TRUCKEE, Calif. — After 13 years serving the Truckee community its Cal-Asian cuisine, Dragonfly Restaurant and Sushi Bar is closing this month.
Three weeks ago, owner and chef Billy McCullough received a unsolicited offer for Dragonfly’s downtown location that he couldn’t refuse. He declined to reveal the offer’s amount.
“I just want to have lots of chapters, and the sale has presented an opportunity to have another chapter in life,” McCullough said during a busy late lunch Wednesday afternoon at the restaurant at 10118 Donner Pass Road.
March 25 is the last day for lunch, and March 26 for dinner, he said.
Truckee resident Kristen Digness, who was among those eating lunch Wednesday, has mixed emotions on the closure.
“My reaction is ... just sheer shock and disappointment that the food is not going to be available anymore because it’s so fantastic and such a great local go-to spot,” she said. “At the same time, Billy has been in the same restaurant for many, many years, and to know that he has an opportunity to learn, grow and do whatever his heart desires for himself and his family moving forward, I’m so excited for him.”
As for what’s next for McCullough, he’s not completely sure.
“This has been so fast and furious that it happened like it was meant to happen, so I figure something organically might pop up,” he said.
In the meantime, McCullough plans to spend more time with his family and doing the activities he enjoys, such as rock climbing and mountain biking.
“The restaurant business is so consuming,” said McCullough, who worked at Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City for eight years before opening Dragonfly. “I work a lot of hours. I work 15-, 16-hour days a lot, and don’t even notice it and come back for more the next day. … So I’m excited to step away from it for a little bit.”
Stepping in are two Cottonwood Restaurant bartenders who bought the Dragonfly location, McCullough said. They plan to start a meat and seafood eatery.
Phone messages left for the new owners were not returned for this story.
“Keep putting your nose down, put in the hard work and be community players,” McCullough advised the new owners. “It’s a great community of people who will give back to you tenfold.”
Dragonfly opened for lunch on Feb. 7, 2001, and served its first dinner on Feb. 14, 2001. Over the years, it has supported many local causes and organizations, including KidZone Museum, Truckee Donner Land Trust and fellow downtown businesses.
“One of the best things that I would say of having the Dragonfly has been to be able to be a community player,” McCullough said. “To have an avenue that I could work through to make a difference in this community.”
Community members are showing their appreciation by dining there in droves and flooding Dragonfly’s Facebook page with warm wishes.
“The fact that people have heard that it’s closing and everyone’s here to say, ‘Hey, this place matters, and we’re excited for you, but we’re going to miss it,’ that speaks for itself,” said Kara Carstensen, a former Dragonfly employee who was eating lunch with Digness.
Dragonfly employs about 35 people, said McCullough, who is helping them find other jobs.
“The hardest part is separating from the staff,” he said. “I’m very proud of the team I’ve built and the culture we’ve created here. That will be one of the hardest things to let go of.”