Tender Greens does away with cash

Technology is advancing everyday things in our daily lives. As you’ve probably experienced plenty of times by now, you can simply swipe your card straight on a register’s iPad and have the receipt emailed to you. Tender Greens in Walnut Creek is taking things even further.

They have a sign when you walk in declaring that they are “cashless” now. They accept all major credit and debit cards, and have an app that makes everything super easy and streamlined. To me, that is a dangerous move since they are eliminating an entire form of payment. I don’t always use cash (rarely, in fact), but it’s nice to have that choice. And this move has totally backfired for other restaurants recently.

As the link above mentions, the wait can be even longer, and it becomes very inconvenient for anyone with cash on them and being surprised by the new policy. Additionally, there’s the aspect of losing the human element. Also, doesn’t that kind of ruin tipping for their staff? Sure, you can tip on a receipt, but just having a tip jar out at the counter probably invites people to throw a couple extra bucks in there after ordering. Besides the move to cashless, Tender Greens also updated their logo and menu.

I went there recently and tried the salmon with a side salad and roasted cauliflower. Like usual, the food was great! I enjoy the freshness of the food they provide and the menu is right up my alley. However, I’d still like to be able to pay with any petty cash I may have on me at the time. Hopefully this strategy works out for them, and they don’t have to issue a mea culpa like Shake Shack.

I love my mechanic!

Recently I have had some car problems. I have been wanting another SUV that I can take up to the mountains, put my skis and dog in, and also looks nice for clients. So, last year I decided it was time to sell my Mini Cooper. But, I kept getting the “check engine” light on and occasionally it would overheat. I needed to get it fixed before I sold it and that became a drawn-out process.  Luckily, I have a great mechanic who has bent over backward to help me stay on the road.

CK Auto Repair in Martinez has taken great care of me and my cars over past few years after a friend recommended them after the BMW dealership cost me $800 for an oil change, check-up and air in my tires. Highway robbery! That coincided with a poker tournament I was playing in and a couple of the guys were raving about their mechanic and how he is the only one they want fixing their classic cars. Lo and behold, it was Danny at CK Auto.

After much soul-searching and replacing of parts when the engine light came on, we discovered that my Mini needed a walnut flush. That is where it gets rid of the carbon build-up. I bought it pre-owned and had always put in premium gas, but I’m not sure what the previous owner did.

I feel Danny was always fair; I was in there a lot and got to know Danny and his son Jessie, along with the rest of the crew as they were searching for a solution. He even would occasionally lend me a car so I could still work without having to rent one every couple of weeks. If you need any kind of help with one of your cars in the East Bay, I can’t recommend CK Auto Repair highly enough. Say my name and they’ll take good care of you!  And, if you are in the market for a Mini Cooper (2009), give me a call. It has a lot of new parts and is running sweet again!

Good pizza hidden next to a high school?

There are a lot of great pizza joints in and around Walnut Creek. I’ve written about many of them in this blog, but most are also located right downtown in an easy-to-find spot. However, one of the best pizza in Walnut Creek is hidden in a tiny building right next to the main Las Lomas entrance!

If you want affordable combos and really great pizza, try Pan Coast Pizza! It’s a popular spot for high school kids after school lets out, and I can see why. They have a pizza, salad and drink combo for $9 and their large slices go for about $3 each. This place is well worth it.

I’m a huge fan of the cheese they use on their pizzas – it really just brings everything together. You can taste the quality in every bite. And it’s evident that the husband and wife duo who own and run the place have taken time to perfect their pizza.  They told me they get their cheese from Wisconsin and their tomatoes from Italy. I like the thin-crust style and my favorite is the cheese pizza.  They also serve strombolis, hoagies, salads, and more. Their motto is “a taste of the East Coast,” and they really mean it!

Julie and Robert have both worked in pretty much every cooking position there is, in states all over the country. They started in Pennsylvania, which may be where they get a lot of their inspiration from. They also both have experience working in acclaimed San Francisco restaurants.

