Musicians perform at Hope Valley Cafe |

Musicians perform at Hope Valley Cafe

by Joyce DeVore

Hope Valley keeps getting better and better. The scenery is breathtaking, especially since our recent snowstorm.

To take advantage of winter sport in the valley, stop by the yurt to rent snowshoes and tour the valley on Joyce Coker’s excellent trail system. Sorensen’s is sheer magic for an overnight stay and/or a romantic dinner. 

There is one more place that keeps adding more delightful aspects to Hope Valley: The Hope Valley Cafe.

Now in her fourth year as owner and operator, Leesa Lopazanski has the warmth of personality and artistic talent in the kitchen to surprise and delight the most discerning guests.

Lopazanski has transformed the small store into a must-see rustic cafe, with a wood burning stove and sofa, hand-crafted log barstools where you will always find a local or two enjoying breakfast or lunch, an intimate dining room, and a tidy market stocked with grocery and camping items as well as gifts made by local artists.

However, the outstanding feature of the cafe remains the incredible baked goods that Lopazanski bakes fresh daily.  Platters of freshly baked muffins, scones, cookies tempt all comers.  The pies are incredible: either by the slice, special order, or a new mini pie to go.  Her artistry is gaining quite a following.

It is understandable that other artists like to visit Hope Valley Cafe: two local musicians are regular customers. 

Their names are Larry Nair and Beth Oliveto.  You may have already heard them perform at the Brewery Arts Center or at Jethro’s.  They call themselves Ten Dollar Pony, an acoustic indie folk rock band.

The two have been performing together for about eight years, traveling around the Tahoe area as well as Colorado, Minnesota, and North  Carolina. 

Nair has recorded three CDs, two with his rock band Playa Papaya, and one intimate collection of duets with Playa Papaya’s back-up singer, Oliveto.

Nair custom builds guitars and rebuilds vintage ones.  His guitar playing is quite extraordinary:  he is self-taught and said, “I cannot remember not being able to play the guitar.”

Nair is also a song writer.  Oliveto developed her voice while performing at  Lake Tahoe Community College and Nevada Light Opera. 

She also plays guitar beautifully.

The following blog taken from explains the Ten Dollar Pony’s style of music,  “Based on vocal-centric aesthetic, their lively blend of original and cover tunes encompasses many styles:  folk, pop, blues, and country rock to name a few.  Whether delivering intimate and heart wrenching ballads with warm harmonies, or raucous blues, their music ranges from sweet to wryly observant, to perversely funny, all served up with intelligence and wit.”

For a preview of the Ten Dollar Pony, try either or 

A few weeks ago Nair and Oliveto  ate at the cafe, then brought out the guitars for an informal jam session. 

Lopazanski said, “Of course I loved the music, and within half an hour there were people coming in from all over just to hear them.”

Lopazanski invited them back and The Hope Valley Cafe is proud to invite you to a concert featuring the Ten Dollar Pony on 1 p.m. Saturday.

There will be no cover charge, so plan on spending an afternoon in Hope Valley enjoying the multiple feasts of nature, food, and music.

Hope Valley Cafe is open seven days a week, with doors open at 8 a.m. 

The super bowl will be featured next weekend, in addition to the bakery goods, gifts, and market items.  Call (530) 694-2323 for more information.