Holiday Outreach For The Homeless

Every year, I try to do some volunteer work to benefit the homeless in the Bay Area. This year, I worked with Hope 680 and Trinity Center. Trinity used to want coats and miscellaneous clothing items, but they are now a bigger organization with a list of items on Amazon that you can donate to and of course they still accept gift cards and cash.

I can’t really know whether Trinity received any items from the outreach I did, but I hope so! I did have a lot of neighbors who dropped off blankets, sleeping bags, coats, and socks for Hope 680. That organization partners with NorthCreek Church on Ygnacio Valley Rd., which is where I dropped off those donated goods.

Hope 680, a Christian non-profit ministry in Concord, is an independent entity partnering with local churches to provide food, prayer, coats and blankets. They are dedicated to the vision that every homeless person in the 680 corridor experience love and have access to services.

At Trinity, they collaborate with the Walnut Creek P.D. to form a Walnut Creek Homeless Community Task Force to make a positive impact in the area’s homeless community. If you have the time and means, please give to a charity of your choosing this holiday season! Wishing you a Happy Holiday season and a moment to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for.

A closing in Walnut Creek!

I recently closed on a home at 536 Coralie Dr. in Walnut Creek. My clients, Kim and Adam (I have known Kim since the 90s!), had been living in a small flat in San Francisco for many years. But their last child recently went to college, and they decided the East Bay would be a nice place to live – and more affordable than the city.

We met this summer over lunch and talked about what they were looking for. They worked on their approval, we tinkered with their search criteria, and then started to look at homes. They fell in love with one right out of the gate, which had been on the market only a couple of days. When I called the listing agent to get additional information, I was informed they had just accepted a preemptive offer. 

A few weeks later, we looked at another set of houses and they decided to write. There were 7 offers. We went above the list price, and they decided to remove all contingencies. Three offers were countered: only those who removed contingencies and all above asking. So, the sellers did not counter price. I inquired with the agent if we were the highest and he said no. 

These clients were the fastest learners of how to compete in a crazy market. They decided to go all-in, gave them a couple of weeks of rent back, and won the house. They are so excited to have fruit trees, a backyard with extra space, and a cook’s kitchen. Sometimes dreams do come true!

A Celebration At Galpão Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse

This was my first time eating here and it is definitely a place for celebrations. I took my son, Ryan, who was turning 30, and his girlfriend, Emma, for his birthday. He was out visiting high school friends for a long weekend and stayed at my house on Sunday. 

This is a high-end restaurant with a fixed-price menu. It is $63.67 per person, which includes a gourmet salad bar and all the meat you can eat, with popover bread and sides of mashed potatoes and fried bananas. 

You are given a card; the red side means you are not yet ready for meat, and the green side means to bring the spits by. Emma decided she wanted the meat right away while she was eating her salad, so they kept coming by the table. I ended up with meat because they kept stopping by.  I did feel a bit rushed.

However, if you order while eating the salad, you don’t fill up on the salad bar.  Of course, drinks, bottled water, and deserts are additional.  We brought a bottle of wine and the corkage fee was $25.  I was impressed with the salad bar; it was well-stocked and clean. You had to put on plastic gloves to pick up the tongs – part of COVID restrictions, I assume. 

A waiter would come with a big skewer of meat, slice a piece, and you would grab it with your tongs to put on your plate. A favorite among us was the roasted pineapple they would slice for you. Ryan and Emma mentioned they had been to other types of Brazilian restaurants and they were much larger, so it took longer for the different meats to come along. 

For me, I am not sure that would be a bad thing, as I would have liked a slower pace to enjoy the moment. Have you tried Galpão Gaucho? If so, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Mt. Diablo’s 100th Birthday!

Did you know 2021 is Mt. Diablo’s 100th birthday? In 1921, it was just a few hundred acres of land you could reach by private toll round. Now, in 2021, it has grown into the 20,000-acre park we all get to enjoy today!

For thousands of years, the caretakers of the land were Native Americans who considered Mt. Diablo a sacred place. Of course, there were gold seekers and ranch owners who eventually forced Native Americans from the land but we are lucky that the park we have today is preserved and protected from development.

A few months ago, my son was visiting from the East Coast with his girlfriend and he wanted to show her where he grew up. We decided to head to Rock City to see the wind caves and the sentinel. Surprisingly, I had never been there before. After a few hours of hiking and adventures of rock climbing, we took a drive to the summit for 360-degree views of the Bay, Marin, and the Valley.

It was still a bit hazy with some leftover fire smoke, but you could see the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. I had forgotten there was a beacon atop the Mt. Diablo tower to navigate night planes before electronic navigation. It now only lights up once a year, in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. What a fascinating tidbit – keep your eyes peeled for the blinking light this December!

One other bonus of the fall atop Mt. Diablo is that October is mating season for tarantulas. Over the years, I’ve seen several tarantulas while hiking through Shell Ridge, but the Park Ranger said they seem to congregate at the Mitchell Canyon entrance area in Clayton. He also mentioned that mornings and evenings are the best time to see them. It’s quite a sight, but not for the arachnophobes out there.

All in all, we are lucky to live in such a gorgeous place, under the shadow of an amazing peak like Mt. Diablo. Here’s to 100 more years of exploring it!

