Apres bike and vision for new owners of Tunnel Creek Cafe
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — After owning the Tunnel Creek Café (along with Flume Trail Bikes directly behind it) for nearly 11 years, husband and wife, Max Jones and Patti McMullan, knew that in order to grow the restaurant and really run it to its maximum potential, it needed some new energy in the kitchen — that meant taking the step and finding a chef to elevate the cuisine.
“We talked to a fair amount of people, but all of them were in good situations and didn’t want to leave,” Jones said.
That is, until he connected with Evan Roa, whose parents were friends of Jones and McMullan.
“Once my wife asked if ownership or part ownership could be part of the equation, everything changed,” added Jones. “We were looking to step back a bit and while it was a really good thing, we’re not young anymore.”
Roa, who has spent the past 13 to 14 years cooking locally for places like Martis Camp, Brewforia and Big Water Grille, was roommates with Chad Burns who had worked in dining since college and really loved the atmosphere.
“We would cook together at the house, and we cooked together at Brewforia. We both just have a passion for it,” said Roa.
The discussion, which started back in October of last year, evolved into Roa and Burns buying the restaurant outright. They were both brought on as employees for about a month to learn how Jones and McMullan ran the restaurant and interact with the current staff. Then on April 18 of this year, without missing a day of being open for operation, the new owners took charge.
While the general concept of breakfast and lunch remains, Roa and Burns collaborated on a new menu that focuses on fresh seasonality and as much from scratch as possible. Everything from fermenting their own peppers to making their own hot sauce, or crafting their own pepper jelly, or curing their corned beef in house, is on the table — literally.
“Yesterday we smoked our own pastrami. We’re real excited to do stuff like that – have the base menu and have fun on the side,” Burns said.
The food isn’t the only thing on tap to change. The restaurant recently had their outdoor kitchen approved and secured a full liquor and cabaret license, setting the venue up for, what they are calling, apres bike.
“We’ve been calling it that amongst ourselves and it really speaks to the partnership with Max and Patti,” said Roa. “With all the trails this location is awesome. Adding live music and events will help make this a local place and a great place to hang out in the afternoons.”
“I’m really excited to elevate this place and take from where Max and Patti brought it, to a whole new level,” added Burns.
According to Roa, they already have some private events booked where they will look to fine tune the details and have everything up and running by summer. Plus, having the old owners as a bike rental shop as next-door neighbors that they can collaborate with, sounds like a partnership that’s destined to succeed.
Jones said, “We didn’t have the energy for the nighttime activities. I felt like we were caught between two businesses, but I truly think these guys can keep it evolving and take it to a place we couldn’t.”
Tunnel Creek Cafe is located at 1115 Tunnel Creek Rd, Suite A in Incline Village. For more information, visit them online at tunnelcreekcafe.com or by phone at 775-298-2502.
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