Everyone Is In For A Huge Treat!

Heather, Aron, and I have been working on getting them into a commercial space at the Rossmoor Village Shopping Center on Tice Valley Blvd. There, they will be opening The Yogurt Spot (targeted to open later this summer). It has been a lifelong dream of Heather’s, who previously worked in events with Prima in downtown Walnut Creek.

A signed lease was just cemented in March. It will be a family-owned business serving the highest quality frozen desserts, from gelato and shaved ice, to many different flavors of frozen yogurt.

Heather and Aron are excited about being part of the community. Their son Aiden plays varsity football for Las Lomas and are very much looking forward to supporting the team along with a few other organizations near and dear to their hearts (such as Underdog and ARF).

The Yogurt Spot will be tucked between Starbucks and BurgerIM.

I can’t wait to see what they do with this small business yogurt stop and taste some of their frozen desserts!

New coffee shop just opened!

It looks like a new coffee shop just opened in downtown Walnut Creek! Good for them for opening during a lockdown, when so much is up in the air. I truly hope they do well! I saw their sign up in the Schroeder Insurance building a few weeks ago, but they hadn’t yet opened. I hav always admired this brick building it has such a cool architectural vibe, with the faux metal panels at the front entrance to the color of the bricks and now it is open for all to enjoy.

Now, according to their website and their Instagram, they are officially open for business, though at limited hours due to the pandemic (I’m guessing). The menu looks fantastic, and I really can’t wait to walk over and give it a try. Tellus Coffee is all about the healthy, good vibes. I mean, check out that plant wall!

That reminds me a lot of Rooted Coffee, which I’ve blogged about before. They found a brick-and-mortar home in Pleasant Hill after years at the Farmer’s Market. It seems like Tellus Coffee also has a ton of potential. Their menu includes everything from coffee to avocado toast to empanadas.

Here’s to hoping that COVID ends soon and we can all give Tellus a try indoors! For now it might just be grab and go. I know I’ll be placing a to-go order and visiting with my mask in the near future. I always love seeing what a new neighborhood coffee shop can offer our community!

The best street tacos! Who knew?

Of all the great taco joints in the Bay Area, I did not expect to find the best street tacos in front of the Concord Home Depot. But, I did! I found Kelly’s Deli, and I’m so happy that I stumbled upon it.

I met my handyman, Costa, there over the weekend to pick up some items for my client’s rental home. I commented about something smelling good as we walked through the store and Costa said that the taco truck has good food.

I thought it would all be junk food, but Costa said their street tacos were the best he has ever had. I couldn’t wait – I had to taste them even before I got home to take a picture! You can order chicken, pork, or steak. I got the chicken and hot or mild salsa/sauce.

Three tacos full of juicy deliciousness! Costa got the breakfast burritos to go for him and his wife. I will be back, because for $8.95, this is much more than your average taco truck.

Check out Batch & Brine!

Batch & Brine in Lafayette is the newest venture from the siblings and cousins who co-own Broderick’s. I’m not the biggest fan of the latter, to be honest, but since this was a separate venture, I wanted to check out their new place. I’m so glad I did!

Batch & Brine was created by a dynamic group of relatives — siblings, Mike, Rolla, and David Ghaben, cousins, Sam Ghaben and Celina Gonzales, alongside their son, Victor Ghaben. With roots that extend from New Mexico and the Mediterranean to California, their restaurant’s culture captures the essence of growing up in their family’s kitchens and restaurants.

Their craft cocktail/Mixologist manager Casey Carr personally came to our outdoor seating area. We wanted margaritas, but not too sweet, so he made a recommendation on tequila and used all natural ingredients (no purchased sweet and sour), and the result was delicious, smooth, and not too sweet. We really appreciated the personal attention and had a nice chat. He mentioned the family hired a chef who has worked in some San Francisco restaurants, but is from New York with Jewish and Cuban family roots who uses quality ingredients in the food.

