The Lighthouse Deli has expanded into an adjacent building on Washington Street, much to the delight of the area lunchtime crowd.
Owners of the popular downtown Sonora shop are renting the storefront next door and removed the wall separating the two to allow for a larger sitting area.
Lighthouse owners Judy and Gerald Foret and their son Brian Farmer expanded the business into a spot that was formerly held by the Let’er Buck Western Wear store, which moved a few doors down.
“In the two weeks since we opened it, we’ve really seen an increase in business,” Judy Foret said. “It’s really working out well.”
But the task of turning two rooms into one wasn’t as simple as pounding though sheetrock with a sledgehammer. The walls were made of crumbly stone and mortar that had to be painstakingly removed brick by brick to avoid undermining the structural integrity of the old building.
Foret said city staff and an engineer drew up plans for the best way to cut through the wall and added a steel frame for support.
Foret said she isn’t sure exactly how old the building is, but the owners believe it dates to the 1850s. The Lighthouse occupies the building under a lease from longtime downtown property owner Bob Ozbirn.
The Lighthouse has six employees, but if business continues to pick up, she said they will begin to look at hiring more. They will also experiment with extending their hours.
The new room allows the deli to nearly double in size to a total of 13 tables and 42 seats.
“People are telling us it’s nice because it’s not as cramped. They feel like they can sit and enjoy their meal,” Foret said.
The Lighthouse Deli is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.