Life on the Ridge-An Interview With The Depot Restaurant

The Depot Restaurant in Magalia

My wife and I recently moved to the Magalia area and have had the opportunity and pleasure to find some really great people and places. This town, like most people, has an interesting and colorful past. It used to be called Dogtown thanks to Mrs. Bassett, who, in the mid-1800s, realized that the local miners craved companionship, so she raised dogs of unknown pedigrees and sold them to the local miners, and everyone ended up having a dog. But shortly after the discovery of a 54-pound gold nugget the town became popular, and at that point the local women demanded a change in name to “Magalia,” which means “cottages” in Latin. (I found this information at which is an informative website for the area).

Many of you probably recognize the ‘Honey Run Covered Bridge’ on the front page; one of the many well preserved heritage spots as you drive up to the ridge communities. One of the things that attracted my wife and I to northern California was how communities like Chico, Paradise, Mount Shasta, and Nevada City work diligently to preserve tradition as the modern age has encroached in on them from every level.


As we watch California going through some very serious water shortages it will be important for small communities to come together and work out ways to preserve our resources. It’s important to ‘think global’ because the world is getting smaller in many ways, but it’s important to act locally because our communities are getting larger every day and more demanding on local resources. We live in a beautiful area in northern California but without conscious intent, and actions, it will not stay that way. It’s important to realize that the large corporations are very intent and take action every day.

We want to dedicate this ongoing section to the many wonderful people we’ve met so far in Paradise and the Magalia area and thank them for being so welcoming and open to us and the Lotus Guide magazine. The first thing my wife and I did was to explore the local restaurants for fresh food and gluten-free menus and we found two great places to eat, The Depot Restaurant and Jaki’s Hilltop Café. And if you are looking for gluten-free pizza, we have the Red Lion Family Pizza Parlor and for a cup of coffee, you can’t beat Da Coffee Pot.

The first place we ate at when we recently moved to Magalia was The Depot Restaurant, which actually used to be the old train depot, but wait until you see what the owners, brother and sister, have done with the place. We love family- and locally owned businesses because they tend to be more responsible to the community, so we had a couple of questions for Jacki and John, the owners of The Depot.

Lotus Guide: Owning a business can be challenging; how did this all come about?

Jacki: Our mother received an inheritance from her parents and she passed it on to John and me for the bulk of the Depot’s start-up funds. We had left the area as children and always wanted to come back. John was already a great chef and was running Culinary Creations, a successful catering business in Magalia, but jobs are scarce, so we agreed to invest in The Depot and create jobs for ourselves plus about a dozen people in the local community. The purchase took place in 2007 and John spent the following seven years repairing the 104-year-old depot. The restaurant opened in November 2013. I moved back to the area in August of 2014 after working and raising my children in Sacramento.

LG: We seldom see your brother John; all we know about him is that he is a great cook. What’s the secret that happens back there in the kitchen?

Jacki: Well, John started working in the restaurant business at the age of 15. He worked at various well-known chains for 10 years in Sacramento and in fine dining for another 10 years in San Diego before moving back to Magalia in 2002 to start Culinary Creations.

LG: I had a feeling there was a little more to his story because he’s not your average restaurant cook. J