Many driving through the community of Big Pine have noticed the new business sign for the popular Country Kitchen restaurant, which came under new ownership and management in 2013 under Nick and Jackie Nersesian. The old sign, which reflected the many years the restaurant has been in the town, was looking pretty neglected, so the Nersesians, who have been making remarkable improvements to the restaurant over the past two years, decided to replace it with a new one to reflect their new management.
Locals and visitors to the Eastern Sierra have been impressed with the restaurant’s new menu, which has been greatly expanded, along with the great service provided by the Nersesian family, which also includes their sons Avo and Andre, and the rest of their cook and wait staff.
The restaurant’s Tuesday $2.50 Special Taco Night (chicken, pork or beef) and $2.00 draft beers offered all day, 7-days a week, have proven very popular. Country Kitchen also makes “killer breakfast burritos,” which is just one item on a large menu of more traditional all-American breakfast, lunch and dinner fare.
The restaurant is a popular meeting spot for some of the town’s older set, who meet every morning for coffee and breakfast at the restaurant’s counter. A few of the “Old-timers” club as they are known, are “local boys” that grew up in Big Pine, while others moved here from other place in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. On a shelf behind the counter are a dozen or so personalized coffee cups with each of their names. These regulars all agree that the place has really been turned around under the Nersesians.
Typical of the “old-timers” group is Sam Bishell, age 77, who has lived in Big Pine since 1974. Another is Richard Williams, age 70, who moved to Big Pine in 1958 from Lee Vining and whose father used to be in mining. Jim Harlis, age 76, moved to Big Pine from Yorba Linda in 1951 when only twelve-years old.
Enjoying breakfast this week as well were Joe and Virginia MacLeod of Big Pine. They moved from Los Angeles over 40 years ago, but Joe noted that he has been coming up to the area since 1935.
There are also other old-timers such as Mike Rossi of the long-time Big Pine Rossi clan, and recently-retired fire department chief John Marzano, age 77, known locally as “Papa John,” who has lived in Big Pine since 1959. On other days they are joined by Richard Williams and Jerry Takamori.
Besides the “old-timers,” it’s no great secret that many visitors to the Eastern Sierra, and Country Kitchen, are from other countries. As one online 5-star reviewer wrote about his dining experience at Country Kitchen: “Très bien servi, service impeccable, s’intéresse à son client gracieux bref allez y les yeux fermés” (Very well served, impeccable service, customers can go there with confidence.)
“The quality of the food is considered very important,” said Nick. “All the food is made from scratch. Fresh sauces are made daily, as is the macaroni and potato salads.”
Under the Nersesians the restaurant now has a large outdoor dining patio so that customers can enjoy good outdoor weather and the great views of the local mountains. The small, poorly-lit restroom, which used to be around the back of the building and resembled what you might find at a gas station, was replaced with two large, well-lit indoor handicapped-accessible restrooms. Future plans for the restaurant include a larger kitchen, which, given how well business has been doing since the Nersesians took it over, is probably a good idea.
The Country Kitchen is open 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Summer hours are extended to 9:00 p.m. For more information, call the restaurant at 760.938.2402.