ITK 03.05.20

Rosine’s Restaurant opened in 1980. By anyone’s count, that makes 2020 an anniversary year for the popular downtown Monterey restaurant. Jim and Rosine Culcasi opened 40 years ago this coming October, enlisting their children to help out. It’s the only job Jim Culcasi Jr. – who took over after his parents retired in the ’90s – has ever known. Born in Monterey and raised in the restaurant, Culcasi is a service industry natural. He even learned (“by trial and error,” he says) to make their award-winning cakes.

Weekly: How do you last 40 years?

Culcasi: It’s dedication. You have good times and bleak times, but my mother always told me you persevere. My mother’s name on the sign has a lot to do with it.

Baking’s not easy, either.

I had a lot of cakes fall. But I found out what works. I love the process of creating, but the biggest joy is when people walk through the door and they’re looking at those desserts.

What’s your favorite?

Our carrot cake. We have a secret – we put pineapple in it.

So you reveal your secrets?

Everybody bakes differently, everybody cooks differently. I could show you my way, but you would do it differently. Everybody has their own style.

What’s been the biggest change?

We have a huge to-go business. The dining experience is changing. Millennials want grab-and-go, California casual.

What keeps you in it?

I love going to restaurants. I go to New York every year and check out new restaurants. I go to Chicago. We have a lot of great chefs here. I just love food. There’s an adventure every day.

And the next 40 years?

The next 40 will be the next generation, my son John.

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