Last year, Chris Dillow relocated her Atascadero café — Fig Good Food — to a Victorian-era house overlooking Templeton Park. Now called Fig at Courtney’s House, the restaurant isn’t just about good food. It’s also about a good cause.
A former minister’s home, the quaint building has retained much of its cozy architectural charm. The surrounding gardens add to the tranquil ambiance.
The circa-1892 location, most recently occupied by The Wellness Kitchen, is also home to Courtney’s House. Carrie Sanders founded the nonprofit organization in 2012 as a safe, supportive place where young adults with developmental disabilities — including her own daughter, Courtney — can learn vocational, social and life skills.
Sanders had been looking for someone to operate a vocational training café at Courtney’s House when she met Dillow by chance in a nursery parking lot.
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“As soon as I found out it was this location, I said ‘Yes’ on the spot,” Dillow recalled.
“I’ve always loved this house because it harks back to the historical element we had at Harmony Pasta Factory,” Dillow added. She and her husband, Dennis Dillow, operated that restaurant in the town’s old Creamery Building from 1986 to 1993.
Prior to opening Fig Good Food, Chris Dillow managed Big Sky Café in San Luis Obispo from 1995 to 2007. She credits then-owner Charles Myers with influencing her culinary approach of using fresh, local and organic ingredients.
Most of the staff from Fig Good Food’s Atascadero location made the move to Templeton, where they work alongside clients of Courtney’s House in the restaurant.
Currently, clients receive training in hosting, bussing and at various kitchen prep stations depending on their skill level. “We’re working on adding serving to that,” Dillow said.
“It’s very close to one-on-one mentoring,” Dillow noted. “The challenges aren’t greater than any other restaurant staff training. They’re just different.”
Fans of Fig Good Food will recognize much of the menu at Courtney’s House. A number of vegetarian choices are available, plus dishes featuring Fig’s signature rotisserie meats.
Presently the café only serves breakfast and lunch, but plans for dinner are in the works.
Hearty breakfast options include harissa hash and eggs with linguica, fig strata with bacon and blue cheese and Mediterranean skillet frittata with artichoke hearts. Diners with smaller appetites can opt for freshly baked scones, toast with housemade fig chutney and melted brie cheese, or lemon poppy seed waffles with fruit or bacon.
The lunch menu offers a range of sandwiches, salads and pastas. Enjoy a chimichurri roast beef sandwich, a Tuscan Sun with pulled rotisserie Mary’s chicken or a southwest BLT Caesar; sample a simple green salad with housemade buttermilk dressing or pasta with pesto or Alfredo sauce with sundried tomatoes.
There are also vegetable bowls such as Moroccan chickpea and lentil stew — you can add chicken or tofu — and the daily soups are often vegan.
The list of tempting desserts varies day to day, but recently included key lime pie, chocolate coconut bars and a gluten-free brownie served a la mode.
Because of the unique staffing situation at Fig at Courtney’s House, Dillow acknowledged that “sometimes things will take a bit longer and require a little patience (from patrons). But just look around this beautiful house and see what all these wonderful people are doing. It takes the dining experience to a different level – you really become part of the community.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fig at Courtney’s House
311 6th St., Templeton (overlooking Templeton Park)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., breakfast all day, lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The scene: A former minister’s home, the Victorian building and its gardens offer quaint, relaxing charm. On-site event catering available.
The cuisine: From-scratch dishes made with fresh, local and often organic ingredients; many vegetarian options, plus rotisserie meats and housemade baked goods. When dinner service is added, beer and wine will be available.
Expect to spend: Entrées $10 to 15.