In November 2011, the Humboldt County natives Joe and Lorrena Filgas fulfilled a long-held dream when they took over the ownership of Café Nooner at 409 Opera Alley, Eureka. When the San Francisco Examiner did an article on the best places to eat on the California coast, the only Humboldt County restaurant mentioned was Café Nooner.
Café Nooner originally opened in 2008 and gained a loyal customer following for “spectacular, fresh food and great service,” according to Joe Filgas. He and his wife Lorrena maintained that reputation and hours but wanted to add their own touch to this Old Town eatery. The current cuisine, according to the owners, is a Mediterranean-Creole fusion.
The original Café Nooner location has had a few restaurants struggle and eventually close, just in the last decade. The Filgases have succeeded in this location and in December 2012, the Filgases opened a second location in Henderson Center.
Joe said that the decision to enter “into an industry that has a very high failure rate” and the fact that “we did it in a horrible economy,” makes the success of their business venture even more meaningful.
The journey there was not easy. “We got turned down on a small business loan due to the fact that we were new to the business and because we had never owned a business before, and we chose a high-risk business in terms. So we financed both cafes with our own money we have saved over the past 26 years,” said Joe Filgas.
Since both Joe and Lorrena had restaurant experience from working in the industry in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, as well as many years of corporate business management, and had experience in taking risks resulting in million-dollar successes, this challenge did not scare them. After 26 years in the medical field, Lorrena wanted to become her own boss.
The first year, Joe worked a job as well as put time in on a daily basis at Café Nooner. With the second location opening, he left his job and is now full-time at both locations. “Both Lorrena and I believe that an owner needs to be involved daily and be present to ensure the success of a business,” said Joe Filgas.
”Our success in this endeavor is pretty simple,” said Joe Filgas. “We have a fantastic, fresh product, a tremendously supportive and talented staff. We serve our guests with an attitude of gratitude. We both regularly engage our customers at their tables because we truly care about what they think. We want to serve food that we would to our family and friends.”
The Filgases use farmers market produce, Humboldt grass-fed beef and Brio bread. They look for natural, organic products and gluten-free options. The sauces and ingredients are freshly prepared and are Lorrena Filgas' innovations.
They are active in the local community and support many local causes and charities. Future plans include catering and retail sales of their signature sauces and dressings.
For more information, call 443-4663, look them up on Facebook, or go to their website, cafenooner.net.
John Chiv is a freelance news and feature writer and local business consultant. John has a local blog,johnchiv.blogspot.com, and can be reached at 707-832-9990.