so I took it,” Eckardt said. The former barbecue place also housed bakeries before Eckardt took it over two years ago.
There was no intention to open a place at first, “but the front was empty, so I said ‘Why not?'” Eckardt said. “Rich was a driving force in putting this together, and it was a big undertaking.”
The men did most of the remodeling themselves and have come up with something that looks more like a living room than a restaurant. One end of the club has additional couch and chair seating and a garage door that opens and exposes it to Main Street with a decorative grill to protect it.
The establishment is open Thursday through Saturday for now, but will not be open this Saturday night because of a private party, where Eckardt is willing to serve just about anything with larger portions. The club could be open more, “but it depends on the community,” Eckardt said.
“We’ve had a better response than we would have expected,” Eckardt said. “I did it without advertising at first so we could get our bearings for when we catch on.”
Quiet, live music also is slated, such as a person playing an acoustic guitar.
“I’ve had some already, and I’m looking for people who can play,” Eckardt said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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