Three new eateries on tap for Grass Valley’s Mill Street |

Three new eateries on tap for Grass Valley’s Mill Street

A restaurant renaissance of sorts is taking place in downtown Grass Valley, with three new restaurants slated to open this summer.

All three eateries are moving into spaces that have been vacant for months. Cafe Tara, which reportedly will serve vegan and raw food, has taken over the former Brew Bakers spot at 154 Mill St., while MeZe is remodeling the space last occupied by Culture Shock Yogurt at 106 Mill.

But perhaps the biggest buzz surrounds the anticipated reopening of historic bar and grill The Owl, as "new classic" Watershed.

The Owl Grill & Saloon, at 134 Mill St., had closed abruptly last August in a welter of broken glass and spilled booze. Employees reportedly arrived to find the doors unlocked and the place trashed. The Owl's manager, Melissa Graham, later apologized on Facebook for the incident, but the business remained closed.

According to Nate Overstreet, who plans to open Watershed with partner Ashly Amador and brother Ian Moll, the fact that some of the spill was never cleaned up worked in his favor. The trio was interested in leasing the 160-year-old building soon after The Owl closed, but was having no luck getting a response from the owner.

Finally, Overstreet said, he wrote a note and slipped it under the door, where the owner inadvertently discovered it.

Recommended Stories For You

"He said it stuck to his shoe" because of the sticky alcohol on the floor, Overstreet said, laughing. "So I guess it was meant to be."

According to Amador, one potential tenant had planned to gut the space and rip out the bar.

"They appreciated that we want to highlight the building," she said.

"It's insane how much history is in this building," Overstreet said, citing the beams that came from Empire Mine. He knows the space's lineage, including a time when Cornish pasties were sold to miners through what he jokingly calls a "pasty-through."

Overstreet and Moll, who grew up in Nevada County, said they are keeping the renovation as local as possible. They plan to retain the open kitchen concept and add a chef's table along with bar seating.

"We're completely re-doing the kitchen, from the ground up," Overstreet said. "The space has got great bones, but it needs a lot of work. We want to be true to The Owl and the history of the building, but make it our own space."

It's definitely going to have a Victorian vibe, with a number of items salvaged from the National Hotel's estate sale. The bar will stay, Overstreet said, adding, "it's definitely the gem of the building." A romantic lounge space is planned for the back room.

Watershed will serve "new classic American food," the couple said, but with an eclectic bent.

"It's hard to describe. Overstreet said, adding, "It's elevated steakhouse — but very approachable."

Mediterranean, vegan food round out offerings

Alon and Tal Greenstein, who have been operating food tent Falafel Kis in Nevada County for the last few years, are expanding into a brick and mortar location — the former Culture Shock space at 106 Mill St.

Their new venture is called MeZe, will feature "fast-casual" organic Middle Eastern food, and is slated to open this summer.

"This type of eating is entirely new for me," said Shanin Ybarrando, who is helping brand and market MeZe. "It's so good — it's very exciting."

Alon Greenstein said the motto of the restaurant is "real conscious food" — all of the offerings are made from scratch and served in a conscious way.

"There's no cutting corners," he said.

There will be limited seating in the eatery, with take-home items available that will include house-made hummus, pita, tahini and salads.

MeZe will offer two kinds of sharwarma — typically mixed meats placed on a spit and grilled, then shaved off and served in pita or another type of flatbread.

"We will have grass-fed beef flavored with lamb fat, and chicken," Greenstein said.

And, of course, MeZe will serve from-scratch falafel — deep-fried patties of ground chickpeas.

The Greensteins are in the process of building out a kitchen for MeZe; they will continue to operate Falafel Kis at festivals and street markets.

The success of the food tent is what spurred them to expand, Greenstein said.

"We got really good feedback from customers, asking us to open a place, that wherever we went, they would follow," he said. "That helped a lot — this was not a small decision."

MeZe will be a Mediterranean eatery "that serves this amazing food in the most healthy way possible," Greenstein said, adding this was something that was needed in Grass Valley.

"The ingredients are really important," he added. "We stand by that eating philosophy, that I'm going to serve you what I eat at home."

'Clean' food

Cafe Tara is planned to open in the space that was formerly occupied by Brew Bakers and before that, Sergio's Caffe, which both continue to operate at different locations downtown.

According to its Facebook page, the cafe will serve "clean" food with vegan, vegetarian and raw items. Brooke Preston, the chef behind the now-closed raw food restaurant Green Boheme in Roseville, posted that she is helping a former employee open Cafe Tara.

The business' owner is listed as Justina Dunne. She has not returned calls for comment.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at