Steppin’ Out – Denny’s Bigger, Bolder Burgers

Recently Denny’s restaurants, often known as “America’s Diner,” announced that they have added three new burgers to their new “Burgertown U.S.A.” menu. And, these are not just burgers, they are ‘you’re-going-to-need-two-hands-to-enjoy,’ hand-pressed 100 percent beef burgers. And, best of all, they are available morning, noon and night.

The new lineup includes the America’s Diner Cheeseburger – A burger that lives up to its name, featuring caramelized onions and classic American cheese covered with Denny’s new All-American sauce and then served on a fresh brioche bun.

The Spicy Sriracha Burger – Offering fiery flavor in every bite, this burger features Cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños and a creamy Sriracha sauce. Each burger is served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun.

Finally, the Bacon Avocado Cheeseburger – This modern favorite includes crispy bacon, fresh avocado and melted cheese and is served with mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun.

A good friend invited me to lunch at the Denny’s at 99 Fair Lane in Placerville, and I immediately said, “Yes!” How could I turn down a chance like this to taste one of these beauties.

Even though it was half past noon (figure that one out kids), it wasn’t real crowded, but was a bit understaffed.

My friend decided on the Bacon Gouda Burger, made with bacon strips, caramelized onions and shredded Italian cheeses atop a hand-pressed 100 percent beef patty, then covered with Gouda cheese sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun. Although you have your choice of wavy-cut fries, hash browns or seasonal fruit, she opted to pay a bit more and get the Bacon Cheddar Tots. Oh, my, was I glad she did that. They were great.

I thought about the Spicy Sriracha Burger for a moment, but the Bacon Avocado Burger drew me in and I ordered it. In an attempt to be at least somewhat healthy, I went for the Seasonal Fruit rather than fries. Next time, the tots, you bet. I walk daily and go to the gym four days a week just so I can afford a few more calories.

The burgers were both big, juicy, delicious and worthy of several napkins, which our server provided beforehand without asking. They were properly prepared and, as my friend said about hers, “Very Gouda.”

Both of us cut them before eating, which made it a bit more difficult to hold them together, but that didn’t interfere with how great they tasted. I guess if you left them whole like they came, with the large toothpick in them, you might get away with keeping them together. But, they are large burgers, so it should take two hands.

The Bacon Cheddar Tots were crisp, crunchy and very full of Cheddar flavor. Yes, I was able to get one to try, but there wasn’t an offer of a second.

If the three new burgers are not something you crave, they still have their long-time favorites like the Bacon Gouda Burger, my friend had, Bourbon Bacon Burger, Double Cheeseburger, Denny’s famous Slamburger and the Classic Burger to satisfy you.

As a perfect complement to this bold burger menu, Denny’s is also serving up an all-new creamy, hand-dipped Horchata Milk Shake made with premium horchata ice cream and topped with whipped cream, in addition to many classic shake flavors

Denny’s is one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains, currently operating over 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Curaçao, El Salvador, the Philippines, Guatemala and the United Kingdom.

For more information you can call our local Denny’s, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (530) 626-1086. To view their menu go to

No dinner for me tonight.

Steppin’ Out – Main Street Melters

About a week ago, while taking my morning walk along Big Oak Road, I was thinking about a restaurant to check out. I asked my friend, Mike Long, who, with his two dogs walks with me, if he had ever been to Main Street Melters, which is located at 589 Main Street in Placerville, which is at the corner of Main and Clay streets.

“Several times,” he instantly replied, “I always have the Reuben with extra sauerkraut and extra 1000 Island dressing.”

“I think I have been there twice,” I told him, “once when it first opened and had a different name, and then later when it had this name.”

When I got home I checked, and found out I had been there four years ago when it was Old Towne Deli, and two years ago when the name had changed to Main Street Melters. It was time to go again.

A week ago last Thursday was convenient for both of us and since we both had errands to run in town, we decided to just meet there at 11 a.m., right when they open. That turned out to be a good idea.

