Although it has barely been open for a month, The Guest House Grill is already a big hit with Atascadero locals. What makes this restaurant so different from the others? This grill started out as a Cal Poly senior project.

Trevor LaSalle, who graduated in June, and Eric Peterson, who finished his classes in December, met while working at AJ Spurs Saloon & Dining Hall. The two business majors became friends and eventually became roommates at Cal Poly.

Peterson and LaSalle learned a lot about the restaurant business while working at AJ Spurs for six years, and toyed with the notion of starting a restaurant of their own.

“We decided we should do it, instead of just talk about it all the time,” Peterson said.

Peterson took his senior project, a 15-page business plan, and sought advice from other business owners.

“We talked to a lot of people who own big businesses and they talked with us and welcomed us . and that’s the best way to get the knowledge,” Peterson said. “Also, when my professors would share their personal (business) experience, that was a bigger learning experience for me than the curriculum.”

La Salle and Peterson began looking for investors and a good restaurant location. After looking at various locations in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Atascadero, they finally found an affordable location in Atascadero.

“Atascadero needs this . there’s mostly Mexican food restaurants and a couple Thai places, but not many steak places, if any,” LaSalle said.

With the help of Peterson’s father, the two graduates began to completely remodel the restaurant in October. They built all the tables and the bar, re-upholstered all the chairs, repainted and built walls.

“Actually, my aunt used to own this place and it wasn’t doing so well, so we approached her with the idea,” Peterson said. “It was the right price and size and had a nice patio.”

After three months of labor, they finally opened for business on Jan. 15 and have been busy ever since.

The Guest House Grill is mainly a steakhouse, specializing in burgers, steaks and ribs, but the menu offers everything from meatloaf to salads and hot sandwiches.

“Our Herb and Cream Cheese Chicken is our best seller,” Peterson said. “We also have a St. Louis Rib that has a chili and coffee dry-rub. Those sell a lot.”

“If I was working this many hours per week I’d quit my job if I wasn’t working for myself,” LaSalle said. “But working for myself is different.”

“It’s very long hours, and they told us that in school,” Peterson said. “We’re here 17 hours a day sometimes. But we get to do this. It’s not like work, because it’s our own place. It’s different.”

Not only do LaSalle and Peterson co-own and manage the restaurant, but they also work the front door.

“I try to greet everyone as they come in and ask how they heard about us,” Peterson said. “We have a line out the door most nights. The response from people who have been out here is just awesome.”

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