I tried their sliders, and my friend had the blue burger with whipped Roquefort and pretzel roll; both had homemade pickles. Our meals were clearly made from quality ingredients and all the food was very tasty. This is a place that will definitely be one of my new go-to restaurants.

What made it even more special on a Friday night was they had live music and happy hour M-F from 2-5 pm, all which make the ambiance more comfortable, enjoyable, and inviting. They are not allowing indoor seating right now because of COVID-19, but they did have a fire pit and heat lamps outside, so you can still enjoy the “normal” sit-down experience.

Socially distance at Social Bird

I recently went to Social Bird in Lafayette, the latest venture from Esin & Curtis deCarion, who own Esin Restaurant and Bar and Revel Kitchen & Bar in Danville. I love exploring the new restaurants in the East Bay, and Social Bird is another great one!

Social Bird has two patios with lots of heat lamps and I was amazed on a Monday night how crowded they were, there was also 25% indoor seating and it was spread out well with side doors open to allow for ventilation. We went for a quick bite and some social time. I started off with one of their signature mules and what is great about them is they are not too sweet. They have small bites plates which are great for sharing and appealing happy hour from 3-5 pm.


This his restaurant is where Yankee Pier used to be, on Lafayette’s main drag Mt. Diablo Blvd. We had the chicken sliders and the meat balls recommended by the server. It was very good and the ambiance just perfect in the midst of covid.

Social Bird offers craft cocktails and rotating selection of beer, wine, and sustainable American fare. I’d highly recommend giving it a chance next time you go out to eat!

The changing face of downtown Walnut Creek

COVID-19 has proved a tough hurdle for all of us, but businesses have been hit especially hard. With California’s phases changing, going backwards, we’ve seen businesses shutter and the economy as a whole begin to dip.

Fuego

It’s no different for us in the real estate industry – home sales and the buying/selling process are looking different than they were even back in January due to the pandemic. Anyway, I was wandering around downtown Walnut Creek the other day after work (yes, with my mask on!) and noticed the innovative ways it is changing.

With indoor seating banned, the city streamlined permitting for outdoor dining by getting parking spaces blocked off to allow for more seating. It’s sad to see how this is all affecting the downtown that thrives on human traffic. There is a bunch of outdoor seating on Locust from Brodericks to Limon. A few spots already have outdoor seating (Sauced, Torsop but got more out front

Among the other casualties of the pandemic economy, PRIMA Ristorante has decided to close its doors – a Walnut Creek staple that had been around nearly half a century. I’m sad to see it go. Salons were open for a month and as the state recently pushed back opening, caused the salons to re-close. Some such as Ashley Flowers Hair found they have some outdoor space where they can still legally operate. Hopefully as a country, we can get a grasp on the spread of this virus as other countries have done before winter. I really need a mani/pedi. Continue to be careful, wear a mask in public and follow the local health guidelines so we can get back to some semblance of our previous lives!

Morucci’s: A History

During shelter-in-place, I did some giveaways supporting local businesses. One of them was a gift card to Morucci’s on Boulevard. I had an opportunity to speak with the owner, Robert Fambrini (a very Italian name for the owner of an Italian deli!), and ask a few questions.

He told me he spent 25 years in the Petrini’s market chain, a family-owned business until 1989. It was founded as a butcher shop in San Francisco in 1935 by Italian immigrant Frank Petrini and later expanded to specialize in gourmet foods. At the start of the 20th century, grocery stores were a lot like department stores, with different partners owning and operating their departments.

Robert was in six of the Petrini locations from San Francisco, Novato, and Moraga, to Walnut Creek. When asked what words of wisdom he would give his 18-year-old self, Robert replied, “Go slow. When you are young, you want to conquer the world, however financial issues will arise and you don’t want to extend yourself too far!”

He found trying to manage six locations at once was too much, and in 1989 Petrini’s ultimately sold to a Canadian company. Now he has been happy to focus on just one deli for the last 20 years – Morucci’s, in Walnut Creek. He says it is more profitable and much easier to manage. “It’s been a wild ride,” says Robert.

