Sequoia Diner Gains Fans in the Laurel

The Full House Cafe is gone, but the new diner that has set up shop is making a splash in the neighborhood.


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Husband-and-wife team Andrew Vennari and Sequoia Broderson are making friends with their diner.

Photo by Lori Eanes

The Laurel District has embraced Sequoia Diner, the retro-hip diner that replaced the long-loved Full House Café that Fred Dozier ran for 18 years until his recent retirement.

“We’re having a blast over here,” Sequoia Broderson said during a busy morning, dishware clanking in the background. She operates the front-of-house aspect of the breakfast-centric restaurant with her husband, Andrew Vennari, acting as the chef. As it turns out, their secret weapon is baker and pasty chef extraordinaire Tom Purtill, a “fabulous baker” who has a way with biscuits plus stints at Bakesale Betty and the Elmwood Cafe.

“It’s so funny,” Broderson said of Purtill’s towering, golden-browned buttery creations. “I could not have imagined that would be the thing.” Customers are buying them by the dozens to take home, she said.

Sequoia Diner opened in late May, transforming the no-frills former space of the Full House into a more polished vintage coffeehouse sporting the same red booths and rounded-edged counter but with newly painted blank walls—and a carpet-less interior.

“It was definitely a hard hit for the neighborhood,” Broderson said of the Full House’s closure. “It was totally a fixture.”

But Sequoia Diner is winning people over, if long lines and positive reviews are any indication. “Once they give us a try, we make most people believers,” Broderson said.

The menu stars breakfast with coffee, eggs, and potatoes front and center, though there are pastries, fluffy waffles, hash, benedict, and other standard diner breakfast fare such as omelets, granola, and fresh fruit in the mix. An undercurrent of upscale California flair—like Sequoia Diner’s version of sauerkraut—hits many dishes and isn’t surprising, given that Vennari has cooked at Duende and Camino and Broderson worked at venerable La Note. Ingredients, natch, are sourced seasonally and locally from established purveyors and micro-farms.

“We’re keeping it as local as possible,” Broderson said.

For now, lunch includes five items, mainly salads and sandwiches, as the kitchen experiments with adding entrees. Sequoia Diner is thinking about limited dinner service with the new year, Broderson said, because “I’m asked about it 10 times day.”

Sequoia Diner, 3719 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-3719, www.SequoiaDiner.com.

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