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Auburn’s Latitudes restaurant to close Sept. 2

Old Town eatery owners Pat and Pete Enochs retiring after 34 years on local culinary scene
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Retirement beckons Sept. 2 for Latitudes restaurant owners Pete and Pat Enochs in Auburn. And that means a rush by fans of the vegetarian restaurant in Old Town for a last taste of Latitudes favorites such as cider chicken and nutty tacos. The Enochses, both 64, said Wednesday that they’ll be leaving the 132-year-old White House building with plenty of fond memories but – with the prospect of signing a 10-year lease – the time was right. The couple established The Kitchen restaurant on Highway 49 in 1978 and moved the growing, popular establishment into the White House, in the shadow of the Placer County Courthouse, in 1992. The 130 Maple Street building had been the location of five failed restaurants in the 11 years before Latitudes was established. The Enochses say one of their proudest accomplishments was creating a business that can now be seen as ahead of its time by promoting locally grown food, Placer County wines, artists and musicians. “We were the alternative vegetarian restaurant and the whole culinary world has come closer to where we are,” Pete Enochs said. “I’m probably most satisfied that a vegetarian restaurant made it in Auburn,” Pat Enochs said. Last year, PlacerGrown recognized the Enochses and their restaurant with its Friend of Agriculture award. It was the latest kudos in a span of more than three decades that drew rave reviews from locals as well as regional restaurant critics. “They were very good – and very unique,” said Latitudes diner Monroe De Jarnette of Auburn. The couple met as high school students growing up in the Coachella Valley and their lives have centered on their Auburn restaurant since it opened 34 years ago. The two have had one, two-week vacation since 1991, Pete Enochs said. As the slow food and buy local movements began to take hold in recent years, the Enochses were already folding in whatever is in season onto their internationally themed menus. Over the seasons, they easily incorporated products from more than a dozen local farmers and ranchers. They’ve also provided tangible support to winemakers, playing host to an annual release party in June and featuring local wines throughout the year. With the days counting down to closure, the Enochses said that one post-Latitudes plan is already being developed – to publish a book of recipes that the eatery has kept relatively secret. The Enochses said that it will be up to the building’s owner to decide what will occupy the soon-to-be-empty Latitudes space. Their daughter, Alice, and her husband, Nathan, have established their own niche in the area culinary world, with The Baker and Cake Maker,and don’t intend to take over Latitudes, they said. The Enochs said that they also aren’t planning to sell the business name or Latitudes restaurant business to another party. The final day, a Sunday, will be what the Enochses describe as a time to draw down on whatever remains in the freezer and fridge. But until Sept. 2, it will be business as usual – with a run on reservations that has already started due to word of mouth about the retirement closure. "Reservations are highly recommended,” Pat Enochs said. “We’ve already had one lady who has said she wants five separate reservations.”