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What's New at the Apple Farm

Welcome to the Apple Farm Blog! We are excited to bring you information from our property including announcements, tips, recipes, event information and more! Read on!

11/12/18: In Loving Memory of Joe, "The Friendly Gardener"

By Karen Roots

Joe Gardener. Joe Farmer. Lake Man Joe. Joe Apple. Joe the Friendly Gardener. No matter how you knew him, it seems like everybody did. Landscape Manager Joseph O’Keefe was a fixture at the Apple Farm for nearly 30 years. 

Joe passed away unexpectedly on November 1st.  His Apple Farm family is in shock. It doesn’t seem real. We keep expecting to see him standing there, roto-tilling a garden area.  Or kneeling over a half planted flower bed, creating another beautiful landscape. It’s really incredible when you think about it—how he managed to keep all the gardens at the Apple Farm flourishing for so many years. For a long time, it was just him, sometimes with a part time assistant during the spring and summer, but mostly just him. In the last couple of years, Joe was blessed with his best assistant yet (thanks, Nancy) to help take some of the burden off him. Still, the gardens of the Apple Farm were Joe’s creations and he was known far and wide for them.

Someone posted on Facebook “The flowers at the Apple Farm are heartbroken.”  We all are. We will miss his cheerful demeanor and kind heart. We will miss his corny jokes. We will even miss his crazy emails with run-on sentences, sometimes in all caps. WE WILL MISS HIM.

Our guests loved Joe and Joe loved them. He loved it when they would stop and ask him a question about a particular plant or flower. He would try his best to help them with their gardening dilemma. Sometimes he would send them on their way with a cutting or some seeds for them to take home. He received letters and cards from our guests, thanking him for his kindness. He always appreciated them, setting them proudly on his desk or on his wall. 

Joe was most proud of his two sons, Christopher and Patrick, who have grown into fine young men, and will always be part of our Apple Farm family. Joe was one of seven kids, and was raised in Southern California. His mother was from Ireland, and Joe was proud of his Irish heritage. Did you know Joe was actually born in Ireland? Since his parents were both US citizens, Joe was able to claim dual citizenship. He visited Ireland a few years ago and had an incredible time.

He was a major history buff, especially local history, and he loved talking about San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, where he lived. He was an especially big fan of the Motel Inn, part of which still stands next to the Apple Farm. The Motel Inn, built almost 95 years ago, is known as “the first Motel in the world.” Joe collected Motel Inn memorabilia and had amassed quite a collection. So much, in fact, the SLO History Museum had a display last year with artifacts donated by Joe. We hope you had a chance to see it.

We will be putting a memorial bench outside of the Gift Shop dedicated to Joe. We have also started a GoFundMe page to help Joe’s sons with the expenses related to Joe’s passing. If you knew Joe, or loved his gardens, please consider making a donation to help his boys out.  You can find the page at www.gofundme.com/josephokeefememorialfund

Godspeed, Joe. The gardens in Heaven will be a little more beautiful with you there.


 

10/5/18: Susan Branch is Coming!

By Rachael Halstead, Rooms Manager (& Susan Branch superfan)

Susan Branch is coming! Susan Branch is coming!

It doesn’t have quite the ring as the British are coming, but I think I got your attention. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be obsessed with a book author, I would have told you, never going to happen! But here I am OBSESSED with Susan Branch! Now let me clarify the level of obsession, not boil a bunny in a pot obsessed. (Fatal Attraction reference. Look it up, Millennials. It's a great movie!) It's more like movie star fan obsession. Although Susan Branch is no diva, in fact she couldn’t be more delightful! I know all my co-workers are tired of hearing Susan this and Susan that from me. But all the other millions of fans know exactly what I am talking about. We simply love her! I will attempt to describe the appeal for those who have been living under a rock; Susan Branch is an author, watercolorist and designer. But what makes her so special and unique (in my opinion) is her relatability and stellar storytelling. The way she paints pictures in your mind while you are reading about her childhood makes you not only feel like you are there, but makes you wish you were! You often feel like she is your best friend telling you her deepest thoughts and dreams. I have only met Susan one time and she makes you feel like you are instant, longtime pals. I think all fans feel like they know her and Joe, her husband, for that matter! That is her true gift. And I am so excited she will be visiting the Apple Farm once again, for a talk and book signing! This event is sold out. So, if you can’t make it please visit our Gift Shop and buy one of her books. You will feel like you have gained a friend simply from reading any one of her books. I promise you!


 

9/13/18: Comfort Food Season is Back!

By Michael Langlois, Food and Beverage Director

Fall is in the air. September marks a change of seasons and one of my favorite times of year when it comes to food. I will miss the beautiful heirloom tomatoes, the juicy, candy-like melons and stone fruit favorites like apricots and nectarines. However, I love the crystal clear days and cool nights of fall and I won’t miss those hot summer days. With fall comes a whole new line up of fresh produce like butternut squash, great local apples, sweet potatoes, my new favorite, Brussels sprouts and so much more. More importantly the kind of food that comes to mind this time of year is comfort food and here at the Apple Farm Restaurant we live it, love it and eat it up. 