We were the first customers and sat at the bar inside where it was cool. Mike had one of the craft beers they have on tap, while I stuck with water and rapidly went over the menu. He had already decided on his custom made Reuben

Two sandwiches on the Grilled Sandwich part of their menu immediately caught my eye: the Beef & Bleu (roast beef, Marableu jack cheese and crispy fried onions on sliced sourdough) and the Angry Irishmen (corned beef, pastrami, hot pepper spread, cream cheese, Havarti cheese, grilled onions and jalapeños on sliced sourdough).

I decided to find out why a bunch of Irishmen were angry and ordered the latter. It turned out that it obviously wasn’t the sandwich that upset them.

Each sandwich is hand made, so it takes a bit of time (a good reason to get there early), but soon they showed up hot and all wrapped to eat there or take elsewhere.

While we had waited, I had an opportunity to talk with Nancy Stone, who with family members, Bret, Alex and Ryan, are the owners. In April of 2015 they bought the restaurant from the owner of Olde Towne Deli, Igor Khavin, and have been going strong ever since. They were all busy prepping for the day.

We both bit into our sandwiches and there was little conversation other than “yum,” “I love it,” and the such. Mine was a wonderful combination of flavors with a little bite and absolutely delicious.

Mike was loving his Reuben and mentioned that it did have the extra sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing he had requested.

When I looked at my previous stories on my webpage – – I noticed it was the Reuben I had loved the last time I was there.

With half our large sandwiches gone, we decided to take the rest home for later rather than overeat and wish we hadn’t, something I should do more often. Besides, that way I didn’t have to decide what to have for dinner.

Now, the food it great, but there is something else about this restaurant that is almost as good – the view. They have outside seating on the porch and under umbrellas and a tree where you can sit and “watch the passing crowd” along that part of Main Street. As I found out last time, you can also answer questions by people who are new in town or visiting and trying to find a certain business.

It really is a great place to enjoy a great lunch, especially with the Ivy House parking lot next door.

Their menu starts out with several salads, including turkey, a Caesar and a unique, Nothing But Veggies. The “Kids Corner” lists a PB&J and a grilled cheese. Sides include Mac N Cheese, a side salad, potato salad and a bag of chips. Oh, oh, I just noticed they have a “e” on potato.

The “Grilled Sandwich” list includes sandwiches with very interesting names, most of which I am sure you can probably figure out: The Hammy, Swiss Piggy, The Jalapeno Popper, Beef & Bleu, The Avocado, Little Philly, Big Kahuna, Thanksgiving, Hot Ace (spicy), Mac N Cheese Melt, Lean On Me, Loaded Irishmen and the two we ordered, Angry Irishmen and the Reuben.

The “Massive Melters” with double meat and “hot off the grill,” include The Standard, Double Irishmen, Double Angry Irishmen, The Cali Club, The Rancher, Big Bird, Italian Hero, Double Reuben and The Philly.

“Cold Sandwiches” (your choice of bread or roll) includes the roast beef, pastrami, Bird, ham, turkey, B.L.T. and The Tuna.

They will also make you a grilled cheese sandwich on your choice of bread and any one of eight cheeses.

Finally, if you can’t find something you love on the sandwich menus, you can build your own sandwich by selecting your choice of bread, meat, cheese, condiments and veggies.

Drinks include soda, beer, wine, smoothies and more.

Main Street Melters is open daily from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For more information give them a call at (530) 303-3871 or visit their webpage at

Oh, they will deliver to businesses in downtown Placerville. There is a minimum order and a small delivery charge.

Oh, Mike pointed out to me that when you are eating the first half of your sandwich, turn the other half over so the bottom doesn’t get soggy.

Placerville’s Living Christmas Tree


Corner of Bedford and Main c. 1925. Tom Moyle’s saloon has become a church.

Each year the City of Placerville installs lights on the tall redwood tree that stands on the northeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Main Streets, next to a building that was the post office and then the the District Attorney’s office. Over the years this tree has been damaged by wind and weather several times and even had its top cut off because the fire department’s equipment could not reach above that height to decorate, but it gallantly survives. It has apparently been at this location for 70 or more years, but how it got there is somewhat a mystery.

