NUT TREE / the book

From a California Ranch to a Design, Food, and Hospitality Icon

Nut Tree tells the story of an iconic, historic Northern California restaurant. Beginning in 1850 and the quest for gold in California, the author tells how her great grandparents found peaches and grapes instead of gold, and established a prosperous fruit ranch in the Vaca Valley. The author’s grandmother started a fruit stand that expanded into a unique, one-of-a-kind attraction. Over the years, Nut Tree, became a destination known for its Western food, mid-century design, and cutting-edge hospitality. It attracted ordinary folks and dignitaries alike, including Herbert Hoover, Neil Armstrong, and Queen Elizabeth II.

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Nut Tree in the News —

Former Petaluma City Schools superintendent captures saga of Vacaville’s Nut Tree in new book

Article by Clark Miller, Petaluma Argus-Courier contributor

“What caused me to write the book was that when it closed, I was deluged with questions as to why,” Zimmerman said. Clearly, fans of the Nut Tree assumed that such a protean entity would never die. While the actual writing took about a year, there was a decade of contemplation, interviews and research. Fortunately for Zimmerman, at the Vacaville Museum she discovered a huge archive of Nut Tree memorabilia, newspaper clippings and photos. “I was overwhelmed by what they had. I had so many unanswered questions.”

Read more in Petaluma Argus-Courier online

Zimmerman’s ‘Nut Tree’ is No. 1 seller this week

Article by David Templeton, Petaluma Argus-Courier staff

… the exception is Diane Power Zimmerman’s “Nut Tree: From a California Ranch to a Design, Food and Hospitality Icon,” currently the No. 1 book in Petaluma. It’s a memoir and a photographic history of the once-mandatory rest stop attraction in Vacaville, as written by someone who grew up there, as Zimmerman’s grandparents owned the place.

Read more in Petaluma Argus-Courier online

Defining Western Food

Long before California became a world leader in wine and food, Nut Tree restaurant in Vacaville, 50 miles inland from San Francisco, pioneered the idea of dining as, first and foremost, an experience. Food was created not only to delight the palate but to present a visual feast. As early as 1952, at Nut Tree, diners could experience it all — the bounty of farm-to-table, the nostalgia of grandma’s homemade bread, a tamale of Old California, exotic tropical fruits, and stir frys inspired by Asian cultures.

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The Story

No matter how much others wished, Nut Tree can never come back. Nut Tree was a business forged from the land, molded by determination and ingenuity, that evolved and was perfected with each successive generation. The legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of its people. When people wonder about the magic of it all, or want to understand its genesis, they can turn to this book. Ultimately, it tells a unique story of California—its people, its dreams, and its promise across the twentieth century.

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The Author

Diane Power Zimmerman, a fifth-generation member of the founding family, is uniquely poised to tell the Nut Tree story. She draws from personal experience as well as a treasure trove of memorabilia, including family letters, photos and Vacaville Museum and newspaper historical archives. With ready access to family members and former employees—each with unique stories to tell—she captures the spirit of all that was “Nut Tree.” While many before her have written articles about the Nut Tree’s rich history, no other has had access to the long view — certainly not a five-generation view — to write this much-anticipated book.

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Buy the Book

To order the book, search Diane Power Zimmerman on Amazon,
or purchase from Vacaville Museum online shop:

Highest quality, deluxe-size paperback

Recent reviews

A Wonderful Trip Down Memory Lane
Diane Power Zimmerman takes me back to my childhood when my grandmother would often bring me to visit the Nut Tree… the little loaves of bread, the train ride, the toy store, and the rocking horses. I never knew the history of Nut Tree, or its place in mid-century modern design and its attention to detail and innovation, so appreciate reading the full story.

The memories I have of this wonderful place will always be with me. — CY

I love it. Covers so much! Brings back wonderful memories. Added bonus: Signed by the author. — CB

Beautiful Photos of the Nut Tree
If you ever ate at the Nut Tree this book is for you. A great history of a family that created a positive culture where employees became family. If you never ate there, you really missed it. When I flew into San Francisco from the midwest, I always drove over an hour to experience the Nut Tree food and atmosphere. From the gift store, the miniature train, and the orchard, you knew you were in for a treat. I remember sitting in the restaurant with an aviary surrounding our booth or table. I would savor the pineapple and marshmallow sauce. Oh, how I wish I could experience it again. Diane Power Zimmerman has provided a legacy with great pictures throughout the book. I am grateful for Diane sharing this history through her writing and photos. — WS

Intriguing history of California design and entrepreneurship!
An invaluable book about California particularly to those who never had the opportunity to visit this landmark in food, hospitality and design. I appreciate the way it’s set up with the asides distributed along the way. It never feels overwhelming and it lends itself to how so many of us read these days—in bits and snatches. Love the pictures which of course add immeasurably to the story. The writing is lucid and economical. I strongly recommend this book as a way to spend some time enjoying tales of a family enterprise that however unlikely became a landmark operation. — PY

California history, west coast food and business smarts all in one!

Catering at Hearst Castle! Feeding Queen Elizabeth without a kitchen! Men on stilts greeting small airplanes! This book is beautiful to hold. It is packed with family photos, gorgeous design and helpful diagrams to make the history easy to follow. Diane’s writing is clear and honest. She covers everything from the humble beginnings of NutTree to it’s world class special events. Every business owner should read how NutTree cultivated excellence, creativity and loyalty in its staff. — MM