Whatever they’ve done here, it is working out fabulously. Luckily for me, Pan Coast Pizza is just a short walk from my neighborhood, so whenever I am hankering for a slice, I know where to go. I give Pan Coast Pizza 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

Amazon goes brick-and-mortar in Walnut Creek

Everyone knows Amazon for being the world’s foremost e-retail giant. In fact, you probably ordered – or at least looked through – Amazon items for gifts this holiday season!  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, they started building some brick-and-mortar bookstores, including one in downtown Walnut Creek.

I recently bought a gift at the store located in Broadway Plaza between Kate Spade New York and Aritzia. It was like any other bookstore, except for a few Amazon-specific twists. For example, you can pay with the Amazon app at the register as long as you are a prime member and you get the Prime discount. As a Prime user myself, I really liked that perk!

The books all have Amazon user ratings and reviews posted underneath them, which nicely combines the convenience of shopping on Amazon.com with the classic, enjoyable feeling of being at a real bookstore. I have to say, since Barnes & Noble was replaced, it’s felt like there weren’t any good places to browse or buy physical books downtown.

Now, you can go to the future of books – Amazon’s bookstore – right in the heart of the shopping district. You can buy a cup of Peet’s coffee right in the store and peruse books like the good old days or just take a break from the hecticness of shopping.  Wait, isn’t that what you are doing at the Amazon bookstore? Maybe not? The concept is to have top sellers, a kids area, and, of course, a place to sell Amazon technology like Alexa.

Nordstrom Cafe is a nice spot to snag a quick meal

Getting hungry while doing your holiday shopping? Not to worry! Nordstrom is right in the middle of Broadway Plaza, and has a great cafe that always hits the spot.

Nordstrom Cafe has quality food. I usually get their salads, but they have great entrees and always plenty of good choices for food to take on the run.

And it’s not your standard, run-of-the-mill, in-store cafe, either. They have items like tomato basil soup, shrimp and arugula salad, freshly-prepared pizzas, and delectable sandwich options. Don’t miss Chef Todd Nelson’s daily picks, either.

You really can find fine dining anywhere in Walnut Creek these days! Nordstrom Cafe will give you an easy, quick option for your holiday shopping, especially during rush hour.

I’d highly recommend the  Mixed Berry Chicken Salad or the Chicken Apple & Goat Cheese Salad, but I’ve also tried their soups and salmon entree. It is reasonably priced for the food they serve, too. Can’t beat that!

SaveSave

Newest must-see boutique: Filthy Gorgeous

Can one city have too many boutique stores? Not when it’s the holiday season, and definitely not when the newest redo boutique store in town is one of the coolest ones I’ve seen!

Filthy Gorgeous took over the space on S. California Blvd. and Botelho Dr. next to the Site for Sore Eyes and Jinny’s. It is a small corner that was previously vacant. It is just a few steps away from Broadway Plaza, where it had a store prior to the Broadway Plaza remodel.

Besides the ideal location, Filthy Gorgeous has some truly stunning home decor in their store. You can get anything from furniture, to art, to lighting to the basic home decor. They also run an interior design business, and you can see pictures of ongoing local projects on the website.

The brother-sister team of Jonathan and Tirzah created Filthy Gorgeous together and have grown it into a massive business that has been featured in multiple national outlets and on TV. And now they are back in Walnut Creek!

When I visited, I was really impressed by the style and choices in the store (my favorite items was a Buddha Goddess Head). Someday, I’d like to redecorate certain parts of my house with items from Filthy Gorgeous. Once you visit, you’ll probably want to do the same!

Filthy Gorgeous gets a perfect 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me!

SaveSave

Have you been to the Capital One cafe?