There is nothing better than enjoying our SLO baked pot roast, mashed potatoes, roasted fall root vegetables with a beautiful glass of local Cab. Just thinking about it right now makes me hungry. But wait…there is so much more than just the pot roast, so here is a small list of my favorite fall menu items that we offer here at the Apple Farm. One of my favorites is the double cut pork chop with sourdough sage stuffing, fall vegetables and a bacon apple cider jus. Savory, hearty and downright euphoric with a pint of hoppy IPA beer, or two for that matter. Our list of comfort classics go on but one in particular that needs a mention here is our Mac 'n Cheese. Just saying it puts a smile on my face. This is no ordinary, boring mac. It is made with Chef Steve’s smoky Gouda and combined with cowboy sausage, Tasso ham and grilled chicken. There’s nothing fine dining about this dish. It is rib-sticking delicious and did I mention comforting? To give it some refinement, just add a glass of full bodied Chardonnay and it’s the perfect evening meal. In order to leave room for dessert, I will mention one more comforting option to tempt you and that is our melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf with our scratch made gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. Sure, it’s not romantic or fancy, but this dish is a crowd-pleaser and will definitely make you a believer. Meatloaf can be a culinary experience; delicious, satisfying and most certainly comforting.  

There is so much to talk about when it comes to comfort food here at the farm, but I must end it here only to say, there is always room for dessert. Chef Willie and her team put out the best bread pudding, cobblers, fruit pies, cheesecakes and more. What is more satisfying then finishing off a wonderful meal with one of our scratch-made, irresistible desserts?  

From the wonderful weather, the fresh harvest of produce and the comforting foods of the season, I just love fall. The only thing I worry about this time of year is having to loosen my belt buckle a full notch.


 

8/21/18: From Monarchs to Microclimates: SLO County is Full of Surprises in the Fall

By Lyne Hamel, Reservations Manager

“Autumn carries more gold in its pockets than all the other seasons”- Jim Bishop

I just love this time of year. San Luis Obispo County has so many microclimates which become especially prevalent during the late summer and early fall months. This is a time when offshore and onshore winds can produce warm to hot temperatures in the late morning and cooler temperatures in the afternoon. You’ll hear yourself say things like, “why did I wear this jacket,” then be grateful you have it handy as the day wears on. Why do I share this with you? With these interesting microclimates we get to enjoy excellent weather during daylight longer than many places, and still enjoy the cool nights. We got the weather!

According to local reports, the grape harvest will be a bit later this year, but local wineries also have their special microclimate so harvest one place may not be harvest time in another. Our local wineries will have many harvest events and here at the Apple Farm we’ll be celebrating the harvest with our Wine Month Package all through September. This special comes with excellent rates, dining credits and a passport to wine country! Speaking of wine, our Winemaker Dinner will be on September 27th featuring the fine wines from Claiborne and Churchill. This wine pairing with our farm to fork menu sells out fast so make your reservations for this one or our October and December dinners. You’ll be glad you did!

Let’s talk Monarch Butterflies. Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black monarch butterflies flock to Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees at Pismo State Beach. This is called “overwintering.” The grove is easily accessible. It is located on State Highway 1 at the south boundary of the city limits of Pismo Beach. This is wonderful day trip to plan while you’re visiting the area.

But wait there’s more. Right here on Apple Farm property you will see the lovely Monarch butterfly all around us over next few months. This time of year the Monarchs are vigorously “egging” milkweed plants. Did you know that milkweed is the only plant they will place their eggs? The female Monarch carries approximately 700-900 eggs. The larva eats the plant and continues to eat until it reaches its fifth instar. The first through fourth instars will eat, rest, and grow then repeats the process until it gets to that final fifth instar. Now the large matured caterpillar is ready for metamorphosis and if you’re lucky you might even see a Monarch chrysalis hanging among the greenery here. The process from chrysalis to “eclosing” takes about 21 days depending on the weather, but soon after, a brand new generation of Monarchs will be fliting around looking for a place to lay those eggs all over again because Monarchs can mate within about 4 days of eclosing. Thanks to our amazing landscaper Joe, the Apple Farm has a balance of milkweed and nectar flowers for a happy combination in our butterfly habitat.

Check out our website for our specials or call us so we can find them for you. We look forward to this amazing time of year. Cheers to harvest, to autumn events, Monarchs, and to you too!


 

7/9/18: Have Yourself a SLO-tastic Summer

By Kim Wykoff, Administrative Assistant to the General Manager

July is prime season for San Luis Obispo! There is so much to see and do here in the summertime. It is simply easy to fill a couple of days here with fun, "SLO-tastic" events! Here are a few things you might like to investigate during your July stay with us.

California Mid State Fair -This fair takes place in Paso Robles, about 25 miles north of us, right off HWY 101. There are carnival rides, farm animals, shopping, food and some first rate entertainment. The Grandstand Arena at the fairgrounds plays host to many spectacular performers. Are you a fan of Country Music? This year you can purchase tickets for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan or Florida Georgia Line. Is Rock and Roll more your speed? You can catch a ZZ Top concert or even Dwight Yoakam on Blues and Brews night. There are also many free shows like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Crystal Gayle. Check out their website, midstatefair.com. The fair runs from July 18 thru July 29. You can also purchase shuttle tickets to get to and from the fair. American Star Trailways offers a daily shuttle to the fairgrounds departing from the SLO Vets Hall, just a block away from Apple Farm and drops you off just a block from the fairgrounds in front of the Pioneer Museum. The round trip fare is $25 per person and is well worth it. The parking at the fairgrounds can be expensive. Check out their website, americanstartours.com. They do suggest you purchase your tickets in advance because they will sell out on some dates.

Another fun local activity is going to a SLO Blues Baseball Game. SLO Blues is a local baseball team that consists of collegiate players who come to San Luis Obispo to play a little ball while their regular classes are not in session. Apple Farm is a sponsor of SLO Blues Baseball and often has complimentary tickets available. Take a look at their website for a schedule or check with the Front Desk. 

Now, I have not even touched on the wineries in the area. There are days of touring and tasting available all over the county. Many have live music and other fun events, like cheese pairing and picnicking. White wines do really well in south San Luis Obispo County, while red wines seem to love the warmer, drier climate of the north county. Our Front Desk staff would be happy to help you plan your wine tasting adventure! Let us know your preferences and we will go to work for you. Don't forget to visit the tasting room of our Winery of the Month, Wolff Vineyards. They have a beautiful patio that is perfect for a box lunch picnic from our restaurant. There are also many wine tasting companies that would love to pick you up and show you the ropes.

Festival Mozaic, Shakespeare Festival, farmers’ markets, our pristine local beaches and Hearst Castle are just a few of the things we haven’t even talked about. I’m exhausted and we haven’t even begun yet! Plan your getaway with us and I promise you will never want to leave!


 

6/27/18: Summer Inspiration

By Chelsea Conner, Display Supervisor

Inspiration abounds here at the Apple Farm as the last of the graduation ceremonies commence and the summer solstice begins. The sweet scent of jasmine pours across the property as you stroll around the grounds, taking in the many colors of freshly planted perennials, and admiring swarms of hard-working honey bees as they buzz around fragrant lavender bushes. A warm and familiar sense of nostalgia fills your heart as you pass by the churning waterwheel, seeking solace in the comfort of the shade. You close your eyes and listen to the happy chirping of little birdies and the babbling brook nestled right below the old Mill House. You are home.

Evidence of the season’s welcomed arrival can be found right here in our Gift Shop. As the 4th of July draws closer, you will find an abundance of featured housewares and decorations for that perfect patriotic party. A cheerful collection of red, white and blue dishes and platters can be found in our lobby, along with various Americana books, tea towels and wall hangings. As you pass by the glowing lights of the USA marquee and enter the restaurant, vintage Uncle Sam relics and little sailors line the hallways, greeting you for a lovely summer meal.

Sunny days spent on the beach laying in the sand and frolicking in the chill waters of the Pacific inspire our shop’s Seashore collection. Cool blues, greens, and weathered wood set the perfect backdrop for our wide selection of ocean-themed signs, mermaid statuettes, oyster shell teacups, and linen pillows adorned with navy blue starfish and clam shells. We also carry an array of wide-brimmed hats, great for protecting that beautiful face from the rays of the sun, and jute bags just light enough to carry the day’s essentials down to that smooth little patch of sand right on the water’s edge that’s been calling your name all year. Towering palm trees with vibrant pink flamingos and red parrots can be found on the first floor of the shop. You’ll find yourself transported straight to the tropics as you hear the calming sounds of the bamboo wind chimes that circle the alcove. Suddenly, an overwhelming urge for a fruity cocktail has you salivating, and your eyes lock in on the Tiki Bar lined tidily with bright, cheery cocktail mixes like Key Lime Watermelon Margaritas and Raspberry Mojitos. Perfectly packaged in an adorable handle bag and topped with silly straws or paper umbrellas, these also make lovely gifts or party favors for a summer celebration.

This Friday, June 29th, we will be hosting a 5-course Winemaker’s Dinner featuring Apple Farm’s Winery of the Month: Sculpterra Vineyard. Chef Steve Smeets will be preparing dishes infused with the fresh flavors of the season, and meticulously pairing them with the various wines from Sculpterra’s tasting room. You won’t want to miss this fabulous event held on the patio of our restaurant, surrounded by lush gardens. The grassy, sun-drenched lawn down by the creek is a great setting for the many evening events we will be hosting through the end of summer. For example, each Saturday night starting at dusk, a different movie will be featured outdoors on a projector screen, which has proven time and time again to be a huge hit with all ages. Looking to scratch that competitive itch? Join us on Friday night for Bingo by the Pool or on Monday for Jeopardy in the Lobby.

We hope to see you and yours this summer making memories and sharing with you all that Apple Farm has to offer during this beautiful time of year. Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook for reminders of upcoming events here on the property, and make sure to check out our online store for must-have seasonal merchandise!! See you soon!


