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Folsom coffee house, eatery gets jolt with new owner

Former Maloof Sports and Entertainment executive chef takes over The Black Rooster
By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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FOLSOM, CA - For the past six years, locals have welcomed The Black Rooster owners Pia Knight and her daughter April into their mornings for their daily cup of coffee.

After announcing her departure, Knight said she is ready for a change for both her and The Black Rooster.

“The reason for the change is not retirement, it’s mainly to spend more time with my family,” Knight said. “I’ve been here for six years and loved every minute of it. I have been able to work, at one time or another, with all of my adult children. It’s a blessing to have gotten to know them and work with them as young adults.”

Her husband of 34 years, Alan, also contributed to the family business by building the restaurant.

“I could not have done this without him, he has been here since day one,” Knight said.

She plans to travel and visit April, who currently lives in Italy, for a month.

“I want to just step back and take a couple months off to find out what I really want to do,” she said. “My time at The Black Rooster has been so invaluable for me. At first, we wanted to open this for the community, but what it ended up doing for me was invaluable. I only feel gratitude to this community for supporting us.”

On Thursday, Nov. 1, Gary Gainey was officially the new owner of The Black Rooster, and said he wants to keep the café just as it is – only bringing new enhancements with his 35 years of culinary experience.

“I always wanted to have a small mom-and-pop type restaurant and be part of a community,” Gainey said. “At The Black Rooster, I already have it all with what Pia and April have done. So now I just want to enhance what they have successfully created.”

She said now it’s time to shake up the restaurant a little with the new owner and his years of experience.

Gainey comes to Folsom with a long culinary resume including working in the hospitality industry and, most recently, with Maloof Sports and Entertainment.

“I worked with Maloof Sports and Entertainment for the past 10 years as their executive chef,” he said. “I oversaw all of the arenas food functions, three restaurants and food for VIP, media and players.”

After taking a year off, Gainey said he is ready to take over a more intimate crowd while working in Folsom.

“This is one of those restaurants that when I walked in, sat down and tried the food, I knew it was going to be perfect for me,” Gainey said.
Knight feels the same way.

“Gary is a charmer and I think he is going to click with everyone in town,” she said. “Nothing would make me happier than to come here in five years and see this place booming.”

While Gainey said he plans to keep The Black Rooster as is, he is looking at enhancements.

“I want to add a stove and oven to the kitchen and bring in a smoker to smoke my own meats,” Gainey said. “I really want to add more options to the menu and increase our hours to include evening hours. In the future, I also want to have specialty nights for customers.”

He said another important factor for him is to be a part of the Folsom community and give back.

“I want to be active in the community,” he said. “Every opportunity I got with the Kings to volunteer, participate in events and give back to our community, I took it. So I want to continue that idea here in Folsom. We want to carry The Black Rooster to that level.”

Still, he said his goal in the first few months is to meet and listen to the community and find out what they want.

“I want to have tastings to introduce my cooking style to the community and see what people like,” Gainey said. “That is where the fun comes in – learning new things and new foods. We all have different taste buds so not everyone will be happy with everything. But I am here to help people find options that will make them full and happy. I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to walk into this place and take over. I can’t even explain my excitement.”

The Black Rooster is located at 807 Sutter St. in Folsom. For more information, call (916) 357-0115.