New pizza, barbecue joint 'Smoked Tomato Pie' opening soon in Yreka
A husband and wife duo with years of experience in the restaurant business are ready to open a new restaurant in Yreka that will feature pizza and barbecue. Smoked Tomato Pie is located at 106 Ranch Lane in Yreka, where the Pizza Factory used to be before it closed in 2018.
Rob Gebhardt and his wife Kay – along with business partners Nick Morris and Zach Richer – hope to have a soft opening as early as Wednesday, Feb. 17, serving pizza and salads before expanding with their barbecue items.
The Gebhardts currently run a catering business, Empire Eats Catering and previously helped manage the Rex Club/Empire Music Hall in downtown Yreka. They believe a restaurant that serves great food and has terrific service can still be a success, even during a pandemic.
The couple, who've lived in Yreka for about 15 years, first met when they both worked at an Italian trattoria in New England – Sweet Tomatoes Trattoria – 25 years ago. Rob has been a professional cook for 27 years, managing kitchens that range from high volume Italian trattorias and swanky yacht clubs, to farm to table diners, he said.
Rob was raised by a single mother and was close to his grandmother, who he described as an amazing southern cook and restaurant owner who sparked his passion for food “and the care it takes to create it.”
Kay began her career in the restaurant business at age 14 as the “coat check girl” at a local eatery in Massachusetts. A short time later she was offered a position bussing tables, waiting tables, and then being a hostess, which solidified her love for the service industry. Later, she moved to New Hampshire. There, while working at Sweet Tomatoes Trattoria, she met Rob.
Eventually, she tried her hand at “the back of the house” work, in the kitchen of The Lake Sunapee Yacht Club. She said she found a passion for baking and gained more respect for the work that goes into running a restaurant.
Kay said she loves being able to work alongside her husband.
“It’s been fun and exciting to do this together. We bring out the best in each other,” Kay said.
What's on the menu?
Smoked Tomato Pie will feature pizzas, which Rob said he has worked hard to perfect and believes folks will adore. Dough and sauce will be made fresh daily, by hand, with gourmet quality products – locally sourced when possible. The crust is described as having a "crispy exterior with a slight brick oven char." They will also offer deep dish and gluten free crust.
The barbecue plates will include smoked beef brisket, smoked roasted salmon, smoked pulled chicken, smoked pulled pork shoulder, and grilled marinated eggplant and onions.
Kay plans to make a variety of ever-changing goodies, including cookies, pies, cakes, and magic bars.
Both Morris and Rob said Kay is an unbelievable baker with a flair for sweets and they can’t wait for people to enjoy her creations.
Much work has gone into the new restaurant, including the installation of a countertop meticulously crafted by Nick Morris, who owns his own construction company in the area.
Morris said he's always loved Nick’s food and Kay’s baking and is excited to work with them.
Rob said the goal is to have a place where people can enjoy great food, with a trattoria wine bar feel, where one can enjoy a good wine or beer.
To find out when Smoked Tomato Pie will open, visit the restaurant's Facebook or Instagram page. They can be reached at (530) 841-7119 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.