Terry and Denise Eisler’s Wayside Grill
By Jon Lewis
Photo by Taryn Burkleo
There’s more than brick-oven pizzas and savory lobster bisque cooking at Mount Shasta’s Wayside Grill.
The longtime restaurant and bar, famous for its views of Mt. Eddy and Mt. Shasta, is blossoming under some stable ownership and has turned into southern Siskiyou County’s coolest venue for live music.
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise since both food and music are two passions the owners, Terry and Denise Eisler, have shared for years. The couple purchased the then-shuttered Wayside in November 2009 and opened it in March of 2010.
Prior to that, they operated a restaurant in Socorro, N.M., for seven years. Denise’s roots in the restaurant business date back even further: she oversaw the opening of the first five Black Bear diners, including the original in Mount Shasta.
“She swore she’d never be in the restaurant business again, she met me, and here we are again,” Terry says with a laugh. The couple has been together for 15 years. When they returned to the North State, Terry says they were immediately attracted to the Wayside.
“It had a beautiful backyard with great views, and we were thinking we could do music out there. Inside, after we remodeled, we could do things we wanted to do like wood-fired pizzas. It had a beautiful bar and lots of parking,” Terry says.
A professional chef, Terry leans on his Louisiana roots, the formal training he received in San Francisco and New Mexico, and the dozens and dozens of tips, techniques and recipes he picked up while producing training classes with top-flight chefs like Alan Greeley of the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa.
The pizzas, specialty salads, fish tacos, Santa Fe enchiladas, steaks and sandwiches have all been big sellers, Terry says. This time of year, the pasta dishes, including a brick-oven lasagna, are popular with folks returning from a day of skiing on Mt. Shasta.
Nothing, though, is quite as popular as Wayside Grill’s lobster bisque. “It’s off the charts,” says Terry, who was prompted to find a way to granulize the proprietary seasonings and make them available so customers can make lobster bisque at home.
When not busy at the stove, the Eislers have been known to step out of the kitchen from time to time and perform on the Wayside’s stage. Terry sings and plays guitar and harmonica; Denise plays bass and sings harmony.
Mostly, though, they turn the stage over to local performers like Jimmy Limo and Ryan Marchand and visiting artists like Doug Figgs, an award-winning songwriter and Vince Gill’s longtime piano player. Others who frequent the Wayside include prominent banjo player Tony Furtado and David Abbruzzese, the former Pearl Jam drummer.
Outdoor shows on the patio are popular during the summer months and Terry says the Sundown Poachers, a rowdy string band out of Etna, attracted about 250 people. The patio is positioned a mile or so east of Lake Siskiyou and offers great views of the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. “That’s always a big outdoor event,” he says.
More recently, veteran musicians Rob Tyre and Teri Cote have been calling the Wayside their home away from home. Tyre, a singer-songwriter and accomplished guitarist, has toured with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore and has worked with Valerie Carter, James Taylor and others; Cote, a drummer, has toured with David Cassidy, Glen Campbell, Alabama and Dr. Hook.
Terry says he tries to have live music at least once a week and often turns to Marchand, a guitarist and songwriter, for help with the entertainment. “He’s going to be a star one of these days,” he says. “Ryan is like the glue that keeps the music scene together at the Wayside and in Mount Shasta.”
2217 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd., Mount Shasta
(530) 918-9234 • www.waysidegrill.com