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Open for business 

Local chef opens commercial kitchen for use by Central Coast cooks

One obstacle faced by many culinary artisans on the Central Coast is a lack of resources needed to operate their own commercial kitchen—a daunting task to overcome when seeking to begin a new business venture.

It is with these cooks, caterers, bakers, and chefs in mind that local businesswoman and Greek cuisine specialist Kathy Ruoff founded Central Coast Cooks, a commercial kitchen facility in Atascadero that’s unique because it doubles as a café for retail sales for the resident cooks’ edible creations.

COOKING WITH CLASS:  Local chefs without a commercial kitchen of their own can join Central Coast Cooks, a new business in Atascadero. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • COOKING WITH CLASS: Local chefs without a commercial kitchen of their own can join Central Coast Cooks, a new business in Atascadero.

“There’s always a huge demand for commercial kitchen spaces, and such facilities are located all over the country,” said Ruoff. “There aren’t any solely commercial kitchen spaces on the Central Coast that I know of, so this seemed like a worthwhile venture for people who’re serious about wanting to start in the culinary business.”

Ruoff, who spent 10 years as the co-owner of the Garden Café in Los Osos, views Central Coast Cooks as an ideal union of her love for the culinary arts with her extensive sales background.

“I’d been doing sales and marketing forever, and with having owned a restaurant for many years, this seemed like the perfect marriage of business promotion with the area’s need for a commercial kitchen.”

While providing an opportunity for local cooks to utilize the kitchen facilities for a variety of uses, Central Coast Cooks stands alone by doubling as a café that offers a set menu in addition to new delicacies by the kitchen’s cooks.

“Our menu is always changing because of the different menus offered by each of our cooks,” said Ruoff. “All of our chefs are available for special orders and catering, and we’ll have a variety of their goods on hand so their creations can be tasted before orders are placed. All this is in addition to our menu of deli style sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and bacon and egg sandwiches that we’ll consistently be offering.”

The backgrounds of the chefs at Central Coast Cooks vary as widely as their delicacies themselves, with Vietnamese cuisine, cheesecakes, cookies and desserts, Greek cuisine, and customized gourmet meals all readily available.

“We’ve gotten great reception for our bakery, as we have three different bakers on staff, each with different styles,” said Ruoff. 

Central Coast Cooks will also be hosting events on a regular basis, with Saturdays reserved for coffee tastings, sandwich contests, and grand openings whenever a new chef joins the kitchen’s staff.

“Once the weather improves, we’ll also be out at Farmers Markets and will host other events to benefit the community. By hosting contests with community members that donate portions of the proceeds to the community, we’re looking to maintain an active presence.”

Chefs interested in joining the kitchen’s staff are required to have a food handler’s certificate, and both general and product liability insurance for their palatable promulgations. More information can be obtained by calling 466-3811, by visiting the kitchen at 5735 El Camino in Atascadero (half a block north of the Carlton), or at

Fast facts

SLO County Sitters, Inc. recently began a new division to further its vision of care to those throughout the county, specifically those with friends who have fur, feathers, and fins.

SLO County Sitters, Inc. is bringing together a staff of 20-30 animal lovers to provide pet-care services in the place where the pet is most comfortable: its own home. SLO County Sitters, Inc. is building its team from community members such as agriculture science students from Cal Poly, veterinary technicians, and others who share a love for animals.

“We are going to be delivering much more than just water to our furry and feathered clients,” said Tina Porter, President and CEO of SLO County Sitters, Inc. “We will be working with pet sitters who share our vision of pet care that is really above and beyond the expectations of our clients.”

All pet sitters will have at least three years of pet-care experience and will undergo an extensive interview and background check process. More information is available by calling 541-9300 or by visiting….

Local student Alison Hart will be honored as a recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Citizenship Award. 

Hart, an eighth-grade student at Laguna Middle School, will be among other nationally distinguished youth leaders to witness the swearing-in of the 44th U.S. president….

Colby Jack Café and Bakery, Atascadero’s newest dining experience—now open next to the post office at 9700 El Camino—is offering unique casual wine-country cuisine in a fast manner for breakfast or lunch.

The café features locally roasted Joebella coffee and espresso, a range of soups, salads, sandwiches, and specials, as well as freshly baked breads and pastries. You can choose from a variety of Central Coast wines to go with your meal.

More information on the café and its menu is available at or by calling 460-6455.

Intern Aaron Gaudette compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to

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