The 2017 Walnut Creek Citizens Institute

A few years ago, I participated in the Walnut Creek Citizens Institute classes. It was a great experience educating me about the ins and outs of the way the city runs Walnut Creek, and a way to get involved with various city initiatives.

Credit: walnut-creek.org
Credit: walnut-creek.org

For those who haven’t heard of it, the Citizens Institute is a 7-session class that includes tours, presentations and Q&A gatherings with City Council members, the City Manager, the Police and Transportation departments. It gives a good chance to get up close and personal with those who make decisions for our town.

Topics for 2017 will include city finances, getting to know the WCPD, the role of public works and how to improve one’s quality of life in Walnut Creek. The final class meets on Apr. 1 for a graduation of sorts, including a neighborhood showcase and lunch.

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If you live in Walnut Creek or are thinking about moving here, it’s a good opportunity to further increase your knowledge of this wonderful city and how it operates. If we learned anything from the Presidential election, it’s that every level of government is essential and it is important to be involved and participate!

If you want to join in 2017, the sessions will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. every Thursday from Feb. 16-Mar. 30. There is a $25 fee, which you can pay on the first day of class. For more information, check out the details here.

Wish is your go-to gift boutique

img_4779I had a client who recently  moved here from Seattle and texted me asking if I knew of any shops to buy cute gifts for the home, kitchen, and/or baby. She had found these types of boutique shops in Seattle and Minneapolis, but didn’t know where to go in the East Bay.

She was insistent that it be a small, boutique-type store rather thanwish-family your typical Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn stores. I immediately recommended Wish on Boulevard Circle in Walnut Creek. They are located in front of my favorite yoga studio (Just Be Yoga – another blog coming soon!), and I often meander through their store when I finish yoga.

Wish opened in 2013 and is owned by three generations of women: Susie, Sasha and 2-year-old Mila, who the website says is working on expanding their baby department! They’ve been in retail for decades, as Susie has owned retail stores all of her life and Sasha was in corporate retail in San Francisco. Wish also has a great vision of supporting the local community and giving back to it.

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They always have creative, unique gift ideas and they sell my favorite candle, “Votivo Red Currant.” There is barbecue stuff for guys, jewelry, bridal shower gifts, decorations and tons of baby items. If you need to buy a gift or something special for yourself this is the place to go. Just take a look at the photos – a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Two new breweries have opened in Walnut Creek!

img_9237 Attention, beer lovers! The Walnut Creek brewery scene has added two new hotspots to supplement shops like ØL. The most well-known, probably, is Calicraft Brewery, which opened its doors recently over by Shadelands, just off Ygnacio Valley Rd.

Calicraft, famous for its fun, local beer names (“The Bay,” “Oak Town,” and my personal favorite, “Buzzerkeley”) and for using unique California-grown ingredients like starthistle honey and cluster hops, was officially founded in 2012.img_9235

The small taphouse is in an industrial area at the back of a parking lot across the street from Fieldhouse Sports Center. Besides the beer on tap, Calicraft sells chips and jerky and growlers. They have a cool interior space with a huge TV and an outdoor deck with corn hole and a grass area with Adirondack chairs. It’s a really cool place to spend an evening with friends after work!

Closer to downtown is Farm Creek Brewery, which is literally just a small img_9346tasting area next to the tanks of the brewery. It’s located on Pine St., just around the corner from Pinky’s Pizza. Even though the space is small, it’s very hip and fun, and the service is friendly.

The owner and founder started homebrewing years ago and finally made img_9347his dream come true to open a location in Walnut Creek, where he and his family live. The brewery has a 12-tap system and homemade flights.

I can’t recommend their “Heather’s Limit” stout highly enough. Even members of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team who hate stouts said it was delicious, and it made for a really nice addition to my homemade chili – a future blog!

Calicraft is open Weds.-Fri. from 4-10 p.m., as well as Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-8 p.m. Farm Creek Brewery is open Mon.-Fri. from 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-9 p.m., and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Enjoy!

