Walnut Creek updates!

Normally, we reserve event updates for our monthly round-up’s on Saturdays. However, the Walnut Creek City Manager newsletter for April was so chock full of great events coming up in the next week or so, we couldn’t resist sharing a few of them with you. There is a lot of stuff happening in Walnut Creek, so here’s our best all-things-WC blog. Check it out!

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EVENTS

April 13: 2nd Saturday Spotlight

A 90-minute walking tour of Shell Ridge is followed by a visit to the Lakewood neighborhood, where the effort to preserve open space in Walnut Creek gained traction decades ago. Register here!

April 13: Family Yoga

Let’s stay at the Shadelands for a family-friendly version of yoga from 10:30-11:15 a.m. on Sat., Apr. 13th! Onsite registration begins at 10:00 a.m. and it’s a $20 suggested donation per family. BYO yoga mats!

April 20-21: Easter Weekend

Boundary Oak Golf Course is hosting an Easter egg hunt on Sat., Apr. 20th from 1:00-3:00 p.m. This is a free event, featuring an Easter Bunny, jump house, and face painting! On Sun., Apr. 21st, from 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., you can enjoy a champagne brunch ($40 adults, $20 kids, plus tax and gratuity). Make reservations at (925) 934-4775 (ext. 20).

RESTAURANTS

Bier Haus, Galpao Gaucho, Burma Unique, & Burgerrim 

These four places are in the works to replace Lark Creek Cafe, Momo’s, Chevel, and Salon 13, respectively. We’ll have a more thorough blog about these soon. Bier Haus is German fare like Wienerschnitzel and German Beer, Galpao Gaucho is a Brazilian steakhouse, Burma might be like Burma Superstar, and Burgerrim is already in the renovated Rossmoor Plaza with another one downtown. It will be interesting to see how they all get received in Walnut Creek!

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Mangosteen

You can never have enough pho! Mangosteen just opened next door to Havana and I’m excited to try it. It doesn’t hurt to have a delicious pho restaurant right in the middle of downtown.

OTHER

Pic: Just Be Yoga

Just Be Yoga

Just Be is moving to where Diane’s Swimwear used to be on Locust St. next door to Peets as they lost their lease on Blvd Circle! They will have two yoga rooms, thus two classes at the same time or overlapping.

Bondadoso Coffee is charming and quirky!

My colleague recently visited Bondadoso Coffee on Pine St. in downtown Walnut Creek. It is chock full of cute, fun, and interactive stuff but also serves good snacks and drinks. Altogether, it was just a great place to hang out!

Some of the most interesting aspects of Bondadoso Coffee is that there are quotes, social areas, a question of the day place to write your own answers, and a rock-painting station! If you were ever worried about bringing your kids to get coffee with you, you don’t have to worry here. The hardest is remembering how to pronounce the name. However if you speak Spanish then you know Bondadoso is Spanish for “kind.” Simply stated, this is a place for people to gather and share great coffee and tea in an environment that is uplifting, welcoming, and kind.

With so many great coffee shops popping up these days and leaving (i.e. Sweetwaters Tea), it’s going to be tough to break into the market. But if Bondadoso can keep up its charming, fun atmosphere, they should create a specific niche. In addition, the city is looking to make this area more into an artisan destination with craft breweries, artist collectives, etc., but for now there is quite a bit of automotive business in the area.

They have an extensive collection of unique coffee and tea representing nearly every growing region of the world, a traditional espresso bar, a single cup brew bar, and a tap wall with 8 types of cold-brew coffee and tea offerings including nitro-coffee. The only thing I would like to see – since they are only a few blocks from my office – is some lunch menu items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches.

Event Round-Up: Mar. 23

It’s finally Spring, everyone! That means less hiding inside from the rain and a lot more hiking, biking, and going-outsiding! Here are some outdoor-centric events coming up for the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy!

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Spring Brews Festival – Mar. 30th (Concord)

This is a TSBA Arts Foundation benefit from 12-4 p.m. A ticket will get you access to tastings from more than 60 breweries, plus live music and food! More info available here.

Makenplay Robotics – Mar. 30th (Walnut Creek)

Okay, this one isn’t outside. But it’s a really cool opportunity for your kids to get a crash course in robotics and other STEM-related learning! Ages 6-13 welcome, and it’s at Sweetwaters Tea downtown. It isn’t cheap, but it is a great 3-hour course. Check it out!

Shops & Hops Craft Brew Stroll – Apr. 4 (Danville)

Cute downtown Danville? Check. Shopping? Check. Beer festival? CHECK! From 6-9 p.m. the Museum of San Ramon Valley is hosting this craft beer stroll and tickets are only $25!

