A Ketchum native, local restauranteur and owner of the Covey restaurant Jesse Sheue spent years learning and honing his craft in other locales before settling back in to his hometown with his wife and son. The importance of family and community was a big draw and is apparent in his restaurant which he and his wife designed to have the feel of a big living room or kitchen where everyone can mingle, eat, and connect.
Sheue got his start in the restaurant biz as a dishwasher—the worst dishwasher, he says—at Hailey’s CK’s restaurant when he was 23. “I was terrible but Chris [Kastner, owner of CK’s] took me under his wing and showed me how to act in a restaurant and what it takes.”
From there, Sheue went to culinary school, a decision he regretted choosing instead of working in the industry. Sheue headed to the San Francisco area where he would stay for several years, opened up his own restaurant, working in La Jolla for Tony Di Salvo and Marco Ferraro at Jacks, then to Santa Barbara to work for John Pettitt. After marrying his wife Jane in Nepal and backpacking in Asia for a year, they came back to San Francisco and became pregnant with their son.
“We were living in San Francisco and had my son there but we just couldn’t see us raising him and giving him the life that was great for a kid there in our minds,” Sheue said.
Ultimately, it was the kind of friends, family and support that Sheue felt growing up in Ketchum that convinced him and Jane to come to Idaho.
“It’s more about the way of life up here in the sense that we’re all in it together,” Sheue said. “It was important to us and it’s still one of those things that you can rely on that basically anyone in this community will do the right thing and help out. That sense of community is what’s really driven this Valley for so long.”
After working other restaurant jobs and searching for the right space for his restaurant, Sheue took over a spot that had previously housed a pizza shop, European bakery and countless others over the years. After an extensive remodel, the Covey was born. A true community endeavor, Sheue called upon friends and family to help create a restaurant that felt like home, both for him and the patrons. All of the art on the walls is courtesy of friends like Ketchum native and artist Rudi Broschofsky. Sheue’s cousin Cameron Minor at Migration Studios helped him with a lot of the work, including preserving the building’s original Douglas Fir wood that was cut in Ketchum and milled at an old mill in China Gardens.
The feel of the restaurant is both cozy and busy like a home during the holidays, just as Sheue intended. Warm rugs, fun art, and an open kitchen invite patrons in to try the ever-changing menu of food, food that Sheue doesn’t assign a specific genre or cuisine to. The menu is often inspired by local produce that is in season. After growing up here and eating at the Valley’s long-standing restaurants, Sheue also knew he wanted to create new dishes that wouldn’t get tired for regulars eating here.
After being open for about a year since December 2018, Covey has plenty of regulars, half of whom make up the Covey family while the staff make up the other half.
“Everyone I get to work with here is family, we all take care of each other,” Sheue said. “That’s been one of the biggest blessings of having a restaurant here is having friends or family members or people I’ve grown up with come here and help.”
Though it can be tough to make it in the restaurant industry anywhere, Sheue and the Covey family seem to have found their home.
“I grew up here and always wanted a restaurant here. For us, it’s all about feeding our family and friends. It’s a good place to just have our friends come and eat and enjoy food and wine and have good conversation. That’s the most important part: to feel like coming into someone’s house and sitting down for a family dinner.”