By Lori A. Havener 

Tucked away at the border of California and Nevada in a Kings Beach neighborhood is a quaint log cabin with a beautiful garden out front. Owner and Chef Charles Soule has nurtured this unique place for the last four decades into a fine dining restaurant called Soule Domain. 

Since 1985, Soule Domain has become a celebrated restaurant in North Tahoe, yet it also has had to weather many storms to endure almost half a century. From surviving Covid closures to putting the restaurant up for sale, Charles Soule has confronted and overcome many hurdles in 38 years.

COZY UP: Soule Domain’s log-cabin interior gives the space a cozy feel. Courtesy photo

The Hurdles
During the Covid lockdown, Soule Domain was forced to close for two months. It was immediately apparent that Soule and his staff were going to need to come up with a survival plan. With the help of his wife’s son, they swiftly turned the parking lot into a patio accommodating 13 outdoor tables in addition to takeout. Winter came and it was takeout only. As waves of Covid came and went, Soule Domain pivoted between takeout only, or takeout and tables. 

“We were on good footing when Covid started,” Soule said. “I was able to keep most of my kitchen staff and with the small business loans received during the pandemic, I was able to come out of it on a good footing.” 

At the beginning of 2022, Chef Soule found himself wanting to slow down, spend more time with his wife, and travel more. Soule Domain was listed for sale. There was an interested buyer and negotiations were ongoing. However, as the closing approached, Chef Soule was uncomfortable with the buyer and, in the end, the transaction did not happen. 

“I didn’t feel the buyer understood the importance of keeping the restaurant running,” he said. “It’s all about momentum. I was concerned about my staff, my brother, Stephen, and the survival of the restaurant.” 

Stephen Soule is the floor manager and headwaiter.

Soule understands there have been rumors surrounding the sale — sickness, divorce, and others — and has tried to put them to rest. Currently, Soule Domain is not actively listed for sale. 

A third stumbling block was the sale of the neighboring Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and Casino, which closed on April 30, 2022. Anticipated completion of a new resort is 5 to 7 years away. Chef Soule admits the demolition and construction will be a long-term challenge. “There is going to be constant dust,” he said. “It will also limit my guests’ parking.” 

BON APPETIT: The author enjoyed the seafood medley at Soule Domain, which was prepared with white shrimp, scallops, lobster tail, and homemade fettuccine. Photos by Lori Havener
DISH OF THE DAY was the Alaskan Halibut special, served with a citrusy lemon caper sauce, side of rice, and seasonal vegetables, which hit the spot for the author on her anniversary dinner at Soule Domain in August.

Asked about what the future will bring, Soule said, “I am going to be 65. About five months ago I had a back injury while skiing. As a result, I needed to step away from the hot line and work more in a management position and out front with customers.”  Adapting to his health needs while maintaining the flow of the restaurant enabled him to see how his role in the restaurant could change. By age 67, he would like to still be involved in the restaurant, but more in management, and only occasionally on site. He is grateful to have a sous chef, Miguel Guerrero, who has been with him for 22 years.

The Food
Celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary, my husband and I came for dinner on a Sunday evening in August with no reservations (not recommended). We arrived before the dining room opened and sat on the patio adjacent to an inviting wine bar. Jessie Bernstein was our wine steward for the evening. We had a crisp glass of white wine while enjoying the complimentary bread sticks and played a quick game of backgammon. Fortunately, we were able to get a table and, lucky for us, Bernstein was also our server for the evening, which was a fundraiser for Maui fire victims. Chef Soule later told me it was a busy and successful evening.

We started with the appetizer special — two scallops perfectly cooked in a tangy, herbaceous Meyer lemon basil sauce. The accompanying breadbasket included house-made brown herb bread and locally made bread from Truckee Sourdough Company. 

We also had the salad special — arugula, goat cheese, garlic croutons, shaved fennel, watermelon radishes, and tomatoes with parmesan lemon vinaigrette. It was deliciously fresh and satisfying. 

Again, sticking with the specials for the evening, we chose the flaky, moist Alaskan Halibut with a citrusy lemon caper sauce, side of rice, and seasonal vegetables. Our other entrée was the white shrimp, scallop, and lobster tail medley. Bernstein suggested we add homemade fettuccine. All the seafood was perfectly cooked, and the fettuccine should not be missed. The entrees were served with a vegan brothy broccoli curry puree. 

For dessert we indulged ourselves and chose the Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port. This dark, dreamy port was the perfect pairing with the Queen of Sheba, a flourless chocolate cake and raspberry mango sorbet served with a ginger snap. This meal was outstanding — satisfyingly homey and seasonally fresh.

SOULE SURVIVOR: Soule Domain owner and chef Charlie Soule has overcome many obstacles to stay in business for almost 40 years. Courtesy photo

Many articles have been written chronicling Chef Charles Soule’s marvelous commitment to not only his employees, but also to the surrounding Tahoe community by preparing well-sourced, exquisite food in an enchanting setting. Chef Soule believes momentum in this business is vital. The past years have brought challenges, but he continues to press forward and ride the waves. With the help of his dedicated staff and family, Soule Domain has kept its momentum. It remains the go-to spot in the Kings Beach area for special occasions. 

~ Lori Havener has always had an interest in food. In high school she started a small catering business and her orange kiss-me cake won a Florida orange baking contest. In college, she worked for a catering company in Minneapolis. She loves cooking, learning about food, and entertaining with food.   


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