Laura’s Kitchen Changes Hands After 23 Years
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune
There’s a new counter, a new coat of paint on the walls, new televisions on the walls, and wireless internet is on the way, but brothers Kaewett Nelson and Nels Nelson III said the most important things about Laura’s Kitchen in downtown Hoopa will stay just the way they’ve always been.
“We’d hate to see one of the places we came to as a kid go away. It’s one of the few sit down restaurants in town,” Nels Nelson III said. “It was family-owned, and that’s how we want to keep it.”
The brothers and their families took over the restaurant two weeks ago from long-time owner Laura ‘Doolie’ Ferris, and said that they’re grateful she’s staying on to help them during the transition.
Kaewett Nelson said, “She’s still here teaching us the ropes. So many people are like ‘I sold it. I’m out,’ but she’s not like that. She said she’d stick around as long as we need it.”
Alaina Cisneros and Robin Hostler, who help serve customers and cook, will also be staying on.
In addition, former cook Abraham Camez was rehired and will work at the restaurant two nights a week.
Nels Nelson III said, “We don’t want to take away from people’s routines. We just want to add a few things that we think people will enjoy.”
Leslie Bautista-Nelson said that nothing will be taken off the menu, but things will be added over time.
“People have their same orders every day, and their same place to sit,” Bautista-Nelson said. “It’s cool.”
Neither of the brothers or their families has run a restaurant before. Nels Nelson III has worked for Hoopa’s Wildland Fire Department for 10 years, and Kaewett Nelson and his wife Leslie Bautista-Nelson have worked in real estate for five years.
“My husband and I have always worked together in everything,” Bautista-Nelson said. “I figure it’s like anything – you have to work hard and sacrifice.”
Kaewett Nelson said, “Starting next week, we’ll be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, five days a week. Eventually, we’d like to be open seven days a week.”
The families have purchased a new waffle iron and a broiler, so they can expand the menu with things like breakfast waffles, char-broiled hamburgers and ribs.
Kaewett Nelson said, “We want to add traditional seasonal foods, like fry bread, acorn soup, tan oak mushrooms, salmon, and deer-meat stew. At different times of the year, we’d have our special seasonal menus.”
Nels Nelson III said, “We’re just thankful that Doolie trusts us with the business she built up, and for the regulars who keep coming back.”