You can see it in his eyes. This man is an eccentric. He is also a really good chef, a devoted family man, and the only full-time professor in the Culinary Arts program at Mendocino College.
Instead of continuing to run his award-winning restaurant in the old lumber company headquarters in Fort Bragg, CA, this chef has decided to give it all away in order to spend more time with his son and his students.
For $100 and a statement of 250 words or less, you can be the proud owner of both his popular restaurant and a fully-licensed bar. You don’t even have to type the 250 words (or less) if you have nice, clear handwriting.
Mendo Bistro, which serves what I would call locally-sourced high-end comfort food, (minus the pretension) seats 88 people. Some of the signature dishes include award-winning crab cakes, succulent steaks served with your choice of sauces, and a fried banana split. The likes of the New York Times, Sunset Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle have all recognized your future eatery as one of the best on the coast.
I’ve never been to BarBelow but it’s in Fort Bragg so I’m guessing it’s hopping. There’s not a ton to do in that part of the world when you’ve finished diving for abalone, foraging for mushrooms, brewing your own beer (or brandy), or simply enjoying the views of migrating whales.
Did I mention that the harbor that supplies the restaurant’s fresh seafood played Cabot Cove Harbor on the beloved TV show Murder She Wrote?
What’s the catch?
Other than the crab and salmon coming from that harbor? You have to be 21 to enter (because you are winning a bar), you do have to pay that $100 entry fee, and I can’t enter because I’m affiliated with some of the team who are getting the word out about this crazy giveaway and neither can you if you already work for Ingest, Inc., the company that holds the shares in Mendo Bistro and BarBelow. Click here for the official rules and form to enter.
The other catch is, you might get fat if you win the restaurant. I know I would. If the Bourbon butterscotch pudding and smashed potatoes being served at Mendo Bistro didn’t get me, the Mendocino Cookie Company (in the same beautiful historic building filled with rare hardwoods), which serves over a dozen fresh baked varieties of cookies daily (not included in the prize) would be my downfall.
They say it’s because the community on the Mendocino, California coast embraced them when they started cooking affordable haute cuisine sixteen years ago and they’d like to give something back. Chef Nicholas talks about having more time to hang out with his 9-year-old and work with his students at the college.
But that doesn’t really answer why someone is giving away a bustling restaurant and a popular bar in what amounts to a raffle. Unless it’s the simplest answer of all: the same reason the chicken crossed the road. Because he can.