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New owners serve up sandwich dream

Meadow Vista residents take over Beach Hut Deli in Auburn
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Owning a Beach Hut Deli franchise is the fulfillment of a five-year dream for Meadow Vista’s Katie Kreeger. She and her husband, Matt, purchased the Highway 49 eatery in late January and took over operations on Feb. 1. Kreeger, a mortgage broker, said she first became acquainted with the chain when she’d head to the one in Granite Bay for a little down time from her fast-paced job. She currently has her own company, Innovative Lending Solutions, in Meadow Vista. For the past several years, she had bid on other locations in Folsom, Sacramento and Roseville before the Auburn store came through. The Auburn Beach Hut was previously owned by Jason Bazzaroni, who now helms the chain’s new location at Thunder Valley Casino. In Auburn, the Kreegers are already putting their stamp on things. “We’ve added live palm trees and some murals of beach scenes,” Katie Kreeger said this week. And much bigger plans are under way. “By spring we’ll have our new deck,” she said. “That’s a big deal. We’re the only (tenants) in the building, so there’s not a lot of curb appeal. (The deck) is going to be expanded into the parking lot, with seating, a tiki hut and some thatched cabana style to cover it.” They’re also building up the catering side of the business and adding live entertainment. “We have a band lined up for March 12 — The Pyronauts,” she said. Kreeger’s goal is to turn the restaurant into a destination spot. “And that’s what we’re going to make it,” she said. The deli is known for its surfing-theme sandwiches. Kreeger’s favorite is the Hobie. “(It has) turkey, pastrami, provolone and all the produce, with Italian dressing,” she said. “I add avocado.” Another popular choice is the Santa Cruz — pastrami, avocado, bacon and cream cheese. Part of the fun of owning the restaurant is inventing new sandwiches. They start out as daily specials, and, if they catch on with customers, become part of the chain’s permanent menu, she explained. “Right now the special is the Sunburn,” she said. “It is sliced chicken breast and red sauce, ranch dressing, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, lettuce and onion on a toasted French roll.” Another specialty sandwich at the Auburn store is the Drakester, named for Bazzaroni’s son, Drake, who passed away from a brain tumor in 2008. At the eatery Wednesday, customers Andy Noah and Larry Seaman were having the Santa Cruz. “The sandwiches are incredible and the beer’s cold,” said Noah, a Loomis resident. “We come here about three times a year, when we’re in Auburn.” Noah and Seaman said they also go to the one in Granite Bay. “I’ve never had a bad sandwich (at Beach Hut),” Seaman said. Nearby, Auburn resident Lindsey Jensen is a longtime customer and even worked at the Granite Bay store for awhile. “I love Beach Hut,” she said. “They have the freshest food and it’s always consistent.” So far, owning the eatery has met the couple’s expectations, but it is a lot of hard work. “One of us is there at all times,” Kreeger said. “We each work about six days a week. Plus I run my other company and have a 10-month old (baby). It is a lot. But this is the happiest I’ve ever been. Anytime you can make your dream come true, you can’t complain about it.” The eatery’s catering capabilities got a workout following the storm that knocked out power to thousands of homes in late February. The Kreegers and their crew were at the store at 4 every morning for nearly a week making dozens of lunch box meals for PG&E crews — starting with 75 that Friday and reaching 150 for Sunday and Monday, she said. Chain CEO Troy Feist established the first Beach Hut Deli in 1986 in Granite Bay. Now there are 22 stores with four more coming in Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix, Kreeger said. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com ---------------------------- Beach Hut Deli Where: 4035 Grass Valley Highway, Phone: (530) 889-8486 Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday