Biz Beat

Turlock train depot – now a great place to grab a beer – celebrates 100 years

She looks pretty good for a gal closing in on 100. Turlock’s former train depot will celebrate its centennial next week, according to the man who owns it now.

That would be Tony Walker, who with his wife, Dorothy, runs the restaurant and taproom 10 East on the site.

The depot opened June 7, 1916, the result of complaints that passengers coming to Turlock had to disembark at cargo sheds set up for goods and merchandise. “They wanted a respectable depot for passengers,” Walker said.

Passengers would keep disembarking from the depot until the 1970s, when Amtrak moved off the Southern Pacific tracks to the Union Pacific tracks in Denair. That’s where passengers disembark today.

But the old depot had life in her yet. After sitting vacant for a couple of years, new owners converted it into a restaurant. Track 29 was an upscale spot I can remember from my childhood – not that I ever went there, but it was one of those places like Hazels or Cote d’Oro that folks around here went for a fine meal.

According to Walker, the transformation sounds pretty impressive. “The south half of the depot became the kitchen, food prep, dishwashing, cold storage and dry goods areas, while the northern half that formerly accommodated ticketing, a passenger waiting area, boarding and luggage storage was converted into seating for diners,” he wrote in a history he sent me marking the occasion. “Three full-size train cars, including a pre-1900s era caboose, were acquired and transformed into dining rooms to accommodate additional patrons. The rail cars were connected to the depot via passageways that provide access to the novel raised dining facilities.”

Track 29 eventually got new owners and became Traxx. Then the Walkers, who had been looking to open up a British-style pub, bought the property in 1999.

“It really was a little big for us,” Walker said. But the history of the place was appealing, and the Walkers ran Wellington Station for several years until remodeling it into 10 East Kitchen and Tap House. Much of the interior was redone, but the history of the depot is evident throughout. The tile in the men’s room is original, and there’s even a surveyor’s mark under the floor behind the hostess station.

And the trains – freight, not passenger now – continue to rumble by within feet of the caboose windows, often startling unsuspecting visitors.

“We had people who weren’t from California run down and outside, thinking it was an earthquake,” Dorothy Walker said.

Now, the Walkers are looking to sell the restaurant. With the resurgence of Turlock’s downtown and retirement age looming, Tony Walker said, it seemed a good time to look for a new owner.

But first there’s some celebrating to do. All week, special menu items – chicken-fried steak or sarsaparilla, anyone? – will be featured at the restaurant.

10 East: 10 E. Main St., Turlock. Call 209-669-1010.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE BUSINESS BEAT – Looks like Modesto might be getting a new Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. City records show that the fast-food restaurant, known for its chicken, is proposed at 2080 Briggsmore Ave. That’s just west of the intersection of Briggsmore and Oakdale Road.

Modesto has two Popeye’s locations now, one on Coffee Road and one on East Hatch Road. A former Popeye’s on Paradise Road closed in 2014.