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Stories from the valley

Gone but not forgotten

Contributed by Steve Beckley

One fact of life is that restaurants come and go for many different reasons.  As I drive the Sacramento Valley, I pass locations of closed eating establishments that I have fond memories of.

Among them are:

Bill and Kathy’s – Dunnigan

Not only a stop for travelers going north and south in the valley, but an important hangout for the locals.  It opened in 1959 on what was then Highway 99 and moved over to a location next to I 5 in 1970.  It was locally owned and closed on the last day of 2010.

Blue Gum restaurant signBlue Gum – Willows

An iconic eating establishment located north of Willows on old Highway 99 in a eucalyptus grove.  During my career working for grower associations this was the site of many grower dinners.  You could always be assured of a great steak and rice on the plate.

Auction Yard and Auction Yard Café – Williams

Some of my earliest memories as a young child was going to the Williams Livestock Auction Yard with my dad and eating lunch in the café.  Later after the livestock auction closed the Auction Yard Café was still there and was famous for pies, and the plastic bull at the entrance.  It has been closed for many years.

Hal's Grubstake restaurant sign

Hal’s Grubstake – Yuba City

It was the ‘Home of the Dudeburger” and was famous for its secret barbecue sauce.  There are still people trying to get the recipe for the secret sauce, but it has never been made public. It closed in 2001 after 44 years in business.

Green Barn Steakhouse– Various locations

The Green Barn Steakhouse was established in 1959 and one time had locations in Chico, Yuba City and Ukiah.  It is still open in Red Bluff.  My family and I had dinner in the Chico Green Barn, the night I graduated from Chico State.

Defunct orange shell that was once a Giant Orange restaurant.

Giant Orange – Williams

The Giant Oranges was a group of restaurants that lined Highway 99.  Today in Williams only the peel of the restaurant survives.  Always was a great stop for a cold drink and hamburger.

Nut Tree – Vacaville

Though not located in what we considered the Sacramento Valley, the Nut Tree Restaurant was a stop for all the Sacramento Valley residents on trips to and from the Bay Area. When you stopped there you always ran into someone from “home” My memories are not only of the great food, but as a youngster riding the train through the orchard.    It opened in the 1920s and closed in 1996.

There are many others that I could list and not doubt as I drive through the valley memories will come back of an eating establishment that is gone but not forgotten.  I hope you will take a few moments to list your favorite gone restaurant.