Have you been to the Capital One cafe?

Have you noticed the new little cafe next to the Apple Store in downtown Walnut Creek? It’s a Capital One banking cafe – a new concept they’ve imagined in cities around the country.  It took me some time to stop by as it was such an odd concept; banking in a cafe? Here is the company’s blurb about who they are:

Ready for a reimagined banking experience? You’ve come to the right place. Capital One® is a new kind of bank, one that’s built on digital tools and human connections. People are at the heart of everything we do, so we keep the banking experience simple and straightforward

This location gives customers access to financial planning and banking options while grabbing a cup of coffee or tea. The cafe also hosts community events (This Friday, Dec. 15, is Ugly Sweater Day!) and does some philanthropy in the area. Nonprofits, alumni associations and student organizations can book their Private Community Room for meeting space during regular business hours.

They’ve teamed up with Peet’s Coffee and Tea to provide Walnut Creek residents with a great little place to relax while they’re banking or working on their laptops. Now that I have stepped into it, I find it is really a brilliant idea and marketing strategy by Capital One. There is also a cool lounge area with interesting artwork.

They also have a more private nook and conference room should you need it. Jason (pictured below) was very helpful about their concept and even gave me a ticket for a free drink. If you are a Capital One card holder, you get half off your purchases at Peet’s, and everyone can wander in and use the ATM with no fees and get free Wifi.

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It is also serving a niche for those self-employed folks who need to get out of the home to have a meeting or a quiet  place to work. It is a cool space where you can snag a great cup of coffee, tap free wireless, and work, which might make it worth getting a Capital One card.

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Check out Limon for great food and drinks!

I recently tried one of the new restaurants in Walnut Creek, Limon, and it did not disappoint! It’s situated on Locust St., next to Vitality Bowl. I have now been for both lunch and dinner; both times I ate some great food, and right before the Warren Miller movie, fantastic pisco sours!

The vibe is like many new restaurants in Walnut Creek: a nice, hip atmosphere, slightly overpriced, but it delivered on results.  The roasted chicken and ceviche are their signature dishes and the Pisco sours do not disappoint.

In our rush to get to the movie, we sat at the bar and shared a half chicken, green beans and we just had to have the truffle macaroni and cheese.  My only complaint is when we left, my clothes smelled smoky like cooked food.

Overall, I really enjoyed Limon, especially those pisco sours! They have an extensive bar and a fabulous selection of Tequila.  A handful of restaurants have recently closed (Lark Creek, Sunol Ridge and Vic Stewart’s), making Limon a great option for a nice dinner.  There are two locations in San Francisco, one in Burlingame, and one opening in Hawaii this year.

I give Limon 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s.

Art Town: Bullman With Bulldog

Well, this one kind of sprung up out of nowhere, huh? I love it, though! This piece on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St. is just so unique, you can’t miss it – or you might, as it blends in with the crowds. This shot was taken late at night but look at the contrast of the day-time photo at the bottom of the blog.

The piece was donated by local developer Brian Hirahara and sculpted by Gerald Heffernon. It’s a life-size bronze statue of a half-man, half-bull dressed nicely and leaning against the pole on that street corner. His bulldog is on a leash, and there is unbelievable detail on the piece.

According to Heffernon, human figures depicted with animal heads is imagery deeply embedded in our psyches because we have a desire to acquire the power of other animals by getting inside their minds. If you think about it, even as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece there were minotaurs, hawk-headed humans, and more.

“A bullman is a hybrid of two animals,” Heffernon says. “A bulldog is all dog, but one bred to battle bulls. In this case, the bull(man) seems to control the bulldog, but those roles can reverse, as they can with humans and their dogs.”

The piece prompts us to consider which animal is in charge, as is often the case with dogs and their human owners. There is a triangle of competing wills. Heffernon, who hails from Winters, CA, calls himself a conceptual wildlife artist and wants his human/animal hybrid sculptures to be surreal, funny and thought-provoking.

Unsurprisingly, Hirahara also had a hand in approving the creepy downtown fountain with the head in it!

The piece definitely has mixed reviews – what do you think of it? Love or hate?

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Walnut Creek experimenting with long-term street parking meters

These days, Walnut Creek is the hip place to be. But at its heart, our city is still the little town of 60,000 suburban residents, nestled in the shadow of Mt. Diablo. So, with the influx of visitors to Walnut Creek, one of the issues that have cropped up has been especially glaring: parking.

Or, rather, the lack thereof. With a rising demand in downtown parking options, Walnut Creek has started offering long-term street parking in “underutilized” areas outside the downtown core center.

We actually have some long-term meters just outside our offices here at Better Homes and Gardens, which are marked with purple poles. The new meters will cost $1 per hour, and do not contain the 2-hour limit imposed by regular meters downtown.

It will be interesting to see if this move pays off to unclog the downtown area during peak hours. I haven’t personally noticed a difference yet, but the idea is a bit retro. Another thought, how about outside the core downtown parking is free on Sundays? I can’t park in my office garage on Sundays, but can still get a ticket. You can see more about the long-term street parking below.

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Art Town: Hummingbirds on Broadway Paseo

Walnut Creek has done a lot of cool things with the rebuilding of Broadway Plaza, but one of my favorite new additions is all the art that’s going in to complement the buildings!

