It’s a familiar sight for anyone local, and a welcome one for travelers passing through on their way to or from Lake Tahoe. For nearly 50 years, 50 Grand Steakhouse has been serving both regulars and visitors alike with the same excellent food and attention to detail as its founder, Gene Drury, when he first opened up shop in 1965.
“He actually started as a produce man,” said Candy Lequire, Drury’s daughter who now owns and operates the restaurant with her husband, Larry. “He was working at a grocery store next door to the restaurant, but when Safeway and a few other grocery stores came into town, he knew they would have to close down. That’s when he decided to go into partnership at the restaurant, and, eventually, he ended up buying the other guy out. 50 Grand Steakhouse has been a big part of our family ever since.”
Candy started washing dishes two nights a week at the restaurant when she was 16. After high school, she went to work for her dad full time as a busser and a hostess. The restaurant was really busy in the ‘70s, and both Gene and his wife Carleen usually worked from dawn until dusk seven days a week, 365 days per year. “Back then, we used to serve 200 to 300 dinners per night. There wasn’t even time to sit down. My parents never took vacations,” said Candy.
In November 1983, a propane fire burned down the original restaurant, and Gene was forced to move the restaurant to an abandoned bar down the street until it could be rebuilt. It was around this time that Candy and her husband really began spearheading management of the restaurant, and it was with great pride that they were able to reopen the restaurant in its original location less than a year later, in August of 1984.
Today, thanks to a changing economy, differing traffic patterns and a growing number of restaurants in Folsom and El Dorado Hills, business has slowed down some at the restaurant. But, still, it is nowhere near being slow. 50 Grand Steakhouse continues to serve the same great food it always has, and many of the employees have been there nearly as long as Candy.
“One of our top chefs was here for 43 years. He just retired, but he still comes in all the time, and sometimes he’ll even cook for us,” said Candy. The restaurant also has many regulars, some of whom have been coming in and sitting at the same table two or three times per week for years. “We have quite a few who’ll call us to tell us if they can’t make it so we know that they’re OK. When you see someone every Thursday night, they pretty much become family.”
And maybe that’s what makes 50 Grand Steakhouse so special: Candy and all of the restaurant employees — which include both her son, Doug, and grandson, Wesley — really do see their customers as family. With home-cooked specials such as prime rib, barbecue ribs, steak and mashed potatoes, it certainly does feel a lot like home. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of vegetable and salad plates, and has excellent options for kids on the kids’ menu. Additionally, 50 Grand Steakhouse is proud to offer a banquet hall where, for a very reasonable fee, restaurant staff can help customers put on truly memorable events for as many as 100 people.
“We really enjoy pleasing our customers. That’s what makes this job fun,” said Candy. “It’s hard to put it into words, but when you come into work, and you’ve worked with people and seen the same customers for so long, it’s kind of like a second family. It’s nice.”
50 Grand Steakhouse is located at 6401 Pony Express Trail in Pollock Pines. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.fiftygrandsteakhouse.com or call 530-644-1580.