BY TERESA HAMMOND
A little sweat equity, a lifetime of experience and a supportive family are the key ingredients to the opening of Nikki and Athen Sinodinos’ newest restaurant endeavor: Backwoods Burgers in Oakdale.
Sinodinos siblings Nikki, Athen and Jack might say the business is in their blood, as the children of parents who have made their livelihood running successful Bay Area eateries. Owners of the already popular Cahoots Corner Café, brothers Jack and Athen have been equal parts in transforming the new space.
Located on the west end of town, Nikki anticipates opening of the business to be late February to early March. It’s been an eye-opening, yet rewarding experience for the 22-year-old thus far. Noting an interest in the business since a young age, Nikki completed her Bachelor of Science Degree from Stanislaus State last spring.
“It’s been in my family so long, that it’s kind of like it’s in my blood at this point,” she said of the food service business. “It’s different when you grow up in it. It’s like you have that restaurant mentality in everything you do.”
Recognizing that becoming a business owner happened a bit earlier than she might have expected, post-graduation, Nikki shared while it’s been a big learning experience thanks to the partnership with her brother Athen and support from her dad and brother Jack she is anything but nervous.
“Every day I feel like I’m learning something new as far as all the little things,” she said. “Things that you never think of that go into not only running a business, but running a restaurant.”
It’s a learning process which she shared has added a new dynamic to her relationship with her brothers and father.
Backwoods Burgers will be a counter service restaurant, with customers ordering their choice of appetizer, burger, chicken sandwich or salad. Soft drinks, beer and wine will also be on the menu. Large screen televisions playing sports programming will lend itself to a family environment. Hours of operation are currently planned for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily but are subject to change.
As a current employee of Cahoots, Nikki admits the 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. hours will take some getting used to, yet she’s excited to bring a different dinner option to the Oakdale community.
“Since we have TV’s going and we have beer on tap, I think it’s going to be a really cool hang out spot for Oakdale at night,” she said, noting the difference of its business model makes hard to anticipate who the customer will be, but expects it being a family hot spot.
For a family that works so closely together, creating a family friendly environment is important to the Sinodinos. Brother Jack has been largely in charge of interior design, brother Athen felt inspired by the Justin Moore song Backwoods (hence the name) and both brothers personally helped lay the floors as well as panel the walls and do other interior work.
“It was always the deal that after I graduated from college we would open something else,” Nikki said of pre-plans to open another business. She added that while it may have been the “plan,” the quickness has still taken some getting used to. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”
As the days turn into weeks and opening day is fast approaching, the sister of the three part siblings shared both she and brother Athen are excited by the opportunity as well as the continued learning through their father’s expertise.
As for brother Jack, he graciously opted out of the west end business, content with the hours and the work load of Cahoots in the center of town.
“He enjoys working at the café and having family time later in the day,” Nikki said of her older brother. “He’s excited to be a customer.”
BY TERESA HAMMOND