Peet’s Coffee is holding its own

In a town dominated by big chains like Starbucks and Dunkin, and little hipster shops like The Coffee Shop, it’s impressive that Peet’s Coffee (also a chain, just not as big as the others!) is still standing in downtown Walnut Creek.

I still love going there for a cup of coffee, especially on the weekends when a group of regulars play some music in the morning. It’s such a good “locals” spot, they have some great seats out front and it seems like I always know somebody when I am there.

Peet’s recently remodeled, updated their interior and seating, they even changed the color of the ceiling – check it out if you haven’t already or just enjoy the pictures.

There are no shortage of coffee options in downtown Walnut Creek, but if you like a good strong cup of Joe and want to listen to some music wander down to Peet’s on a Saturday morning and see how you like it!

Event Round-Up: Aug. 10

We’re going to go a slightly different direction here today, as I usually pull from a larger list of events and compile them for you. Instead, I’d like to focus on the Broadway Plaza Concert Series which has started this month. First, a few thoughts on the series itself:

Since they re-did the mall and have moved these concerts into the event plaza by Macy’s, I don’t really enjoy these shows as much as I used to. It is too crowded and it is fenced off, so people can still walk through.

I really liked the casual area that was once next to Stanford’s and behind the parking structure. It never felt too crowded there. I was thinking it might be better to move it to the top of the parking structure by Macy’s in the future.

With all that said, this is a good opportunity to get downtown on a warm summer night and enjoy some music with family and friends. Even if the layout isn’t as good as it used to be, the music is still there! So, here is the schedule for this summer – go check it out and let me know how you like it!

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(We’ve already had two of the shows go by, but there are still three more! You can bring blankets or chairs to the venue. Music always starts at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 15: The Cheeseballs

Aug. 22: The Unauthorized Rolling Stones

Aug. 29: Queen Nation

Art Town: Painted Frog!

I recently came across this in sculpture on my way to Physical Therapy. I hurt my shoulder back in March while skiing at Jackson Hole and kept thinking it would heal. In June, I finally went to my doctor to see if the PT would help. Muir Orthopedics recently moved to 2625 Shadelands Dr. in Walnut Creek. On the corner of Shadelands and N. Wiget, there is a community garden. On the Wiget side, I drive past this artwork and every time I laugh. This may not be the typical type of Walnut Creek art that I have shared in the past, but it is so funny and cute, I couldn’t pass it up!

The structure is made of rock, and shaped into a large frog with its tongue out, which is like a mosaic. The rocks have been painted to create a cute sculpture by the garden. I don’t know who created it, but I love it!

It’s refreshing to have a nice mix of goofy and eclectic art in our little town. We have a beautiful city to wander through, and this just adds another level of charm!

Event Round-Up: July 13th

Summer is in full swing, which means the event season is too! In a town like Walnut Creek, with a climate like the Bay Area’s, there is never a shortage of fun events in the warm summer months. Here are a few coming up!

Inflatables II (July 14-Sept. 15) – Walnut Creek

Following an overwhelmingly positive reception to the initial Inflatables exhibition in 2015, the Bedford Gallery is bringing it back this summer, with an opening day party on July 14th. Check it out here!

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$1 A’s Game (July 17) – Oakland

Every Wednesday home game, you can set your own price to sit in Section 322 at an A’s game! All proceeds go to community groups in Oakland. This is a very cool idea, and the A’s are playing great right now, too! More info.

Boundary Oaks’ 50th Anniversary (July 19-21) – Walnut Creek

Bring the family to this celebratory weekend at Walnut Creek’s most popular golf course. A family-friendly ice cream social and open house has live music, face painting, and more on Sunday. (Call GM Mike Ash at (925) 934-4775, x. 12 for more info!)

FREE Family Movie Night (Jul. 26) – Walnut Creek

Go enjoy a free movie at The Orchards Amphitheater by The Shadelands! Films start at 7:30 p.m. and there will be food available for purchase. This week’s show is Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse. More info here.

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Sports Basement Brewfest (Aug. 9) – Walnut Creek

Play games, listen to music, and drink craft beer at Walnut Creek Sports Basement from 5-8 p.m. This is their 6th annual event, and they also have them in other Bay Area locations. Check it out.

The new Riviera Apartments: SF in WC?

The new Riviera units downtown are pricey, but they give some people San Francisco vibes. Top and middle level ones are going in the $1-2 million range, but their target buyers are people moving out of the city for a reason. Not only is there parking, but it’s near BART and Target and have an HOA.

Some new tenants like the “city feel” the building itself puts off, with all the amenities you’d expect from newer units in downtown San Francisco. There is a nice upstairs lounge area, it’s close to public transportation, and best of all, there is car and bike parking!

There is even a fire pit, a bike lock and repair station, and views of Mt. Diablo. I know of one tenant who opted for one on the non-Mt. D side because looking at another building actually reminded her more of living in San Francisco. To each their own!

So far, the units are about 40% filled, but I’m sure that will continue to go even higher. Units get snatched up in Walnut Creek super fast these days, and the location is pretty ideal. It will be interesting to see how many SF transplants the Riviera apartments end up getting!

Art Town: BART parking

We discussed these cool pieces in a previous post about the Walnut Creek Transit Village, but I wanted to share the art and focus specifically on that. Also, you might need this link with so many changes coming to the BART parking situation. You’re welcome!
https://www.wcbartparking.com/

Dan Corson was the selected artist for the BART Station and it looks like it is part of his Grandicus work. This artwork celebrates its urban nature with bold colors that juxtapose its silhouettes against the beige backdrop of the parking structure. Sculpturally expressive in the daytime, the form and colors are designed to stand off against the neutral backdrop of the parking structure night, the artwork is designed to be responsive to the adjacent train environment.

