Historic Grass Valley restaurant slated to reopen as Wild Eye Pub in March
January 5, 2018
Beth Moore and David Kuczora are in the home stretch of a more-than-yearlong quest to reopen the long-shuttered, two-story former boarding house/saloon/restaurant at the end of Mill Street.
The former Swiss House has been reimagined as Wild Eye Pub, a "multi-use venue anchored by a local-foods eatery, a shared kitchen, an event space and pub," according to the pub's website.
Back in early July, the couple hoped to be open by the end of summer.
Much work remains to be done — but Moore, a whirlwind of energy after a two-week bout with the flu, is fully confident she will be able to throw open the doors with a grand opening by the end of March.
Moore — who works with special needs students at Nevada Joint Union High School — is passionate about the renovation and revitalization of the historic Empire House, which has been a public house at that location since 1857.
The original two-story building on the site burned down and was rebuilt in 1934, Moore said. A dining room was added in 1948, when Minnie Marin operated a popular restaurant serving "Spanish" food. Karl and Lily Pai Resch bought the building in 1984 and ran The Swiss House until Lily's death in 2014.
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Moore has been gathering vintage photographs of Empire House, including a trio depicting the saloon that helped the couple figure out that the actual bar had once been on the other side of the room. Some of that memorabilia will go into a series of shadow boxes in the dining room that will honor each of the building's owners, she said.
"People want us to keep that neighborhood tavern feel," she said. "We've connected with people of many different stripes, hearing their stories."
Moore's vision is ambitious: Wild Eye Pub will offer locally sourced, seasonal food and drink, with a full-service pub, a stage and sound system for live music and theater in the dining room, a shared communal kitchen and, possibly, pop-up dinners by visiting chefs.
Kuczora, who cooked for several years in the Bay Area and five years at BriarPatch, will be the chef.
On the practical side, plumbing woes have been taken care of, and bathrooms have been reconfigured to be ADA-compliant.
A custom logo has been through more than 30 iterations but is now on all the "schwag" the pub is selling online.
Most recently, Moore said, the floors for the kitchen, pantry space, bathrooms and walk-in freezers have all been redone, and the couple is now ready to move the kitchen equipment back where it belongs.
"The foodie people are drooling" over the 650-square-foot kitchen, Moore said, adding that the former secondary kitchen between the dining room and the banquet room will be turned into a pantry.
In February, part of the building will be re-roofed, and a lot of the permit work will get under way, she said.
Moore is already looking ahead, gleefully planning theme nights for the restaurant, with storytelling slams and nights devoted to musicals like "South Pacific."
"It's so exciting to think about," she said. "Just raw promise and good stuff."
Moore's plans include ripping down the 1980s-era stonework in front to reveal the original facade — and fanciful, ocean-effect epoxy floors in the bathrooms with murals on the walls.
"I mean, why not?" she said. "It's going to be visionary."
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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