Grass Valley’s Christopher’s Old World Deli, catering company close
February 19, 2018
After 24 years and close to 1,000 weddings, Melissa Lane and Christopher Lockhart have called it quits — not just for their catering business but also their downtown Grass Valley restaurant, Christopher's Old World Deli.
"We've retired," said Lane. "Boom. Done."
According to Lane, the couple had been planning to close both businesses in March, but decided to accelerate their time line after the building owners brought in a property management company.
As of last week, fans of their signature hot sandwiches, burgers and other grill specials found only a sign announcing the decision on the front window of the space at 206 West Main St.
Lane said she will continue to offer her services as an event coordinator.
"That's the fun part of it for me," she said.
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Lockhart already had decades of experience in the local restaurant business before opening the deli. He was part owner of Posh Nosh Nights (which became Posh Nosh) in Nevada City, was a chef at Creekside (now Lefty's Grill) and then purchased Café 174, a roadhouse diner in Grass Valley that now houses Panoy Bistro.
Lockhart initially opened Christopher's on Colfax Avenue as a catering hall, then expanded into an upscale market with lunches, take-home dinners and a large selection of imported cheeses. The deli moved to the East Main Street spot in 2008, then expanded in 2012.
"This has been our life for 24 years," Lane said. "It's painful."
The outside events ordinance passed by the county in late 2014 adversely affected the couple's business — not just the catering, but the brick and mortar restaurant as well, according to Lane. She pointed to a downturn in the economic health of downtown Grass Valley as a result of Nevada County no longer being considered a favored wedding destination.
Four years ago, she said, Christopher's would cater 50 to 60 weddings a year. After the ordinance passed, they could barely pull in 25 to 30.
"It killed the catering business, big time," Lane said. "It's really sad. That was the final straw. … It's time for us to move on. I love this community, and it kills me to see what's happening here."
It's clear that Lane feels conflicted by the decision to walk away.
"We wish the community well — we wish them love," she said.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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