He said having one bigger deli is always better and that he’s happy it is in Walnut Creek. In hindsight, I wished I’d asked him how the name “Morucci’s” came about, but it was crowded and busy (no surprise to those who have been there!), so I’m grateful for his time.

Searching for the best local Chinese food…

I recently ordered takeout from Peony Garden, which is right next to Las Lomas, across from Kaiser. It is always a search for the best Chinese food, because from different regions the flavor and dishes change. I have had takeout from Peony before and, for me, it was good, not great. I am not a fan when restaurants make sauces too sweet when they shouldn’t, such as on Kung Pao Chicken.

I ordered a lot of food thinking I would eat it over a couple of days because Chinese is wonderful as a leftover dish, but I found a hair in my asparagus beef and ended up tossing it. That said, I struggle to note that because restaurants are struggling and have had no issues in the past. Surprisingly, they have dim sum and some great appetizers, so I would love to hear your feedback.

It is super close to my neighborhood so very convenient, however, I’m still searching for that local Chinese restaurant that I completely fall in love with. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

A Walnut Creek classic: Genova Deli

The first name that comes to mind when someone in Walnut Creek says “deli” is probably Morucci’s. Nothing wrong with that! However, keep in mind that Genova Delicatessen – located between CVS and Philz Coffee on Mt. Diablo Blvd. and S. California Blvd. – is also a Walnut Creek staple! It also has a second location on Treat Blvd on the backside of Safeway on Bancroft.

Genova is a classic Italian deli, where you choose your own bread and take a number before presenting both at the counter and getting a scrumptious, hefty sandwich made for you by any member of the quick, friendly staff. There are hot items as well, and desserts like cannoli and espresso.

Genova opened in Oakland in 1926 and their recipes (and family) come from beautiful Genova, a small port city in Northern Italy. They also have their own factory where they create authentic Italian entrees, raviolis, sauces, pastas, etc. When I recently went to grab a sandwich, during lunch on a weekend, it was packed with groups – from families getting a couple sandwiches up to a box full for a sports team!

For years I have been trying to recreate a sandwich for a local sub shop in Sparks, NV where I grew up: Roast beef on a french roll with sprouts, mayo, red onions and a vinegar & oil sprinkle. I keep trying to find a deli who can match it, so far Domincos in Danville has come the closest. I think it is because they have regular vinegar and not basaltic.

If the lines are too long at Morucci’s, or you simply want to mix it, give Genova Deli a try – I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. They recently emailed me 20% off for coming in and wanting me to come back, but it has a very short life – a week and they don’t honor it even if you are a day past the date.

Burgerim in Walnut Creek

Recently, I tried a new burger place in town! It is called Burgerim and it is in the recently remodeled Rossmoor Village, across from Safeway. The food was good – I went very vanilla on my choices. The angus beef seemed super fresh. I just had a traditional burger there. But I was thoroughly impressed!

Burgerim is an Israeli franchise. It was started originally in Tel Aviv, but was brought to the United States by the new owners and franchised out. Now it’s one of the faster-growing chains in the country! The name is a combination of “burger” and the Herbrew plural suffix “-im,” which reflects the company’s focus on selling smaller slider-style burgers in orders of 2-3 or more!

On that note, you can get party packs of sliders and burgers for office meetings and other events. The fries are kind of like potato chips but sliced thicker. Everything was really good. I would like to try one of the more unique burgers they offer, like the Hawaiian salmon burger with pineapple.

The ordering was a little bit slow and while I was waiting, another customer said, “Can I change my vanilla shake to chocolate?” They said yes. About three minutes later, they started to make the shake and I noticed they were making vanilla and I mentioned they switched it to chocolate. They are just getting settled; I spoke with one of the owners and they are still training and working out the process. The restaurant was crowded when I first walked in, which is a bit unusual for being nighttime in Rossmoor. But that is good for business and there is some seating, but they are banking on outdoor seating with our great weather. Give them a try and let me know what you think!