A Must Try…Dumpling Hours!

Dumpling Hours is the newest (and apparently, the can’t-miss!) location in downtown Walnut Creek for dumplings. They opened back in mid-August and are always packed. Even when I drove by on a weekday at 11:30 a.m., there were already people eating outside!

No longer do you have to go all the way to San Francisco to get excellent dumplings. At Dumpling Hours, you can get a number of tasty appetizers and buns steamed, boiled, or fried. They also have soup, soup dumplings, vegetable options, and noodle dishes.

We tried some green beans, a Dan Dan noodle dish, and a couple of different kinds of dumplings. They were all excellent! The owners of San Francisco’s Dumpling Home opened this second spot and we are lucky they did.

We went on a Saturday evening, there was a long wait list, so we put our name in and walked to check out a couple of other restaurants. By the time we got back, 20 mins, they had called our name. We opted for either inside or outside, so that may have made it quicker. I highly recommend giving them a try, if you do, please let me know what you think! Have you tried Dumpling Hours yet?

Music In Broadway Plaza

As we (very) slowly creep back towards normal with more people getting vaccinated, we are allowed to go back to some of our regular social activities – especially those ones that are outdoors and naturally socially distanced. Baseball games come to mind, for instance. But so does music in Broadway Plaza!

Every summer, Broadway Plaza hosts a summer concert series on Thursday nights in August. They are back in 2021, with two of their shows remaining. Tomorrow night, Briefcase Blues Brothers will take the stage at 7 p.m.

white and black boat on sea under blue sky

The following (and final) Thursday (Aug. 26), Tainted Love will play at the same time, in the same place. They encourage concert-goers to bring their own chairs, as there is only limited seating provided, and drinks and food will be available for purchase at the show and at the surrounding eateries.

I’ve been to a few of these in the past and they are always such a blast! And it feels great to get back out there and do something social, even if we are still under some COVID restrictions.

I Love Tacos!

There’s a new taco bar on Geary in the Sprouts shopping mall. I love tacos, so I had to give Que Onda Taco Bar a try. My first impression of the place itself is that it’s a pretty cool-looking restaurant with some funky artwork that really draws your attention.

As for the food itself…I was impressed! They have homemade tortillas, and you choose what you want on them. Like many places, guacamole is extra. I had the Birra and the grilled chicken tacos. The Birra was especially delicious. And the salsa that goes with the chips is smokey but really good.

Have you tried Que Onda yet? If you’ve visited, I’d love to hear your review of Walnut Creek’s newest taco spot. Let me know in the comments below!

I Have Been A Busy Bee

There were three closings on my clients’ homes last week. I’ve been busy! See all three below, with a short description of the processes:

Sometimes it just takes finding the right buyer for the home! I listed this home after the sellers already had moved to their new location. In a crazy market, people still want flat lots or houses with no work to be done. The market spoke, and the original listing ended up at $2,050,000. It was situated on an upslope with no flat yard and a retaining wall that needed work, along with deck repairs.  Once the price was lowered, interest increased and an offer came.

This was a great listing within walking distance to downtown Martinez. It’s a newer Mediterranean “green” townhome. It was great to work with an agent I had worked with in the past.

I represented a first-time home buyer, who decided to cancel when the sellers wouldn’t give the full credit he requested, then kind of regretted his decision. I had called the listing agent saying if the new buyers couldn’t perform, that my buyer was interested in getting back into contract. He ended up getting the full credit via a price reduction once the sellers took away the one-year home warranty. Sometimes it takes out-of-the-box thinking to make things work.

Limon Opens Up In Walnut Creek

I checked out a new taco place in Walnut Creek recently: Limon! It’s located just down the street from where Cost Plus World Market used to be located. With no shortage of Hispanic food in our town, I wanted to see how it stood up to the competition.

I thought the food there – tacos especially – was just…okay. They serve tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and a bunch of other Mexican food favorites. Limon operates a food truck in Fremont, as well as two other locations (Fremont and Martinez).

As mentioned, I thought the tacos were decent. I’m not sure they impressed me enough to go back, especially with so many good tacos in the Bay Area. I’m still a fan of Las Panchos, which has been an East Bay staple for several years now. Limon in Walnut Creek is one of three locations – the original being in San Francisco.

Have you visited Limon? What did you think about it?

NOTE: Correction – we originally confused Limon with a different restaurant of a similar name that serves Peruvian food. We regret the error!

WC Putt Putt – New Local

The temporary mini-golf course next to Mel’s has moved and expanded! They signed a six-month lease to be on the side parking area next to where KFC used to be (or for those who didn’t live here yet/don’t remember KFC, it’s in the same lot as The Habit).

Mini-golf is always a fun way to enjoy the outdoors with your family, especially during the tail-end of these COVID-19 restrictions. This course in Walnut Creek has 18 holes and only costs $10 to play. Check for open times, they are not open all week, but definitely during the weekends.

As for the property itself, the ongoing battle about height requirements must have been resolved, as Mark Hall is going to develop this location. It will take up to a year for approvals to get going, but that space has sat dormant for several years, so it will good to see some changes on this corner.