BY TERESA HAMMOND

TERESA HAMMOND/209 BUSINESS JOURNAL
Cottonwood owners Sanjay and Renu Arora in their newly renovated South Yosemite café. The couple recently added dinner Thursday through Saturday nights to their dining options.

Oakdale dining options just increased by one, as the ever popular as well as unique Cottonwood recently added a dinner menu to its offerings.

Owners Sanjay and Renu Arora made the decision to add dinner to the 154 S. Yosemite location several months back. It is a decision which was sparked by the request of customers both in person as well as via social media.

Amidst all the South Yosemite road construction, the couple opened for their first dinner business the last Friday of October.

“It was unpredictable,” Sanjay Arora said of the overwhelming turnout. “People loved it. I’m glad people called ahead to book a table. It made us so thrilled.”

While the sudden notification of the road shut down in front of the business may have sparked an initial sting for the husband and wife team, the customer support more than made up for it. Initially the couple planned to extend the dinner hours strictly to Friday and Saturday. They have since added Thursday night hours as well.

Cottonwood is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
“Oakdale is a town where they accept you,” Sanjay Arora said of the acceptance and encouragement of their clientele since first taking over the business five years ago. “Anybody can open a restaurant here and if the food is good, they will love you. They support local mom and pops. They know good food.”

And if there is one thing Sanjay Arora knows, it’s good food. A graduate of London Culinary College, the restaurant owner lights up once the questions start regarding entree choices and planning of the dinner menu.

“I have a contemporary cuisine food degree,” he said. “I’m a foodie. Cooking is my passion.”
“He has so much fun,” wife Renu Arora stated of watching her husband work the kitchen — prepping fresh ingredients for the day crowd and serving as chef for the evening clients. “I love this place. I love these people. They are so good to us.”

The two have been married 25 years this December. They have resided in the U.S. for 18 years, the past nine being in Turlock.

Sanjay Arora credits the palate of an appreciation for fine food as one of many standout features in Oakdale. In keeping with creating a memorable dining experience for locals as well as those passing through, the couple updated the interior of the café. They also added beer, wine and champagne to the dining options.

The dinner menu is simple by way of choice, in comparison to the lunch and breakfast offerings. Limited to one page, diners can choose from a variety of lamb, chicken, vegetarian or prime rib. The daytime salad menu is also available to the dinner crowd.

The simplicity of the dinner menu was intentional. Quality over quantity is the focus of the Aroras, by way of food as well as experience.

“The focus should be on your company, your companion,” Sanjay Arora said of an optimal dining experience. “You shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the menu choices.”

Cottonwood accepts reservations for dinner as well as orders for takeout. For additional information, call 209-847-4748.