Keeping the spirit of Kelcy's alive for a whole new generation
August 3, 2019
"We are thrilled and excited," Virginia Sheridan said of the reopening of Kelcy's Restaurant. "It's going to be wonderful. This has been a labor of love two years in the making."
The iconic restaurant will be celebrating their official reopening on Mountain Festival Weekend.
Virginia Sheridan and her husband Bill Lee were saddened when Kelcy's closed two years ago. Like most of Tehachapi, they had been regulars at the restaurant for over 20 years, long before Virginia thought of opening Sheridan's Boutique Home Consignment right next door.
Bill knew Kelcy Owens, and had worked on the building over the years. He was part of the men's coffee klatch that met there every morning. In the last few years, Bill had renovated the two spaces on each side of Kelcy's for Virginia's shop.
When Kelcy's daughter Kathy asked Bill if he would be interested in taking over and buying Kelcy's, Bill said, "Sure." Now after two years of sweat, effort and a lot of money, both he and Virginia say it was worth it to bring back such an important institution.
The kitchen needed extensive improvements to bring it up to modern Environmental Health standards, and this is where they focused their efforts. The rest of the restaurant received a thorough cleaning, but no changes were made to the original decor. The soda counter & booths remain. They saved all the pictures and other memorabilia. All the original pictures were meticulously scanned and reframed by local photographer Nick Smirnoff, and will be hung again in the restaurant.
"We want to preserve the history," said Virginia. "Many local residents have been here for generations. Nick has made copies of all the photos, and put them in a binder. We encourage people to help identify and add information to the photos. In the future, we hope to possibly print a book with the old photos."
Virginia and Bill plan to keep many of the old menu favorites like the homemade pies, milkshakes, biscuits and gravy and the broasted chicken for which Kelcy's was famous. But they also plan to offer other options appealing to the twenty-first century palate, including fresh salads and vegetarian, vegan, keto and gluten free choices. They are applying for a beer and wine license and want to offer local craft beers and wine in addition to domestic choices.
"We will start with a somewhat limited menu at first, and then add in more items over time," said Virginia. "Our goal is basically good food, good service and a friendly down home atmosphere where everyone is welcome."
Although Kelcy's official re-opening will be on Mountain Festival weekend, there may be some sneak-preview days beforehand. The reopening comes in just the nick of time for the 50-year class reunion of the Tehachapi High School class of 1969; they will be holding their reunion celebration at Kelcy's on Saturday evening, Aug. 3.
The people of Tehachapi can rejoice that their treasured Kelcy's will soon be open again and the spirit of Kelcy's preserved for a whole new generation. Beginning Friday, Aug. 16 Kelcy's will be open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The café will be open daily, with the dining room being open on weekends. The dining room will also be available during the week for organizations wishing to hold meetings there, or in the evenings for special events.
Kelcy's Cafe is located at 110 W. Tehachapi Blvd. in Downtown Tehachapi.