Anthropologie in Walnut Creek is irresistible

Last week, I walked into the new Anthropologie location in Walnut Creek just to check it out. The store, which moved to the old Barnes & Noble building on S. Main, is a perfect combination of funk, style and art. A few hundred dollars later, I was walking out with bags full of must-have, unique jewelry and a wonderful spiced candle that reminded me of Fall.

But it was more than just the items that made Anthropologie irresistible. Walking through is truly an experience made for all the senses. There are shopping options, browsing options and relaxation options. One of the three largest Anthropologies stores in the nation, this store immediately hits you with a floral scene upon entering, with a wide range of succulents and potted plants. There is a plethora of candles, an outdoor terrace with plants and furniture, a bedding section and, of course, tons of clothes and art. Knobs, aprons, dishes and cake stands filled the kitchen section, and I was surprised to find a bridal department, too!

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It was like shopping in your living room (of course, all the men were sitting around looking at their phones while the ladies shopped). Some items are new to the Walnut Creek location, such as the shoe department. As you saw in the slideshow, there are even zebras for sale (kinda…)! Go check it out when you get a chance!

Urban Remedy pops up in Walnut Creek

img_9278In August, Urban Remedy opened up next to Veggie Grill on Locust St. in downtown Walnut Creek.

The space is tiny, as it’s more of a grab-and-go joint than anything else, but they offer a lot of good healthy, paleo options to go along with their delicious organic jui ces.

As Walnut Creek continues to do away with fast food options like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, they are bringing more and more healthy options to the downtown scene.img_9277

Urban Remedy, which joins Mr. Green Bubble, Pressed Juicery and a few more in the organic juice movement hitting the East Bay.

Besides juice, Urban Remedy offers salads, bowls, wraps, rolls, soups, dressings, snacks and desserts. Check out their options here!

ØL keepin’ Walnut Creek hip and hydrated

IMG_9143Have you ever been to ØL Beercafe and Bottleshop in downtown Walnut Creek?

Since opening in 2013, ØL has become a mainstay on the East Bay beer scene.

With its dark, cozy interior and constantly-changing FullSizeRender (3)kegs of unusual, often strangely-named beers, it’s a great place to grab a drink.

The bar rotates small kegs of beer as they run out, so unless you’re a regular, chances are you’ll never taste the same beer here twice!

If you haven’t already, check ØL out next time you go downtown. It has plenty of tables in a small, private space, as well as a full bottleshop, separate bar area and a couple of refrigerators with unique beers available for purchase (both to drink at the bar and for take-home). If you’re hungry, you can order in a pizza from Skipolini’s next door or get some charcuterie.

And, of course, the crown jewel of ØL is its beer, which is just fantastic. When my team and I met there last week, we tried a few different beers, with the best of the bunch being a Mike Hess Ficus Fig Saison and a Mahrs Bräu Hell.

In past experiences, I’ve tried everything from barleywine to heavy ambers to sours. ØL is a local watering hole in Walnut Creek that resembles a European beer cafe, in that there are no TV’s and it’s not too loud to have a conversation.

The focus is on the delicious drinks and socializing with good company. ØL is a perfect place to start or end your night!

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Walnut Creek starting to rock the foodie scene

IMG_9049Do you smell that? It must be the eclectic mix of fresh, local dishes and fancy San Francisco-transplanted restaurants that dot the little town of Walnut Creek. It’s no secret anymore: Walnut Creek has become a foodie haven.

In fact, earlier this year, Livability.com ranked Walnut Creek as the 10th-best foodie city, based on the residents preferring independent and locally-owned restaurants over fast food chains (that might explain the disappearance of McDonald’s and Taco Bell over the last few months!).

Also getting a shout-out was The Art and Wine Festival, which draws thousands of visitors every year. From highly-rated stops like Walnut Creek Yacht Club, to the neverending list of new restaurants popping up, Walnut Creek has put itself on the radar among the best food cities in the country.

Is it any wonder that Walnut Creek is getting so much attention for its culinary game when places like Teleferic, Rooftop and Slice House can all pop up within a few months in the same building? A building that is next door to long-time favorites like Tomatina and La Fogata? Just down the block from hip dessert shops like Kara’s Cupcakes and Cream?IMG_9045

Walnut Creek has become an extension of the nearby food meccas of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

It has become the crown jewel for tourists craving good eats in the East Bay. It may not have any restaurants listed in the Yelp Top 100 nationwide, but the Bay Area has a ton.