 

4/10/18: Springtime at the Apple Farm

By Stephen Walls, Restaurant Operations Manager

Yes, spring is here at the Apple Farm. You can see it everywhere on our property. It's in the weather, in Joe's gardens, in Willie's bakery case, in Chef Smeets' menu. We have so much going on at this time of the year. The inn has new packages available, the restaurant is launching a new craft beer list and Chef Smeets is working on his new spring dinner menu.

Our happy hour is in full swing. Sit on the patio and enjoy discounted drinks and appetizers. We are also offering a trio of Rosé in a sampler that will excite your palate for only $10 including tastes of Malene 2017 Rosé of Santa Barbara County, Sinor-LaVallee 2016 Ancestral Rosé from SLO County and Cambria 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley.

Our new craft beer offerings include Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Ale, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, Stella Artois Lager and Hoegaarden Witbier. During happy hour we offer these craft beers at $3. Plus, we have a great selection of appetizers, mixed drinks and local wine.

Spring is a great time to visit the Apple Farm and we have some special events coming up soon. Join us for an Afternoon Tea on May 19th. You can enjoy the beautiful garden patio of the Apple Farm Restaurant with tea sandwiches, special desserts and baked treats, a selection of teas, and a tour of our gardens and rooms. On April 21st we are planning a Spring Family BBQ and Movie Night. This will include a family style BBQ, games, and a movie that entire family enjoy. On May 25th we will start our Backyard Winemaker Dinner series again, featuring the wines of Broken Earth Winery out of Paso Robles. This winery produces world class wines and Chef Steven Smeets is planning a delicious menu to pair with them. For more information on these events or to purchase tickets, visit on our dining page at: www.applefarm.com/dining.

We hope to see you here for some springtime fun at the Apple Farm! 


 

3/19/18: Happenings at the Apple Farm

By Lyne Hamel, Reservations Manager

TaDa! We just completed the renovation to our Lobby in the Inn and it looks great! We’re looking forward to sharing it with you as you join us for your stay at the Apple Farm. We sure do appreciate all the amazing guests that had to step away from the lobby as it was going through this transformation. I heard some of you were trying to peek at the work behind the drop cloths. I did too. We’re excited to hear your reactions to this new look!

We’ve received some much needed rain, and we are starting to hear the happy frogs again. Did you know that many guests think we pipe in the “call” of the frog? I want to share with you that the Pacific tree frog, also known as the pacific chorus frogs live over an enormous area that stretches along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia south to Baja California. They seem to like the mild climate of San Luis Obispo County. In hotter or colder climates, these frogs hibernate in moist areas under rocks, fallen trees or dense vegetation to avoid temperature extremes. Seems the conditions are perfect for them now. Let the “calling” begin!

So what else is happening around the Apple Farm this spring? Well, the Easter Bunny will be hopping through the restaurant, gift shop and Inn from 10am to 1pm on Saturday March 31st and Sunday April 1st with treats for the kids. We’ll also be featuring some delicious specials on Easter Sunday for breakfast and lunch, so make your reservations soon. 

Fresh new lobby, spring is in bloom around us, frogs are calling and the Apple Farm is looking forward to seeing you soon.


 

1/29/18: Apple Farm Memories

In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, we asked you to share your favorite Apple Farm memories with us. Here were the winners of our contest and their heartwarming stories.

  • Story by Nancy of North Hollywood: 

    My two cousins and I always took our moms to Apple Farm Inn in spring and during the Christmas Holiday for years up until my mom was in her 90's and my aunt in her 80's.  We cherished those trips together with lots of laughs and making cousin/mom/aunt memories, shopping the hotel and gift shop and going into town to shop, including Sinsheimers to buy each other the Christmas ornaments we still hang every year.

    There is a story in my family that the females all come back as birds.  After our moms passed away, we decided to continue the tradition and make a “cousin” trip to Apple Farm Inn every year at Christmastime.  We were a little sad not having our moms for the first time back without them, and laughing at the memories at the same time on the road up.

    Pulling up to the Apple Farm all decorated for Christmas, seeing the rockers that our moms always sat on out front, empty now, was hard on all of us cousins and we got tears in our eyes as we walked into the lobby.

    Once we walked in the door of the lobby and looked around, we all started to cry. It was a good cry.  The entire lobby was decorated in birds.  It was the theme that year and it was perfect.  As sad as it was, it was comforting, as if our moms were giving us a hug and telling us they were with us in spirit. 

    So I go and check in and we get our key, and I look at the key number and its “22" which is our family number.  We couldn’t believe it!  Still amazed, we just looked at each other with that knowing look.  Now taking our luggage up to our room, passing the big tree in the lobby, lots of bird ornaments, passing items for sale with birds on them, we get to our room, Room 304, and walk in, and the art work on the walls is all birds.  Again, we couldn’t believe it.

    So our moms were with us that year and with us every year we go.  My cousins and I continue the tradition and continue to laugh and remember our moms so lovingly, sitting in those rocking chairs and giggling themselves like schoolgirls.  We always have the best time. 

