Profiles in Business - Chester Old Town Café

M. Kate West
Staff Writer

Whether you are looking for a hot cup of coffee, a spot of tea or something sweet to go with either, the Chester Old Town Café is ready to serve. From left: Jessica Root, Chef Carol Franchetti and Megan Marceau. Photo by M. Kate West

After 14 months, the Chester Old Town Café is well on its way to being a landmark, like its sister operation, Carol’s Café & West Shore Deli at Prattville.

Popular Basin Chef Carol Franchetti, who has owned and operated the Prattville café for 42 years, also owns the Chester Old Town Café. 

In speaking about her reasons for opening another business, Franchetti said, “I wanted year-round work during the off months when Prattville is closed. I am very excited about being in town.”

That she is a caring employer was also a factor in making the decision to open the café.

“Like for myself, I also desired to provide my staff with year-round employment. I have four employees who are working in the café now and in the summer I have six,” she added.

The fact that she has never been in town when involved in her many endeavors was also a draw for her.

“My philosophy for the Chester location is very different from that of Prattville. This café is to be for the locals, not so much tourists, but a place for folks to hang out.

“I am very much enjoying having town regulars, those that stop in two to three times a week. I like that they are comfortable and cozy and that we can greet each other by name,” she said.

The Chester Old Town Café serves breakfast and lunch and dinners on special occasions.

Franchetti is also developing the bakery side of the business and muffins, scones, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, crossaints and a wide assortment of cookies, including those that are gluten free, are available daily.

The café also features a grab-and-go hot case where her well-known burritos vanish quickly, as do her hot ham and cheese croissant sandwiches.

“In keeping with current trends we offer a healthy children’s menu that features smaller portions, fruit, oatmeal and the fun of ordering 50 cents worth of dollar pancakes,” she said.

In addition to her daily homemade soups and salads, menu items favored by her locals include waffle Wednesday, clam chowder Friday and now biscuit and gravy Saturday.

“The biscuits and scratch-made gravy are accompanied by sausage links, eggs and potatoes,” she said.

Above owning and operating two cafés, Franchetti has offered her catering services for approximately 10 years.

“I am very involved in catering weddings and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the Christmas dinner at the Lake Almanor Community Church these past two years” she said.

She also caters 50th wedding anniversary parties, dinners for the Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce, celebrations of life, lunches and dinners for meetings and workshops.

Duties in the kitchen alternate between Franchetti and Megan Marceau, who is the head cook from Franchetti’s Prattville operation.

“Megan does most of the cooking, Jessica Root runs the front of house and her sister, Carin Root, helps me with the baking.

“I am very exited that Carin is enrolled in the online Escoffier Baking Course. This is a nine-month certificated course. When Carin has completed the course she will bake our current menu offerings and so much more.”

Franchetti also said, “Upon Carin’s certification she will be promoted to head baker, a career path she has chosen for herself.”

By summer Franchetti predicts the bakery will be expanded greatly over what it is now. In her expansion vision there will be more bread baking and the start to special-order cake baking. 

“My challenge is not a terrible challenge. I have a small amount of seating in the café and because I am meeting my goal of making my customers comfortable and cozy. No one is in a hurry to eat and run,” she laughingly said.

She then said she has a plan for the space issue.

“I have hopes of putting in an outdoor patio with an awning to serve two to three tables of food. Diners would come in to order and then be served on the patio,” she said.

Mirroring her hospitality philosophy, she has a plaque given to her by her family hanging on the café wall. It reads, “May all who enter as guests leave as friends.”

“While I think that would be a good motto my favorite was spoken by young Jax Holland who calls my café ‘the little restaurant with the big food.’ He always gets the breakfast burrito when he’s here!” Franchetti said.

Chester Old Town Café

Owner: Carol Franchetti

Telephone: 530-258-2235

Address: 150 Main St., across from Bodfish Bicycles

Hours of operation: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. seven days a week


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