Story: Gary VanDeWalker Photo: Monica VanDeWalker
MICHAEL'S RESTAURANT IN MT. SHASTA
Nick Kobseff knew how to promote his restaurant. He purchased an ailing racehorse and fed it ravioli from his Rancho Nicasio restaurant in Marin County. Not only did the horse flourish, it attracted the local press, and the previous owner asked for his horse back. Nick consented and was pleased when the horse won a few races. His young son Michael watched his efforts and gained a love for the restaurant business, making this his future career.
Folded among the main street businesses of Mount Shasta, a cream-colored building with a green awning is crowned with the gold lettering “Michael’s.” Inside the building, warm earth tones are accented by the smell of spices and warm bread, amid quiet conversation at candlelit tables of the Italian restaurant. Michael Kobseff, owner and cook, creates each meal as his wife Lynn hosts and serves along with their staff. Lynn says the secret of the restaurant is its owner. “This isn’t just a business. The restaurant is Michael, and without him, it wouldn’t be here.”
In 1967, the Kobseff family moved to McCloud, where Nick bought the old Chinese laundry, turning it into the McCloud River Lodge. Michael learned the details of the business from his parents, Nick and Mary. “They taught me about service and quality,” Michael says. After managing a restaurant, in 1980, Michael opened his own on Fourth of July weekend, three days after his son was born.
“My challenge was to serve my customers in a consistent, rewarding fashion,” Michael says. “After 29 years, the same locals and tourists stop here and enjoy the experience they had from their first visit. They know what to expect.”
Michael’s menu is filled with exceptional entrees. At lunch, the Rancho burger is served on French bread, with fresh cut fries, just as Nick served in his restaurant. “Customers remember him from many years ago and recognize the meal on the menu,” Michael says. The culinary master’s flavors are bold and unique. Friday night’s prime rib most often sells out, with customers wanting to know why this tastes more exceptional than other prime rib they’ve had. The pasta, salads, and wines are served alongside stuffed calamari, while some come in just for lunch to have the garlic dip, Michael’s own version of the traditional french dip. Lynn designs and prepares all the desserts, making each from scratch.
The restaurant reaches into the community. From catering meals for 3,000 National Guardsmen while they train in the area to providing work for several hundred youth, the Kobseffs are service oriented. Michael is the chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, and freely gives time to wife Lynn as she sings with a group. Michael works in the background as the soundman and manager. Sunday mornings find him playing piano for different churches in need of a player. Michael says, “I have a heart to serve this county.”
Northern California has been gracious to the Kobseffs, giving Michael a vision to see the same grace extended to the families living here. “I want to create through my business and public service an opportunity for kids who are raised here to be able to stay and raise their families. This is a rugged area. I want to help people carve their niche here.”
What his father did with a racehorse, Michael accomplishes with a love and attention to each patron. The cook straightens the menus on a table and says, “I want every customer to know that I have done this for them.”
MICHAEL'S RESTAURANT Lunch: Wednesday through Friday 11 am to 2:30 pm Dinner: Wednesday through Saturday 5 pm to 9 pm
313 N. Mount Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta • (530) 926-5288 www.michaelsmtshasta.com