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Valley's 'downtown' gets restoration permit

By CHRIS COUNTS

Published: September 12, 2008

SLOWLY BUT surely, an historic building that once served as Carmel Valley’s “downtown” is coming back to life.

The Monterey County Planning Commission voted unanimously this week to approve the restoration of Rosie’s Cracker Barrel.

“It’s been part of the fabric of Carmel Valley life for many decades,” explained Janet Sergesen, Rosie’s general manager. “This renovation will give people a place for making new memories.”

According to Sergesen, a group called Carmel Valley Hospitality purchased Rosie’s in 2004 and made plans to restore its two buildings, which had fallen into disrepair. But those plans were delayed in 2005 when a speeding driver crashed into the side of its main building, causing major damage.

Renovation and restoration work will include excavating around the main building’s perimeter and installing a concrete foundation, raising the roof to allow for higher ceilings and reinforcing over-stressed rafters and beams, and modifying the front door, interior doors and restrooms for ADA compliance.

Designed by Carmel’s famed builder, Hugh Comstock, the original building was constructed at 1 Esquiline Road in 1927 as a real estate office for the Robles Del Rio subdivision. C.G. Church bought it in 1936 and converted it into a general store. In 1938, Church added the second building, which became a gas station.

In 1939, William Irwin Henry purchased the building, which soon became known as Rosie’s. Henry, who played baseball in the local Abalone League, earned the nickname, “Rosie,” due to the fact his face would turn several shades of red when he ran around the bases. From 1941 to 1949, Rosie’s served as Carmel Valley’s post office.

On Oct. 8, 1982, the bridge next to Rosie’s that crosses the Carmel Valley River was dedicated and named Rosie’s Bridge. Rosie passed away a month later. In 1993, Rosie’s Cracker Barrel was added to the registry of Monterey County Historical Landmarks.

Currently, the back portion of Rosie’s main building, which once served as a bar, is open Thursdays through Sundays as a wine tasting room. Also, Rosie’s is hosting twice-a-month dinners featuring the culinary creations of local chef Daniel Barduzzi of Daniel’s at Garden Bistro. The front portion is closed pending renovation and restoration.

An annex, which once functioned as a gas station, is scheduled to reopen in October as an espresso bar. Also available will be milkshakes, smoothies, gourmet meals and desserts.