The story starts just before Christmas in 1918 when the American Forestry Association began to encourage the use of living trees for community Christmas trees, instead of the normal routine of cutting down a large tree each year for that purpose. Over the next few years the campaign began to gain supporters and in December of 1924 the Association donated a 35-foot, nursery grown Norway Spruce to President Calvin Coolidge.

The donated tree was planted in Sherman Plaza, south of the Treasury Building and close to the east entrance of the White House. On December 24, 1924 President Calvin Coolidge, known to be a man of few words, stood before a microphone and said, “I accept this tree and I will now light it.” He then flipped a switch and 1,200 red, amber and green incandescent lights, installed by the Society for Electrical Development and the Electric League of Washington, brightly lit up the tree. This was the first use of a living tree as our “National Community Christmas Tree.”

In 1926 the late Charles E. Lee, then secretary of the Sanger (CA) Chamber of Commerce, wrote President Calvin Coolidge requesting that the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park be officially designated as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.” Lee had visited the majestic 267 foot tall sequoia in 1924 and when standing in front of it heard a little girl exclaim, “What a wonderful Christmas Tree it would be.”

Remembering the little girl’s comments, the next year he organized a Christmas program in front of the General Grant Tree at noon on Christmas Day.

Excited by the success of the program, he and the president of the Sanger Chamber, Mr. R. J. Senior, came up with the idea of an annual Christmas ceremony at the tree. To give it more significance is why Lee wrote President Coolidge and on April 28, 1926 the General Grant tree was officially designated the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.”

As time went on, more and more places around the nation, and especially in California, began to plant and use living trees as community Christmas trees and in a December 1, 1928 article in the “Placerville Republican and Nugget,” Placerville Fire Chief O. N. Hirst announced his intention to ask the Placerville City Council for permission to plant a living Christmas tree on the Moyle lot, which is where the present tree stands. In the event this permission was granted, he indicated that the Shakespeare Club, Parent Teachers’ Association, Lions’ Club, 20-30 Club, American Legion and other local organizations would be asked to assist in financing the decorations and lighting of the tree.

According to the same article the idea of a living community Christmas tree in Placerville was not new. A similar idea had been rejected by the Lions’ Club the previous year, and the 20-30 Club earlier in 1928, but it was hoped that with community support a living Christmas tree could be planted at this location. After all, it was pointed out, Grace Moyle had transferred this parcel of land to the city specifically for public use and that was exactly what was being proposed.

The City Council agreed to allow Hirst to plant the tree and on December 7, 1928 he announced in the Republican that the State of California had donated a seven foot “Giant of the Forest” to the City and that he would be going to Sacramento to pick it up. At the same time it was announced that the American Legion had endorsed the idea of the tree being planted at the designated site and strung with lights as the Community Christmas tree.

On the same day a story in the “Mountain Democrat” also indicated that a tree had been approved. It was not a redwood, but a 20 foot high fir tree that the volunteer firemen were going into the forest to get and plant in the Moyle lot. “We’ll have to move approximately a ton of dirt with the tree in the transplanting,” Hirst said. “It will take three or four days to get the tree out and it will be a real job to move it.” Apparently there was some confusion between the newspapers as to what tree the fire chief wanted to be the “Community Christmas tree.”

The December 12, 1928 issue of the Republican stated that the sequoia for the Moyle lot had been picked up in Sacramento and brought to Placerville. The details of the planting had not been worked out and would be announced shortly. The same article indicated that the Placerville Lions had pledged aid to the tree and the upcoming Christmas program at the site.

Everything seemed to be in order at this point and the Republican indicated that the sequoia would probably be planted before or during the Christmas program. When the program was held at the court house on December 20, 1928 the 20 foot fir tree was there and decorated, but there is no mention of the sequoia that the state had donated.

The January 9, 1929 edition of the Mountain Democrat adds a bit of clarity to this confusing issue with a story titled, “Sequoia Washingtoniana ‘Resident’ of Placerville.” It then goes on to say, “Miss Sequoia Washingtoniana has been a Placerville resident since Christmas Day. Her presence has been noted but it seemed that other matters assumed greater importance in our memory and Miss Sequoia Washingtoniana arrived unheralded. The redwood, gift of the state, was planted on the Moyle lot by Fire Chief O. N. Hirst.”