Have you noticed the new little cafe next to the Apple Store in downtown Walnut Creek? It’s a Capital One banking cafe – a new concept they’ve imagined in cities around the country.  It took me some time to stop by as it was such an odd concept; banking in a cafe? Here is the company’s blurb about who they are:

Ready for a reimagined banking experience? You’ve come to the right place. Capital One® is a new kind of bank, one that’s built on digital tools and human connections. People are at the heart of everything we do, so we keep the banking experience simple and straightforward

This location gives customers access to financial planning and banking options while grabbing a cup of coffee or tea. The cafe also hosts community events (This Friday, Dec. 15, is Ugly Sweater Day!) and does some philanthropy in the area. Nonprofits, alumni associations and student organizations can book their Private Community Room for meeting space during regular business hours.

They’ve teamed up with Peet’s Coffee and Tea to provide Walnut Creek residents with a great little place to relax while they’re banking or working on their laptops. Now that I have stepped into it, I find it is really a brilliant idea and marketing strategy by Capital One. There is also a cool lounge area with interesting artwork.

They also have a more private nook and conference room should you need it. Jason (pictured below) was very helpful about their concept and even gave me a ticket for a free drink. If you are a Capital One card holder, you get half off your purchases at Peet’s, and everyone can wander in and use the ATM with no fees and get free Wifi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is also serving a niche for those self-employed folks who need to get out of the home to have a meeting or a quiet  place to work. It is a cool space where you can snag a great cup of coffee, tap free wireless, and work, which might make it worth getting a Capital One card.

SaveSave

Check out Limon for great food and drinks!

I recently tried one of the new restaurants in Walnut Creek, Limon, and it did not disappoint! It’s situated on Locust St., next to Vitality Bowl. I have now been for both lunch and dinner; both times I ate some great food, and right before the Warren Miller movie, fantastic pisco sours!

The vibe is like many new restaurants in Walnut Creek: a nice, hip atmosphere, slightly overpriced, but it delivered on results.  The roasted chicken and ceviche are their signature dishes and the Pisco sours do not disappoint.

In our rush to get to the movie, we sat at the bar and shared a half chicken, green beans and we just had to have the truffle macaroni and cheese.  My only complaint is when we left, my clothes smelled smoky like cooked food.

Overall, I really enjoyed Limon, especially those pisco sours! They have an extensive bar and a fabulous selection of Tequila.  A handful of restaurants have recently closed (Lark Creek, Sunol Ridge and Vic Stewart’s), making Limon a great option for a nice dinner.  There are two locations in San Francisco, one in Burlingame, and one opening in Hawaii this year.

I give Limon 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s.

WC Proposed Land Use Survey

In a recent survey given by the Walnut Creek City Council about proposed land use and circulation concepts, we saw some interesting results about what citizens want to see in the future. Take a look at the survey results here.

Residents may want more bike lanes like these ones in Portland, OR, as long as they don’t interfere with parking!

For example, people really seem to like the idea of bike lanes, but want landscaping and extra parking even more, and most don’t want additional living spaces.

One theme throughout the results was that people want more creative, walkable spaces. One question asks if facilitating a “Makers’ Row” along Pine St. for hand-crafted manufacturing spaces like brewing, ceramics and jewelry-making was a priority. An overwhelming 75.1 percent of respondents supported that idea.

Most questions regarding more office or living developments were either split evenly or heavily disfavored. It seems like residents of Walnut Creek are more interested in retail and restaurant spaces, publicly usable areas and space that encourages outdoor activity than just another apartment building.

Beautiful parklets like Coffee Shop’s might start gracing the Walnut Creek streets if poll respondents have their way! (From Coffee Shop’s Instagram feed)

In fact, 74.2 percent of respondents support an arts-entertainment-hospitality district that might include an outdoor plaza for events and with a focus on public art. A general question about enhancing the public realm with small public plazas, parklets and seating areas received a whopping 79 percent approval on the survey.

When the survey then asked what that proposed arts-entertainment-hospitality district would look like, hotels, conference facilities and mixed-use living/work spaces were all not supported by the majority of respondents. Anywhere from 65 to 81 percent of people who responded did support restaurants, retail, art galleries and theaters in that section of the survey, though.

This is an interesting glimpse into the potential future of our great little city. What do you have to say about the poll? Do you agree or disagree with the results?

New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!