    That is our most cherished memory of The Apple Farm Inn.  We just came back a week ago from our trip this year, and always have so much fun.   I’ve included some photos of our moms and us from a few trips.   It’s truly a magical place for us and I hope we can continue to come back until we are in our 80's and 90's.

  • Story by Brittney of Valencia:

    Sometimes you stumble across a place that transcends expectations; a place that makes memories all the more special because of its charm. For my husband and I, this place is the Apple Farm Inn, whose walls will forever hold the precious memory of our first wedding anniversary.

    With smiles so wide it hurt, and hands intertwined as if we’d never let go, we set off on a road trip to the Apple Farm on a cold day in December and arrived at what we would soon discover to be one of the most romantic and relaxing experiences of our lives. So much in fact, that it has become one of our precious traditions we hope to hold for the rest of our lives together.

    The Apple Farm holds an atmosphere so enchanting – stuck in time and yet so effortlessly interweaved with the present. It’s as if there is a kind of magic in the air, captured by the genuine smiles of its staff and preserved by the undeniable charm of its presence.

    Nestled in the middle of December, our anniversary celebration at the Apple Farm was made all the more special by its stunning Holiday decorations. From the elegant sparkle of the twinkling lights and the rustic charisma of various decor, all the way up to the glorious and grand Christmas tree in the lobby, every single corner of the Inn is covered in utterly pure and beautiful Christmas magic. It truly is an experience that can’t be adequately captured in pictures, or even preserved in words. It must be seen and experienced in person, for that is half the beauty of it. This aspect of our stay made this memory all the more special.

    After a wonderful day filled with Apple Farm treats and shopping in the adorable gift shop (I can never leave that place without buying something), we settled down for the night in one of the most charming rooms I have ever seen in my life. We laid in bed that night, a warm fire burning and glasses of apple cider to accompany our reminiscent giggles that echoed off the floral walls as we reflected on the past year and dreamed about what was to come of the future.

    The next morning, before heading home, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Apple Farm Restaurant (seriously, I DREAM about those biscuits!!). On the car ride home, we couldn’t help but talk about how wonderful our stay was and we eagerly looked forward to the next time we would go back. Staying at the Apple Farm Inn during the Holidays, in celebration of our wedding anniversary every year, has become one of our greatest memories. In some ways, it has become “home away from home” where special memories will forever live, calling us back time and time again.

  • Story by Jordan of Temecula: 

    My family discovered the apple farm on a trip up the coast of California when I was about 10 years old. We instantly fell in love with the charm and hospitality of the apple farm and it became our destination of choice. From that point on we would visit there as often as we could. Eventually I would come to stay at the apple farm with my husband and then with our three children. In the living room of our home is a wicker basket filled with wooden apples, all representing the years of memories that I have at the apple farm. From memories of childhood vacations to celebrating my parents 20th wedding anniversary; trips away with my husband to watching my daughter take wobbly baby steps down the halls and searching for dash in the gift shop with my sons at Christmas time. The apple farm has seen it all.  But I think that my favorite memory at the apple farm comes from a trip we took there when I was about 15. At that age, family vacations weren't all that thrilling to me and this one included much of our extended family. I remember a couple days in, it was raining. We were all just hanging around the inn that day, doing our own thing and I ran into my mom in the hallway. Walking the halls of the Apple Farm is one of my mom's favorite places in the whole world. It was the middle of the afternoon and she asked if I wanted to go to the restaurant to get a cup of soup. I rebelled against my mom a lot during those teenage years, but I will always remember the peace of sitting with her in that restaurant, while it rained outside, and just talking and connecting over a cup of soup. My mom is my best friend and over the years, she and I would come to stay at the apple farm on girls trips many, many times. We first started staying there as a family because that was my mom's favorite place to be, but I will always remember that trip and that moment with my mom as the time that it became my place too!

Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us! What an honor it is to be a part of your lives. 


 

1/2/18: Happy Anniversary!

By Rachael Halstead, Rooms Manager

The custom of commemorating significant dates goes back to the middle ages. After 25 years of marriage a husband would present his wife with a silver wreath, and after 50 years he would give her one of gold. From this, the custom was observed throughout time. In our modern days, we have something to represent every anniversary year. This year, Apple Farm will be celebrating its 40th year! The ruby anniversary. First, came the restaurant, then came the gift shop, and then came the hotel. (After writing this, it reminded me of that childhood jingle, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”) When we celebrate these special occasions, we often look back. We speak of achievements, struggles, fun times and sad times. Like marriage, having a business stand the test of time is no easy task. As the Apple Farm enters its 40th year of existence, I want to take a moment and celebrate its longevity as a staple within our community and its bright future!

