‘We wanted to do something different’: Grass Valley Elks Lodge launches Bistro 538 drive-thru | TheUnion.com
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‘We wanted to do something different’: Grass Valley Elks Lodge launches Bistro 538 drive-thru

Chef Jamal Walker works in the kitchen of the new Bistro 538, which began its once a week drive-thru servings of hearty meals Thursday from the Grass Valley Elks Lodge basement at 109 S. School St.
Elias Funez

The Grass Valley Elks Lodge on Thursday opened Bistro 538, named after the lodge number, for its first day of drive-thru food sales.

Bistro 538 will be opening for drive-thru pickup from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Thursday, with meal reservations due Mondays. Aside from reserved meals, they will be serving meals on a first-come first-serve basis.

According to Kim Kain, a Grass Valley Elks Lodge officer, this project has been underway since October.



Unable to hold their usual fundraisers, which have included bingo events and spaghetti nights, Kain said they took inspiration from other Elks Lodges and decided to find a new use for their commercial kitchen.

The crew of Bistro 538 stands in the alley of the Grass Valley Elks Lodge building at 109 S. School Street. Orders placed by Monday can be picked up Thursday during the drive-thru pickup.
Elias Funez

On what Kain described as a “shoestring budget,” the lodge painted and decorated some of their downstairs space, finding supplies for signage and other items at thrift stores.



When they began this process, some indoor dining was permitted in Nevada County. As of Thursday, the county is in the purple, or “widespread,” state COVID-19 risk tier, meaning restaurants are only permitted to offer outdoor seating or takeout service.

Sally Convis of the Grass Valley Elks Lodge stands in the remodeled space in the lower floor of the lodge’s 121-year-old building, where Bistro 538 hopes to allow people to dine in as soon as COVID restrictions are lifted.
Elias Funez

They decided to launch Bistro 538 regardless, pivoting to a drive-thru only pickup format. ”We had the perfect location, having that drive-thru alley that comes right behind us,“ said Kain.

Kain emphasized that Bistro 538 aims to offer meals that work well served in takeout containers, and said they searched specifically for lidded containers which would keep the food hot for longer than commonly used Styrofoam boxes.

“We wanted to do something that was different yet simple, that the presentation and taste was there, and they could pick it up and take it back to their work and it would still be hot,” said Kain.

With the help of Chef Jamal Walker, formerly of Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli, the Grass Valley Elks Lodge’s Bistro 538 is committed to providing fresh, hot, and hearty lunch meals on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Elias Funez

Kain said they hired Chef Jamal Walker, former general manager of Summer Thymes Bakery & Deli, for his experience and knowledge of how to achieve these goals.

This first week’s meal, for example, was tri-tip and gravy, with sides of mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and garlic bread. Next week, Bistro 538 will be serving three-bean chili with corn bread and lemon cake.

Anyone interested in reserving a meal should email Bistro538@grassvalleyelks.org their name, phone number, and number of meals to reserve. Each meal costs $12, with bottled water and soft drinks available for $2.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

Workers in PPE deliver Thursday’s meals of tri-tip and gravy, mashed potatoes, baby carrots and garlic bread, to customers on Thursday. Next Thursday’s meal will consist of three-bean chili, cornbread, and lemon cake. Meals are $12, tax included, and can be ordered at 530-273-8342.
Elias Funez

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