Business changes in Idyllwild
What is most interesting about Idyllwild is how the business profile undergoes many changes and then returns to what it once was before. What is old is new again, but with new voices and new plans
Idyllwild resident Gabbi Rose and business partner and chef Wesley Barden will reopen the long-shuttered Sugarloaf Café and market on Highway 74 in Pinyon Pines. They signed a lease with current owner Jamie Fibiger to bring to the table restaurant management skills and business savvy to give this highway and neighborhood fixture new life.
Dating from the 1930s, Sugarloaf became a stopping point for travelers and a gathering spot for locals.
Rose, now an Idyllwild resident, brings considerable business moxie to her new enterprise. Owner of the Green Door Hotel in Palm Springs, Rose previously developed an international business and training regimen using a weighted and collapsible hoola hoop she invented. Created out of need — to help new mothers lose weight after giving birth — Hoopnotica grew in a decade to international status. Rose sold the company in 2014.
In addition to acquiring the Green Door Hotel in Palm Springs, Rose owned an RV park in Yucca Valley. She developed the park into low-income housing before selling it.
Rose and Barden plan to open the market and bar first, possibly in December. The bar will serve beer and wine only. Said Rose, “Beer and wine is our choice. I could not have full responsibility for serving liquor on that busy highway.” The restaurant will be a barbecue and pie, comfort, American-food eatery, with the market having and the restaurant serving its own custom, high-end roast coffee. They already have a 3,500-pound smoker for the barbecue.
“Wesley has worked under great chefs and will help bring a certain layer of authenticity to our feel-good American food,” said Rose, who also is a chef in her own right.
Wild Idy is a marketing, event planning and management collective designed by its founders to bring a more youthful and hip approach to Idyllwild’s business life. Said spokesperson Amy Hawley of the eight “partners” who compose the collective, “We all live full-time in Idyllwild and we’re all under the age of 40. It’s a changing time in Idyllwild with a new demographic that we hope to serve.”
Started in 2017 by Hawley and Michael Ferro, Wild Idy began as a social-media management business for the Idyllwild Brewpub and Mile High Café. It then expanded into event management for the Johnson family of Garner Ranch, for weddings and events. “Several months ago, we added new members to dig into events and media management, said Hawley. “We have a vintage clothing and consignment storefront and office on North Circle just north of the Rustic Theatre.” She explained that with the storefront and office space, the work of the collective will be self-sustaining. On its website www.wildidy.com, partners in the collective are profiled and the story they hope to tell is outlined.
This is from the site and captures their vision and mission: “We represent the next generation to call this mountain our own and we recognize what an honor it is to do so. We see the shifting demographic up here — the fact that it’s no longer retirees buying homes in Idyllwild … it’s young professionals, young families — and we are not threatened by this change. We’re fueled by it. This surge of fresh blood in Idyllwild means a renaissance, a shift in culture and in community. It means a renewal of the appreciative energy that each one of us felt when we came to call this mountain home. We know that those things that make this place special will continue to do so, as people of each rising generation take on the responsibility and vow to protect and honor this place.”
Wild Idy plans to provide are services to local businesses in social-media marketing, staff training to grow business, and event services for locals and off-Hill visitors. Partners will assist in planning and staging events such as weddings, reunions and retreats, incorporating all elements of an event from guest airport transportation to event setup and breakdown, photographers, videographers, caterers, entertainers, hair stylists and guest hotel coordination.
Lastly, Dr. Carol Ann Berg will be expanding her dental practice into larger quarters on North Circle from her present space in the Oakwood business complex. Berg, who also maintains a practice in Palm Desert, said the new location will have three treatment rooms and dental chairs, and more client serviceable space as part of the already high-tech, all-digital imaging practice.
Berg, who has treated Idyllwild patients since opening her practice five years ago, plans to be in her new space by the first of the year.
Naperville Illinois native Berg moved to the Hill from Orange County in 2005 because of her love of and ownership of horses. “I’ve ridden since I was 7,” said Berg. “We bought a horse property in Garner Valley and run the horse ranch in addition to servicing both dental practices. We currently have 13 horses at home at our ranch. We breed and train horses. We also adopt horses, including some wild mustangs.”
Berg became a dentist after graduating from the University of Iowa’s dental hygiene program, with a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene. She attended and graduated in 1984 with a DDS degree from Loma Linda University.
“I’m happy to care for people on the mountain so that they don’t have to drive off the Hill,” said Berg. “And with the new facility, I think we’ll be able to expand client services perhaps allowing Cheri [Walker, dental hygienist] more days on the Hill.”
Although the name of the practice may change since it’s no longer at Oakwood, the number remains the same: 951-659-5000.