I tend to believe that our success stems from our “company” culture. I use the term company loosely as I consider us more a family. We have many employees that have been here for 10, 20, and almost 30 years. With long lengths of employment, our team takes pride and ownership over the property. They weather the storms and enjoy the fruits of our labor. One of my favorite things about Apple Farm is our ability to please just about everyone. From our fresh salad bar, to our cult classics (classic turkey & delicious meatloaf), to our mouthwatering scratch bakery; we aim to please. Some of our new favorites include vegetarian and gluten free options. Just like when you have family over for a big dinner. Great Uncle Joe has to have biscuits and gravy, and Cousin Ed’s new girlfriend doesn’t eat meat. Plus the kids are always picky eaters so you have a few grilled cheese sandwiches ready to go upon request. The way you plan your meals is the same way we plan our menus. And for 40 years this is what we have done. I am personally inviting you to join us during the month of January. We have contests and special events to celebrate our fabulous 40th! Oh and there will be cake!


 

10/25/17: Fall is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Or is it?

By Rachael Halstead, Rooms Manager

Ahhhh fall, for us on the central coast, when Mother Nature loves to keep us on our toes! She will bring triple digits in late October, followed by hot winds, and then she will leave us with chilly nights. As locals we know the value of dressing in layers! While the change in season is usually welcomed, here at the Apple Farm it can drive us a bit crazy. In case you are unaware, we are known for our pristine gardens and impeccable landscape. I have overheard guests and locals say that we remind them of Disneyland! We will take that comparison any day! But back to the point, fall, we love you and we hate you.

We love the cozy nights you bring. We love when guests can take advantage of the fireplaces in our rooms and enjoy a book in a cozy wingback chair or sofa. We love the fun décor that Sharon (Apple Farm Buyer) and her team adorn our hallways and gift shop with! We love that you can smell the pies baking from our scratch bakery basically anywhere on property! We could, however, do without the leaves.  Leaves? Yes, leaves! The bane of our General Manager‘s (Dean Hutton) existence. While Joseph O’Keefe (Landscape Manager/ plant whisperer) battles the leaves daily, every night they reappear! For most of our managers, there is nothing better than a freshly cleaned parking lot! Ready for you and our guests’ admiration and picture taking! But every night, the trees have their way dropping endless leaves all over our innocent parking lot! Oh the horror! Any Type A personalities out there? You get it?!? Right?! Like I said, we love those leaves, green and lush, almost year round! But come fall, they become as unwelcomed, as your in-laws when they turn a 3 day visit into a 5 day visit! But, it is the price we pay. It is hard to be ungrateful living here on the coast, but leaves, leaves will always drive us a little crazy during fall here at the Apple Farm!


 

10/13/17: Ask about it - Reservation Tips

By Lyne Hamel, Reservations Supervisor

"Apple Farm reservations. How may I assist you?" This is the starting place for your weekend getaway, wedding block, work stay, or perhaps a family vacation, or traveling through and need a place to rest your head for a night. How can we help you have the best reservation experience and lock in those plans for your accommodations? Have I got some tips for you.

  1. Give the us the dates you are interested in coming to the Apple Farm right at the beginning of our conversation. All reservations start with the date of arrival and how many nights you're staying.
  2. Next we look at rates. Is there a special running for the nights you're staying listed on this website? Ask about it by name so we can look for that special right away. Be aware that most of our specials run Sunday through Thursday. Our accommodations page also lists the dates that these specials are not available. They are called black out dates.
  3. Bringing along a friend and sharing a room? We have King Specialty rooms in the Inn and King rooms in our Trellis court with sofa sleepers. We can have the sofa sleeper made up prior to your arrival.
  4. New baby in the family? You could transfer the baby from car to crib. We have them and can have one set up in the room when you arrive.
  5. Tell us about your special event. Are you coming to celebrate a special event like an anniversary, honeymoon, birthday, etc? We have flowers, gift baskets, wine, champagne or cider set ups available for delivery to your room at arrival. We can arrange this at the time we take your reservation.
  6. Will you be eating at our restaurant? Holidays and weekends can be busy at the Farm to Table Apple Farm restaurant. We want to make sure there's a table for you when you want it so we can make the reservation for you or transfer you to the restaurant. Just ask.

Check out this website...click around, and get to know what we offer, then call the reservation line and we'll help you help us make it a wonderful stay with all your needs met at the end of the call. We're looking forward to that call to reserve your getaway accommodations.


 

9/20/17: Wine Country Connections

By Kim Wykoff, Guest Services Director

Have you ever had the pleasure of attending a winemaker dinner? Being a wine country Inn, we felt it was important to support the wine industry and begin a program that involves partnering with our local vintners and tasting rooms. After all, when you come to visit wine country, where are you going to overnight? Well, Apple Farm, of course! From this concept, our Winery of the Month program was born.

This program is now over 5 years old and has become a favorite of our guests. We choose a local winery every month and do some special things to showcase that winery. Have you attended our wine reception when you have been a guest? In addition to serving our own private label wines and complimentary appetizers, we also offer tastings from our Winery of the Month. There are generally two varietals served daily and the winery usually offers complimentary tasting at the tasting room while you are a registered guest.

The best part of this program is the Winemaker Dinner, which is usually the last Friday of the month with a few exceptions. This is usually a five course meal with paired wines for each course. I have been to a few of these and have yet to be disappointed. Our Executive Chef, Steven Smeets meets with the winemaker and tastes all of the wines and builds his menu from there. Talk about a man who loves his job!

