Taking over the former Crab Cakes location, the opening date isn’t set in stone, though they figure it to be around the first of August. Rev’s Farm House is an expansion and re-envisioning of their popular restaurant in Clovis, simply known as Rev’s. Renée’s initials are REV for Renée Elaine Velasquez. Right at the onset, you can tell that at the heart of it all for Brian and Renée is a shared love of fine food, family, community. And each other.
Even in its unfinished state, you can tell the place will be a go-to for locals and visitors, and worthy of a drive up the hill or across the bridge. Walking in, the new vibe is open, bright and airy. Shelves are built to display and sell Brian’s jams of fig or white nectarine and other hand-crafted pantry items like salad dressing and barbecue sauce, many made from Clovis High’s FFA bounty. Gone is the massive fish tank.
From the moment you pass through the entry, turn right and view the main rooms you get a feel for everything and that feel is spacious. They’ve kept the booths, though refinished, and with fresh paint and fixtures, bright whites and dark woods, the place does feel like a crisper version of home.
Intersecting the main rooms Rev’s Farm House will have an 18-foot wooden king’s table for communal dining, seating 22 people. One of the owner’s favorite things about that kind of dining is how people start out strangers and end up sharing wine. In an upscale, casual atmosphere, they’re planning for lots of that conviviality to go along with their hospitality.
A big, beautiful sliding barn door, hand-crafted by a generous artisan/friend, divides the private banquet room from the others. It’s wonderfully intimate, yet the tall ceilings and resulting acoustics give the room, again, that open-air feel. They love for people to be close, but not confined. The banquet room opens up to the wrap-around porch with room for more seating or mingling.
They’ve done the work they could do themselves, and use local contractors whenever possible. That’s how they plan to run the business, with the help of people on the mountain. Among those who’ve been instrumental so far is realtor Brad Ditton, to whom they’re grateful. Appreciation is a hallmark of the operation.
Upstairs — and I know many of you are waiting for this — we can expect a new bar. The tight little cubby booths are out and a newly-finished bar is in. Just what we need when we need it.
The main goal at Rev’s Farm House is the same as Rev’s, the couple says. They want people to come in and feel like they’re at a friend’s home. That must be a friend who’s a killer chef.
It seems as though all this was fated. Renée and Brian dated for a while back in 2004, and eventually went their separate ways. In 2013, they met up again — fittingly, at a restaurant — and Brian says the first thing Renée said after ten years was, “are you married?” as she grabbed his left hand for an inspection.
Not long after, Renée told Brian, “You get one more shot at this.”
Renée tells the story a wee bit differently but both can attest to this — a week later, they were married.
Soon after, they decided to open a restaurant.
Suddenly, Renée was pregnant.
In her prime at mid-forty, to say it was unexpected would be an understatement. They welcomed their blessings, all of them, and now husband and wife call each other Boss and Chef. Their three-year-old’s name is Tucker. He was born in March of 2015 and they opened Rev’s in May. Between them are a total of seven children, aging from three to almost thirty. Still at home, in addition to Tucker, is daughter Presli, 16. She works at Rev’s and can run the show.
So many things have come full circle, not just the romance. In 2013 Brian was a chef at Crabcakes. Their first date the second time around, he invited her to come sit at the bar there, and sent her up a special plate of arancini. Now, arancini is on their menu at Rev’s.
Brian has French culinary training, and has worked in New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco. At Rev’s they grind their own meat in-house. No warmers or steamers for keeping food hot while the customer waits — everything is made to order.
This is a thoughtful chef, not a fan of processed foods, who knows his culinary history. Brian cooks with fresh ingredients, locally sourced, and is happy when a patron comes in and says, “Chef, make me dinner,” and he can do whatever comes to mind.
Kids are welcome and there’s no dress code. They plan to serve breakfast on weekends, and to have a mid-day menu during the week: sort of a transitional time where some lunch items and some dinner selections will be available with a sunset discount. The menu will be similar to Rev’s in Clovis, but price points will differ from the Old Town restaurant.
We’ll taste a little bit of a southern homespun twist here in the foothills: Chef references good sauces, pot-pies, meat loaf sandwiches, lobster mac and cheese.
On the breezy porch we talked about going back to the roots, and how modern “organic food” is what our grandparents called “food.” Family is important to the couple, and Brian says his grandfather was a lot like Renée: never met a stranger. Somewhere in all of this, Renée went to pastry school, came out and did her externship under Brian. Now she does desserts and breads and runs the front of the house, no doubt with the same charm and precision with which she greets a visitor or sands a booth.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of launching this new baby is, Renée and Brian answer honestly, something to the effect of “not pissing off your husband/wife while doing construction,” and they laugh — but it’s true! They’re together much of the time, operating both independently and as one in a sphere that’s balanced on love. Talking about who has the vision and who gets the job done, Brian says they’re “evenly yoked.” It’s a crazy balance, but they manage to stand equally, side-by-side.
Standing behind them is a strong community, including the good people at Marechal Vineyards who reserve an acre for Rev’s, in which winery owners Josh and Jen grow Fresno peppers, heirloom tomatoes, seasonal squash, and culinary herbs like oregano and basil. Brian comments that, just below the deck, Rev’s Farm House is already growing its own rosemary. Where others see ubiquitous shrubbery these people see opportunity.
Rev’s will open in a few weeks. You’re invited.
“We want people to come in and relax, and have a good time. We’re not just opening a restaurant, we’re opening our doors to the community.”
Rev’s Farm House is located at 49271 Golden Oak Loop, Oakhurst, California 93644.