It will celebrate the arrival and departures of the trains by changing color and providing chasing sequential colors that emanate from the cobra head fixtures. It is the intention that the colors will be more quiet and subdued (shifting between blues/teals/greens/yellows) and both sculptures slowly morph in the same color palette most of the time. When the trains arrive, the colors and speed of color changes and chases will become more “dynamic” and “active” and moveto a warmer palette (oranges/reds). Each train platform will be assigned to interact with one sculpture providing a sense of interactivity and dynamic change.

I have not seen it at night, but think the changing light will be in line with his other work that is quite spectacular. Check him out at: www.corsonart.com.

Monthly prices for a reserved spot in privately owned BART parking lot is now $120 a month. With Walnut Creek becoming such a hub for traveling workers, (see Riv.com a recent blog) it makes sense. All rents seem to be rising, look at the all changes in our local restaurant scene lately. At least this art brightens things up a bit!

Sunol Ridge is now TKK and that means Thai food

It must be a day ending in “y” if a popular restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek couldn’t keep its doors open. Sunol Ridge, which was a great little spot to get together for casual drinks or to watch a game, has given way to a new Thai restaurant called TKK.

It’s the way of the world in our little town now – high rents mean you always have to be busy, so I said goodbye to Sunol Ridge, and checked out TKK! You’ll be happy to hear that all those same TVs and a similar layout grace the building, so it’s still a good hang-out spot after work.

Obviously, the menu has changed now, but there is still a good Happy Hour at TKK, too! I went during the Warriors playoffs twice; once with a friend and once alone (when I ended up sitting next to an old friend!). The first time, we got the lettuce wrap appetizer and a couple of cocktails. The second time I had the lemongrass fish and both were amazing. The volcano beef (which is apparently very popular here), looked very appetizing. I was very happy with the food we got, and will definitely be back!

There’s a new Bedford Gallery exhibit!

I love going to see local art in Walnut Creek, and the Bedford Gallery in the Lesher Center is one of the best spots. They rotate their exhibits seasonally, and their latest one (which unfortunately just ended), was called “Tradition Interrupted.”

From the Bedford Gallery website: “‘Tradition Interrupted'” explores the methods used by artists to conflate contemporary ideas with traditional art and craft in a range of media, from prayer rugs on skate board tops and quilts to metal and ceramic. After hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of crafting and creating, many traditional practices continue to visually define a culture. Merging age-old customs with innovation, the artists in this show redefine or reclaim culturally historic ideas to create hybrid works for our contemporary world.

That pretty much hits the nail on the head! I found all of the work from interesting and out of the box from artists around the world, including Azerbaijan, Morocco, and India in works seen in these photos. Up next, the Gallery is doing inflatable contemporary art starting July 14th. They have free admission every first Tuesday of each month. I highly recommend visiting!

Event Round-Up: June 15th

It’s officially summer, in case you missed that massive heat wave at the beginning of the week! Time to plan around pool parties, trips to the beach, and picnics at the park! Here are some fun, local events for the next month or so happening in the Bay Area:

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Exploratorium: Self, Made (thru Sept. 2)

A really cool-looking exhibit about self-discovery that is on display for all ages at the Exploratorium all summer. Find out what makes you, you at this interactive-heavy exhibit. Information here.

Walnut Creek: Uncorked (June 20th)

The best restaurants in Walnut Creek offer delicious food, you’ll get to sip wine and walk through downtown, and mingle with the rest of the local community at this annual event. Get tickets here!

Walnut Creek: Music and Movies at the Park (June 21st)

This summer movie and music series will start at Tice Valley Park on 6/21, showing Bumblebee and playing the Rossmorr Band. Music starts at 7 p.m., and the movie starts around 8:30 (at sundown). Bring your family! Information here.

Pleasant Hill: Summer Concerts by the Lake (June 23)

Every other Sunday in Pleasant Hill, you can enjoy free music by the lake from 6-8 pm. On this date in particular, you can take in the sounds of Midnight Flyer. For more info and a full schedule, visit:
https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/888/Festivals-Events.

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The Mercury News

Orinda: CalShakes (July 3rd)

Can’t beat a great outdoor venue for some small-time theater. Though the run on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be over at CalShakes, you could take up The Good Person of Szechwan or plan ahead for House of Joy or MacBeth later in the season. Get more info here.

More apartments to come in WC Transit Village

As you may have noticed, the Walnut Creek BART station has taken on some renovations. There is now a new large 900 space parking structure along with a bus terminal at street level on the southwest side of the Bart station. Now, the loading zone is on the opposite side and getting there is trickier than it used to be as you can’t get in and out of area the way you could before.

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WCTransitVillage.com

This is all part of the transformation to the Walnut Creek Transit Village which is starting to taking shape. In addition to all the construction of apartments and condos on the side streets around Walnut Creek BART (see past blogs), they are building a mixed-use development with 360 apartment units, shops, restaurants and public plazas in the northwest lot next to Pringle Ave. It is supposed to have all the amenities you’d expect from a modern housing development (co-working space, pool and spa, rooftop deck, bike repair lounge, fitness center, etc.). Currently, there is a fence surrounding this old parking space and lots of weeds.

The second part of this project, on the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. will have about 240 units and 12,000 square feet of retail space. That is expected to break ground next year. Combined with all the other new living areas around BART, the station really is being transformed into a living/shopping village.

The renderings look beautiful and the BART police station rendering turned out exactly like the finished product. As with any new development, the city requires some sort of art work to be installed and the most recent garage addition recently added their personal touch. We’ll discuss these pieces later in a separate blog post. My son visited me this weekend, hasn’t been in Walnut Creek since last August, and he feels it has really changed in nine short months. Our once sleepy town has grown up and continues to transform.