By Charlene Dean
Tucked away in the hidden nooks and crannies of Tecopa lay the projects of entrepreneur Cynthia Kienitz, who owns accommodations there. The latest addition is a panini shop, a part of her interests located at China Ranch Date Farm.
Kienitz has been in business in Tecopa for 13 years and said about five years ago, she decided to expand on Cynthia’s Guest House and Hostel, which she calls “phase I.”
The guest house is actually on land she leased from China Ranch owner Brian Brown and up until now, no food and beverage service was available except for the sweets in the China Ranch gift shop.
Adding the panini shop is phase II of the rather eccentric guest housing. Kienitz “rooms” are tipis.
“This isn’t the place for everyone,” Kienitz said. “I have return guests from Europe who come every year. They are wanting to connect with nature.”
She said most of her guests are seeking something besides cell phones and video games. They’re looking to “discover themselves, nature and the people they’re traveling with.”
“We don’t get cell phone service out here and there are no televisions. I won’t have it.”
The tipis are “well appointed and very large. Each one has a king-sized bed and two twin beds and can sleep four people.
“They are air conditioned in the summer and you can build a fire in them in the cooler months.”
Kienitz said she has a building or “community space” containing two full baths, a kitchen, a dining room and a sitting area.
“It’s all for the use of my guests. I have linens on the table which is set with china and silver service. It’s very nice.”
Kienitz is an interior designer and takes great pride in furnishing her guests with the best. The beds even have heated mattress pads and there are Turkish rugs on the tipi floors.
She said the panini shop is being run by her son, Matthew Kienitz, who “learned how to make these sandwiches properly from a chef.”
She said the sandwiches are made using high quality ingredients and are “elegant.”
Choices include a vegetarian version with fresh avocado, tomato, mozzarella and pesto; grilled chicken breast with roasted bell peppers and topped with fresh spinach, mozzarella and pesto; and a grilled mild Italian sausage with sauteed red bell peppers and onions, pesto and mozzarella.
Other choices are hamburgers and a tuna melt; all come with chips and bottled water.
The panini shop is only open from noon to 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday, so guests staying during the week are free to use the kitchen facility for food preparation.
Phase III is yet another project. Kienitz said, “I needed to make a move on what I’ve wanted to do for what seems like forever, and start thinking about retiring.”
Wanting to appeal to a broader range of guests and also cover a wide range of prices, Kienitz purchased five acres in Tecopa proper, “as close to China Ranch as possible.”
She put her interior design skills to work and reappointed all the rooms in the building to open another set of accommodations which has individual rooms and 13 bunk rooms.