Wool Growers Restaurant, the most popular Basque restaurant in Bakersfield (located in “Old Town Kern” – the Basque Block), knows a little something about history. This year the restaurant, a landmark in Bakersfield, will celebrate 60 years of serving Basque dishes.
Mayie Maitia, the founder of Wool Growers, was only 25 years old when she and husband, Jean Baptiste Maitia opened the restaurant. Now 84, Mayie, a recent inductee to the Basque Hall of Fame, has turned the operations over to her daughter, Jenny and granddaughter, Christiane Camou.
From the moment guests enter, they are transported to old-world Basque country, a culture that touches all the senses. Taking culinary cues from the heritage of their family roots, Mayie started the restaurant as a newcomer to America, speaking only Basque. Meals at Wool Growers start out with traditional courses of soup, salsa and beans, pickled tongue and a salad with marinated tomatoes – all typical of rural Basque dining where family-style plated meats and side dishes prevailed.
Christiane believes that after 60 years in operation, Wool Growers remains a popular dining option because guests can consistently enjoy legendary cuisine and exceptional service.
But how do you maintain consistency in quality for 60 years? You lean on a foodservice distributor like Jordano’s that believes in delivering seamless service.
“When our Jordano’s Account Executive, Jacob Lopez, first came to us our old distributor had just closed their doors. Jacob recognized that we had some serious standards when it came to meat,” Christiane says citing entrees that are not covered in fancy sauces. “The quality cuts of our meat are not disguised at all; our chef insists that the flavor of the meats must stand on their own. That’s why we’ve been impressed with the relationship he’s cultivated and level of trust he’s gained with our kitchen staff; he understands their needs and delivers quality every time.”
Christiane and Jenny now hold the operational reins of Wool Growers like a badge of honor.
While her grandmother is less involved, Christiane vows to never change the meal courses that her grandmother established so long ago. But she admits to breaking tradition a little by bringing in Wi-Fi and adopting more of the Spanish influence with Basque sausage sandwiches and a new tomato salsa for the fish dishes.
“My grandmother is a legend in the Basque community. She had a big heart for helping those early Basque immigrants. She believed if you made sacrifices and worked hard, it would yield success,” she explains. “She was right, and it is such an honor to be a part of that tradition.”
For more information about Wool Growers, visit www.woolgrowers.net.
Locating Basque Country
The Basque region lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and stretches from southwestern France to north central Spain. The reach between these two cultural regions is what makes Basque food, language and traditions uniquely rich.