New owners, old favorites at Grass Valley’s BackPorch Market
March 9, 2018
Erik and Rose James bought Grass Valley's BackPorch Market six months ago.
But fans of the market's gourmet cheese and specialty cured meats, and signature entrees such as the giant meatballs, Julia Child's beef bourguignon, and the house-made lasagna, had nothing to fear.
All their favorites are still there. And thanks to the James' efforts to promote their offerings, it is easier than before to secure one of those sandwiches, which are still made in a limited number and still tend to sell out before 1 p.m. Now, customers can check the market's Facebook page to see what the two selections are going to be, as well as what entrees are being made that day. They can then call ahead to reserve their selections.
The small shop has been on Colfax Avenue since Debra Hynson and Bryan Frost opened their doors in 2006. Buying BackPorch in October meant that Erik and Rose started their new business together during the busiest time of year — Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"It's been a trial by fire," laughed Erik. "It's been a learning experience, but it's all good."
The couple credits the prior ownership for having a strong following and said they just want to carry on the tradition while expanding and introducing new items. They've also launched a new website and the Facebook page, which has gained them a lot of followers.
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"We've updated the menu," Erik said. "And we're really promoting our catered items — a lot of people don't know we do that."
BackPorch offers 40 to 50 cheeses, "things you really can't find at Safeway," Erik said, as well as some "true Italian" salamis and prosciutto, among other cured meats.
The couple makes fresh pastas and pizza dough and a rotating selection of those frozen entrees, which Erik says are a big selling point with the market's customers. The freezer case also contains a selection of desserts that include house-made ice cream, cheesecake and a new offering: ready-to-bake cinnamon rolls.
Erik grew up in Auburn and graduated from Placer High School before heading to the California Culinary Academy. He then worked in restaurants as diverse as Pebble Beach Golf Course and K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
"I got burned out on restaurant hours," he said, adding that he began working in retirement communities in the Bay Area.
"That's where Rose and I met," he said.
But several back surgeries and a flare-up late last summer had him contemplating whether he could continue to cook full-time for a living.
Erik' mother, who lives in Nevada City, had kept him in the loop regarding possible business opportunities in Nevada County. And buying BackPorch Market, he said, was a happy medium.
"I can cook, but it's not as demanding," Erik said.
Rose, whose background is in administration, admitted that working in a kitchen was far from her comfort zone.
"I don't cook or bake," she said. "But I'm adjusting. I like working with our staff, and the customers are lovely."
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.