Under new management: Landmark Meyers restaurant becomes Getaway Cafe
MEYERS – There’s a changing of the guard at the entrance to the South Shore with the sale of Chris’ Cafe.
Chris Spitz sold the longtime hotbed for breakfast and lunch for an undisclosed amount of money to two local casino workers who were bent on opening their own place someday.
Beginning this week, new owners Eric and Diane Guth will change the name to Getaway Cafe – adding a dinner menu and a happy hour outside through the evening.
The opportunity came with a planned move to Arizona for Spitz, who began her career with Ernie’s Coffee Shop even before Paul Bruso started running the South Lake Tahoe eatery.
She calls the move to Tucson “decompression time” – a chance to “try on a different pair of shoes.” When you’ve been waiting tables as long as Spitz has, the chance to pick up the feet sounds inviting.
Spitz has lived in Tahoe for three decades, building Chris’ Cafe in 1982. Her daughter Heather’s handprints are embedded in the foundation under the structure, which sits at the west end of Meyers off Highway 50.
“It’s like an extended family for me,” she said of the people of Tahoe.
Customer Byron Dwelle has been a loyal customer for years. The 75-year-old Meyers man even has his own key to the cafe for times when he wanted fresh coffee or to help Spitz open early.
In the morning he said he eats cereal, as the waitress poured his apple juice. In the afternoon, he’ll come in for a hamburger or cheeseburger.
“I eat here twice a day,” Dwelle said, after sauntering into the restaurant on Sunday wearing his bright red knit cap. He greeted by other patrons and the Guths, who have gotten to know him fast.
In his own gruff way, Dwelle said he’ll miss Spitz. Bruso added he will too.
“I counted on her a lot,” he said. The two restaurateurs shared knowledge that advanced both their careers.
Spitz said the sting of leaving has proved less painful because the couple intends to keep the homespun charm of the old Tahoe.
“I couldn’t have left it in better hands,” she said.
After all, how many menus provide the house rules on the front. One rule dictates patrons to “not deliver your baby in our cafe.” Inside, “rabbit food” identifies the salad section.
The Guths met and honed their hospitality skills at Caesars Tahoe, working together early on at the Primavera restaurant. Their working relationship mushroomed into five years of dating and marriage last September. Both dreamed of leaving the corporate world and opening their own restaurant.
They brought over Tahoe native Heather Barnet from Caesars as their chef, who also instinctively knew at a young age she would be a cook.
“I learned how to chop apples at (age) 3,” she said of classes at the Montessori Tahoe School. “My great grandfather was a baker, and my grandmother was a cook.”
The trio have put their heads together and come up with a sampling of a dinner menu with healthy, “comfort” food choices. Meals for vegetarians will include produce from the local Farmers’ Markets, along with lining-the-stomach dishes like steak, alfredo and Jack Daniels barbecue shrimp. While the restaurant is being prepped for dinner between 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., they’ll serve drinks and appetizers at the outside tables. The eatery is open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., providing early-morning adjustments for the Guths, Diane admitted.
Otherwise, the couple has jumped right in to the operation. They trained with Spitz for two weeks before taking over. Now the Guths have gotten to know their regulars and maintained the dishes they expect.
“People come in here every day expecting to get what they come here for,” he said. And there’s no clock attached to the menu.
“If people want bacon and eggs at 9:30 at night, then that’s what we’ll bring them,” he said. Eric has noticed some customers consider the diner a social outlet, swapping tables upon seeing people they know.
“We’re really excited. We really believe in the Meyers community,” Diane said.
Change of hands
The Getaway Cafe, formerly Chris’ Cafe, is located at 3140 Highway 50 in Meyers and can be reached by calling (530) 577-5132.
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