2020 Feeding CZU Firefighters

“We opened after being closed for about 2 weeks. An eerie day. Three inches of ashes carpeted the parking lot and adjacent streets. Orange sun. Hazy. Smokey. Inside and out. Emergency vehicles, Cal Fire, P G & E trucks. Evacuated neighbors came by just to check in. It was hot outside. It was air conditioned inside. Firefighters were hungry. Tired. Hot. They wanted to come in. Sit down. Relax. Eat. Gavin said no. They sat on the patio. A Bacon Cheese Burger and Fries taste better without ashes floating down on the bun. We feed 5 or 6 truckloads of Firefighters daily. They’re so happy to get a good Burger, Fries and Lemonade or Milkshake brought to their table. AND A BATHROOM WITH HOT RUNNING WATER! It’s not uncommon for Feltonians to show their appreciation to these out-of-town fire warriors by picking up their lunch or dinner tab.
We’re open daily from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm daily. Sundays until 8:00 pm. Still no inside dining.
The San Lorenzo Valley is coming back to life. Slowly.
I have attached a couple of pics. These guys came up from Los Angeles.
Aloha, Roger”

2018 Empire Grille Continues the Tradition of Feeding the Fire Fighters

Update: Another large fire early November Roger and the Empire Grille crew fed the firefighters as needed until the fire was under control.

FELTON >> The Bear Creek fire in the mountains has been extinguished.  Roger and the Empire Grille crew fed the firefighters for two weeks.  When the fire was 90% contained they regarded it as 10% burning.  Some were from Utah, Washington, Stockton, Fresno etc.  They were hungry when they came in for dinner.  They were just glad to sit down, take a break and eat with their compatriots.  Amazing group.  Well behaved.  Well mannered.  Thankful

San Jose Mercury Aug 4th 2018 – Empire Grille

Camping or hiking around Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park? Head over to Empire Grille, a family-friendly American restaurant that pays homage to the eating houses that filled the San Lorenzo Valley in the 1850s. The digs are modest and homey, with photographs and newspaper clippings that hark back to the era of miners and loggers.

The menu, too, is simple and classic, with a selection of Small Bites ($7.75-$12) and hearty Large Bites ($19-$27). There’s no fusion and it’s not New American. Expect straight-forward, well-executed dishes, such as Braised Short Ribs in a carrot-flecked red wine sauce served atop mashed potatoes ($22), or a special of baked Pacific Salmon ($20) in a lemon, garlic and butter sauce. Portions are large and good for sharing.

Quick Bites: Empire Grille open for business

FELTON >> Empire Grille begins serving customers Wednesday, July 26, at 6149 Highway 9. It’s in the former site of Cowboy Bar & Grill, which moved down the road to 5447 Highway 9. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m to 10 p.m. weekends. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. UpdateServing “Small Bites” and Burgers between Lunch and Dinner. Lunch selections include soups; salads; burgers (such as beef or wild salmon/rock crab, both also available at dinner) and sandwiches. Dinner items include signature chicken wings; Harris Ranch sirloin; braised lamb shank; and chicken Napoleon.

Owner Roger Barnes’ restaurant experience includes Bocci’s Cellar in Santa Cruz. The name Empire is from a mining company that operated in the 1850s in San Lorenzo Valley. As stated on the web site, Barnes aims to “pay homage to the eating houses for hungry miners and loggers who lived and worked in Felton,” which utilized products from local farmers, ranchers, foragers and fisherman. Learn more at

Quick Bites, compiled by Tara Fatemi Walker, is your weekly helping of Santa Cruz County restaurant and food news. Send items to Want local food and wine news as it happens? Follow the Sentinel’s food crew on Twitter (@santacruzfood); on Instagram (@santacruzfood); or on Facebook (Santa Cruz Food).