The Boardroom is a casual restaurant and "tasting room" for our Ryan Creek Root Cellar brand of fine meats located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka, CA. Our “boards” feature fine meats, cheeses, and fermented foods made in-house in the European tradition. Meat options typically include specialty salami, summer sausage, Canadian-style bacon, smoked duck, and other small batch seasonal offerings. During Covid, The Boardroom team perfected their slow-smoking techniques and soon grew the menu to include amazing new offerings still available online and at their various locations.
About The Founders
The Boardroom's Founders (left: Jason Baxter - right: Sonny Simonian) met while working at the world renown cheese company Cypress Grove Chevre. When not working on world-domination through goat cheese at the Arcata headquarters, Jason (Marketing Director) and Sonny (Quality Director) attended food shows around the country, exposing foodies to amazing (if not somewhat irreverent) pairings that could only come from Humboldt County.
Evidenced by this photo from 2016's Great American Beer Festival in Colorado, the two got along famously and it wasn't long before they set-off to build a food company of their own.
Arts and Crafts?
Determined to find a manufacturing space with temperatures naturally conducive to curing meat, Sonny identified the unused location referred to as the "Arts and Crafts" building at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka as a potential headquarters. Only open for the local fair and the occasional dog training event, Redwood Acres embraced the idea of another food startup as it was in desperate need of additional renters to keep the fairgrounds afloat. Unfortunately, the space was nothing but a steel building, lacking pretty much everything needed to manufacture and serve food. Sonny broke ground and the real work had just begun.
The Birth of The Boardroom
Equipment was positioned and tiles were plastered on newly framed walls for the curing room, but the reality was...most startups go out of business within the first two years. It takes a decade or more to build an actual brand beyond your home town, and it is particularly challenging for startups required to jump through the USDA's hoops. That said, Jason proposed the two join forces and build a restaurant around the upcoming line to test and showcase the products..."a tasting room for meat" you might say. They had a good deal of experience producing and marketing specialty foods for dozens of specialty food companies between the two, how hard could it be running a restaurant featuring your own fine meats? It turns out, it can be pretty difficult...actually.
The Boardroom officially opened during the Summer of 2017 with a fantastic line of cured and fermented products unlike anything else seen in Northern California. Taps flowed with local ciders and imported Belgians, and the wine list rotated regularly to coincide with seasonal events. From Oktoberfest celebrations to cheese paring events, The Boardroom slowly grew a dedicated following over the next three years from this most unlikely location...a windowless building parked just outside of Eureka city limits, quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Next stop...global pandemic. (Image of The Boardroom’s opening team thanks to Amy Kumler - left to right, Jason Baxter, Cody Wandel, Sonny Simonian, Mariah Wellman, Tami Wandel)
As it turns out, there is something more difficult than running a charcuterie-based restaurant from a state fairground. Running a restaurant at a location recently converted to be the County's COVID testing center is far more difficult. The main event hall (Franceschi Hall) only thirty feet from our front door became the hospital overflow building, and the building next to that …the main testing center.
With doors closed and no real option for outdoor seating due to our new status as COVID epicenter of Northern California, we needed to evolve quickly. As luck would have it, we had a shiny new commercial smoker already on the way, not to mention a talented team that suddenly had time on its hands. As Sonny worked on getting the new equipment up and running, Chef Nick developed an entire menu of new soups, salads, and savory sides to go with our upcoming menu of slow-smoked specials. Jason, the resident computer geek, revamped the website and customized existing curbside delivery apps to allow for multiple drop-off times and partner locations throughout Humboldt County. Thankfully, we were able to extend our following from our original base of charcuterie lovers to hardcore barbecue fanatics. From slow-smoked pulled-pork with baked beans to Gumbo featuring our sausages made in-house, customers ordered online and picked-up curbside in McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Arcata, Ferndale, and in front of our restaurant in Eureka.
The Boardroom Ferndale, 2022
It feels strange to say it, but we came out of COVID swinging. We completed building a 30-foot bar and refinished the floor of a 100 year-old pine floor hiding under carpet, just as the world started emerging from Covid in the summer of 2022. This time, we chose the Victorian Village of Ferndale, CA for our second location. What better place to showcase our traditionally cured and smoked meats than the historic heart of Humboldt?