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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
February 25, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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February 25, 2015

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 5B Family restaurant weathers slow season,, violent storm Miriam S. Cody Staff Writer When a fierce windstorm roared through the Lake Almanor Basin on Feb. 6, Hamilton Branch residents had all kinds of problems, but where to get food wasn't one of them. That's because Pizza at the Branch, a family owned and operated restaurant on Highway A13, stayed open for business all weekend. Karen Helmick, who manages the restaurant, said they borrowed three generators to power the building. They still couldn't power the pizza oven, but they served burgers and hot dogs, which were acquired in Reno early that morning. Richard King, who volunteers time at the restaurant his wife Evelyn's family members all run, said the folks at Pizza Branch have a motto: "You may come in as a stranger, but you leave here as a friend." Helmick said their goal is simply to make fresh, high-quality food available to the people of the Basin. Helmick is Evelyn King's daughter. The Kings have nine children between them, all of whom have been busy in the restaurant at one time or other, Richard said. The restaurant is officially owned by Michael Chavez and family, but "family" seems to include everyone around when you walk into Pizza at the Branch. "We wanted everyone to feel, when they walk in, that it's like home, you know? We want people to be comfortable here," said Helmick. January marked the company's third-year anniversary in business. Saturday was its third Valentine's Day bash. Richard King, who is also a musician, performed with PROFILES IN BUSINESS PIZZA AT THE BRANCH his two-man band, "The Pastor and the Pagan," a side project with King's beloved pastor, Smoky Denna. Pizza at the Branch is known for its special events, .especially the annual Halloween party, which features live music. The business also does a monthly giveaway. Customers are encouraged to sign up for the drawing when they come in, and maybe get a phone call about a new stuffed bear (this month's giveaway), a modest piece of jewelry or something of the sort. When asked if there were any particular keys to the business's success, Helmick said, "Just the customers." It's obvious just how true the bond between family members and customers alike keeps Pizza at the Branch afloat way out there on the lake in the off season. "We have the only salad bar on the lake, I think, and we use all fresh ingredients," said Helmick. "We don't use frozen patties for our burgers, and we use rice bran oil, which is a heart-healthy oil." Helmick said her plans for the future are just to keep going as long as they can. She said she hopes to build a bigger patio for dogs to hang out on when their owners come to eat, and to plant a plush lawn around the building. That's amoreI Speaking of Valentine's Day and all those lovey-dovey feelings of community and EMS, from page 4B Plumas County Emergency Medical Care Committee, a group that serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors on ambulance services, emergency medical care, fin:st aid practices and training in CPR and lifesaving techniques. The EMCC also provides information to the regional Nor Cal EMS agency and the state EMS agency. The Plumas County Fire Chiefs Association will be completing a more comprehensive history of EMS in Plumas County and giving it to the Plumas County Museum soon. If you have any further information or photographs of the early days of improved EMS, please contact the author at In the next and final part of this series, we will review the level of emergency medical services provided in the field by each local fire department, along with ambulance services. Finally, now is a great time to consider becoming a volunteer fin:e fighter in your community. We are a little over a month away from the Quincy Fire Academy, open to all new firefighters in our region. It is held over five Saturdays in April and May of each year. Contact your local fire department for more information. Having a hard time paying your bills? You could possibly be eligible for assistance with emergency needs: Plumas/Sierra Crisis Line at 1-877-332-2754 or 283-4333 or drop in to your nearest Resource Center. ._ A program of Plumas Crisis Intervention & Resource Center Hey there, my name is Cody and I'm a one and a half year old male Lab mix who weighs in at 78 pounds. I'm an active sort of fellow so I'm looking for a companion or family that likes to get up and go! I like squeaky toys and I also like to ply ball. I'd be good with children over 8 years old. I'm searching for my new forever home, somewhere I can get lots of attention and exercise. Drop by High Sierra Animal Rescue and let's get to know each other. Maybe I'm who you've been looking for! Male/Neutered Retriever, Labrador/Mix 1 year 7 months Ref #2622 H/gh S/erra An/ma/Rescue Open from 10 am to 4 pm, Mon. thru Sat. (530) 832-4727 togetherness, the restaurant was the site of love at first sight in April 2013. A first date happened at Table 9 that day -- when Carol Ross and Ted Tamborski, of Westwood, fell in love. They were married just shy of a year later, on the lake, and had their reception at, of course, Pizza at the Branch. A shiny wooden table sits in the back dining area of the restaurant with a plaque hung above it that honors their love. No one said it was easy The Helmick/King family comes up against numerous challenges throughout the year, the same kinds of challenges most Basin businesses face. Funding is Pizza at the Branch team members are ready for their fourth year in business on Lake Almanor. From left: Andy Stark, Evelyn King, Karen Helmick and Randy Helmick. Karen is holding the bear to be February's monthly giveaway. Photo by Miriam S. Cody No. 1, said Helmick. And the biggest trick to keeping money in the bank is keeping bills down. That doesn't happen when your energy bill runs from $600 to $1,700 a month, she said. Not to mention that last summer, most equipment in the kitchen either needed replacement or repair. "It was a challenging summer," said Helmick. "And how do we overcome it? We just keep on moving." Pizza at the Branch is focused on providing healthy choices, and still serving up enough bang for your buck. With fresh pizza toppings and gluten-free options, Helmick said the business is stepping up the quality of fair-priced restaurant food in the Basin. Helmick said if someone has a gluten allergy, she doesn't want to banish him to eating burgers wrapped in lettuce. "That's not a burger," she said. How it all started Helmick and her husband, Randy, were managing a business in Chester when she asked her brother, Michael Chavez, about starting up their own family business. He said, "Let's do it." So they bought the business formerly known as B.J.'s Caf6 and Pizza at the Branch "was born. Karen suffered from a bout of kidney cancer during the : first year of operation, and had to have a kidney removed. The restaurant serves beer and wine, and offers live music on the patio in the summertime. Diners don't have to worry about options: aside from pizla, the menu includes wings, sandwiches, burgers, shakes, fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, soups, chili and much more. .And, for a small fee, the restaurant will deliver to customers at home. The crew Current crucial members of the Pizza at the Branch team include Randy Helmick, Andy Stark, Karen Helmick, Erica Chavez, Colton Fletcher, Evelyn King and Richard King. oslrEss-FrEE Don't wait until the last minute! , ..CALL. TODAY! John Roman, C.P.A. Tax preparation for individuals, corporations, partnerships and trusts. 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