Since opening in early May, The Garden Tap has been steadily growing in popularity to the point that the line for food sometimes reaches the parking lot, said general manager Kori Sabalow.

Birds chirp, frogs croak and water splashes soothingly in a nearby pond as one sits outdoors in the shade at The Garden Tap, tucked inside Mount Shasta’s Native Grounds Nursery.

While in reality you’re not more than 50 yards from South Mt. Shasta Boulevard, it feels like you’ve escaped to another world – one where you can sip on local craft beer or try a salad made with fresh ingredients from a nearby garden. The Garden Tap also serves wood fired pizzas made in an Italian imported brick oven.

Since opening in early May, The Garden Tap has been steadily growing in popularity to the point that the line for food sometimes reaches the parking lot, said general manager Kori Sabalow.

“We’ve had awesome feedback,” she said. “I guess it’s something we really needed in this town.”

Sabalow and nursery owners Lori Oliver and Terez Manaitis stumbled into the restaurant business.

It all started after the nursery hosted a few fundraising events over the past years, Sabalow said. They were so well received that people often asked them when they’d host another.

“People enjoyed the setting and the venue,” Sabalow explained. “It got us thinking, how can we do this more often?”

While at a trade show in Reno, the women went to an outdoor venue that utilized a food truck to serve its customers and they thought that would be a good fit for the nursery.

At first, they imagined serving beer only, but they soon realized they’d need a full food license to make that idea a reality.

“We figured since we were already going that far, we might as well do a food truck, too,” said Sabalow.

Manager Heather Schwarzenberg has been an integral part of business, making staffing and other restaurant-related challenges a breeze, Sabalow said.

The Garden Tap features traditional Neapolitan-style wood fired pizzas that are cooked in just 90 seconds. The pizza dough they use is their own recipe and they’re all hand stretched, said Sabalow. Although the recipe is theirs, it is mixed by Steve at Mt. Shasta Pastry.

The women have been practicing making pizzas and experimenting with their recipes since the beginning of the year. They finally settled on a menu that includes staples like cheese, pepperoni and margherita pizzas, but also “Garden Veg,” with homemade tomato sauce, organic zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, a five cheese blend and kalamata olives; the “Italian Stallion,” featuring tomato sauce, black olives, mushrooms, and Furnari’s Italian sausage, which is made in Redding; as well as “The Prosciutto” with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, red onion, prosciutto and fresh arugula, drizzled in balsamic glaze; as well as “Ode to the Goat,” with garlic olive oil, sundried tomatos, caramelized onions, goat cheese and arugula.

They also offer gluten-free crusts made of cauliflower and as the garden explodes, they’ll incorporate different vegetables into their offerings.

“We try to be as ‘farm to fork’ as possible,” Sabalow said.

Food safety regulations specify that the food truck may only use one window, and that sometimes can make for a long line, Sabalow explained. They’re looking at ways to make it shorter.

“We didn’t expect this kind of business so quickly ... We are trying our best to keep up with the volume, and we are so thankful for the community’s support and patience.”

The Garden Tap features all local beer on tap and currently holds a beer only liquor license, although they’re applying to also sell wine because of several requests.

In addition to local beers, they have cider on tap as well as locally made kombucha by Alua.

The Garden Tap has been two years in the making as they waited for city and county permits and clearance from Alcohol Beverage Control.

They’re dealing with some growing pains – their parking lot is on the small side, and many people need to park on South Mount Shasta Blvd. when things get busy. In addition, they’ve found some people forget that they are still a functioning nursery with plants for sale. And although the restaurant is kid friendly, children need to be respectful of the grounds. It was a tough decision, but dogs are not allowed during dining hours.

Regardless of the minor glitches, Sabalow said she’s excited to see The Garden Tap do so well and she’s excited for the future. She said it will most likely be a seasonal delight, closing in the fall and through the winter months.

“It’s a special spot,” she said.

The Garden Tap is open Thursday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m., with the last food orders taken at 9 p.m. They are planning to soon be open Mondays, as well.

They’re located at 1172 South Mt. Shasta Blvd. Call them at (530) 568-8101 or find them on Facebook.