Recently, I was wandering the Broadway Paseo near the parking garage and saw Joyce Hsu’s hummingbird statues in front of Tommy Bahama’s. I think they look awesome and really draw a pedestrian’s eye to the color and form (they look as if they’re in flight)!

After doing a little research, I discovered that it’s part of a larger art installation called “Rawr,” which will also consist of a large robot T-Rex and a dinosaur bench just outside Macy’s. They are meant as both art and as a place for children to take a break when shopping.

According to the official approval documents, Hsu has always been intrigued by childhood fables, because it’s a reinterpretation of how the “adult” society works. She created the sculptures to remind visitors to Broadway Plaza of the importance of fun, play and imagination when building a stronger community.

Here’s a fun fact that also inspired Hsu’s hummingbirds and helped make them an obvious inclusion in the theme of her overall project: hummingbirds are, in fact, the smallest living dinosaurs!

Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebabs to fish, they always make their dishes with savory flavors that keep me happy. Here in Walnut Creek, we just got a new place for all you foodies to try and will probably give Opa a run for their money: Lokanta!

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Lokanta has menus for all types of occasions: brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert, kids’ menu and more. I tried the Lokanta Classic Martini – it was perfect! The St. George Botanivore Gin made a big difference. Of course, the flaming cheese is an attraction (and delicious) along with the mixed platter.

Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and their delicious appetizers (hummus, pita, meatballs, dolmas, soup, salad, calamari, lamb burger, shish kebab…to name a few) are all $10 or less at that time. Beers and wine are $5 or less and they have bottomless mimosa brunches both Saturday and Sunday.

Lokanta has another popular location in Pleasanton, but only recently opened its doors on Locust St. in Walnut Creek where you will see the owner making his rounds to ensure that everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy.

For you wine-lovers, there is a half-off wine deal on Mondays and no corkage fee on Tuesdays if you want to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.  The atmosphere is cozy, a great bar area and a community table to eat at as seats become available.

All in all, I highly recommend giving Lokanta a shot next time you’re downtown or craving some Mediterranean/Greek food in Walnut Creek. I give it 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

Beat the heat with San Francisco Creamery!

What’s better than ice cream on a hot day? San Francisco Creamery packs it on! This picture below is a “1 scoop” with two different flavors. If you get the 2 scoop, you’re eating an entire pint of ice cream!

Most people who live in or around Walnut Creek have probably stopped into the Creamery for a quick bite – they have food and drinks in addition to their delicious ice cream!

There are a lot of great spots in Walnut Creek for ice cream and frozen yogurt, but San Francisco Creamery is one of the tastiest and most recognizable. Did you know there was even a Man vs. Food episode taped there? He took on the “Kitchen Sink,” which is an insurmountable mountain of ice cream!

With the hot, late-summer weather engulfing the East Bay, take the family, stroll down Locust St. and grab a scoop or two from the Creamery. You won’t be disappointed!

Art Town: Liliales

This piece by Cliff Garten was created in 2016 and blends aluminum sheets and mesh with LED lights. It currently adorns one of the new S. Broadway entrances to the Broadway Plaza parking structure.

According to its listing on walkwc.oncell.com, the abstract floral motif of Liliales references two flowers essential to the lives of the area’s original inhabitants – the Volvons, and one of the early Bay Miwok tribes based around Mt. Diablo.

Garten is an award-winning artist and often incorporates light and space into his large designs. His other work in town is the Walnut Creek Veteran’s Memorial.

The LED lights on Liliales change colors with each season, too! You can get more info on Liliales on one of the public art walking tours downtown.

Art Town: Secret Garden

This is one of the more “flowery” utility boxes in downtown Walnut Creek. Most of them have cool, unique designs but you really have to look at them to get the picture.  This piece by Casey Rasmussen White, entitled “Secret Garden,” is one you can just enjoy.

On the corner of N. Broadway and Mt. Diablo, this beautiful piece really catches your eye. It is simple and colorful.

If the name of the artist sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve featured another great piece by her on a separate utility box in downtown Walnut Creek. That one is called Sea Queen and is on a different corner of the same street.

I am always amazed at how much art there is to look at in downtown Walnut Creek if you just take a moment to observe.

Broadway Plaza summer concert series kicks off tonight!

If you’re looking for a good activity to get out of the house this evening, I have good news for you. The Broadway Plaza summer concert series is back in downtown Walnut Creek!

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Tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., marks the first in a series of shows played at Event Plaza. If you like what you hear and see, you can go again on any Thursday in August.

First up tonight is SuperHuey, followed by The Purple Ones on August 10th, and Fleetwood Mask (that’s “Mask,” before you get too excited…) on August 17th. Festivities include the music, vendors, shopping, and more.

It’s a perfect family outing for people of all ages. Bring a blanket or chair and a few dollars for a glass of wine, and enjoy the summer air with your fellow East Bay music lovers!’s

Note:  with the new development, the events plaza is in front of Macy’s and I find the area not that welcoming to large crowds.  it gets really tight with limited seating, so many people are just standing around.  If you are there to shop, you will find yourself in tight quarters and a swarm of people.  Personally I miss the old parking lot space.