New Moon Cafe; Complement of food and friends
Longtime Nevada County residents Buzz Crouch and Peter Selaya, owners of the New Moon Cxafé in Nevada City, love their jobs. You can feel it when you walk into their restaurant.
Selaya, the chef, oversees the bustling kitchen. On a recent morning, racks of freshly made bread cooled next to the counter, where just made ice cream was being formed into bon bons, dipped in dark chocolate. Fresh vegetables arrived from local farms as Selaya discussed the available fish with his contact in Hawaii.
Out front, Crouch supervises the setting up of all the tables and the other preparations for the day. Brightly colored paintings, all done by local artists, decorate the walls in the spacious and open décor.
Selaya began his cooking career at age seven. Outfitted in a chef’s hat and jacket, he worked along side his dad at their restaurant in Redwood City. He and his father later started the restaurant ‘Selaya’s’ in Nevada City.
When he bought ‘Selaya’s’ from his dad in 1986, he inherited Crouch as the headwaiter in charge of the staff. The partners have worked together for over 20 years, and in the New Moon for eleven. They began their restaurant on the new moon, October 1997.
“We’re still friends, after all these years as partners. We play squash together three mornings a week and get all the aggressions out,” Selaya said. “The front end, the restaurant, and the back end, the kitchen – we both know our areas really well.”
“It’s in my heart, to serve people. It’s very creative and fun. I work with amazing and talented people and learn something new every day,” he said.
“I discovered that I liked serving people, making them feel comfortable, welcome and happy. It became a lifestyle,” Crouch said.
They pride themselves on the quality of the food they serve. “We serve only wild, line-caught fish, nothing farmed. When I call in on Tuesday, it is still in the ocean,” Selaya said. After it is caught, filleted and sent, he cooks it according to its origin. If the scallops come from Mexico, he’ll use a Mexican flair in the preparation and presentation.
They use eight to twelve local and regional farmers for their products, including organic meats, all naturally raised and humanely slaughtered. The beef, from Five Dot Ranch in Susanville, is never fed corn or soybeans. The organic lamb comes from James Ranch in Penn Valley.
“We try to be conscious about what we’re serving. There are no hormones or junk in anything. It is a lot more expensive,” Selaya said.
They also focus on seasonal foods. Right now, asparagus, strawberries and fava beans are all coming into season, so they create menus focusing on these fresh ingredients from local farmers.
“We’re so connected to the community and want to support local farmers, so they can make a living,” Crouch said.
Selaya agreed. “We’re all here together.”
Crouch runs the front of the restaurant masterfully. “We’ve got to work close and get along. It is like a big family,” he said. “That’s what it is about for us. We have had all our own children working here.”
Selaya agreed. “It’s not the front against the back. We created that at Selaya’s and we carried it over here,” he said. “We’re flyin’ and rockin’ busy. All the wait staff love what they do. Buzz and I make the final decisions but we value everyone.”
The restaurant supports local nonprofits such as KVMR, SYRCL, Music in the Mountains and Foothill Theater Company. They also enjoy supporting local kids. “Our own kids are grown up and out of school now, but we want to support the local schools and education,” Crouch said.
How is the recession affecting them?
“We’re still trying to do what we do. There are hard times and great times.
We’re not dropping our quality and the community supports us,” Crouch said. “Many tourists come back again and again, from as far away as 100 miles. But our main support is from the community.”
“Americans are obsessed with having the newest cars and fancy clothes. But when it comes to food, they want the cheapest,” Selaya said. “Get an old car but eat better food. It’s your body – don’t be cheap.”
What is the secret to their success?
“We work hard. We do the best we can,” Selaya said. “I love food. I love people. This is what I do.”
“Buzz is a great partner. We complement each other. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Selaya said. “I’m happy with my life. It’s pretty amazing actually.”
New Moon Café
203 York St
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