Gabbi Rose, owner of The Sugarloaf Cafe & Market, recently spoke to the Town Crier about the efforts she’s making to keep her restaurant afloat during these unprecedented times while serving her community that she holds so dear.
The Sugarloaf Cafe is in Pinyon Pines and has been a destination over the years as people navigate Highway 74. According to The Sugarloaf Cafe’s website, it was established in 1937 and was the go-to spot for the workers who constructed Highway 74.
While the historic landmark has been open and closed throughout the years, the name has stayed the same. Rose has owned the restaurant for two years and has learned to be flexible with the challenges she’s faced during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have to be willing to do business in an unorthodox way to provide a quality product to your customers,” Rose said. “You have to go out on a limb.”
Outside of selling amazing barbecue and pies, the restaurant also has campsites.
“We have 17 acres of property,” Rose said. “We’ve launched a new campsite and we are unearthing the historic campsites. I’ve found 12 of the 25 historic campsites and working on bringing them back to life. Then, we can deliver food to the campers.”
This year has been tough for everyone and trying to keep a restaurant alive has been extremely difficult, as Rose found out earlier this summer when she almost lost power which would have taken out her refrigerator and freezers.
“The last heat wave we went through, we got a message from Anza electric that they were going to turn off the power,” Rose explained. “With the amount of barbecue I had on hand, we would have lost a tremendous amount of money if the fridge and freezers went out.”
Rose had to quickly figure out how to sell a lot of barbecue in a short amount of time, and Idyllwild was there to lend a hand.
“I put out the post on social media that I needed to sell all of this barbecue, and Idyllwild totally showed up for me,” Rose said. “We delivered it for free. I delivered to four different restaurants, so the restaurant owners were helping me out. They bought barbecue for their staff.”
All in all, The Sugarloaf Cafe had 36 orders go out the door for Idyllwild that Sunday, and Rose decided that Idyllwild gets free delivery every Sunday from now on as a thank you for helping her out in her time of need.
“It taught me the real power a community can have when you ask for help,” Rose expressed.
As that sense of community is so powerful, Rose also wants to help those who are most in need.
“We have a responsibility to feed our community,” Rose said. “We are living in a community where there are a number of families that live below the poverty line that we can’t see. So, as a restaurant during this time, I want to find ways to feed those people.”
Rose has created a program called Pie it Forward. The idea is anyone can purchase a meal for someone else and Sugarloaf will make sure it goes to someone who needs it.
“We offer two meals for our community that are designed to help those who can’t afford a lot,” Rose explained. “We have a $5 sack lunch that changes each week, or you can pick up a whole chicken with four sides for $25.”
Now let’s assume that maybe $25 is too much, but you still have your family to feed. You can show up to The Sugarloaf Cafe and say, “I want to order the family meal with extra pickles” and The Sugarloaf will give you the meal for free.
“Every week, we’ve had more people give us money to buy other people meals than we’ve had people asking for free meals,” Rose confessed. “We’ve publicly announced this and it’s been really great. Now, I need to know who’s hurting so I can help them.”
Rose makes sure to be discreet and quick when dropping off meals to those in need.
“I want to be of service to our community,” she reiterated. “I like the idea of communities funding their own communities when there’s a need. It allows us to be connected to one another in a different way.”
With unemployment at an all-time high, Rose is looking to employ more people. The Sugarloaf Cafe has a tight-knit work team and they are looking for experienced servers to join them and become a part of their team.
The Sugarloaf Cafe is currently open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They are taking all precautions to ensure the health and safety of their staff and customers is the number one priority.
“Thursdays, we have a limited menu,” Rose explained. “The tables are socially-distant and we can seat up to six people at one table. We are taking reservations through Open Table and on our website. The kitchen closes at 9 p.m.”
Community is important but even more so during these times. Reach out to one another, enjoy some pie and barbecue and be kind.
If you know someone in need of a meal or if you want to sponsor a meal for someone else or are looking for employment, contact Rose at [email protected].