By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Recession serves up opportunity for couple to open their own caf
Rooster Juice Owner Suzanne Forsberg and Chef Mitch Manzanares show a few of the items that the unique establishment serves up homemade sangria and grilled lemon loaf cake with five berry sauce. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

When Suzanne Forsberg lost her longtime Bay Area job to recessional downsizing, she thought about going back to waitressing to help bring in extra money for her family.

But after she and her husband sat down and thought about it, they decided that they had an even better idea while still sticking with the food service theme.

They opened their own establishment.

After negotiating terms with the owner of the Marketplace Cinemas complex on West Yosemite Avenue, the couple walled-in the portion of the building that was originally built to serve as a café and began putting the finishing touches on what would become Rooster Juice. It is a quaint local bar and grill with a unique name and an even more unique menu.

Because the space wasn’t large enough for a commercial kitchen, the Forsbergs improvised with a “tailgate” style menu prepared outside on a number of grills, and planned to accent their dishes with homemade sides and sauces that added both presentation and down-home charm.   

It’s been a five-month rollercoaster for Suzanne Forsberg and her staff of eight, but it’s quickly become a passion that she can’t get enough of.

“I love that you’re in charge of your own destiny when you own your own business, and you’re in charge of the direction and where you’re going to take it,” she said. “What’s great about doing this is I’ve lived here for 10-plus years and most of that time I was on I-580 every morning and every night and I spent the rest of the time at work. I think I knew how to get to the movie theater and that’s it.

“Now I’m really getting to know the community and the people in it, and everybody has been really nice and really receptive.”

Because of Forsberg’s love of Tuscan styling – her entire house is modeled in the Italian artisan tradition – she thought that the use of Rooster, which symbolizes good luck in that region of Italy, would be a good start for a name. With their wide selection of sangria drinks serving as a big part of their beverage menu, adding the juice to the name just flowed naturally.

And since opening up, the customers have started rolling in – taking a liking to the outdoor patio, the fire pit, and the outdoor television that shows whatever sporting event is happening right to those who are enjoying the cool night air at the outdoor bar.

“We get a lot of people that smell the barbecue and see the people sitting outside around the fire and they want to come see what’s going on,” Forsberg said. “That outdoor portion of the business is just as busy if not busier than we are inside – people really seem to like that patio.”

Whether it’s something as simple as a burger or hot link, something quick like a grilled pizza or a trip-tip sandwich, or something more delectable like baby back ribs or a carne ranchero sandwich, the menu – which includes daily specials – is extensive.

“Right now we’re learning our lessons and still getting a lot of the things done that we wanted to do when we first opened. We still haven’t done any marketing or advertising – we’ve just been so busy with the day-to-day,” Forsberg said. “We’ve got our feet wet and now we’re just getting familiar with everything. It’s going really well, and we’re grateful and happy for that.”

Rooster Juice is located at 1325 W. Yosemite Avenue, and is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. The restaurant features like music on Thursdays and karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. For additional information, call (209) 665-4414.