Local restaurant owner preserves history of building


Mike Slizewski

Above, Owner/Chef Jeff Capps serves up some food at Capps’ Speakeasy, located at 322 W. Miner St. in Yreka. All dishes made at the restaurant follow Capps’ recipes, ensuring consistency and quality food. Two special events – on Valentine’s Day and during Mardi Gras – will showcase some special entrees prepared by Capps and his staff.


Yellow Pages

By Jamie Gentner
Posted Jan 20, 2010 @ 09:15 AM
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Jeff Capps remembers when people would walk into 322 W. Miner St. and purchase sourdough pancakes and apple syrup at The Peasantry.
He knows a sugar shack on the back patio was used in the Prohibition era, and a small piece of glass flooring in the corner of one of the building’s rooms reveals part of a mine shaft that sits under the foundation.
All of those unique aspects make the building an important historic landmark, Capps said, and that is why he chose to highlight the history of downtown Yreka when he opened the building’s new tenant, Capps’ Speakeasy.
Diners have told Capps they had been in the building when it was the Yreka Bakery, and they are amazed at how it has been preserved. Black and white photos that showcase the old downtown area line the wall. Even the restaurant’s branding as a speakeasy is a throwback to the old days.
“We didn’t want to try and change the building from what it has been,” Capps said. “We just wanted to put our own touch on it.”
But the restaurant also pays homage to Capps’ personal history.
He grew up in Siskiyou County and then went to Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore. He has a long history in the restaurant business, including running the Corner Club in Montague in the early ’90s.
Because his West-Mex cuisine was so popular at the Corner Club, he decided to bring the same menu to Capps’ Speakeasy, with the addition of some pasta dishes.
The West-Mex style includes burgers, steaks, pasta, salads and a number of Mexican specialties. But Capps’ food is different from traditional Mexican food.
“All our meats are marinated and charbroiled,” he said. “We don’t use any shredded or ground meat, and we use red beans instead of refried beans.”
The dishes are topped off with sauces, salsas and dressings that are made in house. Among the sauces is the chili butter he is well known for, which is available both at the restaurant and in 130 stores in California and Nevada.
He had the opportunity to share his chili butter with some food greats when he cooked for Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, Giada De Laurentiis and Guy Fieri in Washington, D.C., at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show on Nov. 7-8. He set up a booth to showcase his chili butter, and Deen even ended up taking some home.
“I spoke to Paula and gave her some chili butter to take home, as well as Wooden Nickels from the restaurant, and let her know that the next time she is in the ‘big city’ of Yreka, she could use the Wooden Nickels for a couple of drinks (of course, I expect her any day now),” Capps explained. “She was very gracious and excited to get a new product made with butter, as most folks know she loves her butter.”
Most of Capps’ food is made with products bought locally from places such as Siskiyou Distributing, North Siskiyou Dairy and General Produce Co. And several local vineyards – including Neveu Vineyards and Shasta View Vineyards – have their wine in the full-service bar.
It is that local flavor that Capps said made him want to open the restaurant, even in the midst of economic hardship.
“I just thought it was the right time. ... I think people still want a place to call their own, and we were lacking that,” he said. “The community wants to see something make it, and so they’ve done a good job of supporting us.”
But with the economic downturn has also come the hard part of opening a business: having to turn down a lot of people looking for a job.
“I had about 80 people come in during an eight-hour stretch when I first put the listing in the paper,” he said. “So many people are looking for work, but I only have so many positions.”
Capps employs 22 people at the restaurant. He works right alongside a few others in the kitchen, ensuring that the food meets the standards of quality he expects.
But he also makes his way around to customers’ tables after their food is served to make sure it meets their standards, too.
It’s all part of what Capps thinks sets his restaurant apart – the staff’s commitment to customer service.
“We work hard at customer service,” he said. “Our motto is, ‘Good food. Good friends. Good times.’”
Capps hopes residents – whether they’ve frequented the restaurant before or not – will take advantage of a few upcoming local events that should add to those good times.
The restaurant is usually closed on Sundays. But on Sunday, Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day – the staff will accept reservations from 2-8 p.m. for a three-course meal with wine. Every lady will receive a flower.
The following week will feature what Capps called “Cajun Nights,” from Feb. 16-18, in celebration of Mardi Gras. The cajun menu will include entrees like seafood gumbo, sausage and chicken jambalaya, and red beans and rice served with a grilled alligator sausage, among others.
Residents can also call and make reservations for their own special events. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. But special events can also be held on Sunday and Monday.
Customers can pay for their food at these events, and every day, with gold – just one of several payment methods accepted. They can also take advantage of free knife sharpening services.
For more information about the events or services, call 842-2611.
“We’re just looking to make this a restaurant locals can be proud to call their own and bring their family to,” Capps said. “Come down, enjoy the food and hospitality, and enjoy the history of downtown.”

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