Who's who - A portrait of a person who is part of your community

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Name: Jai Baker Occupation: Co-owner of Awful Annie’s in Lincoln and Auburn Family: Husband Don and sons Adam and Bryan City of residence: Auburn How would you describe yourself? “I try to be positive, outgoing and friendly. In my business, you’re dealing with the public, and you have to show that. I’m very concerned with detail. I go out of my way to make sure we’re doing things the ‘Annie’s way.’ ” How did you get started with Awful Annie’s? “We had decided to move to Auburn 20 years ago and we had seen this little sandwich shop we liked called Awful Annie’s. We asked them if they would sell it to us, and they said yes. I had managed restaurants in L.A. and we wanted to move to a nicer place with our kids. Now we have over 200 menu items.” When did you open your Lincoln restaurant on the corner of Fifth and G streets? “Five years ago. We came here because it was the fastest-growing community at that time. There was an old town, and originally we were told the bypass would be there by now. We wanted the old town to be quaint, and when the bypass comes through, the city of Lincoln has plans to really enhance this area.” What do you like best about owning Awful Annie’s? “Well, it’s family owned, and when people come in the door, we have our regulars – the people who come in almost every day – and they’re part of my family. My employees, too. They’re like my family as well.” What is it you like best about the actual work? “I like being able to be creative. My sons help me create new menu items. It’s fun, and I’ve always been interested in food prep. I always used to help my mom and my grandma in the kitchen when I was growing up. Later on, we always participated in chili cook-offs.” Do you have a favorite menu item? “We’re best-known for our bread pudding with brandy sauce. It was my mom’s recipe, and it’s called ‘Grandma’s Bread Pudding.’ We had people coming in and ordering it for breakfast instead of dessert, so we made a new breakfast item called Bread Pudding French Toast. Our specialty benedicts are really popular, and we have a full bar at both restaurants. We sell up to 50-60 Bloody Marys every Sunday.” You’ve won many awards. What are some of them? “We have been very fortunate to receive many awards. KCRA has named us the best breakfast in the Sacramento area for the last three years, we’ve won awards for the best restaurant in Auburn for the last two years and we’ve won several awards in Lincoln. We’ve been featured in Sacramento magazine and the Auburn Journal.” What are some of your hobbies? “My husband has a hot rod, a ’38 Willys with a 502 in it. We like the Auburn cruise events. We recently rejoined the International Chili Society and will be doing cook-offs.