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A Life of Hospitality and Hard Work Lessons | Cali BBQ History

Shawn Walchef washes dishes at 14 years old

There’s an old photo I look back on fondly.

It shows me at 14 years old washing dishes in my family’s restaurant — the same restaurant I now own.

Shawn Walchef at Cali BBQ NBC7 News

I hated washing dishes on the weekend in Spring Valley while all my friends were in La Jolla playing sports outside.

Now more than two decades later I can look back on this photo and time in my life knowing that I was learning lessons of hard work and the importance of a persistent routine.

Shawn Walchef washes dishes at 14 years old

I can thank my grandfather Luben Walchef for giving me those gifts after he decided to buy an old 2-bedroom house in East San Diego County and convert it into a restaurant. When our family eventually took over the former-breakfast restaurant in 1994 we all made the trek over to Spring Valley to help run the place — washing tables, bickering like family does, and building a dream together.

Before it was Cali Comfort BBQ

The restaurant was losing money, but my grandfather still wanted us to keep at it. Hospitality is in our DNA.

We bent over backwards for this breakfast place in Spring Valley and even if at the time I didn’t understand why we had to make those long drives every weekend when I could be outside playing — I do now.

My Bulgarian grandfather was teaching his family the values of hard work.

One of the greatest gifts he passed on to me was the importance of working hard and endless curiosity.

Read “The Harvest” to learn more about the life of my grandfather Luben S. Walchef and how he grew from a Bulgarian farm boy to a wealthy doctor in La Jolla, California.



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