Come to a Winemaker Dinner! This month we are featuring Tackitt Vineyards with the dinner being on September 29th and in October, we will be featuring Calcareous Winery with the dinner on Saturday, October 28th  (one of those rate “not on Friday night” dinners). Come enjoy our outside heated patio, the flowers, wonderful wines and a sensational five course meal! I promise, you will not be disappointed! Cheers!


 

9/5/17: What is Hospitality?

By Rachael Halstead, Rooms Manager

With so much negativity going on in our world it is so easy to get wrapped up and feel down. You overhear conversations and people saying “service isn’t what it used to be” or "people just don’t care anymore." I find myself saying this occasionally, when I am out shopping and get the privilege of being “assisted” by a less than thrilled to be there employee. It really doesn’t feel good.

Now, I happen to live in the happiest place in North America. (Look it up!) I think this is why people choose to stay here, despite the outrageous cost of living. It’s about the quality of life on the Central Coast! This brings me to hospitality. The word is Latin and roughly translated to mean hospital. What do hospitals do? They take care of people! That, my dears, is exactly why I am in hospitality. I love people, but more to the point, I love to take care of them. That is what hospitality is to me. That is also what drew me to apply for a position at this hotel. I had no prior hotel/travel experience. But, I knew I was good with people. In fact, I thrived around them! I enjoy learning everyone’s story and anticipating their needs before they even ask.

So, in today’s somewhat negative climate, it is no surprise that we (hoteliers) have seen an uptick with stressed guests, complaints, and general unhappiness. So, how do we still give stellar service and greet every customer as we did on our first day on the job? For me, it’s empathy. Every guest that steps through the front door has just battled traffic for hours or waited in lines at the airport. They are in town for a funeral or saved their pennies for two years to afford this long overdue family vacation. Whatever the reason, we are here to serve you. It will be different every time. It will be sincere and thoughtful. That is what hospitality is to me. What is hospitality to you? Share with us on Facebook or send me an email at [email protected]


 

8/28/17: Not just Meat and Potatoes

By Michael Langlois, Food & Beverage Director

When one thinks of Apple Farm you think comfort foods such as Classic Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Chicken and Biscuits, Beef Stroganoff, or Turkey Pot Pie. All these are dear to my heart and just simply scrumptious and put a smile on my face. Then, to top it off we have the best scratch made desserts on the Central Coast like our seasonal bread puddings, pies, cobblers and one of my favorites, Willie’s Carrot Cake created by our Executive Pastry Chef Willie Vey. It just does not get any better!

But today I am not writing this to tell you about all that comfort food deliciousness. I am here to tell you Apple Farm is focused on providing beautifully thought out vegetarian dishes created by our cool Chef Steven Smeets and offered to you on our menus. With the abundance of local farms and produce around, Chef utilizes what he has available and creates vegetarian menu items that are super yummy and as comforting as the smell of chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Chef understands that vegetables and a vegetarian diet are definitely a way of life for many. They are healthy, nutritious and certainly not boring if prepared with thought and care. The following are vegetarian dishes that are currently on our menu:  Lemon Ricotta Raviolis, Beet and Goat Cheese Fritter Salad, Potato Pancakes with our own chunky apple sauce (pictured right top), Fried Green beans with house aioli, the heirloom tomato, caper, cucumber pesto Bruschetta, and my favorite our Vegetable Goat Cheese Lasagna (pictured right bottom) made with peppers, onion, squash, mushrooms, pesto, ricotta, parmesan and goat cheese. Simply put, it is lasagnalicious

So, today I am here to say that not only does Apple Farm dish up all the comfort foods that we all grew up knowing and loving, but we can also dish up some of the best vegetarian meals in SLO County.  We also do our best to work with any dietary restrictions and food allergies that our guests may have. Chef definitely has a knack in creating wonderful vegan dishes as well.  So, when in the land of fresh vegetables…let there be vegetables.  The Apple Farm is there for you for all seasons. Oh and before I forget, don’t forget to try one of our gluten free cookies or brownies at our bakery. Enjoy!

 

8/23/17: Autumn in the Gift Shop

By Sharon Peters, Retail Manager & Buyer

When I reached over and turned the page on my calendar - August greeted me with surprise! August? Already? The seasons are marching on and as exciting as it was to welcome June and July - the time has come to say goodbye to red, white and blue; sand, surf and sunshine and embrace the inspiring colors of FALL.

The Apple Farm Gift Shop celebrates each turn of the calendar page - each color of the season. We take delight in creating new emotion as the shades of each month change. There is something about the colors of fall, though, we hold most dear at Apple Farm. It is clearly the favorite season among our design team. Fall has THAT feeling...longing again for "sweater weather" - comfort, cozy, HOME. We look forward to the shades of red, yellow, purple, orange, and brown that decorate the foliage as well as our porches and kitchen tables. 

