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Community Portrait: They’re enjoying a flowering third career
By Michael Kirby,Auburn Journal           4/24/2008
Michael Kirby/Auburn Journal
Sherry and Henry Fiser are right at home in their florist shop, Country Florist, on Combie Road near Lake of the Pines. They have worked together for more than 28 years, through three unique artistic careers.

The longest journey begins with a single step.

So is the case with Sherry and Henry Fiser, residents of the Lake of the Pines area for the past 24 years. Their journey has been long and has taken a couple of artistic detours, but step-by-step, the Fisers’ journey through life has been fascinating and fulfilling.

Henry was born in France and, at the young age of 14, began the first passion of his life — food. He is trained as a French chef and, after immigrating to the United States in 1973, in 1977 opened La Ruche, a swank, very popular country French restaurant in West Hollywood. The quiet hideaway was next door to the famous Chateau Marmont Hotel.

It was at La Ruche that Henry met Sherry, the love of his life. Sherry walked in as a customer and, within weeks, she was the restaurant hostess. Within 10 months the two married in the restaurant.

The Chateau Marmont Hotel was a very discreet, luxurious, famous hotel, catering to Hollywood’s elite and visiting entertainment performers.

“Daily, many of the famous actors of the ’70s would come in — Paul Newman, Rock Hudson, Bette Davis,” Sherry said. “We had movie directors and rock stars also — Elton John, Barry Manilow — it’s hard to remember all of them.”

La Ruche only seated 55 and it soon became popular as a secluded dining spot for many of Hollywood’s players.

For the Fisers, art is life, art is food, art is furniture and art is flower arranging. They have applied their unique blend of artistic composition to all of these mediums.

Picking up a few pointers from two very famous heavy hitters in the Hollywood floral business, they soon began doing flower arranging for their own restaurant as well as weddings and receptions for many of their customers.

“I remember we did movie director John Landis’ wedding,” Henry said. “We left the restaurant at midnight, went to the flower market, and worked on the arrangements ’til the wedding started that day.”

Next came the couple’s furniture-building phase. Again calling on the contacts of the rich and famous cultivated by years in Hollywood, they applied their artistic talents to bentwood willow and pine craftsman furniture.

Dealing with a few designers, they immediately landed a large contract from Steven Spielberg doing the interior and exterior furniture for his Amblin Studios and specialty furniture for his home. That contract would last for more than a year. At that point, they sold the restaurant to their chef and went into furniture building full time.

In the early ’80s, Sherry talked Henry into leaving Southern California and moving north where she had family. They bought a fixer-upper on five acres near Lake of the Pines.

The couple continued to build furniture for clients down south and began cultivating new clients up north. Besides Spielberg, they built unique bohemian and southwest-style furniture, gazebos and trellises for Sharon Stone, Barbra Streisand and many other famous and not-so-famous clients.

In 2000, after Henry fell from a roof, the Fisers began looking for a way to make a living doing something less physically demanding.

He took a part-time job at the florist the couple would soon buy. In 2001, the Fisers purchased the Country Florist off Combie Road.

“We love it here and often say, ‘Why didn’t we open this shop 20 years ago?’” Henry said.

Open six days a week, the Fisers apply their artistic talents designing unique arrangements, and they have settled into their third career nicely.

The Fisers have been married for 28 years. They bring their dogs to work with them each day and still live on their acreage across Highway 49 from the shop.