The former Hidden Village Restaurant on Cedar Street is undergoing extensive renovations; it is the future home of FERRO, an Italian restaurant to be run by Frank and Lori Ferro.  Photo by Jay Pentrack
The former Hidden Village Restaurant on Cedar Street is undergoing extensive renovations; it is the future home of FERRO, an Italian restaurant to be run by Frank and Lori Ferro.
Photo by Jay Pentrack

2014 was a big year for restaurant sales, changes and new openings. Alphabetically:

Oscar and Gabriella Piñeiro bought Arriba Mexican Restaurant on Oct. 25 from Jose Huizar. They plan to keep the same style menu with possibly some Cuban-style dishes added occasionally. The couple also plan to open a Caribbean restaurant in Banning at some point in the future.

Café Aroma Manager Frank Ferro, with wife Lori, left the restaurant early in 2014, followed by Chef Geoff Brown. Aroma owner Hubert Halkin hired Philip Weber as general manager. Jeffrey Ford, an experienced Army cook and soon-to-be graduate of a Santa Monica culinary school, was hired as executive chef.

CJ Fast and Fresh Food, primarily a take-out place, opened on the Fourth of July right next to Arriba’s. Juan and Carol Garces Martinez offer American-Mexican food from breakfast to lunch, including pancakes, waffles, burritos and huevos rancheros, as well as milk shakes, burgers, fruit cocktail, fish tacos and vegetarian food, and donuts, too.

Bobby Ye’s Hidden Village Chinese restaurant closed its doors for good March 16. In May, Idyllwild Downtown Historic District Local Review Board passed the application process to redesign the building within IDHD guidelines for new owners Frank and Lori Ferro.

FERRO should be open by early-spring, hopefully before March, according to Lori.

The Ferros also co-own Idyllwild Brewpub on the lower level of the Strawberry Creek Plaza’s southern building. Lori said, “We will serve traditional pub fare using organic and locally sourced ingredients. Our draft menu includes a great burger, fish and chips, salads and pot pies. Don Put is our brewmaster, and has a great reputation for his awesome beers.”

Brown, who left Café Aroma, will be chef for both restaurants.

Paul Amick purchased Honey Bunns & Joe from Dan and Laura Slattery. He opened it Sept. 2 as the Town Baker and is hosting artist receptions throughout the year.

Paul and Katie White opened Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew on Nov. 8. The former Greek Place also started selling canned and bottled beers Dec. 13 with a beer and wine license.

Jim and Sandy Felcher, owners of Quik Stop, a fast-food place next to the Rustic, renamed it Idyllwild Ice Cream and Idyllwild Jerky and began specializing in gelato and jerky in May, but continuing to offer fast food, too.

Windean Dahleen’s Idyology restaurant opened Oct. 15, in the former Creek House location in Fern Valley. The comfort cuisine with a global flair is the only creek-side restaurant in Idyllwild. “[We bring] our globally inspired ambience and food with a unique hillbilly, mountain lovin’ twist,” said Dahleen. “While we embrace organic, locally farmed foods and the freshest ingredients, we also strive to deliver a fun and hip, relaxing, backwoods experience with fervor.”

Vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers alike will find something on the menu.

Betty Joan Lackey sold Jo’An’s Restaurant & Bar in June to a new corporation, Jo’An’s Bar & Restaurant Inc., with Mo Jacob as chief financial officer. New owners plan to upgrade the restaurant and have added more entertainment to the nightly fare. The owners ran a contest that ended Dec. 31 asking for votes to either change the name (and to what) or not.

Peter and Antonietta Zuber of the Swiss Fondue House closed the restaurant mid-June and returned to their home country of Switzerland.

After many renovations, Thomas and Kristen Bachmann opened Tommy’s Kitchen in the same location. In November, they opened for breakfast and lunch, and may open for dinner later. As a chef and caterer in the past, he has prepared many fancy dishes. But in Idyllwild, “I want to take care of the local community. I want to make good, homestyle cooking using my own recipes, my own food,” said Thomas.

Lake Hemet Market temporarily closed Nov. 10. Alex and Carol Tomazin of Temecula decided not to renew their lease with Lake Hemet Municipal Water District..

When the market reopens in March 2015, the country store and new outdoor diner will be under corporate management of the California Parks Company, the recreation management company that since 2011 has managed Lake Hemet Campground under contract with the water district.

Wagoner said a condition of the new lease with CPC was for them to complete certain named improvements within the next three years. Some of those improvements include a new roof, a “facelift” for the building while keeping the same rustic theme, and an outdoor deck to serve diners. A gas station on the north end of the property is a possible future improvement also.


  1. What no mention of Nature’s Wisdom closing and the application to open, (yet another), Italian restaurant?

    With the Greek & Chinese restaurants gone the Idyllwild dining scene is sorely lacking in ethnic diversity and not even trying. We really don’t need another place that is; a) Italian b) Mexican c) Bakery

    How about a Thai restaurant or Japanese, Vietnamese or yes, even Chinese?

  2. Nature of the business is that it’s a weekend and holiday destination. Basically 2 and 3 days of steady tourist customers. Other than special events, business is slow for the remaining 4 days per week, with the occasional retired tourists, the thru-hikers and the locals.
    Most local, especially the age 15-25 group, complain that the hill is expensive, with the absence of discount food chains. What are your thoughts on having a midweek day dedicated (Wednesday?) for LOCALS NIGHT OUT, and SERVICE INDUSTRY NIGHT with a local discount for residents and the beautiful people that fold the bed sheets, wait on tables, grill the food, chop wood and plow the snow.
    This has been very successful in most of the tourist towns and coast beaches.

    Your thoughts?