OAKHURST — Bread Head Kitchen opened earlier this year after Nikko Mizuno and her two partners purchased the former Pop’s Family diner, located adjacent to Subway just across Highway 41 from the Visitor Center.
The partners, all veterans of the local restaurant scene, renovated the interior and re-branded the restaurant, with an emphasis on being a “fresh food kitchen.”
“We’re so new most people in Oakhurst still don’t even know we’re back here,” Mizuno said this week.
Word-of-mouth regarding Bread Head’s food and atmosphere has been strong and the eatery, which also serves beer and wine, has received a ton of positive feedback on its Facebook page.
“We have made some rookie mistakes,” Mizuno admitted this week. “Keeping a restaurant going is not easy, especially in its first year.”
Since opening in mid-2019, Bread Head has been serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The business is such a relative newcomer to the local restaurant scene there’s still a temporary canvas banner out front covering the old Pop’s sign.
But now, according to Mizuno, unless a new partner or investor can be found, the restaurant may have to close before a permanent sign can even be installed.
“We are struggling financially,” Mizuno said this week in between breakfast and lunch shifts. “I don’t want to roll over and die but I just don’t know if that angel is going to appear.”
Mizuno moved to the Oakhurst area from San Diego nine years ago, working in high-profile positions at Erna’s Elderberry House and the Queen’s Inn before opening Bread Head Kitchen, which offers an eclectic menu featuring signature dishes like Irish corned beef, Reuben sandwiches and “true omelettes, cooked to perfection,” said Mizuno.
“Very good food! Huge shareable portions! Great, friendly staff!!!” exclaims one poster on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Mizuno originally partnered with Shane Marrone, a well-known area bartender, and Michael Tenenberg to open Bread Head Kitchen. Tenenberg recently had to exit the partnership due to deteriorating health issues and now Mizuno and Marrone are searching for someone who can help them recapitalize the business.
“I’ve had such a positive response from my customers,” Mizuno said. “They tell me how much they like the restaurant’s energy and music — and especially our food.”
“We are trying hard to stay positive,” she added. “So many people are going to be bummed if we have to close.”