Tricia Louise Tracy will soon make history in Oakhurst as Madera County’s first vegan restaurant owner.
Working relentlessly toward a February opening of the Love Cafe in the building that once housed Taqueria Plazuelas is unrecognizable already.
With the help and encouragement of many, from family to community to landlord, she has transformed the place inside and out with thoughtful detail.
With the community in mind she made two important decisions. The first one was the exterior.
“As I was driving down the 41, I realized that the side of the building would be a wonderful place to welcome people to our town.” Tracy continued, “the walls just looked like they were made for a large mural and I was elated when the landlord agreed.”
Tracy fell in love with a mural she saw in the Bay Area and tracked down the artist. Joshua Martel, hailing from southern Idaho, worked with Tracy to come up with a design.
The final piece will dawn a red-headed woman in park ranger garb, in almost a vintage pin-up style, welcoming visitors with the help of a modernized version of Smokey Bear.
Martel’s work can be seen spanning the entirety of the West Coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle, and now inland in Eastern Madera County.
Growing up in a rural town this project hits close to home for Martel. He is grateful to have the opportunity to share his art with the Mountain Area and with visitors heading to Yosemite National Park.
Also inside, and with the help and encouragement of the landlord, both the restaurant and the bathrooms are tiled beautifully thanks to an Oakhurst icon.
Donna Pride’s husband Tommy Pride was the go-to tile man on the mountain for decades. He collected tile through out the years and upon his passing Donna offered it to the community.
Kent Tracy, proudly stored a large bulk of Pride’s vintage and European tile waiting for the right moment to use it.
The moment arrived when his wife decided to open a vegan restaurant and the detailed tile work in all the restrooms pays homage to Pride.
With an ethos a kin to what one would imagine for a great vegan restaurant everything has been recycled, refurbished or reused in the making of the space.
If the thoughtfulness of the interior and exterior is any reflection of what people can expect from the menu, the Mountain Area will be in great hands.
“I want everyone from the Mountain Area to enjoy this place, not just vegans and vegetarians. It will be a place for all people looking for a healthy meal,” said Tricia.
She will include options on the menu for those who prefer something hearty, like a meatless pulled pork sandwich and baked potato.
As the opening approaches, Tricia will unveil more news including menu items, the finished interior, a more formal introduction to the chef, and grand opening celebrations.
Tricia received applications from around the world for the chef position, including Africa, but only one stood out. It belonged to a chef from Morro Bay, whose vegan soups have won awards three years in a row, up against meat stewing competitors.
“He found my job listing because he and his wife wanted to move to a mountain community to start a family,” said Tricia. “Out of all the applicants he was the chef I wanted and this was where he wanted to be. It is perfect.”
All the renovations are just the beginning and when the doors finally open and the dust settles, Tricia has plans for its future.
“Once a month we will have a special four course dinner showcasing the chef’s talents. Reservations will be limited and will have to be made in advance, but that will be some time from now,” Tricia explained.
Until then, this is an exciting time as Oakhurst is about to make history in Madera County with its first vegan restaurant, Love Cafe.