Grand Idyllwild Lodge sells, Rustic Theatre changes hands, new restaurant in the Fort

Major changes are happening in Idyllwild’s commercial business profile. The Grand Idyllwild Lodge has sold, the Rustic Theatre is changing hands, the Solis brothers are opening their fourth eatery, this one in the Fort, and a teahouse with international flavor and choices closes its doors.

Manny Solis in the new Mamma Mia’s Crepes and Desserts. Photo by Marshall Smith

First, the Grand Idyllwild Lodge. Brad Rechtfertig’s entrepreneurial vision, grit, determination and hands-on 14-hour workdays, seven days a week for 18 months, were what created Idyllwild’s premier boutique hospitality inn — the Grand Idyllwild Lodge.

The project was, from the beginning, a partnered effort with wife Jacki. The lodge was, in fact, her idea.

But in 2006 when they first arrived in Idyllwild, that dream may have seemed impossible. They started small, renting a modest duplex. Then Brad built their first home on Marian View. Then he built six custom homes.

Fortuitously, the Rechtfertigs were able to obtain a construction loan from private sources to pursue their vision when banks weren’t lending. Before beginning lodge construction, the site at Fern Valley Corners had to be cleared and graded. Then Brad built the residence on the site to serve as their home from which they could begin to build their 9,000-square-foot addition — the lodge.

Designed by Brad and built with, at most, two helpers, the construction process was

The Grand Idyllwild Lodge under construction. Photo courtesy Brad Rechtfertig

herculean. “I saw this as being possible and that it would be successful,” said Brad at a time when there were many naysayers. “I worked from a 30-page business plan. I also knew two things — that it would either get completed and grow or that I would die.”

Knowing that they had everything leveraged into this project and that it needed to open to begin returning their investment, Brad worked year-round, through inclement weather, day in, day out.

Brad and wife Jacki successfully partnered to do what many said was impossible — design and build a high-end, AAA four-diamond resort hotel that would be successful and raise Idyllwild’s commercial lodging profile.

Bookings have been solid since opening in October 2013. “With the market as it is currently, we thought selling now would be appropriate,” said Brad. “We wanted time off. We’re staying in Idyllwild and have purchased another house which I’m remodeling. We’re planning to take a year off, travel and then plan our next Idyllwild business venture.”

New buyers are Tim and Amy Brinkman from San Francisco. On-site managers will be Rick Mitchell and Mark Hodgin. Lily Sanchez will continue as innkeeper.

“Everything about the lodge will remain the same,” said Brad. “Jacki and I will continue to be involved as advisors. We’ll also continue our contributions to the community with staged events at the lodge for the Master Chorale at Christmas and Jazz in the Pines in August.”

The iconic Rustic Theatre, one of Idyllwild’s oldest businesses, will change hands mid-September when the Nett family, headed by Temecula attorney Kevin P. Nett, “exit stage left,” as Nett wrote on Facebook. “Change of ownership is scheduled to begin Sept. 14 through the 17,” said Nett in a missive. As to new ownership, Nett advised checking the Rustic website for details at www.rustictheatre.com.

“On a personal note, my family has enjoyed visiting the Rustic Theatre for over 60 years and we have loved serving every single patron, neighbor and friend — the ‘Rustic Faithful’ as we loved to call them — for the years we have operated it.”

Nett, who bought the theater in 2016, is a fan of classic film. One of his favorites is “Casablanca,” which, in a farewell gesture,” was the final film he screened as owner. Said Nett to his friends and patrons, “Thank you, thank you, thank you and, of course, ‘Here’s looking at you, kid.’”

Comments in response to the Netts’ Facebook closing announcement were gracious and numerous. Here are a few: “It was clear you were film buffs … I wish you guys the best and hope the next owners love the place like you clearly did.” (Bryan Felix); “Once the Rustic gets into you blood and your heart, it never leaves. It truly is a magical place … thank you for being caretakers of the Rustic!” (David Bronson); “You did an awesome job Kevin Nett!!! Good luck on your future endeavors.” (Sharon Floquet Bloom)

The Solis brothers, Luis and Manny, continue their gastronomical contributions to the Idyllwild foodie scene with the launch of their fourth restaurant, “Mamma Mia’s Crepes & Desserts” upstairs in the Fort in the former Spruce Moose location. The upscale redesign of the space presents a modern high-tech finish and sheen to the walk-up counter service restaurant.

Everything is done first class with waffle and crepe griddles, Italian espresso maker, gelato, beautiful dessert display case (all desserts available at Fratello’s), new flooring and lighting. This high-style niche eatery could be found in Pasadena or Westwood. It is that contemporary. Gluten free is available.

“With our restaurants, we always try for the same thing — quality and consistency,” said Manny. “We want our customers to know the quality will be the same high standard each day they come. We love our life because we love what we do. We cook from the heart.”

The Solis enterprises have always been a family operation, with members starting young to learn their trade. “I started when I was 10,” said Manny with pride. He expects a soft opening in a couple of weeks. At the beginning, he plans to stay open seven days a week, with hours probably from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. but that could change.

Finally, Anna Allen will close her Forest View Tea House in the Village Centre complex the end of September. Allen opened her internationally themed eatery in October 2017, after operating a similar business in South Africa. Said Allen at her opening, “You can have beautiful food that is also healthy for you.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks to the business owners who put faith and cash into the community and served local clientele and welcome to the new owners. Idyllwild is not GRAND but stubbornly simple, no matter the developers’ wistful plans.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.