Meet Your Merchant: Tahoe House celebrates 35 years in Tahoe City
TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; While much of Tahoe is fast asleep, the bakers of Tahoe House are busy preparing for the next day, baking bagels, bread and pastries for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.andamp;#8220;At two in the morning, thereandamp;#8217;s baking going on here,andamp;#8221; said Barbara Vogt Melrose, the elder daughter of Peter and Helen Vogt, the founders and owners of Tahoe House andamp; Gourmet.Hard work is nothing new for the Tahoe House crew, as the bakery, once a dinner restaurant, opened in June of 1977, and has remained a successful, locally owned and operated business since.Peter and Helen Vogt, both Swiss immigrants, moved to America in the 1960s. After meeting in Tahoe, the couple moved to the Bay Area and worked in restaurants before deciding they wanted something of their own, and opened Tahoe House as a dinner restaurant.andamp;#8220;Dad was always cooking and mom was in the front of the house,andamp;#8221; Caroline Vogt Lee, the younger Vogt daughter, remembered. andamp;#8220;Dad started making his own bread because he couldnandamp;#8217;t find anything he considered good quality bread, and he made desserts too.andamp;#8221;Then things started getting busy. The restaurant didnandamp;#8217;t open until 5 p.m. for dinner, but days were spent traveling to local farmers markets to sell vegetables, and soon, the bread and desserts that Vogt made.andamp;#8220;Some days we did three (markets) in one day. The only day we didnandamp;#8217;t go out was Monday,andamp;#8221; Lee added. During the busiest times, Tahoe House was attending 15 farmers markets a week.As the restaurant got busier, the Vogts needed more help to get everything done. J.B. Joynt began working at Tahoe House as a teenager, washing dishes and making salads. In 1993, Joynt returned to Tahoe House after college, where Vogt taught Joynt his recipes and how to bake. Joynt would later leave Tahoe House again to pursue work and spend time with family in Texas, but returned yet again in 2007 to take over the early morning baking.Meanwhile, Melrose, who had been to culinary school and was working as a sous chef andamp;#8212; as well as Lee, who was studying restaurant management andamp;#8212; returned to Tahoe House in 1994 to help out their parents with the growing business.In 2001, the family and employees of Tahoe House decided there was a need for change. andamp;#8220;At that point, we were just doing way too much with all the farmers markets,andamp;#8221; Melrose said. andamp;#8220;Open at 6 a.m. here, all day at the markets, then open for dinner at five. Then at 9:30 p.m., the bakers would come in and say andamp;#8216;Hey get out of the way we gotta bake,andamp;#8217; then at 5:30 in the morning theyandamp;#8217;re loading the trucks up again (for the markets). It was 24/7 and got to be too much.andamp;#8221; The owners decided to sell their liquor license and put the money into turning the dinner house into a fully operational bakery, buying ovens, coolers and coffee machines that allow them to make and bake everything in house.andamp;#8220;It was a leap of faith at the time but it turned out to be a good thing,andamp;#8221; Melrose explained. andamp;#8220;There was no bakery in town, but there were a lot of restaurants. We figured we might as well stick with something we do well.andamp;#8221;Tahoe House has done so well, in fact, that many locals stop by every day for coffee and a pastry.andamp;#8220;A lot of (our success) is due to the locals, and locals like to be known and appreciated. We make an effort to know peopleandamp;#8217;s names and coffee,andamp;#8221; Melrose said.Tahoe House also makes it a point to give back to the community. Every week, the bakery donates bread and other items to Project MANA, a hunger relief organization for Truckee/North Tahoe.Freshly brewed coffee is one of the many things that makes Tahoe House stand out from other coffee shops around the lake. Using Swiss coffee machines, each cup is brewed individually and made to order. The bakery started with just one machine that employees used when they were still serving dinner, but now has four machines in order to keep up with the high demand for the delicious beverage.Along with the coffee, Tahoe House has a very expansive and eclectic menu. Besides the usual bakery favorites (bagels, croissants and fresh bread), some other highlights are the whole grain English muffins and chocolate dipped almond biscotti. While the old favorites are always good, the crew challenges it to continue coming up with new ideas and recipes. andamp;#8220;J.B. is always trying new stuff,andamp;#8221; Lee said. andamp;#8220;Itandamp;#8217;s an evolution. You figure it out over the years.andamp;#8221; Melrose added, andamp;#8220;My dad, whoandamp;#8217;s not the most flexible guy, has always been big on changing and updating, and keeping up with what people want. We adapt every day to try to keep things current and keep people interested in and have what they want.andamp;#8221; Flexibility and delicious treats are what the bakery has come to be known for. Tahoe House celebrated its 35th anniversary this past Saturday, June 2. The bakery has gone through countless changes, but still remains focused on turning out the freshest and best products, and service, possible.
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