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Community celebrates longtime dining staple

Grass Valley staple closes after 31 years of homestyle cooking

Paulette’s Country Kitchen celebrated its imminent closure with biscuits and gravy, homestyle fries and fried eggs just two months shy of the Grass Valley restaurant’s 32nd anniversary.

On Monday the restaurant’s parking lot was full. Inside, nearly every booth was occupied as regulars savored their last bites of Paulette Rickard’s fruit pies and French toast.

 

Diners signed a framed illustration of the restaurant to express their appreciation for Paulette and John Rickard.
Rebecca O’Neil
Paulette Rickard, 64, caught COVID-19 in November and closed her restaurant for three weeks. When Rickard announced the sale of her physical location in January she was still recovering from symptoms of the virus.
Rebecca O’Neil
Paulette’s Country Kitchen was open for full capacity indoor dining Monday to commemorate the restaurant’s three decades of nourishing the Grass Valley Community.
Rebecca O’Neil
From left, Sarahlily St. Michels, her grandson Jordan Bray and son Noel Bray dined at Paulette’s Country Kitchen Monday.
Rebecca O’Neil

“I’m overwhelmed. It’s making me feel very emotional and I’m trying not to cry, but after 32 years it’s time to retire,” Rickard said. ”I’m just very appreciative of everything everyone in the community has done to help me support my kids, my grand kids, and I was happy to serve everyone.“



Rickard announced the sale of her restaurant in January, just two months after contracting COVID-19 and shutting the kitchen’s doors for three weeks in 2020.

The site is slated to become a Wendy’s.



Rickard said despite her 10-day ICU stay, it was important to her to celebrate her restaurant’s closure the way customers wanted — in person.

“We’re not supposed to, but we did it anyway because people wanted to be in here and have their last seat in our booth,” Rickard said. “They wanted to do it and everyone has been super careful.”

PAYING THEIR RESPECTS

Noel Bray said his dad bought him his first milkshake from Paulette’s Country Kitchen when he was 7 years old.

“It’s actually been a while since I’ve been here, actually, since I had my son, but my dad and my family came here all the time so I had to say goodbye on their last day open,” Bray said.

Bray brought his son Jordan and mother Sarahlily St. Michaels to commemorate that first milkshake and pay their inter-generational respects to the longtime community staple.

Paulette’s husband John Rickard and their two sons helped serve some of the restaurant’s last meals Monday. Rickard said her restaurant will be closed today, but will reopen Wednesday to sell fixtures, equipment and “gifts.” It then will close permanently.

By gifts, Rickard means the art for sale, created by locals, that once completely filled her restaurant’s walls.

“The walls were filled with crafts,” said Bunny Parcher, a regular for neary two decades, who donned a handcrafted necklace she purchased from the restaurant’’s display.

Parcher said Paulette’s Country Kitchen was a gathering place for community of all kinds.

“I come between two or three times a month,” Parcher said. “My husband and I come here and I meet my friends here.”

Parcher said she met with Soroptimist International Grass Valley, an international group of women dedicated to supporting women and girls, for committee meetings in the kitchen’s vault for many years.

Rickard said using the restaurant’s space for public discussion was natural as an integrated part of the Grass Valley community.

“There were many community meetings here,” Rickard said. “I mean, Rotary, Interfaith Food Ministry — we did fundraisers for all of those and the schools. It’s important to give back and help people and everyone can put their heads together here and work on things.”

Rickard said she is going to miss all of her faithful customers.

“I have so many special everyday people that come in — some twice a day, some everyday, once a week,” Rickard said. “We have regular Sunday after-church people, George and David — we call them our bookends, and they sat here at the counter every single day. It’s a hard thing.’

Longtime regular Terry Tyler said he and his Grass Valley roommate tried to make it to Paulette’s Country Kitchen once or twice a week for a number of years. Tyler said he is going to miss Paulette’s Meatloaf Mondays.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.


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