The design team at the Apple Farm found the need to rush and make that visual change - allowing YOUR heart to take pleasure in THAT feeling. As the gift shop decor takes on the warm colors of a changing season we invite you to experience the splendid merchandising and creative design that brings excitement to every table, cupboard and hutch on our gift shop floor. Pumpkins, tableware, linens and decorative wreaths are just a few pieces of our seasonal collection. 

Turn that page and mark your calendar! Autumn is here inside our hearts at the Apple Farm Gift Shop. 


 

8/15/17: The Apple Farm Family

By Kim Wykoff, Guest Services Director

If you are a fan of the Apple Farm, it likely has something to do with not only the beauty of the property, but the way you feel when you are here. We get many comments from our guests about the great staff we have here and how they were made to feel so comfortable while visiting. I believe there is a much stronger force at work here.

Apple Farm has a rather large management team here and most all of them have worked here a very long time. We have watched our families grow over the years. We have had babies born, weddings of our children and the death or illness of our family members. What a powerful bond this makes. We have laughed and cried, screamed and yelled, and most of all, we have been able to solve and celebrate our triumphs and disappointments. This is how a family behaves.

That commitment to our lives and jobs and the business of hospitality has made us well versed in the ability to stand together and solve the problems and celebrate the best our guests can experience. This is why our business is so successful. That success comes from a plethora of happy Apple Farm guests. Even when we don’t get it right, this family mentality gives us the resources to make it right. We pride ourselves on that. Here is a list of the management team and their years of the service devoted to Apple Farm’s success!

Dean Hutton

General Manager

28 years of service

Janis Triplett

Assistant to the General Manager

27 years of service

Michael Langlois

Food & Beverage Director

21 years of service

Kim Wykoff

Guest Services Director

27 years of service

Rachael Halstead

Rooms Manager

9 years of service

Christen Goldie

Revenue & Marketing Director

15 years of service

Joseph O’Keefe

Landscape Manager

28 years of service

Sharon Peters

Retail Manager & Buyer

21 years of service

James Leigh

Director of Sales

7 years of service

Karen Roots

Controller

14 years of service

Sergio Bernal

Maintenance Manager

13 years of service

Lauren Somppi

Warehouse Manager

5 years of service

Steven Smeets

Executive Chef

4 years of service

Stephen Walls

Restaurant Operations Manager

26 years of service

Joanna patch

Restaurant Operations Manager

18 years of service

John Scholz

Restaurant Operations Manager

11 years of service

Willie Vey

Executive Pastry Chef

16 years of service

This is a grand total of 290 years! I hope this list of experience helps you feel valued and cared for when you are visiting Apple Farm. Come see us soon! Our family is missing your family!


 

8/9/17: 4 Tips on How to Pick the Best Hotel Room at the Apple Farm

By Rachael Halstead, Rooms Manager

Apple Farm is such a unique property, that it is hard to describe its beauty over the phone or online. Time and time again I hear “Wow this is way better than we expected!” This is why I thought I would give you the inside scoop to help you pick your ideal room! While this may be my first attempt at a blog, I am veteran status when picking out rooms for our guests!

It’s no secret that Apple Farm gets compared to that other famous hotel in town. While we have no problem with this comparison, it isn’t exactly true. Are our rooms unique? Yes. Is each of them different? Absolutely! Back in the days our rooms were abundantly floral and oozing with knickknacks. These days, we are updating our rooms to appeal to everyone! Including our Frequent Farmers (a term used for our loyal guests, you know the ones who have been with us since day one). Regardless of whether you have been staying here for 25 years or this is your first time, here are some tips from me to you!

  1. Inn or Trellis Court? Yes we all know the rooms are different in size and location, but did you know we have 12 different room types? Anything from single queens with patios and private soaking hot tubs, to family suites that can accommodate up to 6 people! Your reservation agent will walk you through all the options and find a room perfect for your needs!
  2. You’ve decided on the Inn? Great! If you read the reviews you will see a common theme, they will tell you ask for third floor, creek side. But take it from me, an expert; you are missing out on the best floor, the first floor! This floor has some amazing room options I love room 107, it is tucked away in the corner, and has the most amazing view of our Millhouse patio! It has a huge king size bed and you can easily access the pool. Are you planning a girl’s trip? I highly recommend room 128; this room has two queen beds and has been recently renovated. It very charming and the colors are very soothing. One of my favorites!
  3. Maybe the Trellis Court appeals to you? I have 3 suggestions. Room B is our newest creation in the “Court”. It is just a fun room! Big bathroom, private patio and close proximity to our guest reception. (Wine!) My second recommendation is for someone who may be traveling alone, it is Room 2, this room is teeny tiny, but super cute and has a tub/shower combo (not common in the Trellis Court) so you can enjoy a nice hot soak! Lastly, I love Room 1. My girlfriend’s and I planned a weekend away and no surprise they wanted to stay where I work! We rented Room 1, it has three beds and ideal if you want to stay up all night drinking wine and eating our famous chocolate chip cookies!
  4. My last recommendation is for all you frequent farmers. You know me and I know you. Look, I know you have your favorites. I get it. But try something new next time you book! I promise your favorite will always be there! You will be glad you did. Thanks for trusting me!