Now the story could stop there, but “Sequoia washingtoniana” is an old name for a Giant sequoia and, according to people who should know, the present tree is not a Giant sequoia, but a Coast Redwood “Sequoia sempervirens.”

Possibly earliest picture of the Christmas Tree

Adding new light to the mystery, in 1953 an article appeared in a still unidentified local newspaper. Authored by a Gene Macel, and titled “City Landmark Glows Again with Yule Spirit,” it placed the year of planting as 1926 and said that “the tiny redwood was planted by Mrs. Lena Rantz in memory of her husband, Dr. Stephen H. Rantz, a beloved country doctor…” The story then traces much of the history of the property from its original mining claim up through its purchase by Thomas Moyle.

Moyle owned a saloon on the property for many years and, according to the story, “There was an old wine cellar below where beer was stored and served ice-cold to customers.” The saloon was torn down after a group of citizens raised the money to buy the property with the intention of widening Bedford Avenue. The story then adds, “[Mayor] Albert Simons acquired title to the property for the City of Placerville on April 9, 1926 and the redwood tree was planted in the same year.”

The story then points out that in 1937 one Ernie Oppenheimer decided that the tree had acquired enough stature and beauty to deserve Christmas decorations. “Oppenheimer bought a good supply of lights and Andy Anderson and his helpers from the city hall, strung them that year and every year since.”

This 1953 story seems quite reasonable and confirms another story that appeared in the September 9, 1940 issue of the Mountain Democrat. It states, “[The City] Council voted $50 to be donated to the businessmen for Xmas decorations and voted to place an appropriate marker by the Dr. S. H. Ranzt memorial tree, planted a dozen years ago in the city park at the junction of Main and Bedford.”

As to the “appropriate marker,” there is neither a marker nor any indication there was ever a marker on or near the tree regarding Dr. Ranzt. There are other markers nearby, but nothing makes reference to the tree or Dr. Ranzt.

A few years ago the Placerville Department of Recreation was cleaning up around the tree and uncovered a loose plaque that stated, “Presented by the American Legion Auxiliary, 1934.” There seems to be no connection between this plaque and the tree and nothing in the park seems to be missing a plaque. However, there is the remains of a base of an old flagpole a dozen feet to the east of the tree where the plaque may have been placed.

Probably mid-1940s

If all this isn’t confusing enough, there are other stories around Placerville regarding the tree. One story is that the tree was planted by hotel owner Lloyd Raffetto and local government official John Winkleman in honor of the former Moyle’s saloon. Former El Dorado County Supervisor and county native, Joe Flynn, said that his mother, Alice Flynn, owned the Hangtown Café, near the hotel, and was involved with the planting, but often remarked that she thought it was planted too close to the building.

A second story is that the tree may be one of the small redwood trees that a member of the Blair family brought back from Santa Cruz where he and his new bride had spent their honeymoon. Apparently they were planted not only on the Blair property, but other places around Placerville.

There are no exact dates for the above stories, but they were in the correct era and could both be referring to the “Ranzt” tree, supposedly planted in 1926.

If today’s tree is the 1926 Ranzt Memorial Tree, the tree obtained by Fire Chief Hirst or another tree, nobody seems to know. But, as interesting as it is, it probably doesn’t matter. It is a magnificent tree and when lit each Christmas season, adds even more beauty to the city.

As a final note, if you are wondering what happened to the 20 foot fir tree planted for the 1928 Christmas ceremony and supposedly intended to be the “Community Christmas tree,” the May 21, 1929 issue of the Mountain Democrat clears that up. “Lost! One fir tree, which last Christmas served as a community Christmas tree, has disappeared from the Moyle lot. Who removed it? Nobody knows. However, the tree had died and ceased to be the beautiful city ornament it was intended to be, so that its removal constitutes somewhat the same improvement on the corner that was made when the tree was planted.”