Only dog at Mad Dog Cafe a sweetheart |

Only dog at Mad Dog Cafe a sweetheart

by Lisa Gavon
Special to The R-C
Owner Jennifer Quillici and her not even vaguely annoyed golden retriever Henry in front of Mad Dog Cafe.
Lisa Gavon

They have everything at the Mad Dog Cafe, except for a mad dog. Henry, a golden retriever, is a fixture in the adjoining gallery. He can only be described as docile and loving. No one has ever seen him get the least bit irritated, much less mad. People come in just to visit with him, and he dotes on it. He gets along well with everyone.

Owner Jennifer Quillici is a high energy, dedicated individual. She has to be to run her multi-layered business that requires long hours seven days a week. When she does take a day off, she is a trail runner, covering ground on routes such as the Tahoe Rim Trail from Meiss Meadows to Echo, or Big Meadows to Spooner. Most of us wouldn’t run that far unless someone was chasing us, but Jennifer considers it “free therapy.” She and her husband Mark have both been running coaches.

Jennifer and Mark fell in love with Alpine County after vacationing at Sorenson’s Resort in Hope Valley. Every time they visited, it kept getting harder for them to return home. They looked for and found their perfect Alpine cabin and started the transition from their house in Sacramento.

Mark has retired from a successful career at CalPers. Jennifer taught computer technology for 25 years at both the middle school and college level after getting her master’s in education. Her classes in Sacramento had an average of 180 students, but in her last year of teaching she transferred to our local Diamond Valley Elementary and had only seven students. It was a big contrast, and Jennifer found that she is perfectly suited to mountain living, and running this cafe is her idea of “retirement.”

Before the Mad Dog, Jennifer had never owned her own business, but was inspired by her business-owner father. She comes from a very tight-knit family with two brothers and parents who have supported her dreams and ideas. Her family always had something entertaining going on, whether it be camping, water skiing, or hosting parties for their friends. And their home was always a gathering spot during the holidays for others that didn’t have family in the area. That is the cornerstone of her cafe’s philosophy. Her goal has been to design a destination spot for people to come together. Locals have been very pleased by the friendly place Jennifer has created.

She enjoys introducing people to the beauty of these Sierra mountains, rivers, and canyons. She sells camping supplies and knows the area. She and her staff have become like a family too, and they are on a first name basis with all the regulars who come in.

She sells lots of lucky Lotto tickets, has free wi-fi, and is set up for fishing licenses, snow-park and land passes. Her market carries locally sourced items like Sierra Nevada Ranch beef jerky, honey from Wellington, and specialty items such as Stonewall Kitchen’s barbecue sauces, salsas, soup mixes, salad dressings, unique mustards, and olive oils.

This fall Jennifer will be hosting paint/sip wine classes, wine/food pairing tastings, along with catering parties and special events in the upstairs space. It includes an outside deck with a gorgeous view. Look for her Harvest Festival and Chili Cook-off soon. Next summer she plans to add a Farmer’s Market.

One of the local bears just climbed the ancient apple tree next to the cafe looking for a sweet snack, and broke the trunk. Jennifer’s manager and baker Joy Howell is making good use of this “Woodfords windfall.” Expect to smell the freshly baked apple pies, cakes, muffins, and cookies the next time you visit. They are already renowned for their delectable desserts and sandwiches.

Artist Karri Smith runs the Nature and Wildlife Gallery next to the cafe. Karri is a talented wildlife and nature photographer, showcasing large-format giclee canvases and high definition 3-D metal pictures. She obviously has a special gift, since she is able to capture a hummingbird mid-flight, a bald eagle resting on a branch, or a bear munching on apples.

Jennifer is passionate about the outdoors and healthy, delicious food. That has turned into a benefit for the community of Woodfords. She is open every day for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find them on Facebook, call at 530-694-2930, or get information on their upcoming website: Stop in and enjoy the ambiance over a plate of brownies and a steaming cup of hot coffee while reading the local paper. It’s that kind of place.