With horseshoes and saddles hung along the walls, Cowgirl Café brings a Southern feel to San Luis Obispo.
Owner Pat Addy named the restaurant after his late wife Meredith Addy, who died shortly after the opening of the original Cowgirl Café in Mira Loma, Calif. The restaurant continued to flourish and remained a family-owned business in memory of Meredith.
Cowgirl Café’s first location on the Central Coast opened in 2000, and has since expanded to Paso Robles, Atascadero and Nipomo. The San Luis Obispo spot, on Olive Street, opened in July.
The restaurant also recently extended its hours past breakfast and lunch to dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. Now, students can eat late at Cowgirl Café, and if they show a student ID, they will receive 10 percent off their purchase, Addy said.
This isn’t the restaurant’s only connection with Cal Poly. With the opening of the newest location, all locations have begun using Cal Poly chocolate milk and a variety of Cal Poly cheeses for sandwiches and omelettes.
Addy said he decided to use Cal Poly products when one of his customers introduced him to the dairy science department chair, Bruce Golden.
“He took me on a tour of the creamery and gave me samples of the cheese products and the milk, and I decided it was something that would help promote my business, as well as help the students and promote the school,” Addy said.
Addy said Cowgirl Café was unaware of the availability of Cal Poly products before this, although outside vendors had access to the items. The restaurant also plans to expand to using Cal Poly meats, following the opening of Cal Poy’s new meat processing plant, he said.
Continuing to expand the amount of Cal Poly products used at Cowgirl Café has a price: Cal Poly products can be more expensive than other items, but according to Addy the quality outweighs the prices.
“That is a motto for Cowgirl Café: We use quality products,” he said “Whatever it takes to make it cheap, we don’t do it. It’s that quality of the product that really sells in my restaurant.”
There are a variety of local stores that sell Cal Poly products, and restaurants that use Cal Poly products in dishes, too.
Louisa’s Place, located on Higuera Street, previously used Cal Poly eggs, but according to owner Kay Sweeny, has since stopped using them because of high prices.
“They’re a little more expensive, but it’s nice to support your local companies as long as you can afford it,” Sweeny said.
Cal Poly offers a wide range of products such as eggs, cheeses, chocolates, meat and produce. These products can be seen at locations throughout San Luis Obispo, but often they sacrifice affordability for high quality.
Cheese produced by Cal Poly students is priced in comparison to specialty cheeses, faculty adviser for Cal Poly Cheese Nana Farkye said.
In addition to Cowgirl Café, Scolari’s and Von’s supermarkets carry Cal Poly cheese.
“Bulk cheeses that are store brand are priced cheaper, but if you go to the deli section at a grocery store, where there are select cheeses, our prices would be competitive to that,” Farkye said.
Cal Poly products might vary in prices, but some are more expensive than commercially purchased products. Dean of the College of Agriculture Mark Shelton said Cal Poly honey used to be 25 cents more than the price of other honey.
“As a tax supported institution, we have an unfair advantage since we use our facilities to produce foods, in comparison to local producers, so it’s marked up a little, but not a lot,” Shelton said.
Cal Poly chocolates are sold at places such as Apple Farm Inn, Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates and Crushed Grape for almost double the price in comparison to other chocolates, faculty adviser for Cal Poly Chocolates Tom Neuhaus said.
“Our product is all handmade, so it has a whole labor cost associated with it, which makes it way higher than all other chocolates out there that are made by robots and not humans,” Neuhause said. “You have to pay humans to make it, which raises the price of it, and being fair trade and organic makes it much more expensive.”
Campus Market, Village Market, Sage Catering and Ovations Concessions at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center are locations on campus that use and sell Cal Poly Chocolates.