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Meet the Easter Bunny! – Apr. 13 (Alamo)

Make your kids’ day by bringing them to Alamo Plaza Shopping Center from 12-2 p.m. to meet the Easter Bunny! There will be other child-friendly activities there, too. Just make sure to bring your own camera!

Downtown Walking Tours – Apr. 13 (Walnut Creek)

The Walnut Creek Historical Society can answer all of your questions about the history of downtown on this $5, 90-minute tour. It starts at Liberty Bell Plaza and check-in will commence at 9:00 a.m. sharp! More details.

Art Town: Skinny Grove

Last time we wrote an Art Town blog, we went to The Orchards for some neat, interactive weather vane-type sculptures. Well, we’re right back at The Orchards again today for this piece: Skinny Grove by Cork Marcheschi.

The sculpture is mesmerizing, especially at night. It was created in 2016 out of aluminum and LED lights. It pays homage to a 500-acre fruit and nut orchard that used to stand at that exact corner of Walnut Creek for almost 100 years!

Marcheschi, the San Francisco-based artist says he only changes one thing when he works: the gradual shift in intensity of light. It’s pretty cool to see the differences between each individual sculpture up close, and especially so once the sun goes down and the lights come on. Marcheschi has works across the country, as well as in Europe and Asia.

Have you been to Fat Maddie’s?

There’s a burger restaurant taking the East Bay by storm. The closest location to Walnut Creek is in Pleasant Hill, so you can wander over to our neighboring town anytime to catch a bite of Fat Maddie’s!

According to their website, Fat Maddie’s is a family business with locations in Pleasant Hill, Blackhawk, and San Ramon. They create Southern food with ingredients from a family farm at the base of Mt. Diablo. They use herbs, eggs, and more from the farm to create the delicious meals at the restaurants.

I went with some friends to grab a bite before a movie. I had the Cali Chicken sandwich, but switched out broiled chicken for fried chicken and it was very good. My team member Denise went with her daughter and a friend – those are the pictures you see in this blog. It is a cute, but small, restaurant with sandwiches, salads, soups, a few entrees, and a bar. Perfect for dinner before the movies or lunch with some friends.


Sweetwaters Tea brings its first location to California

In the new Lyric building on Bonanza St. downtown, Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea has made its California debut. Lucky for us, they chose Walnut Creek as their flagship store in the state, and they serve up tasty coffee and tea to compete with major chains and other smaller coffee houses around town.

The franchise, which was originally started by Wei and Lisa Bee in 1993 in Ann Arbor, MI, has expanded to locations all around America. The Bee’s celebrate classic cafe fare and have a long list of creative hot, cold, and frozen drinks to choose from.

Sweetwaters also has pastries, and light food like salads, sandwiches, and quiche, which will appeal to the lunch crowd that needs something quick to go. They bottle their own tea and Arnold Palmers, but after taking a look at the sugar content, I opted out. The coffee shop competition is getting crowded in Walnut Creek; I count 10 just in the downtown area. If you’re looking for a new coffee or tea shop in downtown, give Sweetwaters a try! Let me know how you like it!

New exhibit at the Bedford Gallery: “Altered States”

As many of you may know, I really enjoy checking out local art in Walnut Creek. The Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center is one of the best galleries in the area and always produces interesting, exciting exhibits. I went to check out their newest one, and wasn’t disappointed!”Altered States” is guest curated by Heather Marx, and features artists across generations living and working along the California coast. These artists use natural elements or the environment to create their artwork. I loved the entire exhibit, but my favorite was the circles made in the snow by footprints; it doesn’t look real, but on closer inspection it is! Maybe it is my love of skiing and the mountains why the piece resonates with me.

It was a pretty stunning display of artwork in there when I visited. I’d highly recommend checking it out soon! The artists here apparently use a wide range of media and want to create art using process and reclamation techniques. There was a docent talking about the artwork on the day we visited and it always gives you a better perspective of the work.

According to the Bedford Gallery website, the “Altered States” exhibition highlights the natural cycles of our complex environment and offers patrons an opportunity to slow down and reflect on how we are all interconnected by the sun, mood, air and tides. Very interesting!

You can check out the Bedford Gallery Tuesday-Sunday from 12-5 p.m. And don’t forget the first Tuesday of every month is free to the public.

I Love You A Latte II

Last year, I held my inaugural “I Love You A Latte” event at the Capital One Cafe in downtown Walnut Creek. This year, we had a great turnout of about 25 people and collected a ton of donations for the Paradise fire victims (see this Thursday’s blog for more information on the donation and drop-off!).

