As summer begins to slide toward the busy Labor Day weekend, and the first day of autumn is less than a month away, Cambria restaurants continue their race toward changes and openings.
Lisa Molnar and Greg Donnahoo have been feverishly readying the new/old Route 1 California Grill (the former Pine Tree Inn, 841 Main St.), preparing for a hoped-for early-September opening of the vastly remodeled restaurant with its new menu and concept.
The name’s based on the time when Cambria’s “Main Street used to be called Route 1,” she said recently, adding that the new interior decor will reflect that historical era. The knotty wood interior features walls and furniture made from Cambria pine and cedar by Brooks Lawrence of Brooks Gallery in San Simeon.
Molnar said she’s carrying on a family restaurant tradition of 34 years at the site, not to mention six generations of Cayucos ranching.
Her parents, Mike Molnar Sr. and Eleanore Biaggini Molnar built the Pine Tree in 1981, and then sons James and Mike took over and ran the place. Three years ago, the business went on the market, but didn’t sell, and the situation became a “what shall we do with the building?” family discussion.
Donnahoo-Molnar’s new plan was the winning idea.
She said they’ll continue the eatery’s tradition of family dining at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but with an updated concept and made-from-scratch, homestyle menu, much of which will be based on big, brand new barbecue and smoker equipment.
Dining from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily will be indoors and out, with the covered/heated/lighted patio (the construction of which has created a lot of in-town buzz).
The plan is to do barbecue classics, plus some entrees that “nobody else has in town,” Molnar explained, from the regular feature of barbecued brisket and more to (on special occasions) whole hog and some wild game.
They plan to feature all kinds of California beer and wine, “local or U.S. meat, free-range chicken and eggs, local produce in season,” she said.
Among other Cambria restaurant changes:
• The Cambria Pub, 4090 Burton Drive at Center Street: The Pub had a grand opening Aug. 21 of its completely revamped upstairs Steakhouse. The menu, served from 5 p.m. to closing, includes five different Harris Ranch steaks with six optional additions, plus five other entrees: baby back ribs, fettuccine Alfredo, sal-mon, beef stroganoff and chicken Marsala. The downstairs pub area offers its more casual menu from 11 a.m. to closing.
• Old Stone Station, 713 Main St.: Since mid-July, Old Stone (the home of prime rib, among other delicacies) has had a new covered-patio beer and wine garden that’s open Friday and Saturday nights. Patrons can just sit and sip starting at 5 p.m., or they can also enjoy their dinner on the patio.