Jalapenos is a casual neighborhood restaurant in Sandpoint, Idaho314 N Second Ave Sandpoint, ID 83864 208-263-2995
The Jalapenos Story
New Owners, same appeal! In late 2013 Chet French approached frequent client and restaurant owner Justin Dick about his interest in taking over the reins of the restaurant, it was a fairly easy sell for the owner of Trinity at City Beach. “I’d been looking for another opportunity besides Trinity for the past year,” Dick said. “When this came up, it fit.” Dick purchased the restaurant along with co-owner Dave Vermeer, former manager of the Coldwater Creek Wine Bar, from Chet and Shari French at the beginning of 2014 – and they are still are amazed at how easy the transition process has been.
“Chet and Shari were fantastic operators, and it’s been wonderful to work with them,” Dick said. “We walked into a really good situation.” Dick and Vermeer said their goal was to retain all of Jalapeño’s employees, who are treated like family at the establishment. “It’s really them accepting us,” Dick said. “We like it like that – we were able to acclimate easily.” While the new owners have no plans to change the restaurant’s popular menu, they are mulling a few new menu ideas with the restaurant’s executive chef and have implemented some behind-the-scenes operational improvements. Restaurant cofounder Shari French said she and Chet are pleased with the transition. “We were especially happy to hand the reins over to two ‘local boys’ who wanted to continue the foundation we started and enhance it with their own creative ideas,” she said.
Oh dear, it’s for real! The first Jalapenos Restaurant opens in Sandpoint on April 15, 1993 on Cedar Street! Eventually, Chet and Shari purchase the historic Elks building on 2nd Avenue with two business partners and split the property in half, with the business partners (who were, and still are) very good friends. They remodel their half into retail/office space and Chet & Shari spend the next four months remodeling the left side (formally the Elks basketball court, lounge and kitchen) into Jalapenos’ new home.
1993 — Shari gives a ski lesson to a visitor from So. Cal (who knew?) whose father owns a restaurant in town and wants to sell! After a chat with Chet, they scramble for funds … selling Shari’s beloved Volvo station wagon and maxing our their credit cards.
1992 — Yearning for the mountains and lakes (Shari resided in Aspen, Colorado for a few years) and wanting to raise their children (Kelsey 4, Tanner 2) where they could both snow & water ski, Chet & Shari sell their restaurants (now two locations, one named Jalapenos) and head for Sandpoint, Idaho! Shari teaches skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort (on her bucket list) and Chet is Mr. Mom for a bit (and does it well).
Fast forward to 1985 — after meeting in a South California Mexican restaurant (where else?) called “The Crazy Burro” in La Costa, California, Chet & Shari get married & honeymoon in Mexico (again, where else?), then purchase the Poway, California location of “Cocina” from Harry, and the family legacy happily continues.
1970s — Chet’s dad, Harry Bigelow French opens a tortilla factory in Escondido, California. During high school, Chet works after school delivering tortillas to local grocery stores (gotta keep those youngins’ out of trouble!). After a couple of years, customers keep asking Harry to open a Mexican restaurant in front of the tortilla factory, so he does! Cocina Del Charro is born.
Celebrating 20 years of business in Sandpoint in 2013!