SHEILA HILL is a hands-on manger who enjoys her business. Democrat photos by Pat Dollins

Secrets of Success 2012

Food and friendship on the menu at Powell’s Steamer

By From page SOS10 | December 31, 2012

For more than 25 years, Powell’s Steamer Co. and Pub has been a social hub for locals and visitors. Located in the heart of downtown Placerville, Powell’s is famous for its steamer-cooked seafood, 24 draft brews and wines from El Dorado County vineyards, all served in a warm and comfortable environment. Local musicians add to the ambience.

Sheila Hill is the owner and manager now. She started as a bartender in 2003. Soon she was managing the bar and then the whole restaurant. After four years, Hill bought the restaurant from the original owners, Bob and Judy Powell, in partnership with her daughter, Erika Hall.

Hall needed more time with her young family, and although she works as a server at Powell’s, Hill is now sole owner.

On Sept. 1, Hill celebrated her fifth year as owner with a special menu and evening of music.

Hill said she is a “hands-on” owner and manager, spending time at the restaurant daily.  She has 15 employees. “Some of them are new, some have been there a long time. They are all my family. I enjoy the customers, too. My husband says I need to ‘touch the restaurant’ every day.

Powell’s signature “steamer-cooked” seafood means nothing is fried or baked. Fresh clams steamed with butter, white wine and seasonings, peel-and-eat shrimp, Hangtown Clam Chowder, oyster stew or shrimp scampi will chase away the winter chills.

In addition, Powell’s has a repertoire of sandwiches, pasta dishes and slow-cooked barbecue pork ribs slathered with homemade sauce.

For many customers, a favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. is relaxing at Powell’s, listening to live jazz or blues performers. Local bands play their styles on Thursday and Saturday nights. Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m. is open mic for singers and songwriters, and every Friday is karaoke night.

The 24 draft brews appeal to every taste. Local, regional, imported and domestic beers are served in 12- or 16-ounce glasses. During Happy Hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., draft beers are $1 off.

Local wine selections from Oakstone, Madroña and Findleton Estates and Winery offer a variety of whites and reds.

Specialty drinks are available for the adventurous. Ku-Soju is a traditional Korean wine, smooth-tasting, that makes an excellent substitute for vodka. Try a Ku-Soju Bloody Mary, Screwdriver or Martini. Agave wine makes an excellent Margarita.

Hill welcomes guest bartenders for organizations that wish to raise money for local charitable causes.

Hill said that during the warm weather especially she meets tourists from Germany and France. “They are interested in our Gold Rush history, and I recommend they visit Gold Bug Park. Often, they don’t speak much English, but when it comes to food and drink and visiting, we all speak the same language,” she said.

For more information, visit, or call 530-626-1091.

Roberta Long

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