The price is right for Summer Thyme’s expansion in Grass Valley

The decision to move Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli a couple blocks over to 231 Colfax Ave. in Grass Valley was a bit of a no-brainer for owners Chamba and Amy Cooke after they punched up the numbers on a calculator.

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They’re paying out the same amount of money, roughly $5,000 per month, Amy Cooke said, but they’re getting double the space at a property they are buying, not renting. Previously, the Cookes had leased not only their restaurant space but also their back parking lot and storage units.

“We were like, ‘And, we wouldn’t do this because …?’ ” Amy Cooke deadpanned.

The Cookes are also now open in the evenings, and they showcased this fact and the versatility of their new home last weekend with a grand opening dinner. Using dividers, they created an intimate setting at the rear of the restaurant where jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako played two sets with bass player Bill Douglass, drummer Barry Eldridge and saxman Mike McMullen.

Many know Amy Cooke as the former head of school for Nevada City’s Woolman, a former Quaker school that now operates as a semester school and summer camp, but both she and her husband worked in restaurants. In the 1980s, Amy Cooke headed up the kitchen at Santa Fe’s Galisteo Inn where she sourced locally grown produce and cooked it up for such luminaries as actress Shirley MacLaine and feminist Bella Abzug. In the 1990s, both Cookes switched to teaching. While on maternity leave, Amy Cooke would send her husband off to work with leftovers for lunch.

“The other teachers would be like, ‘What are you eating? Can I have some?’ ” Amy Cooke said. “So I started this little catering business, packing lunches for the schoolteachers at his school.”

The Cookes learned in 2007 that the original owner of Summer Thyme’s was looking to sell, and they seized the opportunity to get back into the restaurant business. It all fell into place when Sacramento’s California Capital agreed to guarantee their small-business loan from Tri Counties Bank.

Source: Sacramento Bee

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