So if you are looking to expand your epicurean tastes, check out Open Table top 10 Diners’ Choice Winners for the greater Bay Area. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful place and taste the bounty of menus it has to offer.

Fringe brings freshness to WC floral scene

IMG_3819 (1)Fringe Flower Co. in Walnut Creek is not your typical flower shop. With their unique designs, highly-green approach and free delivery to the nearby Kaiser hospital, Sarah and Jeanne do everything differently.

They were two florists who met by chance, conquered a big wedding together, and then decided they wanted a brick and mortar location in the area.IMG_3818

Last year, they founded it and opened up Fringe next to George’s Giant Hamburgers. And now, they’re really in business.

Both Sarah and Jeanne are from the Bay Area and are committed to a holistic business. They source their florals from premium flowers and local IMG_3820growers. Additionally, they work with recycled containers, compost, and deliver leftover florals to community groups, among other philanthropic efforts.

If you ever need a floral arrangement for an event or a wedding, make sure to give them a call! Deliveries can be made online, over the phone or via walk-in, and Fringe specializes in weddings, events, and corporate accounts.

They are open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturday’s from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

Calling all Foodies, Walnut Creek’s Restaurant Boom!

Good luck reading this blog and not drooling everywhere. In the most recent issue of Walnut Creek Magazine, they laid out a long list of new restaurants coming to town. Here is a quick run down of twelve new places to eat.

Credit: tonygemignani.com
Credit: tonygemignani.com

As part of Walnut Creek’s transition from sleepy suburb to must-see Capitol of the East Bay, the already thriving restaurant scene is getting another injection of new, hip hot spots.

First, let’s talk about pizza. As if we weren’t already spoiled by good pizza joints in Walnut Creek, MOD Pizza is moving into The Orchards, Slice House – from the world-famous Tony’s in San Francisco – will set up shop right below Teleferic and Rooftop, and Pizza My Heart will snag Project Pie’s old space on California.

The artist formerly known as Pyramid is going to be (highly-anticipated BBQ joint) Sauced, McCovey’s is turning into brunch king Momo’s, and the Hubcaps team is transforming their space into Broderick Roadhouse.

Credit: Twitter

Lemonade, a SoCal chain that serves fresh California cuisine, is coming to the old La Boulange space, and the aforementioned Rooftop is already enjoying a swell of crowds every night to dine and drink under the stars.

Looking for comfort food among all the fancy feasting joints? Hops & Scotch on Treat Blvd. will bring a restaurant and bar with mac n’ cheese, chicken strips, fried cheese curds and more.

And just to pile on top of the never-ending sushi craze, Kona Grill will enter at The Agora on Main, and also offer burgers and pasta.

Lastly, look for Limon Rotisserie and Lokanta Mediterranean Grill & Bar on Locust St.

Whew … just in time for summer dining!

 

Hotel Boom in Walnut Creek?

As prices for housing, hotels and, well, pretty much everything continue to skyrocket in San Francisco, travelers are starting to realize they can stay in the East Bay and BART to and from the city in order to save a lot of money. This will have a direct effect on Walnut Creek, which is right on the BART line and becoming a hotspot anyway.

New hotels are being reviewed for Walnut Creek, including a 160-room business traveler-targeted Marriott Residence Inn near BART (where the Jaguar/Range Rover dealership and Bank of the West are currently situated) that would open this time next year. The city has also reportedly discussed a boutique hotel being built in the downtown corridor.

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On one hand, this means more visitors discovering our beautiful little city and, therefore, more of a boost to the local economy. On the other hand, it means even more crowds and traffic. Higher prices for food, movie tickets and shopping. More loud, rowdy party-goers hopping from Crogan’s to Tiki Tom’s to Stadium Pub. You take the good with the bad.

Either way, if this hotel boom in the East Bay continues, it will accelerate Walnut Creek’s transition from small suburb to a must-visit Bay Area destination. I have already heard a few opinions of how people feel about Walnut Creek’s growth…please share your comments too! It’s always a hot topic.