This event is about community, connecting people, and taking a moment out of our day to interact and meet old and new friends. I am very grateful to everyone who donated items, as I saw firsthand how the Paradise area is anything but paradise these days – the effects of the devastating fire continue to show.

Below are a few pictures of the event along with the Valentine goody bags and giveaway prizes. Thank you to Robert Ring at Cross Country Mortgage for co-sponsoring, and to Fidelity National Title for a few of the prize giveaways, along with my awesome team – Lilly Lares and Denise Flor!

Capital One is a great place to host this event as it has a large space that isn’t very crowded and serves Peet’s Coffee. I really appreciate each and every one of you who came out and for all the donations brought! For those who missed it, I hope to see you at one of my future events.

Event Round-Up: Feb. 16th

Isn’t it great to live in a place that is so packed full of events that you can’t even go to all of them if you wanted to? Sometimes we all stay firmly planted in Walnut Creek instead of exploring what’s outside our doors. Here is a collection of fun, late-winter events to take part in within Walnut Creek city limits, and in a few of our neighboring Bay Area cities!

1. 2019 Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival – Chabot Space &  Science Center (Oakland): Feb. 16-17

Sorry for the late notice on this one, everybody. The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival is an opportunity to get your kids out for the day, taking classes on movie-making, and watching films made just for them! If you’re a Chabot member, it’s free! More details.

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2. 2019 Lunar New Year Celebration – History Park (San Jose): Feb. 17

You can probably find a lot of different Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) celebrations happening around the very diverse Bay Area, but this is the one I’m choosing to highlight. It’s free, family-friendly, has a dragon-led parade, and will have arts and crafts available! Happy Year of the Pig! (Did you know the pig represents luck, wealth, and honesty and symbolizes a hard-working, peace-loving, generous person. Other traits include truthful, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable, and a good sense of humor. If you were born in 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, or 2007, you are a Pig zodiac!)

3. Makers Market Craft Fair – Broadway Plaza (Walnut Creek): Feb. 23

Come check out an awesome craft fair right in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek! According to the event website, there will be more than 20 local artists selling jewelry, candles, organic body and home goods, clothes, and more! And, naturally, live music and food vendors will be present!

4. First Caturday – Lake Merritt (Oakland): Mar. 2

I couldn’t help myself on this one! How funny is this? On Sat., Mar. 2, you can bring your cat to Lake Merritt in Oakland and take part in “First Caturday.” It looks like it’s literally just a meet-up for cat lovers to bring their cats out on leashes, like dogs. Better not show up to the lake with a dog that day!

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5. Sunrise Tour of Muir Woods – Muir Woods (Mill Valley): Mar. 3

Okay, there is no bad time to visit Muir Woods. It’s one of the most beautiful semi-hidden gems of the Bay Area. But you can get up early and do a sunrise tour of this breathtaking park for FREE! Reservations are still required, and you might have to pay for parking, but seeing the sun shining through those old redwoods on a brisk morning will be well worth it.

Forma Gym’s transformation

The lot just off Olympic Blvd. before you go under 680 toward Parkmead has changed many times over the years. A long time ago, the lot was occupied by Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness. A few years ago, new owners came in and created Forma along with many great changes. They also added healthy options for food on-the-go to take to work. Now you can grab a green smoothie as you are walking out the door.

That is the gym I most often go to – not just for its proximity to my neighborhood, but because the new owner has done a fantastic job remodeling to make Forma appealing to everyone!



With a new gym coming in over by Zara, Orange Theory getting people all fired up, and other big-name gym chains popping up around town, there’s probably a little fear of competition for Forma. But, whatever it is, they’ve done a marvelous job with the gym.

Now, Forma has cryogenics (which is amazing if you haven’t tried it!), a jiu jitsu room, childcare, classes, a weight room, the pool, and more. They took out the racquetball courts, sadly, but it created a ton of room for other things. Forma still attracts the older Rossmoor crowd, but has also become more contemporary to attract a younger crowd.

Among the classes they offer, there is a mind/body studio for yoga and barre, with a separate area for spin. They have a spa with facials and massages, too! And one of the coolest things about Forma is their involvement with the local community. They sponsor the Turkey Trot, WCEF, food banks, etc. around town. They host golf tournaments, art days, and a kids club.

They also have Project Walk, which helps people learn or re-learn how to walk! I can’t say enough good things about Forma Gym, and if you’re looking for a community-oriented, affordable place to work out, this is the spot!