Growing up in Arcata, restaurateur Sheryl Cahill had her favorite place to eat: The Big Four, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. She and her mom would bring their own pots into the kitchen to fill with ravioli, but it was the apple fritters that she remembers best today.
“I’ve been trying to re-create them my whole life,” she said this week, sitting outside the Side Street Kitchen, the new eatery she’s opening in Point Reyes Station this Friday. “The apple fritters are probably why I bought this in the first place.”
Apple fritters are just one of many items that will differentiate the restaurant from Ms. Cahill’s other business, The Station House Café, where she’s worked for 27 years and has owned since 2005. “This is an opportunity to try something new and do it from scratch right down the street,” she said. “And it’s all me.”
The eatery has been in the works since spring 2016, but Ms. Cahill was held up by permitting delays.
The menu will be simple and wholesome: rotisserie chicken, cold smoked oysters and trout, salads and sandwiches. There will be a focus on small plates and sides to encourage a family-style meal. Chef Aaron Wright, who’s been the executive chef of The Station House since last year, said the menu will change with the seasons. He will use meats from California providers like Niman Ranch and Mary’s Free Range Chicken and produce from local Table Top and Big Mesa Farms. He will use a smoker to experiment with meats as well as tofu.
“It’s a creative space and [Ms. Cahill] has given us a lot of freedom,” he said.
The eatery pays homage to the bygone Pine Cone Diner, which occupied the space for 19 years before closing in 2015, keeping the original counter and vintage diner cups. Otherwise, the building has been gutted with new plumping and a new bathroom and foundation. On a wall is a colorful mural by Marshall artist Isis Hockenos.
Ms. Cahill had worked for Ms. Hockenos’s father, Rob, at The Station House decades ago and said she fell in love with her art after seeing it at a Gallery Route One exhibit last winter. The mural depicts women working outdoors and gives a nod to jazz pianist Jimmy Smith’s 1963 album “Back at the Chicken Shack.”